The first day of FutureTech in San Francisco, June 30, brought together several speakers from the venture capital, consulting and design and construction industries, all of whom delivered a similar message: That the design and construction industries must become more efficient to deliver smarter, connected, and more sustainable buildings.

"Construction is the last major sector of the economy not to be transformed by technology. It is very disconnected. We’ve crossed the threshold where half the people in the world live in cities," according to Keynote Speaker Jesse DeVitte, managing partner of venture capital firm Borealis Ventures. "Increasing demand will require that design, construction and operation of the built environment becomes dramatically more efficient. Technology is the catalyst to drive this quest for efficiency through the entire design-build-operate continuum."

Jake Macholtz, vice president of technology solutions at Kiewit Construction, and Johnny Clemmons, Global Industry Director at Kiewit's database platform provider SAP, told the sold-out audience how they moved Kiewit's data from legacy systems to a modern, visual interactive reporting system based on Kiewit project data saved in SAP's repository. It was a shift from a cost to be managed to an asset to be managed. 

A common hurdle for all of the speakers was that building project data was ofen unstructured, held in disparate systems and, in many cases, hoarded by project stakeholders.

McKinsey & Company Partner Jose Luis Blanco Alvarez stressed in his closing keynote speech that digital technology is an enabler for faster impact on construction productivity. Construction can catch up with the overall economy by using digital technology, he intimated, perhaps even growing an order of magnitude faster than the rest of the non-farm economy. He pointed to the Internet of Things and drone data being rapidly adopted to allow designers, planners, construction professionals and building operations to make better, faster decisions.