The Impact of Technology on Today’s Construction Industry & Trade Contractors
November 4, 2021
Tyler Riddell
Trade Contractor using technology

Tech-savvy trade contractors are spearheading a digital revolution in the construction industry, pushing the envelope to do more with fewer resources and in much less time. Others are gaining business but struggling to meet deadlines. So not only are more and more trades adopting new technology, but they’re also pushing innovation back into the product roadmap.

The construction industry has traditionally lagged behind other sectors to take advantage of technology. However, as evidence of improvement far outweigh the soft and hard costs, many construction trades continue to use paper, pencil, and email. That comes as no surprise, but competition is heating up.

According to McKinsey & Company, the productivity gap in construction costs the global economy $1.6 trillion annually, according to McKinsey & Company. That’s number might feel gigantic, but the lack of productivity growth affects almost all construction companies confirming adopting technology will help trade contractors improve.

What’s Driving the Pace of Adoption

Enter tech-savvy trade contractors, and they are driving the pace of change in construction. With increasing numbers of trade contractors embracing new technology, they’re speeding up the industry’s adoption rate and pushing their competition along. 

And why not? Adopting technology offers substantial and scalable benefits. Doing so boosts efficiency, productivity, and profitability for subcontractors, general contractors, and other stakeholders across the construction industry. The difference is innovators are leaving the laggards behind by winning more contracts and meeting customer needs.  

Delivering an economic advantage and healthy bottom line

Adopting technology only makes sense for construction companies if it provides a high return on investment. When implemented correctly, construction technology offers tangible and healthy returns on investment. The transparency in financials, measured productivity, and activities inform construction firms where they need to make better business decisions.  

Purpose-built technology delivers three objectives for trade contractors. First, today’s tech allows trade contractors:

The ability to capture real-time data to make better decisions during projects to troubleshoot more significant issues increases quality. In addition, it opens new business opportunities to win more business based on past successes. 

Creating efficiencies for the field and back office 

While the first two benefits are significant, the last benefit helps provide a substantial return for trade contractors–office, field, suppliers, owners, and owners.

Put another way, adopting new technology, like AI, BIM modeling, automated fabrication software, and material purchasing and management software helps trade contractors measure and realize efficiencies to increase productivity and profitability dramatically.

Adopting new technology also helps contractors differentiate themselves from other subs using paper and pencil. In addition, it allows contractors to create a sustainable competitive advantage, which can help trade contractors win more bids from general contractors. Often, these bids may have better profit margins and generate higher profitability.

Embracing technology is a trade business survival strategy

For subcontractors to realize the benefits of technology procurement, they must embrace it from a corporate position. Similar to making it a mandate that the company will innovate. This has been challenging for some companies and requires a cultural shift and philosophy while targeting crucial areas in the field and back-office. Additionally, not all technology requires this much effort or even IT resources to be dedicated to the adoption and rollout, as with StructShare. Lastly, general contractors and subcontractors have very different needs. 

Some examples for general contractors to dig up efficiencies include project administration and overall project management –planning, budget and communication (internal and third-parties), and digitizing documentation.  

Alternatively, Trade contractors can identify efficiencies in the same areas. Still, materials purchasing, management, and connecting the jobsite, office, warehouse, suppliers, and other stakeholders is ripe for reimagining manual workflows with a seamless digital ecosystem. There is no disruption.   

The impact of controlling and measuring activity in the back office and on the jobsite has tremendous implications for cost reduction and profit margin improvement.  

Where trade contractors should target tech investment

The best target areas for trade contractors to mine efficiencies include materials, jobsite-to-office connectivity, worker productivity, recruitment, training, safety, time efficiency. There are big payoffs in these areas for trade contractors. For example, using StructShare, accounting, and purchasing teams can increase productivity by 70% by eliminating lost or tracking down physical documents (invoices, POs. bills of delivery) related to materials.   

Tech-savvy subcontractors can explore the deeper side of generating a greater return on investment by investing in improving skilled labor productivity than simply tweaking manual workflows. Technology offers much more flexible and scalable options. The analytics associated with many technologies can help subcontractors make smarter, faster decisions to enhance quality, service, and profits. In addition, the number of success cases is pushing counterparts across the industry to embrace and adopt the tech. 

Addressing two major challenges

Two significant challenges face construction companies to implement tech on the jobsite effectively. One is addressing the varying processing demands from general contractors using unique systems and workflows. Skilled labor working on the jobsite is the other.

Many construction workers have unique expertise by trade. Unfortunately, using new technology sometimes takes training, which requires taking them off the job to learn the latest software, which sometimes increases costs and cuts productivity—two things trade contractors are reluctant to absorb the switch-over costs. Tech-savvy trade contractors understand this and see the long-term benefits the new technology will offer. However, there is technology out there that is easy to implement and use and doesn’t require IT resources. So get started on StructShare today! 

Innovative software can provide real-time insights and discipline to your entire material purchasing and management process. For example, connecting field teams with the back office via the Mobile App allows finance and purchasing teams to control material costs and capture accurate project-level data. In addition, uploading supplier catalogs and detailed material lists help field teams get building materials to the jobsite.

Tech-Savvy trade contractors 

Technology solutions in the construction industry aren’t new. Many companies have tried countless options and been burned to resort back to email, paper, and pencil. However, times are changing, and technology is much more flexible and innovating new ways to build.  

The old way of business, as usual, is economically unsustainable. That’s because today’s technological advancements are different. They’re about connectedness, communication, real-time data, streamlined processes, and reducing costs. But, more importantly, they’re about creating efficiencies that pump up productivity and profitability.

Tech-savvy trade contractors are driving the technology revolution by embracing today’s new technology, like StructShare’s reimagining of construction trades’ material purchasing and management ecosystem.  But will success mean rethinking every aspect of the function, workflow, and team?