The future of the construction industry is a highly debated and controversial topic. One thing is for certain; there will be change and the learnings from the fourth industrial revolution may enable us to understand more about the technological future for the construction sector.
How the fourth industrial revolution has positively impacted construction’s transformation journey and how it could enable change in the future
McKinsey’s report – Imagining Construction’s Digital Future – is a great example of the discourse of digitalisation of the construction industry.
The report sets the scene well. Cost and schedule over-runs are the norm; while labour productivity has not kept pace with economic productivity. The construction industry is also among the least digitised which is a challenge in itself. McKinsey's authors accept there will be many technical challenges when rolling out new technology at scale across a complex supply chain, but they also note that it is unlikely that these shifts will get easier in the future. Projects will become more challenging as they are increasingly more complex and delivered on a larger scale. The growing demand for environmentally sensitive construction solutions means that the practices must change in the future. Furthermore, they conclude that there is likely to be a shortage of skilled labour alongside the supervisors to manage them. These issues will inevitably require new ways of thinking and working.
Workforce of the future – bringing digital transformation using talent and skills
As with all industries, leaders are concerned for the change in workforce that could develop within the future. However, some encouraging figures show that 70% of the UK workforce will be gen Z and millennials by 2025. These are generations that have been brought up on technology. They have an attitude to technology and the workplace that will drive the digital revolution, hopefully for the better.
As discussed in my previous blog, where I looking at the construction industry in the present, Mace’s report, Moving to Industry 4.0: A Skills Revolution claims that up to 600,000 jobs in the construction sector could be replaced by new technology in the next two decades. Although to keep the existing workforce, there will need to be an emphasis on re-skilling workers to enable them to manage the technology that replaced their original role.
If workers are re-skilled, says the report, the construction industry could provide a projected figure of £25bn per year to the UK economy by 2040. But only if the sector re-skills to move to industry 4.0 and embraces productivity-improving technologies. By proposing such large-scale re-skilling, with a major monetary injection into the economy the result, Mace’s report helps to re-imagine construction’s digital future, with technology and skilled people central to success.
Construction’s digital future: key takeaways
Construction’s digital future is much debated. The industry must adopt new ways of thinking and working that will lift productivity and the economy as a whole. By the reports, people will be at the heart of this. Even if their workforce jobs are deemed obsolete by new technological advancement, re-skilling them to manage the technology will be key.
Here at Olive Communications we use AI, bots, chats, and social across the solutions we offer – all of which enable our customers to digitalise and automate the front office. When our customers’ customers want to speak to someone, there is then a call centre with a person at the end of the phone. We value automation as part of a positive customer experience so that your customers receive service that is expected through our solutions.