By: Ed Williams on September 10th, 2021
Start Prepping Now for the Next Normal in Construction
Construction is the largest global industry that accounts for 13% of global GDP. It encompasses infrastructure, industrial structures, and real estate and today many companies are adjusting their business models to embrace the next normal in construction.
It is a fact COVID-19 served as a catalyst for tech uptake for construction firms. The need to collaborate in real-time as well as relying on technology to maintain better business control was brought to the forefront during the pandemic. Contractors soon realized the importance of switching to construction technology to improve performance and productivity in uncertain times.
So, the question many seem to be asking is what is the future of the construction industry after COVID-19. Well, a significant shift has already happened but what is in store for construction players is something we will discuss at length today.
Be Prepared for Industry Overhaul
All those wondering what the next normal in construction will look like should be prepared for industry overhaul and be ready to brace a changing marketplace. With technological progress gaining ground, and disruptive new entrants keen on technology uptake, the construction ecosystem is in a perfect storm.
In an industry that was already experiencing disruption before, the fundamental change that will now sweep the construction landscape will be the concern for safety and sustainability. Other factors that will serve as a catalyst for change will be rising cost pressure for affordable housing, shortage of skilled labor, worksites that are expected to have stricter regulations, and evolving needs of customers. What’s important is that digitalization of processes is something to keep a watch on as it is going to shape the future dynamics in the construction industry.
Let’s take a quick look at the factors that will heighten the need for change and what the next normal in construction will look like:
Rising Demand to Factor Sustainability and Safety Regulations
From possible standardization of building codes to safety and sustainability regulations, the demand for green buildings and sustainability requirements will witness a rise. Apart from reducing carbon footprint and keeping the revolving door of skilled labor happy, sustainability will remain an important factor in decision-making. Due to the discussions related to carbon abatement, many construction firms will have to factor in environmental impact and making construction safer for the future workforce.
Other factors that will require a response will be optimizing the supply chain and adopting a product-based outlook than what was earlier a project-based approach. Also, modular construction, production at off-site construction facilities, and data-driven models will emerge and are likely to dominate the scene. Contractors will need to specialize in end-user segments and those willing to scale and expand their global footprint will hold the sway.
Branding Will Play a Role
As productization unfolds, having a compelling brand that is focused on serving the construction needs will take on added value. Also, construction brands need to develop a distinctive identity that will highlight their product, reliability, service quality, value, delivery time, warranties, and service offerings to stay competitive.
Investment in Facilities and Technology
There is increasing digitization and tech deployment is happening in construction firms at a rapid pace. The construction site is more like to become capital-intensive in the future and robotics, drones, advanced automation equipment, and research and development (R&D) spending is likely to go on increasing. This will surely lead to the development of innovative, new products and give a boost to the increasing adoption of newer technologies to shape the more productized construction firms.
Increasing Need for Specialization
Construction firms will invest heavily in innovation and on new facilities, including new materials and technology on a much larger scale than what it is today. A higher degree of repeatability and standardization is being forecasted if builders are looking to scale their businesses. This will lead to greater consolidation with higher standardization and the need for specialization when it comes to construction offerings.
Investment in Human Resources
To attract a workforce and build a talent pipeline in construction, there will be an increasing demand for developing and retaining talent in-house. This will compel players to invest more in human resources and will need to have dedicated digital talent that will raise excitement about future business models. The next normal in construction expertise will force employers to invest and attract diverse players to deal with future challenges.
The future will witness an increasing need for services and structures that will market standardized products. Construction will be no different and modular construction where components will be produced in off-site factories and designs becoming more customizable, one can imagine a totally different approach to construction, and it will certainly be more product-based.
The next normal in construction is all about developing smart strategies for construction to deal with the disruption ahead. It is all about planning for the shifts that are happening and review the value chain so that construction managers know how to play and defend their core business.
Construction firms must fundamentally be prepared to reinvent themselves as they start operating in a new setup. Moreover, they will have to defend their core business and embrace construction technology to become agile and enablers to evolve in the face of transformation.
So, contractors that familiarize themselves with the next normal will maintain a competitive edge as they will be prepared with better solutions. Hence construction businesses must begin optimizing logistics, strengthening customer relationships to be better positioned at creating value, and focus on supply chain capabilities.
To successfully ride the wave called next normal, construction players must use foresight to anticipate significant shifts to generate above-market returns. All drivers namely, digitalization, industrialization, and globalization are hitting construction at the same time. Thus, agile moves and bold steps to maneuver sequential waves demand an action-based approach for incumbents to stay on top of the competition.
In the face of this transformation, it is best to understand what will affect the bargaining power of construction firms and have a contingency plan in place by observing trends. The process has already begun, and wheels are set in motion but the question before construction firms is if they are ready to take sizeable risks and embrace the next normal.
Ed Williams is the Senior Team Lead at ProjectPro, an integrated construction accounting software. He holds massive industry experience and is a Microsoft Dynamics expert who is focused on successful implementations. He is a visionary leader and always aims to deliver the best to the construction and project-oriented industries.