Features - Business

Build Back Better with One Platform Technology

Brandon Oliveri-O’Connor, Procore’s Director of UK&I, shares his thoughts on the current state of construction and the major trends set to shape it in 2021.

By now, remarks on the bizarre, volatile, and exceptional nature of 2020 have become entirely commonplace. Yet, for construction, the year really did change everything. For one, social distancing measures did much more than bring “business as usual” to a temporary halt. While safety concerns around the pandemic made onsite work more challenging, in particular.

Digitalisation helped many in the industry resume work in an effective as well as safe manner, allowing for communication and information-sharing between remote teams as well as clients. The advantages of a one platform approach have become clear and we can expect this type of technology to remain crucial in 2021, too. A single platform acts ultimately as a source of truth for an entire project that all stakeholders can operate from – whether it’s to access files or to check in on a project’s status, wherever they are.

Of course, no platform can do it all, and the best and most modern construction platforms take this limitation into account by offering seamless and simple integration with other applications. This has long been a key trend for construction software, but in 2021, we can expect even higher levels of communication between different applications and programs, which will make management quicker, and processes more transparent. This was the case for Hertfordshire-based Pexhurst, a fit-out and refurbishment contractor: thanks to adopting one platform technology, they have been able to share live photo updates from their sites and even hold Zoom meetings with their clients when they were unable to visit sites in person due to restrictions.

The future of construction is data-focussed

The first generation of data-oriented platforms gave teams the much-needed space for information-sharing and communication, but they did not take into consideration more far-reaching business needs for complete transparency and efficiency. 2021 will herald a new chapter in the development of construction’s data use. Integrated data, offered by collaborative, intelligent software that can analyse as well as collect information, will be enormously useful in the years to come. Software like this can do much more than allow teams to collaborate or access information: intelligent analyses of KPIs, metrics, predictive models and much more is made available with its support.

Integrated data can even have a positive financial impact on the industry, as it can lower the overall costs of communication and information distribution, which often account for a substantial part of project expenditures.

If businesses are looking at siloed data, they may as well not be using it at all, as without looking at the full picture that integrated data provides – what we see as a ‘complete data journey’ – they may not be able to make the most informed decisions.

Placing client experience at the heart of the business

Increasingly, contractors are relying on tech to support their existing client relationships as well as build new ones, by for example, ensuring that projects are run smoothly while communication is maintained. While this is already a step in the right direction, contractors can do more to reshape the way in which they communicate with customers on platforms.

One key opportunity for improvement lies in standardisation. In the past, and sometimes even today, contractors used several distinct platforms simultaneously, which made it impossible for customers to gain an overall view of a given project’s status and to navigate construction processes.

Modern construction tech takes on a different approach. One platform technology makes it possible for customers to have access to a single source of truth. Using this method, they can see all the relevant information about projects as well as more specific processes (such as workflows, RFIs, snagging, and submittals) in one place for maximum transparency. Customers can log on at any time to get an idea of where things are, assign and respond to RFIs using forms in an application, and use photo functionalities to track progress, without having to make on-site visits.

This approach transforms customer experience as it not only brings them on a project’s journey and keeps them in the loop, but is a major step up from having clients navigate through shared cloud spaces or email chains in order to get status updates. In the years ahead, the widespread use of one platform technology will allow for major developments in customer experience – and this remains one of the key indicators of project success.

After the year of change comes the year of development

2020 has made it more difficult for construction as well as other sectors to foretell and prepare for the difficulties ahead. However, the fluctuation of circumstances and general unpredictability has challenged the industry in a positive way, encouraging it to innovate in ways it may not have previously done. In 2021, this newfound adaptability will continue to drive development, helping the construction industry not just survive but thrive through unparalleled challenges.

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