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New Research Highlights Recruiting and Profit Margin Erosion Among Top Concerns for the Construction Industry

FMI/Procore

New Research Highlights Recruiting and Profit Margin Erosion Among Top Concerns for the Construction Industry

Posted: November 13, 2019 | Tradewinds

Procore Technologies, Inc., today published a report based on sponsored research conducted by FMI Corporation, which indicates the construction industry has yet to tap into the full potential of construction technology to plan, build and maintain assets in the built environment.

Respondents from the construction industry in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand were asked about their experiences and challenges with construction software. The survey verifies the industry is now digitizing at an increasing rate after lagging behind most other major industries. Research points to many ways companies can get much more from the software by understanding how to deliberately leverage technology and their software provider to reach greater heights of efficiency and success.

The survey found firms are most concerned with optimizing outcomes in three key areas: keeping safe jobsites (66 percent), attracting and keeping skilled labor (57 percent), and getting the most out of productivity in the field (52 percent). 

Respondents are most satisfied with software that supports jobsite safety. Currently, software is acquired mainly for its ability to impact financial, scheduling, and reputational needs. The numbers show that the industry is lagging in its response to address two of its top three concerns: 

Fifty-seven percent said hiring and retaining employees is a key concern but just 25.6 percent are using software to better attract and retain skilled labor 

Fifty-two percent said productivity is a major concern but only 40.5 percent of the firms surveyed are using construction software to maximize field productivity 

"We can use these survey results to help us reveal hidden potential in construction software through improved training, education and use of customer feedback in products," said Kris Lengieza, Procore's Senior Director of Business Development & Marketplace. "It reinforces the importance of being a partner to our customers and to the construction industry as a whole to increase adoption of software to enhance productivity, higher job satisfaction, and employee retention."

Data deemed important but underutilized

The survey's research uncovers a major contradiction in industry views. On one hand, many industry leaders believe data intelligence is important because it can lead to significantly better financial performance. Data can explain changing demographics, and how to build for more retired baby boomers or millennials. But, while leaders recognize this potential, they told FMI they are not currently concerned with drawing insights from data. Several other studies show that up to 90 percent of all construction data remains unused.

"The industry is disadvantaged to benefit from data driven intelligence because the end user, contractors, have been sold on 'data integrations' that vendors by and large never delivered," said Jay Snyder, Technology & Innovation Practice Leader, FMI Corporation. "Another key barrier to unlocking data insights is the industry skepticism and hyper-competitiveness which has caused reluctance to anonymize and democratize access to data for the betterment of the industry at large."

Surprisingly, 15 percent of construction leaders do not know whether they have software in place. The survey also shows 65 percent of companies don't have a stated point of view about technology and 70 percent have not created a technology roadmap.

Awareness can cure low user adoption

Lack of awareness about construction technology may lead to uncertainty as to how to buy the right construction technology in the first place. Respondents were asked to rank the factors that influenced their purchases of technology solutions. The most important factors named were: how well the solution meets functional requirements, ease of use and adoption, and price or cost. Answers indicate decision-makers often choose software solutions based mostly on price and that a large number of price-dictated decisions lead to serious problems. 

Low user adoption was cited as the biggest construction problem with new technology, mentioned by 34 percent of respondents. Poor ease of use and lack of integration were mentioned by 17 percent and 16 percent of respondents respectively. Slightly more than 60 percent of users report problems with their technology, related mostly to poor adoption and functionality.

Results indicate needs for a number of improvements including better training, assessment of needs, partnerships rather than vendor relationships between supplier and user and other supplier-side responses. They also point to the need for greater industry awareness.

The report, Where Construction Firms Are Finding Value, can be downloaded here.

Methodology
The study captured information from owners, general contractors and specialty contractors/subcontractors related to Procore's addressable international market and offering.  The company retained FMI to assist in the research, analysis, documentation and co-development of this study. 738 people responded to the research survey. Moreover, the responses represent the experience and opinions of multiple industry stakeholders—project owners, contractors, construction managers, and specialty trades—across five countries and geographic areas including EMEA, North America and APAC.  Interviews are underway to provide context to the research survey.

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