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Driven by Digital, Construction Industry On Upswing in 2021

February 17, 2021
Construction industry upswing

Despite all that happened last year, there are reasons for the construction industry to be optimistic in 2021 and ride an upswing in digital transformation.  

And here’s why:

68 percent have positive industry outlook

After last November’s U.S. presidential election, Deloitte surveyed 350 U.S. executives and other senior leaders from several industries including the electronics and construction (E&C) market.

Sixty-eight percent of E&C respondents described the industry’s business outlook as “somewhat positive” or “positive.”

There’s more good news. Deloitte’s report showed “the construction industry has been consistently adding new jobs and has recovered largely from the initial pandemic-driven job losses of early 2020.”

Read more: Construction Industry Expects Strong 2021 Despite Distinct Challenges

The Associated Builders and Contractors reaffirms the same positive hiring trend. In December of last year, construction company staffing levels rose to 56.3 percent, up from 53.8 percent the previous month.

70 percent say infrastructure projects can jump-start the economy

The story on spending in the construction industry also points to an upswing.

A boost in public, infrastructure, and commercial building starts and related investments may boost E&C spending, according to Deloitte.

For instance, 70 percent of E&C leaders say new, fully approved infrastructure projects can help jump-start the economy.

Additionally, 46 percent of E&C leaders said new public infrastructure work will be a significant part of their business. And 14 percent are exploring public-private partnerships to gain entry to these opportunities.

Deloitte’s report points out that if companies work together, it may help them better target the over $1 trillion in U.S. infrastructure upgrade spending expected this year.

76 percent will invest in digital technology this year

For virtually all industries, including construction, investments in digital technologies have become increasingly important. They deliver more personalized products and services to customers faster and more reliably at lower costs.

Read more: 5 Factors Construction Leaders Should Consider When Automating Accounts Payable

According to Deloitte, 76 percent of E&C companies probably will invest in at least one digital technology this year.

“Digital moves business decisions from reactive to predictive and could enable E&C firms to outpace their competition,” the report notes. “For this reason, it is likely to be a priority on CIO’s growth agendas in the coming year.”

76 percent investing in connected technologies

In a similar finding, 76 percent of E&C executives are investing in connected technologies to address broad cost and profit margin challenges; 24 percent are investing in drones and robotics at job sites to increase worker productivity and efficiency.

The report encourages construction companies to make corporate-wide technology investments to develop a “connected construction foundation – a dynamic, always-on network that provides continuous access to information, analytics, and insights.”

Using this foundation, companies can cut operating and build costs by 20 percent and 10 percent, respectively, while also improving profit margins.

Technology use sped up from three years to one

In alignment with the Deloitte findings, a report by the real estate services company, JLL, emphasized how quickly the construction industry pivoted towards more technology use because of the pandemic.

“The urgency and severity of the pandemic condensed technology adoption that likely would have taken three years at a normal pace into a single year,” JLL’s report said.

The shift of office-based workers to a remote work environment represented only one small upswing of the construction industry’s use of technology. Virtual inspections and tracking project statuses remotely helped keep jobsites open and projects running.

Next steps

With this new insight, what should you do to start fresh and accelerate growth in your construction business?

It’s healthy and wise to feel energized. Be enthusiastic the positive signs pointing toward an upswing your industry. Start anew with an optimistic and wide-open mindset. It’s time to move forward, take bold actions and feel confident because your industry’s on the rise

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