Ahead of the ConTech Curve

The speed at which construction companies innovate can determine their competitive strength. But staying one step ahead can be easier said than done.

Image: Adobe Stock

Digital transformation in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry has accelerated in recent years as companies harness new technologies in search of competitive advantage. The pace of change shows no signs of slowing down; the global AEC market is expected to grow at a CAGR rate of 10.7%, reaching a value of $15,842 million by 2028. Technology is driving continuous advancements in design, durability, and health and safety. security, as companies begin to rethink operational and economic models.

Immersive AR and VR experiences are used to better convey design intent. Tools like Omniverse are emerging to enable new visual effects and digital twin simulations to make the 3D metaverse world more tangible. Purpose-built VDI solutions enable enterprise-wide remote working and improve supply chain collaboration, accelerating project delivery. Robots and drones are being adopted to eliminate risk to humans on site, while AI and machine learning are among the solutions to reduce project risk and cost. Economic models are also redefined with new technology-driven construction techniques. 3D printing is being explored as a way to reduce construction costs for new homes.

Invest in the future

The continued high levels of investment in information technology by construction companies relative to other industry verticals is largely a result of the nature of projects and business models across the sector. Technology has become not just a necessary cost, but an essential pathway to revenue and a way to unlock greater ROI.

Businesses continue to invest in new technologies to facilitate mission-critical tools, high data consumption, and mobile workforces. Growing data sets and continuous application development mean that companies must continue to optimize data center infrastructure and devices. Another driving force is the need for rapid IT set-up for new project teams. We rely and spend more and more on evolving technologies to ensure the delivery of a solid user experience and collaboration across complex supply chains. Additional investments are also planned to ensure the resilience of businesses in the face of increasing cyber threats.

Overcoming barriers to innovation

Rob Smith of CreativeITC. Photo: CCI creative

As AEC is still a complex team sport, legacy systems and linear processes are not aided by specialized industry applications that are not designed for easy integration. Design workflows require massive data import and export routines and colossal image rendering requirements can hamper project delivery. The growth in file sizes and software requirements has increased dramatically. With the explosion in the size of BIM models and datasets, the consequences of overloaded internal technical teams are also felt in this tight margin environment.

Building Business Resilience

As businesses increasingly depend on technology for mission-critical systems, growing cyber risk increasingly threatens innovation. Recognizing the potential to shut down major infrastructure projects and tarnish reputations, cybercriminals are targeting architecture, engineering and construction firms, according to a recent report. Almost half of UK built environment companies have suffered a ransomware attack in the past two years. The rise of remote working is opening new loopholes in this rapidly changing threat landscape, and cybercriminals are actively exploiting employees as the weakest link in business defenses.

With two in five UK IT teams overwhelmed by security alerts, construction companies are embracing new cybersecurity models. Specialized managed service providers (MSPs) are emerging, providing security operations center as a service (SOCaaS) solutions that enable organizations of any size to quickly and easily deploy world-class security operations that protect themselves continuously against attacks effectively. and sustainable. Combining the latest cloud technologies with human expertise, SOCaaS providers complement companies’ in-house IT teams, ensuring rapid, real-time responses to threats 24/7 and applying this learning to strengthen their cyber and security postures. their resilience.

Risk reduction transformation

As the market and technology continue to evolve at a rapid pace, updating legacy systems is another major issue for the AEC industry. With major construction projects taking years to complete, many companies are exposed to legacy software that is increasingly difficult to scale, integrate, maintain, and secure. Specialized applications may have been developed using old code by people no longer with the company, and each application may be licensed and hosted separately from multiple servers and virtual machines.

Specialist vendors with deep knowledge and experience of the construction industry are developing new solutions to help companies future-proof their IT and facilitate digital transformation. To help AEC companies overcome the challenges faced when modernizing IT systems, Creative’s Modern Applications Platform (MAP) is designed to reduce the risks of legacy system updates while stretching budgets. using advanced Kubernetes and containerization technologies.

MAP provides organizations with a single solution to update legacy software to the latest languages ​​and frameworks, while carefully organizing and simplifying often frightening and costly cloud transitions. Businesses also benefit from a simple consumption model designed for the AEC industry, reducing modernization costs and time and freeing up internal IT resources for high-impact, strategic innovation projects.

Accelerate global file sharing

Most enterprise data is accessed and stored in multiple solutions, formats, and locations around the world. Rather than storing data in fixed locations that can be easily controlled and managed, this unstructured data is a growing industry-wide challenge for the global construction industry. IT teams must manage complex islands of data, which inevitably leads to server sprawl, leading to inefficient use of storage resources and low data retrieval times. As a result, hybrid workers and virtual teams cannot operate efficiently and struggle to access, validate, and share data.

Again, new purpose-built AEC solutions are now available to help solve these problems. Cloud File Services provides construction companies with a more consolidated, centralized, and secure storage environment using local file caching. Data retrieval speeds are dramatically increased by reducing reliance on the slower underlying storage tier. Active data is served much faster to users than is possible by accessing the primary storage location. They are also less likely to be slowed down by problems that often arise from unstructured data, such as duplicate file versions and document corruption or loss.

Accelerate innovation

As digital transformation accelerates across all industry sectors, there is growing pressure to make IT easier to manage and less expensive to own and operate. AEC companies are increasingly seeing the role of infrastructure-as-a-service models for things like storage, networking, and compute — and how they can be applied to stretch IT budgets and resources to to accelerate innovation. In an industry in the post-Covid revenue catch-up phase, savings on infrastructure, data center space, licensing, support and staffing also offer a welcome improvement in the bottom line.

In the transition to All-as-a-Service (XaaS) computing models to increase business agility and efficiency, construction companies must follow a careful path to ensure solutions not only align on future needs, but also integrate seamlessly with existing IT systems. Digital transformation journeys are becoming increasingly complex and difficult to navigate. In the wake of infrastructure virtualization, application virtualization is snowballing. Yet compute and storage – and thus virtualization – are moving ever closer to the edge. This increases the need for greater workload mobility, automated operations, and improved performance and resource availability.

Construction companies are increasingly recognizing the value of industry-proven MSPs that focus on developing solutions to help them overcome the unique set of industry and technology hurdles. Emerging and purpose-built technologies from this new generation of AEC industry specialists will be invaluable in accelerating innovation across the industry to help businesses stay ahead of the curve.

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