How Construction Digitalization is Creating New Career Opportunities
May 03, 2022
Put simply, digitalization is the adopting of digital technologies, often to replace manual-based tasks. It then adapts business processes to those technologies to increase productivity and improve competitiveness and profitability.
In the construction industry, digitalization is still in the early stages, but it’s already changing how construction companies function and how capital projects are managed.
The proof? It’s triggered new career opportunities that didn’t even exist in this sector 10 years ago. At the same time, however, some long-established roles are evolving to become more digitally-based. This may provide some relief for those who’ve feared that software technology was going to put them out of a job, or that “robots” were on track to replace them in the near future. Nothing could be further from the truth.
So, what’s new and what’s evolving within industry careers as a result of construction digitalization?
Fresh career opportunities inspired by construction digitalization
- BIM Specialist / Manager
BIM — both an interactive 3D modeling technology and a data-rich, intelligence-based process — is a prime example of construction digitalization in action. Even though it’s been around for a couple of decades, BIM is still the new kid on the block. Over the last 10 years or so it’s finally been getting well-deserved recognition for its ability to vastly improve efficiencies and project outcomes. And that’s led to more and more owners requiring BIM — now considered an industry best practice — to manage their capital projects.
Naturally, that’s brought about a corresponding need for BIM specialists and managers to help construction companies realize the full value of what BIM can do. However, there aren’t yet enough such experts to meet the demand because the role is so relatively new. Not only that, these positions are unique compared to other digital positions in that they require experience not just in a specific type of technology but in an altogether different process as well. Because BIM represents such a change from the norm, construction companies are looking for guidance on how to manage projects using BIM best practices and how to work with and interpret project data.
- Data Analyst
With the proliferation of data generated every day throughout a capital project’s duration, migrating from multi-vendor point solutions to an integrated platform is becoming a construction digitalization game changer for construction companies. And it’s opening up opportunities for data analysts. The integrated platform provides the visibility they need to delve into the project’s now-connected data so they can interpret what any patterns and trends are indicating. They can then leverage this to derive the kind of real-time and predictive insights that help the company make more strategic decisions addressing everything from areas for productivity improvement to risk mitigation to preventative safety measures.
Evolving career opportunities resulting from construction digitalization
Technology has helped this role evolve considerably. Estimating is mostly a point solution function, meant to automate a complex process while improving on prior manual inefficiencies and inaccuracies. As one of the more critical early functions in a project, estimating is expected to be as accurate as possible despite the constantly evolving information — after all, it can impact whether or not a bid is accepted, or whether an inventory list that procurement orders from is accurate.
But like data analysts, estimators today are benefitting from the accuracy that integration enables them to achieve. It brings estimating into the overall project workflow, where it can share data and automatic updates with accounting, scheduling, takeoff and project management functions right from the beginning, and serve as source data for calculating performance metrics all the way up through the end of commissioning.
And in the end, digitalization in the form of integration helps solve estimators’ challenge of submitting more accurate estimates that are competitive without leaving profit on the table.
- Project Manager
As a central figure within construction projects, the project manager ensures everything operates like clockwork. For them, technology is a must especially when managing substantial capital projects. And construction digitalization is making their job all the more efficient. It requires a combination of cloud technology, mobile functionality and project management software integration. It’s a multifaceted approach for a multifaceted job, and could very well appeal to a more tech-savvy workforce. Together they provide project managers what they need to maintain workflow: access to project information from anywhere, real-time data capture from the jobsite and the ability to leverage connected data across multiple business functions. And owners and construction companies alike are increasingly eager to adopt advanced project management software to make these managers’ jobs easier.
- Risk Manager
Where risk management used to be based largely on experience alone, technology is giving those in charge of this process more control over planning for and responding to the unknowns. Of course, technology and experience complement each other; one isn’t meant to completely replace the other. To effectively do this, risk managers rely on real-world data to help guide planning and determine the possible impact of different internal and external risk factors. Leveraging data variables from past and current projects, software with risk analysis and forecasting capabilities enables them to run what-if scenarios such as the degree of risk exposure, what a risk-adjusted schedule could look like, the impact on project costs, and even project feasibility. Risk managers are now able to deliver certainty where it didn’t exist before; even as risks develop, updated data allows them to develop better informed contingency plans so the project team can decide how best to course-correct.
- Safety Manager
Construction safety has been in the spotlight in the last couple of years, and not just because injury and fatality rates remain high. Structural collapses, unsafe aging infrastructure and the pandemic have further underscored how critical jobsite and personal safety is, whether building new structures or repairing old ones.
That has put more focus on safety managers, one of the most important roles to benefit from construction digitalization. They’re turning to technology tools to streamline this documentation-heavy process in order to reduce injury, fatality and safety hazard rates. These include commissioning, punch list and quality assurance or safety compliance inspection software. While the first two aren’t typically part of the safety compliance process, they provide an extra layer of detection and prevention when started at the beginning of the project.
From customizable checklists to form builders, these tools help to validate ongoing compliance or track ongoing safety efforts. They’re proving to be most effective when they have mobile functionality, allowing safety managers to more easily identify and fully document issues where and when they’re discovered for quicker remedy, before they become more serious. The safety data recorded and stored in each of these tools lays the groundwork for safety managers to improve training and jobsite protocols.
Construction digitalization on the upswing
As technologies grow and change and construction digitalization gains more acceptance, brand new industry positions will continue to be created while more existing construction jobs will become increasingly tech and data driven.
In the meantime, leveraging today’s integrated construction technologies, like InEight integrated platform, is one way to bring digitalization throughout your company. With connected data all along the project life cycle, improved efficiencies and a collaborative environment, you can better manage projects in real time in terms of cost, schedule and scope, ultimately delivering a higher degree of project certainty. Curious how the InEight integrated platform works? Request a demo to learn more.