Recently our team arrived back home from exhibiting at The 99th Annual AGC Convention, held February 25-28 in New Orleans. The show was a success and it was a great opportunity to meet and network with people in the industry; attendees ran the gamut from GCs to students. Each SKYSITE rep had interesting conversations, for example partnering with and speaking at a university, but we all noticed some common trends. While trying not to overdo it on the fabulous local cuisine, we came up with some key takeaways & observations from the show.
What first struck us was how many of the exhibitors were technology companies. This seems to be a noticeable shift from previous shows, moving away from vendors exhibiting equipment or materials and moving towards tech.
Even more interesting was the variety of tech exhibitors. There were document storage type companies, equipment and time tracking apps, and more BIM companies than previous shows. But, there was also a new crop of construction tech companies that encompass more job functions such as managing certificates of insurance, providing 360° photo documentation, HR management, prequalification of vendors, suppliers and subs, and even a few drone companies (safety first: none flying in the hall). This is the future of the construction industry and a turn in the tide of how GCs will improve their performance.
In contrast to all the tech exhibitors was the number of GCs that still aren’t using tech or are only using it sparingly; think document storage only. While it was a little surprising how many GCs are still using paper, a recent Construction Dive article exposed how smaller construction firms are just now warming up to tech. While sometimes a challenge, we did have success in demonstrating how managing projects in SKYSITE can save time, reduce rework and increase productivity when speaking with these tech adverse GCs.
The second theme that we heard over and over was integration. Meaning, companies that are already using tech are looking at new tools, but don’t want to migrate from the apps they currently use and are comfortable with. They are more interested in solutions that integrate with what they currently use. Yes, companies want to expand their tech use, but they want apps to integrate to eliminate redundant time spent maintaining separate databases or importing/exporting data from one tool into another. GCs also seemed price conscious and not willing to spend for features they won’t use.
What didn’t we see, that we expect to see in the future? Virtual reality, robotics and autonomous vehicles. Admittedly, they are more difficult to display at an exhibition, but not impossible. It’s just a matter of time before we start to see these forthcoming technologies regularly at these events.