Software specialist GenieBelt’s new country manager for its US operation on the challenge of overcoming slow take-up of digital technologies there.
Where do you see the greatest challenges in the US construction industry?
The construction industry in the US is very slow to adopt new technology. There have been some market share leaders here for a long time and many of their applications are included in contract specifications for most large and government projects.
I see huge opportunity in changing the way construction companies work here in the US, but it will be a challenge to get them to take a risk and try something new.
How has the industry developed over the years since you started?
I started in software and technology over 20 years ago and it has changed immensely. At the beginning we were convincing construction companies that document controls and scheduling was important and that using an application to do this was the way of the future.
Today they do understand this completely and now we see so many options for this type of application that it becomes confusing to the marketplace. I do see technology playing a larger role in construction than ever before. The use of BIM and other technologies are being investigated much more today than before.
What characterises the US industry – typical players, are they more or less conservative than European countries?
In the US we have the very large construction firms that work like large corporations and invest in technology and training. We then have the middle section that still work like small-to-medium-size construction firms and need expertise and applications to drive their businesses forward from a productivity and technology perspective.
This is where I believe the sweet spot is for Geniebelt. This is also where we see the slowest adoption of new technology so this presents a challenge for sure.
How do you see the uptake of BIM and other digital technologies?
This has been very slow in the US. There is no real mandate to use these technologies so adoption is slower than it could be. I do see many more of my current construction customers creating BIM departments and beginning to use the technology to make their business better. I would like to see this adoption happen faster, I believe it would drive adoption of other new technologies in the space.
What will be the next big thing to help transform the way we contract and build?
I believe real-time, cloud-based communication systems will be a big change in the construction space. We have been operating on week old, or month old planning and progress data far too long in the construction space.
Where will you (initially) focus your efforts as US country manager of GenieBelt? Where do you see GenieBelt making a real difference in the US?
We will focus on awareness across the US but also be more focused on selling specifically in the eastern part of the US. Since some success has been seen with large home builders in other countries we will focus some effort there initially in the US.
I also see opportunity in the above mentioned group of mid-section companies. This group will consider and adopt change if given a good business reason to make a change.