Technology can significantly improve and simplify our daily lives, both personally and professionally. It makes little difference what particular job you have, it’s exceedingly likely that it has been touched, modified, or otherwise improved by technology in some way. While the exact technology used varies between jobs and industries, the fact that technology is used doesn’t. Despite this fact, the construction industry lags behind most other industries in the adoption of technology, especially newly developed software platforms that can simplify and streamline the responsibilities of everybody in the construction financial/credit management realm. Many construction industry participants have not yet realized how much simpler, easier, cleaner, and more efficient the proper use of new construction technology could make their outdated and inefficient current process – and more importantly, how that can make them more money.
Technology and the CFM
Web 1.0 was solely a static information resource, like a digital business card. Web 2.0 made the internet more interactive, and Web 3.0 will make the internet more personal. while this rest of this article isn’t going to focus on “the internet of things” or strictly personal technology, this concept and its integration with the use of “big data” and technology that “learns” may become important to participants in construction credit and financial management. Machines can utilize big-data information to learn things about specific situations, people, businesses, and so on. All of these phrases “Web 3.0”, “artificial intelligence”, “big data”, and others rely upon the idea that a machine can be programmed to learn things using this information and then “act” accordingly.
This idea is based on an understanding that it is undeniable that computers are good, and even better than humans, at doing many tasks. One specific task at which computers are especially good is data-analyzing and applying specific actions to the output of their data-analyzation. In fact, things like advertising or political messaging which, at their core, depend on aggregation of data and taking action based on those calculations, are already better performed (at least in some instances) by computer-driven processes than by humans.
The question, then, is now that Web 3.0, and machine-based decision-making is here, what are the implications for the construction industry, and specifically, for financial and credit managers. Because some of the most core functions of Construction Finance Managers (CFMs) are data-heavy, these functions are likely functions at which computer driven artificial intelligence and decision making could excel. CFMs are, at least partially, and whether admittedly or not, in the data business – and the data business is in a computer’s wheelhouse. Construction technology companies know this and have created tools that enable construction companies to use data to automate inefficient processes.
The construction industry and CFMs, in particular, are likely to brush off these potentially beneficial, at least for a time. But what CFMs should pay attention to, is the ability of technology to help them do their job better – not some inchoate worry about technology doing the job better without them. Since most construction industry participants are still stuck with paper-heavy manual processes, or if they are lucky Microsoft Excel, the possibilities presented by cloud technology and computer intelligence driven practices may be overwhelming. But, this presents an opportunity. An opportunity to be an early adopter of game-changing technology, to make outdated processes more efficient, and in doing so, make your company more money. There’s a reason that industries of all types worship at the altar of efficiency. The easier, quicker, and more automated a process is, the better. It opens up time for people to do things that need people to do them. It allows for processing more transactions, or orders, or accepting more business, and on and on. Allowing technology platforms to take away the parts of a job that can be automated, and improved by that automation, creates opportunities for more business, and can help companies get paid for the business already accepted. As mentioned by the authors of The Gifted Technology Driven Contractor mention, “[t]echnology is not a necessary evil, but rather a competitive differentiator.”
The construction industry has been traditionally slow at adopting new technology, but that is not an excuse to table beneficially available technologies for another time. Innovative construction industry participants have the opportunity to gain a competitive advantage by using the technology available (and staying current) to give them an advantage in efficiency. The use of cloud-based technology now can position the early-adopter CFM to best use upcoming technology; and, their business will be better off because of it.