Why resistance to technology gets you nowhere
I am tired of hearing questions at events such as:
“How do you think construction companies can mitigate the effect these disruptors will have on traditional construction jobs?” (posed to a panel at ConTech)
“Next year it will be a new technology, what is the point in adopting this today, when next year it will be outdated” (Posed to an innovator at London Build)
They are both valid questions. However, they are valid in every situation, in any industry. And yet, as we all know, technology has pushed every industry we can think of into the future. Both productivity and profitability have been vastly improved by the adoption of new technologies, despite these very common objections. Construction is no different and it is up to us as innovators to help guide the technological shift that’s inevitably going to take place in the industry.
In response to Question 1
“How do you think construction companies can mitigate the effect these disruptors will have on traditional construction jobs?”
AI and Robots are not stealing jobs in construction, however, they ARE changing the nature of it. They will and are, augmenting capabilities; it is the responsibility of industry participants to upskill and make them work for YOU!
I realise this change is scary. And many of the old institutions such as the Institution of Civil Engineers are struggling to cajole or inspire their more traditional members to embrace this ‘new’ engineering. I bring your thoughts back to this quote:
“Change is never painful, only the resistance to change is painful” – Gautama Buddha
To all industry participants
A resistance to this technological change will only hurt you. You will either find your job more and more difficult and less and less enjoyable, or you will simply be made redundant, as your skills no longer meet the demands of today. This is not the fault of technology, it is not something to mitigate. It is for you to consider, and prepare yourself for. We are born to adapt to new environments, this is just one of those times.
In response to Question 2
“Next year it will be a new technology, what is the point in adopting this today, when next year it will be outdated”
There is a great irony to this question.
Yes, technology moves rapidly, far more rapidly than you are able to adopt it right now. If you consider Google’s first search algorithm, it was appalling compared to what they have today. But they didn’t just write one and leave it at that saying ‘Well done people, we’ve nailed it, now sit back and relax’. No, as innovators they are constantly iterating, trying to improve and offer the next level of access to their users.
To those of you that share this fear of adopting new technology because it may be redundant in 12 months time, trust us as innovators to move with the times. As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, as innovators, we are taking on the responsibility to guide you into the technological future. Blockbuster learned the hard way, if you don’t, you die. We have no intention of sticking to an old way just ‘because’, a trap that Civil Engineering has unfortunately got caught in. If we can find a better, faster, safer, and cheaper way of doing something, we will find a way to adopt it and stay ahead of the game.
On a softer note, it is great that we have these forums where these sorts of questions can be raised, so that the fears can be allayed, and we can begin to move even the most stubborn of laggards forward. I am always open to these discussions and will willingly debate these over a coffee. As a civil engineer, seeing change in this industry thoroughly excites me and I’m inspired by the challenge you set me.