Is ConTech the next FinTech? Four #CTS Trends from CEO Leigh Jasper

Leigh-Jasper-contech-presentationWhen we started Aconex 17 years ago, construction projects were overrun with paper, faxes, emails, workflow processes, and transmittals.

There was an incredible opportunity to streamline huge volumes of information on AEC projects using the Internet. We decided to move on that opportunity, and Aconex became the pioneer of digital project delivery, connecting teams to build the world.

Since then, we’ve come a long way – and it’s just the beginning. According to Oxford Economics’ Global 2030 forecast, construction will grow more than four percent annually over the next 15 years. As an industry, we have an incredible opportunity to change the world of construction technology — which is why Aconex was thrilled to once again host the second annual Construction Technology Summit (CTS). The event, held on October 25 in Melbourne, brought together 500 of the industry’s leaders to discuss the most pressing issues we face.

Each year, I continue to be amazed by the amount of innovation that continues to proliferate our industry. One thing is clear: global construction companies need to accept and adopt digitization in the businesses, or they will be left in the dust (literally). Here are some key takeaways from the conference that I wanted to share:

1) The rise of digital ecosystems

The digital ecosystem is an increasingly global, multi-industry comprised of stakeholders and partners (including suppliers, institutions, and customers) who are committed to including additional functionalities – like APIs – to software platforms. The ecosystem is an incredible opportunity for the construction industry to drive better results, increase project efficiency, and achieve higher-quality outcomes for end users. For example, ecosystem advocates are beginning to prioritize how APIs connect systems together. APIs essentially enable technology blocks – like Lego blocks – to be pulled together and assembled.

2) Shared data is a huge opportunity

The incredible amount of data in this industry continues to grow exponentially. For many companies in the industry, their data has doubled in the past year. Our ability at Aconex to capture and use that data is the best in the industry. We want to support users from the outside—from the head office to the field – to capture and use that information to drive better projects.

The ability to use data between companies is particularly interesting. For example, one project may use data, followed by multiple projects and companies leveraging this information, before data ultimately spreads across an entire industry. We have an opportunity to use and share this data- keeping in mind some of our information we don’t want to share, of course. However, data around safety, for example, could benefit the entire industry and save lives. The opportunity is ripe to share data across companies and the entire industry.

3) The triple threat: tech experts, builders, and influencers

During CTS, many people spoke about culture and the importance of people in organizations. Our speakers shared how it’s critical to marry employees with technology. It doesn’t become just about technology, but, about how people use the technology.

One conference attendee said, “[W]e should all be a ‘triple threat’, like Hugh Jackman, and be able to act, sing, and dance”. Here’s how this triple threat analogy extends to technology:

  • Digital champions (tech experts)
  • Experienced builders (people who know how to build and construct)
  • Industry influencers (individuals driving digital change within the industry)

If we can combine these three elements to drive change within our companies and the job site, we can do an incredible job transforming the construction technology.

4) Technology paradigm shifts and “getting on with it”

Construction technology in Australia is pretty much ahead of every other market in the world, including the United States. It’s incredible how Australians have adopted technology and “got on with it”. When we started Aconex, we were using dial-up modems. Our first customers were prepared to use Aconex; often with no Internet connection on site. A few of our customers didn’t even have computers on site until they decided to use Aconex. With that said, they adopted, tried things out, and got going.

These individuals have a “fail fast” mentality; if something doesn’t work, they try something else. Their ability to innovate and drive new processes is key to driving transformation across the industry. Our customers are looking for paradigm shifts that can introduce us to a whole new way of operating; whether it’s collaboration, drones, BIM, or mobility. Whatever it may be, they take a 10x view of how we can transform our projects.

Contech can be bigger than FinTech

About ten years ago, Marc Andreeson wrote a famous piece on why software is eating the world. Based on his metaphor, you can see how software is chewing through industries– whether it’s banking, transport (like Uber), and accommodations (like Airbnb). The construction technology sector can be bigger for Australia than even financial technology. Customers, partners, software providers, and other technology providers have an opportunity to participate in the global construction market. Thanks to technology, construction is proving to be a much more efficient and productive industry. Construction is right in the middle of “software eating the world”. It’s an enormously exciting time to be in the industry.

Click here to watch Leigh’s complete speech.

Leigh Jasper

Leigh Jasper

Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder at Aconex
Leigh Jasper is the founder and CEO of Aconex, the world’s most widely used construction collaboration platform connecting teams to build a better world
Leigh Jasper