Insights and best practices for construction management technology and project delivery

  • February 2, 2018

Three technology trends shaping the future of design and construction in 2018

The digital construction revolution is rapidly underway and will continue accelerating in 2018. The engineering and construction (E&C) industry is embarking on a new era, with technology changing how companies design, plan, and execute projects. E&C spends $10 trillion on construction-related goods and services each year, and is “ripe for and capable of transformation.” (source) Global E&C plans are unfolding daily, including creating new smart cities, LNG operations, national infrastructure programs, and even construction for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. According to a recent McKinsey report, adopting new technology could boost the industry’s value by an estimated $1.6 trillion, adding about 2 percent to the global economy. So, what major E&C themes can we expect to unfold as we face the new year? Here are three key trends that will shape design and construction in 2018:

1. Continued industry digitization

Digital adoption is a massive opportunity for companies who leverage the right technologies. Within ten years, full-scale digitization will lead to huge annual global cost savings. For non-residential construction, this includes $0.7 trillion- $1.2 trillion in Design, Engineering & Construction phases, and up to $0.5 trillion in Operations phases. Opportunities within the E&C space are only beginning. This past October, we hosted our second annual Construction Technology Summit 2017 (#CTS2017) and discussed how global construction companies must adopt a digital first mentality-- or risk being left behind. The Engineering & Construction (E&C) industry is already adopting many of the digital technologies we discussed at #CTS2017, including: digital sensors, mobile devices, BIM, augmented reality, virtual reality, drones, 3D scanning and printing, autonomous equipment, and advanced building. These technical innovations help companies improve their processes and fundamentally transform how building and projects come to life. Technology is also radically shifting traditional business partnerships into the building blocks for digital ecosystems. As the construction industry shifts towards adopting cloud-based platforms, businesses must quickly develop strong partnerships to prepare for a rapidly growing collaborative network. Aconex is at the heart of this E&C ecosystem. Automated data syncs between the Aconex cloud platform and other systems like Dropbox, Box, and Earthcam reduce duplicate entries, prevent errors, and save precious time.

2. Data and insights will play a greater role in project delivery

Data is everywhere. In fact, Forbes believes that “data is the new electricity”. Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data—enough to fill 10 million blue ray discs. If these blue ray discs were stacked on top of one another, their height would be equivalent to the height of four Eiffel towers. This incredible amount of industry data will continue to exponentially grow. For example, the largest infrastructure projects produce an average of 130 million emails, 55 million documents, and 12 million workflows. Construction companies are using this massive quantity of data to perform a wide range of tasks, including: detecting risks early, making proactive decisions, and tracking projects to assess which processes are trending within their organizations. The opportunity is ripe to share data across companies—and the entire ecosystem—to drive best practices and continuous improvement.

3. Increasing need for greater security

With the new year upon us, it’s essential for E&C professionals to trust that their data is secure. A 2017 UK government survey revealed that nearly 7 out of 10 large businesses have suffered a cyber breach or attack at some point, adding up to hundreds of billions in losses. Contractors cringe at the possibility of their project information falling into the wrong hands. It’s more important than ever to ensure the following: a) no external parties can alter or delete the trail of communications and documents shared among organizations and b) companies need ISO 27001 certification and two-step verification processes set in place. In May 2018, the all EU residents and companies must follow the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to help protect their data. Any company dealing with data owned by EU businesses need to follow these guidelines. The E&C industry can proactively protect itself by incorporating cyber safe technology into their processes while learning from other industry leaders in the information security space. Aconex continually sets a high bar for security and compliance across all its regions globally. We’re committed to helping our customers adhere to the GDPR through our robust privacy and security protections. Our company has obtained internationally recognized certifications such as ISO 27001, and we continue to invest in important programs on our information security roadmap, such as FedRAMP. Aconex is focused on achieving compliance with the GDPR once it becomes enforceable later this year.


According to Forbes, may organizations feel reticent to embrace digital transformation because of their fears of cannibalization - of shaking up their profitable ways of doing business and replacing it with something new and unknown. But disrupting one’s own business may be the only way to not be left behind entirely. Ganesh Ayyar, CEO of Mphasis, puts it this way: “If you don’t embrace cannibalization . . . you will stop in your tracks and not progress.” It’s an enormously exciting time to watch how the E&C industry will continue to evolve in 2018. At Aconex – with the world’s largest project database of industry data, we’re proud to be a part of this digital revolution. Construction leaders who want to stay ahead of the competition will quickly embrace digital technologies to help reshape the future of our industry.

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