It’s been a decade since construction players began embracing digital solutions. In the early- to mid2010s, thousands of new market entrants offered point solutions that served existing use cases or, in some instances, created new ones. The first widely adopted construction point solutions addressed basic needs; for example, improving design capabilities or digitizing paper-based information. By the second half of the decade, industry players—spurred by end-customer feedback about their difficulty integrating point solutions—began expanding their product portfolios to create suites of integrated solutions.
While the construction technology industry is still filled with players offering point solutions or limited suites, our latest annual effort to map and understand the construction technology landscape reveals that the industry is moving toward platforms and predicts that a combination of multiple platforms will coexist in the space. As the global COVID-19 pandemic forces many construction players to digitize and use technology to ensure the safety of their workers and boost productivity, this dynamic will likely only continue to accelerate. There are significant opportunities to create value for both strategic and financial investors that are evaluating consolidation plays.
The continuing pandemic has also had an impact on the construction technology industry. As thousands of health professionals heroically battle the COVID-19 virus, construction industry leaders are also charting a path toward keeping their employees, contractors and end-users safe. Indeed, the bulk of short- and long-term pandemic-driven construction industry issues will be solved with technology. Top construction companies were already investing heavily in technology pre-pandemic. By necessity, contractors, architects, engineers, and suppliers have quickly shifted to working and collaborating digitally—from video-call site meetings to filling digital orders. While there has already been a rapid increase in collaboration technology uptake, the pandemic has also triggered a painful shakeout. Many contractors are seeing shrinking backlogs and more competitive bidding environments, which have analogously impacted the construction tech industry. Construction tech players have been forced to lay off employees and cut costs to manage cash flow.
Continued uncertainty on recovery timelines and the risk of virus resurgence could drive an additional wave of bankruptcies among smaller players, further accelerating the trend toward industry consolidation. Taking the good with the bad, we expect that the continuing COVID-19 pandemic will drive a net acceleration in the use of technology and the construction industry will continue its transformation from a highly complex, fragmented, and project-based industry to a more standardized, consolidated, and integrated one.
Construction tech in the platform era in 2018, we first assembled multiple data sets and employed advanced analytics to map the global construction technology industry ecosystem. We recently refreshed our analysis and found that the largest clusters of use cases include 3-D printing, modularization, and robotics; digital-twin technology; artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics; and supply-chain optimization and marketplaces.