Drone Innovation

GUEST ARTICLE: The new technologies helping construction companies to accelerate innovation

  • 3 Nov 2022

InnovationMaintaining a competitive edge is driving continued innovation and IT investment across the construction sector. But staying ahead of rivals is still easier said than done. Rob Smith, CTO at cloud services provider Creative ITC, discusses the latest trends and technologies helping firms overcome innovation barriers.

“The endless pursuit of competitive advantage means investing in new technologies has become not just a necessary cost for construction firms, but a crucial route to revenue and greater ROI. It’s a trend will continue to dominate the industry. With the global market predicted to grow at a rate of 10.7% CAGR, reaching nearly $16 billion by 2028, technology continues to drive advances in design, sustainability, health and safety, and shape new commercial and operational models across the sector.

Rising adoption of AI and machine learning is helping construction firms reduce project risks and costs, while robots, drones and other human-free construction processes are keeping people safer on site. Design processes are being enhanced by new visual effects and digital twin simulations to make the metaverse 3D-world more tangible. Purpose-built, enterprise-scale VDI solutions are reshaping how businesses operate by enabling remote working and improving supply chain collaboration; and new, tech-driven construction techniques like 3D printing are being explored to transform project costs.

But these new tools and technologies are in danger of becoming the straw that breaks the camel’s back. As digital transformation gathers pace, legacy systems, specialist industry apps, massive datasets and huge image rendering requirements all too easily obstruct project delivery and put the brakes on innovation. As well as rapidly spinning-up IT for new project teams, there’s growing need to improve user experience in the new hybrid working era, collaborate better across complex supply chains, and strengthen defences in the face of increasing cyberthreats. In-house technical teams have never been so overstretched.

Strengthening security

Cyber criminals have woken up to the potential to halt major infrastructure projects and damage reputations of construction businesses. With nearly half of UK built environment firms having suffered a ransomware attack in the past two years, it’s no surprise that two in five UK IT teams feel overwhelmed by security alerts.

In response, construction firms are rethinking their approaches to operational resilience and have begun to adopt new cyber security models. Security Operations Centre-as-a-Service (SOCaaS) solutions make it fast and easy for organisations of all sizes to deploy world-class security provisions that continually guard against attacks. Combining the latest cloud technologies with human expertise, SOCaaS providers complement in-house IT teams, ensuring rapid, real-time threat responses around the clock, and applying that learning over time to strengthen cyber postures and resilience.

Enabling global collaboration

In a truly global industry sector, it’s not unusual for business data to be accessed and stored across multiple solutions, formats and geographies. This unstructured data is an industry-wide issue making it difficult for remote workers and virtual teams to perform effectively as they struggle to access, validate and share data. IT teams are left battling complex data islands, server sprawl inefficient use of storage resources and poor data recovery times.

New purpose-built solutions like Cloud File Services now enable construction firms to overcome the problem, offering a more centralised and secure storage setup. Data retrieval speeds are dramatically accelerated using local file caching, which serves up active data much faster to users. There’s also less risk of duplicate file versions and document corruption or loss.

Simplifying system modernisation

Updating legacy systems remains a huge obstacle to innovation for the construction industry. With major construction projects taking years to complete, firms are often left exposed to old software that’s difficult to scale, integrate, maintain and secure. Specialist apps may have been developed by people no longer with the company, and each may be separately licenced and hosted from multiple servers and virtual machines.

Specialist providers with in-depth knowledge and experience in the construction sector are now helping to smooth digital transformation journeys for building firms. Creative’s Modern Application Platform (MAP) is designed to de-risk legacy system updates while stretching budgets using advanced Kubernetes and containerisation technologies. MAP provides a one-stop-shop solution for updating older software, while simplifying scary cloud transitions and reducing costs and modernisation lead times. This also releases internal IT resources for more strategic innovation projects.

A new breed

The drive for innovation shows no sign of abating across the sector, but digital transformation journeys are growing ever harder to navigate. Virtualisation is snowballing, while compute and storage are coming closer to the edge. There’s growing demand for greater workload mobility, automated operations, improved performance and availability of IT resources.

Savvy construction firms are turning to Infrastructure-as-a-Service models from MSPs with a successful track record in the industry, helping them to stretch budgets and resources and reap maximum ROI from their IT investments. This new breed of construction sector IT specialists is developing purpose-built solutions designed to overcome industry challenges and futureproof digital transformations. These emerging technologies will be the means to accelerate innovation across the industry and help firms to seize a competitive edge.”

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