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Three technologies we predict will disrupt the construction industry

We reflect on some of the exciting new digital technologies the industry can look forward to. 

The breakfast event attracted 25 hand-selected industry peers along with the panel which included Glider’s Head of Product, John Adams, Strategic Lead for Asset Management, Lucas Cusack, James Franklin, Digital Construction Lead for Kier Major projects, Matthew Marson, Managing Director at JLL Technologies and Stewart Bailey, Founder and CEO of Virtual Viewing.

Here are the new digital technologies they predict will be the biggest disruptors to the construction industry:

Artificial Intelligence

James Franklin, Digital Construction Lead for Kier Major Projects, believes Artificial Intelligence is the new technology people should look to adopt for future projects. “We have government clients that are increasingly asking us to improve our PMV (Premanufactured Value), so we want to make sure they’re harnessing all aspects of MMC (Modern Methods of Construction). We’ve been doing that on a macro-level with pre-cast MEP modules and risers. It has really worked in bringing that information together as a digital twin for delivery. It is benefitting our digital teams in delivering and we have 360 degrees visibility of the process. We’re also looking at leading a working group with GS1, which looks at how we can adopt barcodes in construction.”

Stewart Bailey, Founder and CEO of Virtual Viewing added, “It’s definitely AI. I was at an architect’s office recently and watched the company produce a piece of building design they had done by scripting. So, some really clever coders had sat there and done this, and I did say to them after ‘wow, what took you two months this year will probably take you five minutes next time.’ So, I’m really intrigued to see how we can try and harness AI.

“We are already running AI across clients’ databases and we have been using machine learning across client’s databases for years. And one of our clients is NHBC. So for asset owners, you can imagine that the wealth of knowledge they’ve got is not the sort of thing that you can just ask anybody to flick through, but AI can.”

Good and bad data

Glider’s Lucas Cusack agreed with the other panel members by adding, “The thing that excites me most is the idea of the Building Operating System (BOS). If you want to do things with AI, you have to give it good information. It’s one thing to filter through fake news and real news. But it’s not intelligent enough to differentiate good data from bad data. It’s all just ones and zeros at the end of the day. It’s really important for asset owners to have a system or a solution to consolidate their data because buildings are losing loads of data and it’s so valuable. British Land has just started using Facilio, which is a great example of a BOS.”

Open source 

In the last few years there have been rapid advancements in smart technologies. John Adams, Glider’s Head of Product, felt the next step is to connect these data sources to get meaningful performance insights:

“There are challenges there that need to be addressed as some things are so expensive they can’t be dealt with, meaning they become an after-handover concern, by which point it’s already too late to do something about it. In my opinion, we’re currently doing an awful lot with sensors, but then they are leading nowhere, with information spread out across all different databases. I think we’re going to see an emergence of connection technologies that put sensor data into visual dashboards. This could come along quickly and people will be able to get a sense of how their buildings perform.”

James Franklin agreed but raised that cost is still a barrier for many. “I would like to see the open source community come out with some stuff. The technology is available to capture the digital worlds, and we need to be able to capture the information there quicker and cheaper. I think the price point is a bit too high at the moment.”


Digital Construction Week included many exhibitors showcasing the latest development in robotics and this was an area Stewart Bailey believed needed investment. “I think we’ve never even bothered to pick up the ball on robotics. I’m showing my age but I remember on John Craven’s Newsround he showed the very first Fiat with a robot welding the seams. At the time I thought ‘wow!’ and that must have been 45 years ago yet we still can’t lay a line of bricks or transport goods to site effectively. So robotics is a hard piece that we need to tackle.”


Matthew Marson, Managing Director at JLL Technologies, took a different view. He was keen to see how technology can be used to help make buildings more fun. “We haven’t invested anywhere near enough in fun! When you walk into a building, the foyer is so serious! I would love to see an investment in technology that could provide the building with a sense of personality. I don’t like the idea of mobile apps, because someone looking down at their phone rather than up at what an architect has designed seems like a terrible shame. I’d rather have a building that sings you ‘happy birthday’ when you’re in the lift. Why can’t we have a Downton Abbey where the butler is baked into the software? I would personally love Carson to greet me in the morning!”

We agree with you Matthew! Who wouldn’t love a greeting from Carson every morning?


These are just a few of the emerging technologies that will shape the way buildings may be constructed and managed in the future.


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