Is Construction Still a “Brick and Mortar” Industry?

Author: Eugenija Steponkute
Published: 07/11/2023

The aim of this article is to discuss whether digital transformation is something construction companies should pursue. Is this the right way forward, or will it remain a “brick and mortar” industry? We will do our best to answer. 

The construction industry is the least digitised sector that currently exists. Ran by the ‘old boys’, it is still seen as a “brick and mortar” type of business, but can this status be maintained moving forward? We don’t believe so. Even if opposed to innovation and digitisation of processes, the industry is still getting affected by it, simply because the rest of the world is adopting it. Ultimately, there is already no time left to waste hesitating. The “brick and mortar” status of the construction industry must change. 

Amidst growing demands and expectations, the old approach can no longer deliver the required results. It puts companies at risk of ceasing to exist. Embracing the innovation is scary and a shift many aren’t welcoming of, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. However, before you start it, you need to understand why you must proceed with it. 

How Digital Technology is Changing the Construction Industry?

Although still underutilised by the construction industry,  digital technology has already begun shaping it. Companies that embrace digitisation are capable of more accurate project planning, forecasting and resource allocation. Automating internal operations also allows them to shorten delivery times, process invoices faster and creates a favourable environment for collaborations within the whole company or separate project teams. 

In other words, digital technology is making the construction industry more efficient by eliminating manual admin tasks and boosting communication. Additionally, it does it without sabotaging health and safety concerns for on-site teams. 

Digitisation Equals Opportunities

The key thing to understand about digitisation is that while it takes an effort, it is worth every bit of it. Introducing digital tools to your everyday processes unlocks new opportunities that have the power to shape your business moving forward.

Efficiency and Simplicity

Utilising digital tools can take construction projects to a new level in more ways than one. First of all, it can significantly reduce the time you spend on admin work by automating most of the repetitive tasks, such as invoicing or timesheet calculation. Secondly, it is an approach less prone to error as there’s minimal involvement of a human. And what’s best, it can all be achieved with but a couple of clicks. 

Digitisation makes the process of both planning and executing construction projects more transparent. A centralised view allows evaluation of the progress based on a bigger picture instead of short-term metrics. Not only does this establish better and simpler control over the course of the project, but offers huge benefits when it comes to forecasting future jobs. Overall, there are many benefits for the construction sector that come from digitisation. But it, most certainly, makes your day-to-day tasks simpler and more efficient. 

Smooth Automated Workflows 

Continuing with the topic of efficiency and simplicity, we must talk about automation. Namely, it is the key player in ensuring both are achievable. The big misconception that seems to deter people from automation is believing it has to be something grandiose and complicated. In reality, activating just a couple of small steps can significantly improve the process and smoothen the workflow. For example, instead of chasing approvers of timesheets who haven’t done their bit, you can set an automated reminder to go out if the task hasn’t been completed in time. 

Processes like automatic handovers can also be run through digital solutions. Let’s say a team member finishes a task they then need to pass over to their colleague. Instead of informing them, the software will notify them it's their turn to step in. In other words, it creates a smoother workflow, devoid of back and forth. Most automation also comes from cloud solutions, that aren’t only great for saving paper. They are also very accommodating for agile and efficient collaboration due to their accessibility. Not to mention, they can be used by multiple people simultaneously, supporting real-time teamwork. 

No Success Without a Challenge

As great as it all sounds, the process of innovation isn’t an easy one. Digitising a traditionally “brick and mortar” industry will come with a number of roadblocks you’ll need to overcome. The thing that will get you through them the best is the right mindset. 

Bringing Teams Up to the Level

People who work in construction, whether on-site or in the office, often aren’t the most tech-savvy. It is especially the case with older workers who have been working in the sector for years, long before the world went down the digitisation route. The change may be especially difficult for them. Not only will be turn their day-to-day processes upside down, but they might find the new tools difficult to do. Ultimately, they might even carry on with their preferred practices behind your back, sabotaging the overall process. 

The only way to prevent that is to make sure the transition is smooth and natural. Consider practices such as introducing the change by one element at a time. Additionally, talk to vendors of the digital solutions you adopt to see if they can deploy specialists to hold some team training sessions. Also don’t skimp on communicating what these changes bring to the table and how they help your employees. Understanding the cause tends to open minds. 

Not a Free Ride

Unfortunately, nothing comes for free. Digitisation, just like any effort to better a business, is an investment. The main expense is the tools you need to bring it forward, but you are likely to spend on additional bits such as training, implementation and any potential add-ons you may need. How much you’ll need to spend highly depends on your needs, goals and the vendor you choose to go forward with.

On the other hand, this is an investment that, if utilised correctly, will be returned with a hefty percentage. Not to mention, given the steady digitisation of the industry, it is the only way for your business to stay afloat moving forward. There is also a psychological advantage to this: humans are more keen on pursuing goals and expertise when there’s a monetary investment behind it. Since you’ve poured some hard-earned cash into digitisation, you’re less likely to give up on it halfway - nor will you let your teams slack. 

The Gap to Address

There is a huge gap between where the construction sector and the rest of the world are digital transformation wise. So huge it can no longer be ignored. We hate to say this, but you cannot waste time and wait till someone else takes the first step.

No More Time to Make Excuses

To put it simply, the construction industry cannot go forward without embracing digital transformation any longer. The demands of quality and delivery times today are too high, with other things like health and safety concerns thrown into the mix. While it is still possible to get by relying on the old approach, a failure to digitise now will cost you your business. Do you think this risk is greater than the one of putting your team through the period of adjusting?

Cloud solutions are necessary to store data in a centralised location for that data will become the cornerstone of digital transformation. Not only will you feed your existing information into the tool, but also continue collecting data the more you use it. It will be your guiding star when building future processes, improving the existing ones and generally making decisions for the business moving forward. Digital transformation isn’t a one-off thing. It’s an ongoing process of its own. You automate, collect data, optimise, analyse and repeat the process. Without it, however, you will be stuck exactly where you are if not fall behind.

The necessary foundations for digital transformation include cloud applications, for example: They enable large volumes of data to be stored in a central location. This data will later be a prerequisite for standardized and automated manufacturing processes on the factory floors. Without digitization of the construction sector, the industrial manufacturing industry will therefore face massive challenges.


While the construction sector kept its status as a ‘brick and mortar’ industry, the time for it to change is now. Ultimately, the times of digitisation and automation are catching up, and if you don’t embrace innovation, your business has no chance to remain afloat for long. As ominous and scary as it sounds, the process of digital transformation isn’t all that complicated. Not to mention, when executed correctly, it will take your organisation to new heights. In fact, simplicity is at the core of it. 

By automating a variety of processes or stand-alone steps within them, you are bound to experience quicker and more efficient execution, as well as smoothen a range of workflows. In the long run, this is a worthy investment that brings back great returns. The time to recalibrate your teams, equipment and the whole industry is now. 

Don’t hesitate. Kickstart the process today. With us.

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