Can construction learn from consumer technology?
One thing that has fascinated me about construction is that unless the end consumer is wealthy they have very little choice about what to buy. Whether that is supply and demand or just that a developer decides what they think the end user needs you kind of get what you're told you will get.
Coming from a consumer technology background I am very much used to consumers voting with their feet and buying a competitor’s product or not even being engaged by the product category. If the construction builds a terrible station travellers still need to use to get around they cannot choose whether they do or they don't. It raises questions for me about whether construction will ever be under the same amount of pressure as other more consumer focused markets but what I am sure of is that consumer technology businesses have to be consumer focused otherwise they have a stock problem which leads to financial issues. Product developers in consumer tech are always reviewing performance of previous ideas and improving them based on what they learnt from the end users experience.
Is this really the same for construction?
My annual trip to Berlin for IFA http://www.ifa-berlin.de always shows me unique innovative products and services designed with an end user in mind. The 30 plus halls were full of robotics, drones, virtual reality and electronic toys that all have applications for built environment. Technology will no doubt change the way buildings are designed. We are seeing that evolution already with 3D design, BIM and some very cool digital rehearsals of buildings as a walk through.
Many companies that develop products of this nature are having a small team within their organization to explore new sectors called non-traditional channels. I am convinced that major consumer brands will be working more closely with the built environment designers to push forward technology and how we can use it to build better buildings and infrastructure projects.
At TDS we have new technology at our core and we are always looking to work with new partners and our young team to develop ideas that help us stay ahead of the technology curve. Remember when someone said its all going to go on to a computer? Then it was digital? What’s next? I think robotics and advanced manufacturing will move us all into a new sphere. Some of the things I’ve seen this week have blown my mind as guy in both sectors. Keep your eyes peeled…..or your virtual reality headset.