The Transforming Construction Technology Ecosystem, Innovative Viewpoint Clients Among Key Highlights of Day 3 of Collaborate 2018


The changing construction technology landscape and our clients’ innovative uses of technology were in the spotlight for Day Three of Collaborate 2018. Jose Luis Blanco, who leads McKinsey & Company’s North American engineering and construction practice presented a special keynote address on his company’s research of the past 10 years of the construction technology ecosystem. And, three Viewpoint clients were honored as this year’s Viewpoint Technology Award winners. These companies demonstrated innovative, forward-thinking approaches to technology, using Viewpoint solutions to solve important business challenges.

Each company was presented with their award and audience members got to hear their stories first hand through a special morning presentation.

The 2018 Viewpoint Technology Award Winners

First, here’s a look at all three award winners:

Guarantee Electrical Company — Established in 1902, Guarantee, as the electrical contractor for 1904 World’s Fair in Saint Louis, introduced much of the nation to the new technology of electricity. Now, a full-service, national, electrical contractor established in four states, Guarantee remains committed to cutting-edge technologies and modern construction management software. To fulfill their commitment, it turned to Viewpoint Vista™, and subsequently seized an opportunity to move to the cloud and digitize operations. The company added the cloud-based Viewpoint Team™ for streamlined project collaboration and document management. The company has dramatically increased the speed and accuracy of its projects, significantly reduced IT strain and spend and allowed users to work in real time thanks to extended access beyond office walls.

“You’ve got to go to the cloud — that’s where business is going. It’s better, it’s faster, it’s more secure and it gives you more flexibility,” said Guarantee Director of IT Dennis Heinle.

Hatzel & Buehler CFO Jerry Herr and Business Analyst Colleen Ward (center) accept their award from Harris and Kotzabasakis.

Hatzel & Buehler, Inc. — Wilmington, Del.-based Hatzel & Buehler’s roots date back to Thomas Edison’s first publicly owned and operated electric generating station, where John D. Hatzel and Joseph Buehler were employed as master electricians before leaving to form their own company. Today recognized as a leading national electrical contracting firm, Hatzel & Buehler implemented the enterprise version of Viewpoint’s cloud-based Spectrum® Construction Software in late-2016 to better connect its offices and operations. Spectrum helped Hatzel & Buehler by providing users with access to real-time data, relevant to their roles and projects – no matter where their “office” was that day.

Business Analyst Colleen Ward said adding Spectrum effectively changed the overall company culture, noting “Spectrum really opened up the collaboration between our office and our field and got rid of our siloes. We literally had nine libraries with distinct information in them in our old system. Moving to one vendor master, one general ledger master – just by default the structure of the software allowed us to break down siloes and started the people talking. Spectrum really allows us to work smarter.”

Stansell Electric Company Technology Product Manager Michael Arnold accepts his award from Harris and Kotzabasakis

Stansell Electric Company, Inc. — Nashville, Tenn.-based Stansell Electric has been a household name in middle Tennessee since 1940. When the company needed a better way to ensure that crews could easily verify Tennessee OneCall 811 information before digging at job sites, it looked to the tools and abilities in its Viewpoint Vista™ construction management software. Stansell created a mobile 811 lookup tool to provide foremen easy access to current marking information in the field. The company utilized Vista’s User Defined capabilities and custom reporting aspects of both Vista and Viewpoint Field Management web-based portal to create the tool.

“This tool is an example of how the best ideas come from the field,” said Michael Arnold, the company’s technology product manager. “Some equipment operators were frustrated by not having the information they needed when and where they needed it. Their feedback to the office staff led to this project.”

An Exciting Time for Construction Technology

In his keynote address, Blanco shared highlights from McKinsey’s recent research on technology’s impact in the construction industry. His presentation, “Signals Through the Noise: Understanding the Construction Technology Ecosystem” noted that the industry continues to grow and is ripe with opportunity for future growth. Already, construction makes up 13 percent of the global GDP at $1.6 trillion. And, there have been more than $25 billion in technology investments just over the past 10 years.

“Just in looking at the past five years, we’ve seen these technology investments double,” Blanco said.

He shared three key technologies he is excited about in terms of potential:

Artificial Intelligence: AI leverages technologies to perform decision-making tasks traditionally reserved for humans to better predict outcomes, design complex projects and automate day-to-day decision-making tasks. Blanco noted this can have significant impacts on project monitoring, quality control and risk management, helping contractors gain a competitive edge. “For skeptics of AI solutions, what we are seeing is that companies that have a holistic and strategic approach to AI are showing to have higher rates of productivity and profitability,” he said.

Digital Twin Technologies: These exact replicas of a project’s physical reality, including dimensions and locations of all project components, allow contractors to compare digital objects with physical ones. This allows contractors to make bolder, smarter decisions without having a lot of the trial and error of traditional construction. Technologies like BIM, drone modeling and more are all being used to build these digital twin models.

Robotics and 3D Printing: Though still a few years away from having significant impact in the construction industry, these technologies have great potential to move the industry closer to mass production. In a sense, it helps bring a level of manufacturing to construction through automated prefabrication processes, robotic arms and usable exoskeletons and metal and concrete 3D printing. “There is still so much untapped potential here,” Blanco said.

McKinsey & Company's Jose Luis Blanco talks about the transformation of technology in construction.

So, what can industry professionals do now to advance these and other technologies? Blanco noted three keys:

  • Have a strong data foundation to collect, share and analyze data. “The strongest companies are the ones that have a strong data strategy,” Blanco said.
  • Build core capabilities and invest in the training and human talent to further a sound technology strategy. “Hire new talent, get teams on board with technology and develop a digital unit within your organization,” he said.
  • Develop supportive contract strategies with digital participation in projects written into contracts and embracing project-wide integrated project delivery standards.

“You need to have both a technology strategy and backing company culture to effectively build out a technology vision,” Blanco said. “Speed is critical. When we look at other industries and their adoption of innovative and transformative technologies, we see that the companies that got there first are the ones that win it all.”

More Day Three Highlights

Here are some of the second-day sessions that proved to be the most popular among out 2,300-plus attendees:

Vista: Top 10 Cool Things You Can Do in Vista and May Not Know About — In this session, users of Viewpoint Vista™ learned about a number of features, tools and shortcuts built into the software that can help streamline their workflows, see data in new ways and realize new functionality.

DIY Custom Spectrum Dashboard AppsViewpoint Spectrum® users were shown how to differentiate between standard and custom dashboard applications, how to manage standard and custom app security and permissions and design and deploy their own dashboard apps based on information relevant to the end user.

ProContractor: Using Estimating to Streamline — In this session, Viewpoint ProContractor™ users learned how to create a project in ProContractor from Estimating using the Project Manager Worksheet, how to generate purchase orders for material and change management records from an estimate and how to produce job cost reports that include estimating data.

Mobile Solutions for Builders: Viewpoint’s Mobile Strategy — In this special session, Viewpoint clients learned the best practices to reducing barriers to mobile use on jobsites, identify mobile technology trends and they impact they will have, and how to leverage mobile and cloud-based software solutions to improve data flow and collaboration on projects.