Build vs. Buy: A Fresh Look at this AEC Tech Question

Build vs. Buy: A Fresh Look at this AEC Tech Question

When it comes to technology, the build versus buy argument has had ample discussion over the past several years and the pros and cons of each viewpoint hashed over.  Yet, this is often still a common discussion topic at AEC industry events.

In today’s technology-driven world, considerations of whether to build or buy technology has some dramatic new dimensions to consider.

First, the promise and capability of emerging technologies creates an incredible playground to drive opportunity. In a recent Construction Executive post titled “Is Your Jobsite Smart Enough?” Joanna Masterson notes:

“There’s a lot for contractors to be excited about on the technology front: drones, BIM, mobile apps, sensors, wearables, telematics, smart tools, video documentation, robotics, 3-D printing, laser scanning, generative design and much, much more. But the prospect of all the analytics, alerts and automation can quickly turn overwhelming without a firm strategy and capable IT staff in place. The trick is finding the sweet spot between doing what’s right for the company and not falling too far behind competitors.”

The last sentence deserves repeating. “The trick IS to find the sweet spot between doing what’s right for the company and not falling too far behind competitors.” As Joanna points out, when you consider the sheer number and invasive nature of these emerging technologies and couple it with the fact that AEC firms have lean to very lean technology resources available inside their organizations, the build versus buy question plays in an entirely new arena.

Technology Adoption will Make Every Company a Tech Company

Likewise, we hear claims in the marketplace that in the future, “every company will be a technology company.” What exactly does this mean to your AEC business?  AEC companies already have a very high number of technologies in play and that number will most likely continue to rise as emerging technologies gain adoption in this marketplace.

Unfortunately, most of the technology deployed inside AEC firms is siloed within various departments or even individual projects. This lack of data normalization and integration causes spreadsheets to abound and productivity, accuracy, and data access to suffer. It also complicates efforts to mine data to improve outcomes. This must change.

Last but not least, we also know that in order to thrive, companies must participate in business technology ecosystems that span various organizations. That is an understatement in construction.  Every AEC project has multiple stakeholders and partners representing multiple disciplines, each using disparate technologies.  Yet, the expectation for near real-time information and normalized data sets across owners and providers is escalating every day from multiple directions.

Need Clear Vision to Solve Tech Dilemma

Staying competitive as this technology-infused transformation takes place will indeed be challenging. You need a clear vision and strategy of investment and deployment to solve these technology dilemmas both inside and outside your four walls.  So, what should you build and what should you buy? And, as importantly, how will you tie it all together?

In a series of blog posts, we will open up these issues and dive into topics to help organize and structure your technology investments and resources. We want this to help to shed some new light on these important trends.

Learn more about the technology that Agile Frameworks offers to help you stay competitive HERE.