McKinsey: When it comes to AI adoption, construction should look to other industries for lessons

According to a McKinsey & Company report, only the travel and tourism and professional services sectors have a lower percentage of firms adopting one or more AI technologies at scale or in a core part of their business.

August 16, 2018 |
P+W utilization modeling

Courtesy Perkins+WIll

Tip of the spear. Cutting edge. Vanguard. These are not words anyone would associate with the construction industry. And when it comes to the nascent technology of artificial intelligence, the construction industry is right near the bottom for both current and future AI adoption.

According to a McKinsey & Company report, only the travel and tourism and professional services sectors have a lower percentage of firms adopting one or more AI technologies at scale or in a core part of their business. When it comes to the average estimated percentage change in AI spending over the next three years, it only gets worse for the construction industry: it’s dead last.

Being last isn’t always such a bad thing, however. Just like how the youngest child gets to watch their older siblings grow up and learn from their mistakes and capitalize on their successes, the construction industry can look at how other industries are leveraging AI, what works and what doesn’t, and take the fast-track to AI dominance.

The McKinsey report identified five current AI applications being used by other industries that could cause an immediate impact in the construction sector:

• Transportation route optimization algorithms for project planning optimization

• Pharmaceutical outcomes prediction for constructability issues

• Retail supply chain optimization for materials and inventory management

• Robotics for modular or prefabrication construction and 3D printing

• Healthcare image recognition for risk and safety management.

In each of these instances, the construction sector would benefit from the work other industries and sectors are putting in to develop the technology. All construction firms would have to do is swoop in and perfect the technology for their own purposes—easier said than done, but still a better option than starting from scratch.

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