Chicago Build Expo 2023 brought contractors, suppliers, and construction industry experts together in the Windy City on October 11th & 12th. Fluix was delighted to participate in the event, including sponsoring a panel discussion on the digital construction stage.
Without further ado, here are our top 3 takeaways from the Expo.
1. Digitalization Is About People, not Just Technology
It is widely accepted by industry experts that the true driving force behind successful digital transformation lies within the people who embrace the process.
That sentiment echoed throughout an insightful discussion on the topic of driving digitalization across the construction industry, which Fluix proudly sponsored at Chicago Build Expo. Our Head of Sales, Brandon Hull, joined the panel alongside James Holt (Vice President of Virtual Construction at Clune Construction Company), and Mike Lawless (Senior Director of Innovation at IMEG).
The collective expertise of the trio made for an informative and engaging exchange of thoughts and ideas, alongside some great audience questions.
Empowering teams with the right technology, software, and support really is the key to successful and sustainable digital transformation. Workers want to feel that they have a say in the process, and that they will still have some degree of control over their daily work.
The fear of total automation is very real, so it is important to reassure teams that digitalization will make their work lives easier so that they can focus on the valuable work they contribute to the company.
Keeping everyone across the business informed and up-to-date on digitalization plans promotes greater transparency, which in-turn translates to greater trust. Brandon Hull summed this up perfectly, “You would be shocked at what you can do, just giving one team a little bit of autonomy to make a decision for themselves on how they want to digitize things.”
2. Building Better Diversity and Inclusion in Construction
The U.S. Bureau of Statistics reported a 52.9% increase in the number of women working in the construction industry between 2013 and 2022, and August 2022 saw the share of female construction workers hit a record high.
Despite these seemingly encouraging reports, just 14% of the 7.7 million people working in construction in the U.S. are female (U.S. Bureau of Statistics). It’s clear that there is still quite a lot to address around this topic.
Keeping the conversation open and inviting others to contribute is critical for fostering an environment that welcomes more women into the space. This was most evident in one of the best-attended panel discussions at Chicago Build Expo, Leaders Driving Equality & Change – Women in Construction. The panelists were some of the industry’s most powerful female voices.
Kasie Mathena (Vice President at AECOM Hunt) encouraged women to be a visible presence for change and progression, and also to be mentors for other women. Jaemie Neely (Executive Director of the Federation of Women Contractors) spoke about her work in creating an equitable path for women and minority-owned businesses.
Panelists also discussed the importance of education and training opportunities for women, as well as gender pay gaps and the need to keep conversations going around all of the topics mentioned.
The insightful panel discussion was followed by the USA’s largest networking event for women in construction, which again was one of the best-attended events of the entire Expo.
3. Designing a Digital Future for Teams
The digital world has many different facets to it, but everything links in with user experience. From automated processes, to digital art and beyond, it’s vital to show people what is possible when they embrace a digital ecosystem. If people can’t see the benefits, they’re less likely to champion the level of change needed for digital transformation to be successful.
Jared Stabiner (Senior Strategy Consultant at NEXT/NOW) gave a fascinating insight into how digitalization and design can work in tandem to create unique and inspiring work spaces for teams. Jared presented an example of NEXT/NOW’s project at Cushman and Wakefield’s DC office, where both real-time and historic commercial real estate data creates an ever-changing immersive environment for office teams.
In order to successfully complete projects on that scale, it’s vital to have the right team of people on-board to help you, which Jared confirmed in his guidelines for implementing a digital team. It was interesting to note the cross-business synergies between assembling teams for digital transformation projects, and teams for implementing a design-led digital experience.
Both require great attention-to-detail, “It’s important to work with experts who can differentiate between the conceptual realm and the actual facts of what needs to be done.”
Chicago Build Expo delivered an enjoyable two days of great conversation and networking opportunities, but our core takeaway is an echo of the first header in this blog post: digitalization is about people.
On that topic, we’ll give the final word to Fluix’s Head of Sales, Brandon Hull, “Everyone can take one step to get a little bit more automated with one team, and then it starts to simplify things. People can catch the vision of what you’re trying to do as a company and get on-board if it makes their lives easy and it is relatively easy to adopt.”