Just as Amazon has created turmoil in high street retail, Apple disrupted the music industry and Facebook changed the way we keep in touch, new technology, most of which is becoming available now, is about to change the way we do business in Construction.
Is your business going to be the next Blockbuster – killed by an obsolete business model, or will you be the Netflix of building products, taking action now to take advantage of the disruptive potential of AI? It's time to incorporate this new technology into your construction marketing strategy.
The Future of Construction Marketing
We’re at the dawn of a new age
What it will end up being labelled is anyone’s guess right now: the age of the robot, the age of AI, the fourth industrial revolution.
But whatever we end up calling it, we are on the cusp of a highly disruptive technological advance that will destroy many traditional businesses and create a new breed of hi-tech, forward thinking firms that are using artificial intelligence to engage with the marketplace in a whole new way.
It may seem far-fetched, but consider this scenario from some point in the not too distant future.
Jim has just finished his workout at the gym and is being dropped off at the office by his car. It will shortly head home to take the kids to school before getting some new tyres fitted and then picking up some groceries from the supermarket.
The groceries were ordered by his home digital assistant. It got an update from the new fridge that knows what it is running low on and what the family are planning to eat this week.
The digital assistant has chosen the groceries from the supermarket out of town that has some great offers this week. Last week, the fridge ordered from the local shop.
Jim’s wearable knows that his blood sugar is low after his workout and has arranged for a coffee and muffin to be ready for him at his desk just as he arrives at his door.
The office is cool. The building’s AI has adjusted the air conditioning and closed the brise soleil on the east and south sides of the facade in advance of the outside temperature peaking at 27C at lunchtime. There is a larger than usual shipment of water being delivered too, in anticipation of the warm day and two large meetings that are scheduled at 10.00.
Jim settles down, grateful for the blueberry treat, and scans his inbox. The mail that he is waiting for has arrived. The client has signed off his new mixed-use development in the heart of town.
At last Jim can put the plans into action. His latest CAD package kicks into life. The design team has set out the parameters that are required for the building: occupancy, energy consumption, acoustic performance, structural calculations, etc.
The software now specs out the building based on meeting these performance criteria, comparing products in real time based on cost, lead times, customer reviews and performance of past projects. Off-site, modular techniques are preferred, speeding up construction and enabling the client to generate revenue quicker.
Product suppliers that miss out are invited to bid for the work via an online auction in an attempt to reduce cost. Those with poor customer feedback and reviews, or not meeting the performance spec will not be invited to price.
The new cost model is confirmed, and GANTT charts updated. The project is ready to go. Labour and management requirements are calculated and tenders sent out to contractors who have the capacity, expertise and resources to undertake the project. Priority is given to those that have invested in robots to carry out tasks such as bricklaying, painting and plaster boarding – these firms can be relied upon to deliver on time and at the correct quality.
In a few weeks’ time, the job will start on site.
Is this science fiction?
It isn’t as far-fetched as you may think. All of the technologies that enable machines to help us and interact with our lives are either in development or currently available – think about Alexa or Siri.
Digital assistants and the technology behind them are becoming increasingly skilled, and the goal must be to give them greater and greater functionality and influence over our day to day activities.
Over the next decade, the digital landscape will change again. But this won’t be a tremor, it will be a seismic shift. Big money is invested heavily in AI. Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple are all battling it out for dominance in the space, and these are some of the largest corporations on the planet.
They primarily to take control of consumer spending, but it won’t be long until B2B comes firmly into sight and construction will be disrupted.
Just as Amazon has disrupted high street retail and Apple disrupted the music industry, it is likely that a major player will emerge to change the rules of the game: connecting clients, specifiers, contractors and suppliers in new ways, making things quicker, easier for us all and probably saving money for us too. But, ultimately, they will control the supply chains and have the real power in this global industry.
The impact of AI will be far-reaching. The technologies will revolutionise the way that the market interacts. The market will need to adapt to new dynamics, while businesses will need to change their processes to survive.
Imagine ‘Minority Report’ for specifiers.
AI will help specifiers navigate the complex process of selecting the right product for a project; you could ask your digital assistant for a glazing solution for a south facing office project in Brighton. The algorithms would factor in historical weather and temperature information, the coastal location, building regulations, sustainability data, local availability, price and other factors to propose suitable systems – all of which can be added to your Level 3 BIM model or beyond.
Data will drive selection decisions, not necessarily brands.
What will happen to brands?
The impact on big brands could be catastrophic. From a marketing perspective, brands usually get over 60% of their website traffic from branded search, i.e. a keyword that includes their company or product brand name.
Brands were created to provide reassurance, security and trust in return for customer loyalty. However a digital assistant or algorithm will seek other trust signals other than a name. The products and services that offer the best performance, price and trust signals such as reviews, will be preferred and take considerable market share.
New distribution channels
Being able to order directly from your selection/specification app can only be logical next step. Manufacturers drop-shipping on behalf of the software solution provider, or Amazon’s point-to-point network muscling in on the Construction supply chain perhaps.
Who will control the route to market in the future and what impact will that have on a manufacturer’s influence in the market?
Marketing to AI platforms
Who will you market to in 10 years’ time? A specifier? A contractor? Or an algorithm? We have to assume that marketing to AI will be the new SEO, trying to align your offering not only to the people who will physically use and install your solution, but also ensuring that the drivers behind your new route to market are correct too.
Are you ready for the future?
It would be easy to simply dismiss this future vision as fantastical and sci-fi gone mad.
We can already see the majority of building product businesses struggling to fully get to grips and take advantage of the technology that has been available for several years.
You could point to BIM as a case in point, has it really changed anything? It's a question that we hear often and the answer is 'Yes' and it will change far more yet.
However, being aware of the possibilities and creating the most amazing experience for specifiers and installers is going to be where you can create genuine competitive advantage in your space.
Much of this technology is ready now and will only get better, cheaper and more widespread.
Talk to Insynth about how you can strategically take advantage of the latest technology to power your sales, marketing and customer service and turn science fiction into a reality for your business.
As the only HubSpot certified agency to major on construction marketing, we bring together construction marketing strategy, digital strategy, website design, SEO, content marketing, email marketing, sales automation, marketing automation and HubSpot CRM implementation to produce successful campaigns and great results for our clients.