By Ryan Dings
Speaking at our forum's panel we heard from Ryan Dings. Ryan is connected to a variety of organizations as a counsellor and consultant, including some our bronze event sponsors.
Ryan is has been involved in building tech for a number of years, and is also the Chair of the Social Innovation Forum based in Boston. He wanted to share some of his main points from his commentary during the Building Tech Forum here on the blog.
Building technology is an exciting – and relatively new – field. For all the progress we've made making buildings smarter and greener, we are just at the beginning stages of what we can do to transform the built environment.
From my perspective, building technology simultaneously presents a huge opportunity and helps us solve a growing challenge.
First, the huge opportunity. The key industries of our economy are rapidly digitizing. In many respects, software runs our lives. Despite being a trillion dollar industry, construction is a laggard. In December 2015, McKinsey released a great report listing the most digitized industries. The usual suspects are on top of the list. And at the bottom, right above agriculture and hunting, is construction.
We've made great, incremental steps in improving the quality of building performance, and we need to keep making those steps. But building is still complicated, really complicated. On the residential side, where I've spent most of my time, the process of building a home is downright taxing.
And here's where digitization comes in: for us building technologists, there's an opportunity where you can dramatically simplify the construction experience – and I think for our industry, especially on the residential side, that opportunity is right there. In the next 5-10 years, maybe sooner, you'll see someone grab it by digitizing the industry and simplifying the construction experience in a new and profound way.
Now, to the growing challenge. In many parts of the country, there's a shortage of construction labor. As an industry, we may have to adapt – requiring us to think about building in entirely different ways. Building technology can help facilitate that adaption, and overcome the challenges presented by labor constraints.
More importantly, celebrating our people will help us overcome this labor challenge. For all of the benefits building technology can provide, it will not erase the fundamental and beautiful notion that buildings are built by people, and those folks should be embraced as heartily and fully as each advancement in building tech. Technology will not displace craftsmanship, and both are equally worthy pillars of this industry. If we celebrate the people and the technology that creates our buildings, there's no doubt that our future will deliver a greener and smarter built environment.