The digital transformation is well underway. A recent survey by Associated Equipment Distributors (AED), as cited by CED Construction Equipment Distribution magazine indicates that construction equipment industry leaders are well aware that digital technology is increasingly becoming the dominant mode of operating. And, in XAPT Corporation’s survey of 133 AED members, 60% said they believe the digital transformation is already taking place. An additional 25% said they expect it to happen very soon.
What Digital Systems Offer to Construction & Construction Equipment
Today’s contractors, suppliers, designers, accounting firms, lenders, insurers, and all other industry participants are converting to digital systems to eliminate unnecessary duplication of work, increase accuracy, and simplify information transmission, storage, sharing and security.
Further, external networking further provides users with immediate access to:
- The latest updates, forms, and tools for regulatory compliance.
- Platforms for document creation, updating, signing, storage, security and sharing.
- Project management software.
- HR platforms.
- Subcontractor qualification and management tools.
- Communications documentation.
- Supplier networks.
- Accounting department EDI.
- Accounting prompts for AP discounts, green rebates, etc., as well as auto-tax calculations.
- Easy, comprehensive and quick reporting.
- Customer user interface for reporting functions and project management tracking.
- Materials and services selections and pricing.
The pace of the change is predicted to accelerate as more and more businesses adopt modern digital technologies, transition files, come online, and discover the ease, convenience and myriad efficiencies gained through integrating with external networks and utilizing cloud services. Companies that fail to modernize will be left behind, unable to compete with the speed, efficiency, and access to the vast breadth of information that digital operations offers with a few clicks.
Who’s Going Digital in Construction & Construction Equipment?
The vast majority of the NAXT survey respondents, an astounding 90%, said they believe the current digital transformation will seriously challenge existing construction business models, requiring development of new skills.
Technicians must now be not just good mechanics, but also have strong computer skills. Company owners and officers, project managers, accounting department employees, customer service reps, purchasing agents, HR staff and field employees must all acquire familiarity with digital applications relevant to their tasks.
Even customers find themselves in a new world of vast online access to ready information on parts and services. These days, manufacturers and service providers offer virtually everything online. Now, the newer generation of equipment owners and rental operators are coming online as well.
All the new technology has also opened up the marketplace to new competition, according to survey respondents. As a result, most respondents said that what was once exclusive territory is now becoming more vulnerable. In fact, the AED survey found that 77% agreed to some extent that this is a concern. (Agreement ranged from somewhat to strong, according to CED’s report).
The message is that customers are becoming much more tech savvy now, and they can easily go elsewhere these days, to work with companies that offer the efficiencies that firms still relying on outdated pencil and paper systems simply can no longer match.
Advice for Construction Industry Businesses Waiting to Digitize
Fortunately, 80% of the AED survey subjects and the “vast majority” of the NAXT respondents indicated that they believe their companies are utilizing big data effectively to drive and develop existing and prospective business. Also, a spectacular 79% said they’re ready, at least to some extent, to undergo new digital transitions.
It’s also good news that a huge majority, 77% of the AED survey participants, said that their firms do have a person dealing with digital initiatives and channels for digitization, per CED’s reporting. This explains their confidence that they are prepared for the digital transformation.
However, 36% of those who responded said they believed more investment is still needed in software system capabilities if they are to remain profitable. The remaining challenge for many is balancing the need to maintain cash flow with the need to invest in new technology.
Smart businesses will push forward with their tech upgrades, even if you experience the natural initial resistance to change from some employees, and even from some customers. Help employees understand that they can become freer to do more proactive tasks, such as servicing backorders. And, show customers the enormous benefits in being able to view the whole array of options for a given part, for example, instead of relying on phone descriptions from a parts rep, or having to physically go to a dealership to examine selections.
Now is the time to become accepting of modern technologies and take advantage of the bigger world or opportunities it presents. Companies that think in terms of being aggressive about adopting the best ways to help their customers will prevail in the new tech era of the construction equipment industry.