The metro Atlanta area is the fourth fastest-growing metropolitan area in the United States, with 1,500 people daily calling the city their new home. In terms of construction employment alone, Atlanta has experienced nearly a 55% growth in jobs since 2012, compared to a 29% average across the US.
On October 1, at the Autodesk Construction Solutions Atlanta Roadshow, we gathered hundreds of builders from all over the Southeast at the city’s iconic Georgia Aquarium to discuss how builders can meet this exciting but rapid growth head-on with radical digital transformation. From in-depth panel discussions and breakout sessions with industry leaders to product sneak peeks, attendees had plenty of opportunities to learn from those driving change within the Atlanta construction sector.
Here are three big takeaways from our customers and industry partners in the Big A, across the Peach State and the greater Southeast.
1. Effective Construction Technology Will Close the Gaps
At the opening keynote, PlanGrid Co-Founder and Autodesk Construction Solutions Chief Software Architect Ralph Gootee noted we are in the construction industry’s “golden age of productivity.” However, while technology solutions service almost every corner of the construction industry’s needs – from design to construction and through to operations – the majority of projects still operate under the status quo of manual processes, fragmentation and rework.
During the keynote’s executive panel, Skanska’s National Preconstruction Technology Manager Kelsey Stein highlighted the need for integration between technologies to help further fill current productivity gaps in the industry. “Integrations are important because they save our employees the additional time it takes to switch between different software platforms and get to the information they need.”
Also during the keynote, Steve Manning, Head of Product Management, Site Construction, Autodesk Construction Solutions, shared more about Autodesk’s product suite and how the company is innovating to address the challenges of collaborating, reducing waste and building a more productive industry together. He noted that closing the gaps on inefficiencies requires a focus on end-to-end, digitally-connected solutions under one data environment – one focus that Autodesk is creating with new integrations that allow information to flow freely between products and between design, construction and operation workflows.
2. Build Technology Success First from Within
Discussions throughout the day reiterated that technology itself is not enough to deliver successful projects. As Chick-fil-A Construction Manager Jeff Shaw noted in the breakout session, “Creating a Competitive Technology Advantage,” technology is ultimately a tool that connects the industry’s most valuable resource: people. To realize the promise of technology solutions and accelerate productivity, it is essential to focus on what individuals need, build internal support and establish collaborative culture across teams. Owners, contractors and technology providers all have to work together to ensure technology is successfully adopted across the workforce.
“Avoiding complacency is key to staying ahead. We can’t stop pursuing what’s next to serve one another and our communities better.” – Jeff Shaw, Construction Manager @ChickfilA. #PlanGridRoadshow #PlanGridChampion #Autodesk #Atlanta @BIM360 pic.twitter.com/Me9zIM2r8M
— PlanGrid (@PlanGrid) October 1, 2019
Create an internal framework for success
During the breakout session, “Embracing Construction Technology,” Jon Minick, Technical Solutions Executive at Autodesk cited a recent FMI report that highlighted the key challenges for technology deployment:
Drawing from his more than eight years of experience within the construction industry, Jon suggested four critical items to consider when looking for the right technology:
- Align on the problem you’re trying to solve
- Evaluate technology options
- Incorporate the end-user
- Create the implementation roadmap
Invest in technology training
As part of the “Embracing Construction Technology” session, Eckardt Group’s Rachel Kines, VP of Procurement and Scott Hicks, Director of Field Operations, shared how they have successfully rolled out PlanGrid in their company. Their people-focused strategy included investing in group training. Over two days, a PlanGrid professional services team member provided in-depth and custom training for over 80 Eckardt Group employees. As a result, Eckardt successfully adopted the solution and they are now able to maintain project consistency and drive more value for clients.
“PlanGrid trained over 80 workers over two days for us and by the first half-day, they were using it. We’ve come to depend on it so much. It’s brought a lot of clarity to our revisions. I would definitely recommend the training.” – Rachel Kines, VP of Procurement @EckardtElectric pic.twitter.com/NhF4wBaLnN
— PlanGrid (@PlanGrid) October 1, 2019
Chick-fil-A’s Jeff Shaw also shared his team’s people-focused approach to technology training. To establish an environment of trust during the rollout, Jeff’s team identified leaders on their construction teams across the country and trained them on how to use PlanGrid. Those leaders, the “core nucleus,” then trained others on their teams, acting as advocates for Chick-fil-A’s new construction technology strategy. They also act as coaches available to other team members to answer any questions without judgment.
Many Atlanta Roadshow attendees were also able to attend free trainings onsite.
— PlanGrid (@PlanGrid) October 1, 2019
The event offered two PlanGrid certification classes – beginner and advanced. Employees from Integra Construction, Inc., Sluss Padgett and H2H Commercial were just a few who had the unique opportunity to dive deep into the productivity platform and ask their most pressing questions to product experts:
Interested in seeing how PlanGrid certification and training work? Read our recap from this year’s Houston Roadshow: Inside Certification: How We Created 139 PlanGrid Experts in 2 Hours.
3. Choose the Right Technology Partners
For technology to be effective in the construction industry, it should evolve with its users’ needs. Technology providers have to adopt a culture of continuous improvement, partnering with technology leaders in the construction industry to stay on the pulse of what’s next and asking, “how can workflows be further streamlined to drive more productivity, a better built world and ultimately a more sustainable environment?” It’s what drives us to continuously connect with our customers at Roadshow events like this one, and to work with our own industry partners, including eSUB and RedTeam, who were also on site with us in Atlanta.
At Autodesk, we believe everyone benefits when we work together to solve the construction industry’s biggest issues. Going back to Ralph’s remarks from the opening keynote, the partnerships impact much more than the construction industry. “We need to rise to the challenge of building more and building better in order to deliver a better world to our children.”
The Atlanta Roadshow was a small taste of how technology companies and construction firms can work together to deliver on this promise – one workflow, lifecycle and project at a time.
Next Stop: Connect & Construct Summit
While we’re officially off the road for the year, we’re not done yet. On November 18, join us in Las Vegas for the Connect & Construct Summit. Whether you attended the Atlanta Roadshow or missed the opportunity, you don’t want to miss out on this premier event for construction professionals around the world.
Connect & Construct will bring together sessions and workshops focused on implementing technologies throughout the design and building lifecycle. You can select from a variety of classes and speakers, including a can’t miss keynote from Billy Beane, Executive VP of Baseball Operations, Oakland Athletics Baseball and subject of “Moneyball.” Register for one high-impact day of construction at Connect & Construct or stay for Autodesk University (November 19-21) to create four full days of dynamic learning and networking with fellow members from the AEC, manufacturing and design industries.