The legions of economists and analysts who churn out forecasts for our consideration do not have a great track record, it must be said. How many saw the worst recession in living memory coming? Very few, bar the occasional contrarian. However, as everyone in the construction industry looks to fine-tune their business model for the coming year, it's impossible not to notice the construction industry forecasts which swirl around us.
Peaks and troughs
It's always good to start with the positive, such as with Experian's latest overview of the UK construction industry. Its construction industry forecast is that the UK construction growth will average over 4% in 2015, before dropping below 3% in 2016.
“Private housing and infrastructure are expected to be the best-performing; the former driven by the impetus given to it by the Help-to-Buy scheme and the latter by rising investment in energy and transport projects,” predict Experian.
Construction industry forecasting bulls will point to the £120+ billion supply chain (almost all sourced within the UK), the sector's ability to offer world-class design skills and the low entry cost. The bears will highlight the low level of vertical integration in the supply chain, the very high reliance on subcontractors, the low levels of innovation and the reluctance to invest significantly in R&D.
Technology to drive change
If we leave the economists to debate the merit of their construction industry forecasts though, there's no doubt that the construction industry does face major challenges in 2015. One major strategic issue is how our sector adopts the latest technology and embraces the use of cloud solutions. I was intrigued to read the below feature, from a digital media analyst at the 2014 IP Expo Europe, a major international event for ICT infrastructure and cloud technology.
The writer spoke to Ahmet Tuncay, CEO of the US-based technology specialist Soonr, about the trend for companies to use applications which are not tailored to their requirements. “For example, construction companies may be using the same software as medical institutions. By specifying software to the task at hand, productivity can be increased,” were the words which caught my eye, and which should be considered by all firms in our industry looking to adopt technology.
Attracting new talent
There's also a second significant issue in our construction industry forecast which relates to how construction firms use technology - how they look to recruit talent from Generation Z. This generation hasn't simply grown up with technology, they are tech-reliant, so they simply won't choose to work in a business which can't demonstrate that technology is at its heart.
This is a typical graduate recruitment ad aimed at members of Generation Z, from Skanska. It demands problem-solving skills and good commercial awareness, but you can bet your last barrow-load of bricks, that everyone who applies will be expecting to work with the latest tech-based systems to achieve their goals.
A blooming 2015
Keep your construction company blooming in 2015 with an efficient approach - download the 7 characteristics of highly efficient construction companies guide.