End User Technology AdoptionIf you missed the webinar, you missed out.

Last month, AEM’s Brooke Konopacki, John Somers and Sara Feuling presented CE Technology Adoption Insights, an overview of the research completed as part of an AEM Strategic Plan initiative to identify the market for education directed at end users that could drive awareness, adoption and implementation of technology.

“AEM’s CE Technology Leadership Group (formerly the Construction Digitization Task Force) reiterated the need for this research to identify the challenges end users experience in technology adoption,” said Konopacki, AEM's Director of Education Programs. “Rather than focus on new technology, the leadership group shifted toward focusing on the technology that is currently available in the market, trying to understand why that technology is not being adopted.”

To better understand where the end user was along their technology adoption journey and how AEM could help move the industry forward, the research team took a multi-faceted approach to the research process:

  • Market scan of other construction technology education  
  • Pre-show online survey with 720 completed responses that focused on technology adoption
  • Focus groups at CONEXPO-CON/AGG to provide a deeper understanding of research results
  • Intercept surveys at CONEXPO-CON/AGG from 678 attendees confirmed pieces of earlier research and provided insights on education program development
  • Interactive displays at CONEXPO-CON/AGG had attendees place “votes” on how, where, when, and what type of an education program they would like to learn from

Research Insights

The research led to several key insights: 

Most end users are in the middle of their tech adoption journey.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being very high, 57% of construction end users fall between 4 and 7 on their technology adoption journey. End users were asked about their personal attitudes on technology, as well as how technology is used in their businesses. Sixty-four% think new technology is exciting, while 62% still make sure the new technology works out its problems before buying.

Based on survey responses, end users were placed in to two categories – “pushing forward” and “taking it slow.” Those that were classified as “taking it slow” were more likely to be cautious about technology, to be from smaller companies, and to be less likely to adopt technology because of cost. Those that were classified as “pushing forward” were more likely to think new technology is exciting, to be from larger companies that have a technology champion, and to be more likely to adopt technology based on efficiency and productivity.

Key drivers of technology adoption are efficiency and productivity improvements, as well as cost reductions. 

End users were asked which messages surrounding technology are the most compelling, and which messages drive them to use technology. The most compelling technology messages were:

  • Improves efficiency (75%)
  • Improves productivity (74%)
  • Reduces costs (68%)

In addition, few end users think technology improves ROI (44%) and addresses workforce needs (39%). This tells us that end users are seeing the benefits of technology, but they do not fully understand the ROI and realize the full value of the technology.

The key barrier to technology adoption is the unproven value proposition.  

When end users were asked what factors are limiting their company’s adoption of technology, 46% selected “cost is too high”, followed by “limited staff resources” (45%) and “lack of knowledge or expertise” (44%). When asked to select a single limiting factor, 63% who selected “cost is too high” as a limiting factor also selected it as the single most important factor.

Interestingly, “do not see ROI” became a far more important factor when selecting a single factor. Fifty-four% of end users who selected it as a limiting factor also selected it as the single most important factor, which again tell us that end users are not fully understanding the value of the technology.

Machine control including grade control is the most highly adopted technology, followed by telematics.   

End users were asked about several specific technologies in the survey:

  • Machine Control including Grade Control
  • Telematics
  • BIM
  • Electric Equipment
  • Prefabrication
  • Autonomous/Unmanned Equipment.

End users overwhelmingly have implemented the technology, have no plans to implement the technology, or they simply don’t know about it. In short, there is very little middle ground when it comes to adoption.

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Of those that have implemented machine control, implementation tends to have gone better than or as expected. Technology benefits include increased grading accuracy (80%), improved efficiency (72%), and improved operator performance (59%).

End users selected location of equipment (83%) as the primary benefit of implementing telematics, while 37% did not know if their company had plans to implement the technology. This highlights there is little understanding of the capabilities of the technology.

AEM could fill the marketplace gap that exists in equipment technology education.   

The market scan of education showed us that there are no brand-agnostic equipment technology programs specifically targeted at construction end users.    

Eighty-three% of construction end users are interested in equipment technology education. Seventy-eight% of end users already own or plan to implemented machine control in the next 1-5 years and 29% are interested in learning more about the technology through education. End users want to be educated on the technology right in front of them, so as to get the most out of what they currently possess. They are not necessarily interested in what they might own in the future.

Opportunity for Education

With research results supporting our strategic plan initiative, this is an exciting opportunity for AEM and the industry to drive awareness, adoption, and implementation of technology. AEM members provide solutions that drive the efficiencies end users want and need. Approaching end users with an opportunity for education, on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, while companies are looking for ways to increase their efficiencies, has the potential to be extremely beneficial.

To capitalize on this opportunity, AEM plans to launch an education program virtually in 2021 with live sessions and a resource library. This education program will provide focused content to a targeted end user audience, building to an expert level. The program has the potential to expand to an in-person event in 2022.

With AEM assuming the role of educators on the importance of technology adoption, AEM members and fellow OEMs can focus their time, energy and resources on competitive differentiators. In addition, AEM can also help educate members and OEMs on the need to provide selling points related to technology, with the ultimate goal of driving increased end-user adoption.

To learn more about the education program and explore potential sponsorship opportunities, please contact Brooke Konopacki, AEM’s Director of Education, at bkonopacki@aem.org or your Account Success Advisor.

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