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What is Disruption and Does the Construction Industry Need it to Thrive?

Disrupt is a word that’s all the rage today, and that includes within the construction industry. There’s a constant stream of companies touting their disruptive business models or technology. It’s a wonder any industry can function, given the number of companies out to disrupt them!

A mainstay of business lexicon for many years, disruption is often mistakenly used to describe innovation. A New York Magazine article entitled “Let’s All Stop Saying ‘Disrupt’ Right this Instant,” stated, “…when everything is disruptive, nothing is. Which is exactly why it might be time to kill the word disruption altogether.” 

What exactly is disruption?

Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen coined the term “Disruptive Innovation.” This term gets defined as “a process by which a product or service initially takes root in simple applications at the bottom of a market—typically by being less expensive and more accessible—and then relentlessly moves upmarket, eventually displacing established competitors.” Disruptive innovations get started by creating a new niche within an existing market or creating a market where none existed. 

Knowing what disruption is makes it easier to understand what it is not. By definition, disruption is not the primary driver evolving the construction industry. Innovation is what is rapidly shaping advancements in the industry. 

RedTeam’s philosophy is not centered on disruption, but on innovating solutions that make life easier for general contractors. Our focus is on breaking down information silos, fostering collaboration, and reducing many of the project and financial management pain points in the industry that keep general contractors up at night.

This focus on innovation is occurring in all areas of the construction sector from design, to project management, to project execution.

Design innovations like modular construction are booming in the commercial building industry. Projections indicate the modular construction market is to reach $157.19 billion by 2023, at a CAGR of 6.9%. 

The 168-room, 26-story Marriott NoMad Hotel in New York is one example of modular design innovation. According to Marriott, the hotel’s modular construction “reduces the construction timeline, curbs site waste, and noise, and results in a higher-quality product produced with factory level precision.”

Another major area of innovation in the construction industry is evidenced in the development of project management technology. This technology is helping the industry break down information silos by creating central repositories of real-time data geared toward enhancing collaboration.

 

Construction firms are leveraging innovative collaboration platforms like RedTeam to streamline project management and increase efficiencies in all aspects of a project from preconstruction to completion.

 

The construction sector is also turning to robotics to innovate. Robots are used to build structures autonomously, freeing up workers for other tasks, and increasing safety by replacing human workers in dangerous environments. These robots can complete specific tasks, such as bricklaying, mapping and surveying, rebar tying, and demolition. A self-driving, rebar-tying robot known as TyBot, which can tie rebar automatically with one worker on hand to monitor the operation, is an example of how the construction industry is innovating with robotics. TyBot was used to tie more than 24,000 rebar intersections at a rate of 5.5 seconds each on the Freedom Road bridge project in Pennsylvania.

While disruption might be the buzzword of the day, real disruption is a revolutionary change that takes months and years to evolve and is, in reality, applicable to very few industries and companies. Innovation is what is propelling many industries, including the construction industry, forward. Industries do not need disruption to thrive, but they do need innovation. In the construction industry, innovation is making a difference, creating an exciting design, increasing collaboration, and boosting worker efficiency and safety.  

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