Digital Builder Podcast Ep 2: Changing Perceptions in Construction

digital builder podcast by autodesk construction

Sometimes all you need is a little push to get the ball rolling on something big. That’s why, although we’re in one of the most challenging times for the construction industry, we’re also on the verge of our very own industrial revolution. A new global digital transformation is leading construction into the future.

Each week on Digital Builder, we explore these themes from leading experts in the construction technology field. On Episode 2 of the podcast, Josh Bone, Director of Industry Innovation at National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), joins us to share how perceptions of construction are changing due to the fast adoption of new technology throughout the industry. Other topics we chat about include:

  • What contractors are doing with the data compiled from jobsites.
  • Why construction leaders need to change their mindsets toward the industry.
  • How and why contractors are engaging more with tradespeople.
  • The value data can bring to construction.

"There's so much pride in what you do in construction." — Josh Bone

New Episodes Every Two Weeks

Digital Builder is hosted by me, Eric Thomas. Remember, new episodes of Digital Builder go live every two weeks. You can hear more episodes like this one by subscribing to Digital Builder on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

You can also subscribe to our email list with the form below so you’re the first to hear when new episodes drop:

Read on for our key takeaways from episode 2, and visit NECA’s website for more information on Josh’s organization.

Key Takeaways from Episode 2

On how construction can overcome a downturn.

12:24 Josh Bone:

Every time there's a downturn, the companies that really embrace technology take these leaps forward. I look back at BIM in my career, and I see how much adoption took place from the end of 2008 to the end of 2010. Much more adoption than took place from 2003, more than double the time and more than probably quadruple the amount of adoption. I'm seeing it right now. Digital transformation, this is a journey, and I've seen a lot of people be forced to start that journey much sooner in how they're starting to digitize processes for themselves. So moving away from traditional paper, trying to move to using apps and solutions that they can put on their smartphones and tablets to refine the process.

On COVID-19 and the adaptability of the construction industry. 

14:23 Josh Bone

This is an industry that can adapt and overcome a lot of things because it's not an easy industry. Something was thrown at us, we had to adapt, and we're doing so, and it's ultimately going to be better for us as we move forward as an industry.

On the importance of engaging with the trades

15:29 Josh Bone

The trades are where the rubber meets the road, and [we need to] get them to embrace these workflows and help incentivize them to understand what's in it for all the trades. That's electrical, that's mechanical, sheet metal, everyone. They are a critical part in capturing this data and really being that point in time of installation.

On how data can foster more trust, transparency, and collaboration.

19:53 Josh Bone:

I think data can be a common language for us that can get the GCs and the electrical contractors and the designers and the owners being more transparent in building trust, which is a big part of what we need in this industry. That can help us all be more successful around the data.

On the importance of embracing technology. 

24:25 Josh Bone:

You can't avoid the conversation around BIM. So there's BIM curriculum, there's education and training, and all of these things that are going on right now at the JATC level, that's our Joint Apprenticeship Training Curriculum, and that's where we come together, and there's a lot of change that's happening at that level to embrace this technology because you're seeing less paper plans on jobsites. You are seeing more smartphones and tablets.

On why smartphones are just as vital as drills.

26:06 Josh Bone

 You need to stop looking at your phones and tablets as extra cost to the job. We need to treat them just like we do hammers, drills, rotary lasers. The tools and things that you need on a jobsite, you have no problem putting those in the general conditions. Owners have no problem renting equipment. We need to start looking at our software and hardware very much like we do the tools that we've been using for all of these years on a jobsite.

On changing our perception of the construction industry.

28:44 Josh Bone

We have to change the perception of construction. That it's no longer about wheelbarrows and shovels, it's about technology, and that's a critical part of the way that we work. That it's a mix of blue collar and white. That every jobsite is dynamic and a little bit chaotic.

On why construction is an option for anybody.

 29:54 Josh Bone

We have to go out and attract the best and brightest. We've put ourselves in a corner by saying, "Hey, we're looking for those that don't go to college." Well, that's not the case. Let's look for those that want to go to college and do [go to] college, but understand that the world's changing too, and education is changing, as well. What we all thought of college 20 years ago and what we think of it today may be very different.

On pride in the construction industry. 

31:11 Josh Bone:

The pride side of it too, the fact that you're able to ride down the road and [turn] to your mom, dad, your children, and say, "Hey, I built that. That was dirt before I started on that jobsite, and I ran the modeling features of that." There's so much pride in what you do in construction, too. 

Eric Thomas

Eric is a Sr. Multimedia Content Marketing Manager at Autodesk and hosts the Digital Builder podcast. He has worked in the construction industry for over a decade at top ENR General Contractors and AEC technology companies. Eric has worked for Autodesk for nearly 5 years and joined the company via the PlanGrid acquisition. He has held numerous marketing roles at Autodesk including managing global industry research projects and other content marketing programs. Today Eric focuses on multimedia programs with an emphasis on video.