Digital Builder Ep 5: Expert Tips on Investing in New Construction Tech

autodesk digital builder podcast episode 5

The construction firms that are open to exploring new technologies and solutions, like APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), are the ones growing and moving the industry forward. Investing in new construction technologies has many benefits, but it can be overwhelming without a roadmap. If you’re wondering how to get started or are looking for some best practices when it comes to adopting new construction technologies, you’ve come to the right place.

In this episode of Digital Builder, I catch up with Brandon LaCourciere, Director of Customer Success at Autodesk, and Mark Decker, Senior Manager of BIM at CDM Smith, to discuss the ways in which new technologies and solutions are changing the construction industry, including:

  • What are APIs and how can they help the average construction company
  • Best practices for evaluating technology vendors
  • Common misconceptions about APIs

Digital Builder is hosted by me, Eric Thomas, of Autodesk. Hear more episodes like this one by subscribing to Digital Builder on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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

"We have to be realistic about where the construction industry is headed. Technology — especially app development — is going to become a bigger part of our business, not a smaller part." — Brandon LaCourciere

Key Takeaways from Episode 5

Always Have a Business Case for New Tech

2:22 Mark Decker:

It's really hard to not want to bring all the best and greatest tools to your company. So, first off, I think one of the best things just to always have as an underlying factor is a really good business case for when you do this. You really need to know the problems you're trying to solve and how you're going to do that. You need to communicate this, too, and find out what resources you need to make that happen.

APIs Mend Disconnects Between Solutions

7:31 Brandon LaCourciere:

The industry is populated with hundreds of tools. Every day, there's something new. Every day, there's some new application, some new tool, some new easy button to fix the day-to-day challenges. As awesome as that is for the industry, it's pretty obvious that that would create challenges where our customers become dependent on one tool for one problem, and another tool for a different [problem]. And we all know that as great as those point solutions might be, the disconnect can be catastrophic, right? The disconnect between these two tools can be a real challenge, and APIs provide that opportunity to alleviate that disconnect.

APIs Should Solve Your Pain Points

11:09 Brandon LaCourciere:

I thought what Mark did really well was that he understood the objective that his teams were trying to address. He didn't start by thinking, what tool can I buy to solve a problem. He started by understanding, here's the pain point, here's the objective that we're trying to address. And then he moved forward with solutions that could help address it. I don't remember hearing API as a part of that talk track very often. It was more about, let's find out if this thing works first. Does it solve the pain points?

In-House Solutions Can Be Time Wasters

19:47 Brandon LaCourciere:

What I see on a daily basis is, customers go through this massive effort and extreme time-suck to build an in-house solution, only to have a product vendor replace it with a feature six months, seven months down the line. Now, that's not always the case, but I've seen it happen. I can see how unbelievably frustrating it is for that person that spent all that time and energy to now see it replaced with a new feature, a new button.

Let Your Team Help You Grow 

22:21 Mark Decker:

You create an environment that allows people to grow, but do it in a structured system so that it actually kind of acts as that third party that can build something for your company. And then you just slowly build on top of that. And over time, you'll come up with a reason why you need a programmer, or you'll come up with a reason why you need a VDC department, right? These things will literally just pop into focus. If you're paying attention. 

SMBs Need to Invest in Tech

24:13 Brandon LaCourciere:

I've seen really incredibly small companies start making real decisions, whether it's having in-house labor or contract labor that helps support the development of in-house apps. I think [that’s] important, especially for SMBs, and I would argue that the perception that they can't play in this space is incorrect.

How to Start Exploring APIs

31:06 Brandon LaCourciere:

I think if you can start at a very basic level, you start to kind of get a sense of what it is and how it works. It starts to trigger this question and answer session in your head, where you start asking well, could it do this? Can it pull that? When you understand how all these different pieces work, you can start asking those really important questions of, how will the data exchange here? How will it push back here? What will the exchange look like? Will it manually update if I change data in one platform versus another? Those are the critical questions that I think start to get you inspired.

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.