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AI: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly in Construction

Generative AI (artificial intelligence) and ChatGPT are here. MarkNtel Advisors suggests the generative AI market is projected to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of around 29.4% between 2023 and 2028. But what exactly does this mean for the construction industry? What value will it provide? And what hurdles will construction companies overcome?

Perhaps it’s time we tackle this subject a little more in depth and examine the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to generative AI in the construction industry.

The Good

Generative AI will bring all types of benefits to the construction industry. It can improve safety, project management, and even hasten project delivery. It can also help generate a marketing plan or promotional videos. Perhaps the most notable benefit is it can help automate mundane tasks, while also improving everyday efficiencies. All in all, technology can help save both time and money.

Mikel Lindsaar, founder and CEO of StoreConnect, goes as far as to say generative AI can bridge the gap between SMBs (small-sized to medium-sized businesses) and enterprise. Here’s why: integrating generative AI into current products and services potentially will prove to be a vital first step for SMBs as they can offer personalized products and services that cater specifically to individual client preferences.

As SMBs become increasingly comfortable with these capabilities, e-commerce platforms can provide more advanced tools such as CRM (customer-relationship management) integration and campaign management systems that tackle a wider array of challenges faced by smaller businesses.

Of course, this is simply scratching the surface of what generative AI can offer to the construction industry. The opportunities are really endless, as I always like to say.

The Bad

There are many hurdles that stand in our way including building out the digital infrastructure, being able to trust the technology, cost, legal, and regulatory issues, just to name a few. However, perhaps one of the biggest challenges is the gap this could create in our workforce.

Joshua Peschel brought up an interesting point in a recent podcast interview with me on The Peggy Smedley Show. If ChatGPT becomes a gatekeeper, businesses need to ask how do we develop or identify people in the learning pipeline who are going to become the next generation that typically learn in the process are the people who take advantage of the materials that are now really going to be prepared by ChatGPT. People would have normally learned how to do that first pass stuff in the trenches.

Basically, this means generative AI will be able to remove some of the more nominal, entry-level, manual jobs, but the challenge is it is in these very roles that workers learn how to do the job. It is in these roles that workers learn the tricks of the trade, so to speak. So, the question then becomes, how do we train these young workers on the task at hand, while still generating the benefits from artificial intelligence? This is the question construction companies will need to ponder in the days ahead, as artificial intelligence takes off.

The Ugly

Sadly, nothing is “uglier” than a cybersecurity breach—something many construction companies are left vulnerable to, especially as there are more data access points in the era of AI. This topic can’t be stressed enough.

On this week’s episode of The Peggy Smedley Show, I am talking all about generative AI and cybersecurity. Zero trust will certainly be key—something I define and unpack in-depth on the episode. But I am also wondering if it will be enough.

People are always our weakest link in cybersecurity strategies—both internally and externally. If we want to be successful with generative AI, we must train our workers in the technology. We must consider how the technology will integrate with our existing processes. After all, it is what I always say: people, process, and technology. We can’t have one without the other.

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