I recently had an opportunity to spend a few days in Chicago at Procore Groundbreak 2023—and while the product announcements certainly hit the mark in terms of meeting the needs of today’s contractors—it was the conversations around workers and culture that had the greatest impact. And to be candid is what the writers, influencers, and attendees are still talking about will continue to talk up in the days to come.
Tooey Courtemanche, founder and CEO of Procore, kicked off the show saying everyone in the audience had an obligation to take on the challenge to transform the construction industry, saying we must focus both on digital as well as cultural transformation.
By 2030, 30 billion people will need new housing and infrastructure. The desire for change, and to change quickly, is very apparent, and contractors and builders must be the ones to build all of this.
“We have an opportunity to improve the way we all work—not just with the technology that we use, but how we all work together,” says Courtemanche.
Procore made many announcements at its event including Procore Copilot, which is a new artificial intelligence-powered conversational and predictive experience that will provide customers the ability to automate time intensive, manual processes across the Procore Platform. Procore and Microsoft are working together to extend the power of Procore Copilot enabled by Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service, into the Microsoft products Procore’s customers use every day.
“What we are hearing from customers a lot is we just need to make their job easier,” says Steve Davis, president of product and technology, Procore. “The big shift to persona-based experiences and conversational experiences is where we want to take the product.”
Davis goes on to explain that the most foundational layer is to have a platform that is event-driven, which means everything is an event that flows through a data mesh in realtime. The next piece is the data stored in a way that can now be beneficial for the customer from an analytical perspective and from an AI perspective, and most importantly, from a generative AI perspective.
“We have been working hard at that platform and that is part of what we are launching now,” says Davis.
During the event, the company also announced Procore Connectability, which gives any two or more companies the ability to share data with one another. Here’s how it works. Customers can give their networks access to the latest drawings via Procore’s Drawings tools, keeping all project leaders and their teams on the same page with the most accurate drawings. Users can connect RFIs (requests for information), submittals, BIM (building information modeling), and documents within the Procore platform.
These were two of the biggest announcements at the event, but the organization also touched on other key challenges in construction including: mental health and the worker shortage, just to name a few.
Who Will Get Us There?
Only 30% of businesses are very confident they have the necessary skills in the next 12 months. The construction industry is facing an uphill battle as we enter a new era of innovation.
“3 out of 10 is not good,” says Sarah Hodges, chief marketing officer, Procore. “When I think about construction, there is a stigma in the industry about what is perceived to be a rough and rugged industry.”
She goes on to say that we have to make sure that people are attracted to this industry and that they are attracted to stay in this industry.
In a different conversation at the event, Courtemanche told me, “I talk to customers all the time and their No. 1 issue is skilled labor, getting people in the door.” He goes on to explain that there are two ways to look at this: New technology will bring people in and antiquated, old technology will repel people from the industry.
“The other thing that is interesting about generative AI is that you can take the complexity of construction and let the large language model distill it down into something that is really understandable,” he says.
Over on The Peggy Smedley Show this week, I am answering the question: Who is the worker of tomorrow? At Groundbreak, Courtemanche, Hodges, and Temple Grandin, an author and speaker on both autism and the workforce, all shared key insights that give a fuller picture of who the worker of tomorrow needs to be. I explore the topic much deeper on my podcast this week. But I will sum it up with what Hodges communicated to me at the event. They are a data-driven, technology-enabled problem solver.
“As AI becomes more democratized and more accessible, the problem solvers of the world are going to have a copilot, an assistant, at their side at any moment in time,” Hodges says. “That is only going to accelerate their ability, and their time, and their capacity to solve even bigger problems.”
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