Ways Tech Can Help Construction Professionals

DENVER—Technology is helping hospitality construction professionals in all areas, ranging from risk management to modern cloud systems. While technology’s importance has grown, the construction industry has been slow to adopt it.

“Construction, in general, is second to only the agriculture industry in the slow adoption of new technology. I think the reason why is twofold: it’s the culture of the industry and the availability of technology to be implemented,” said Jason Krankota, VP of construction sales, West Region, Nvoicepay.

“There could be an appetite for it, but there’s not enough to implement,” he said. “In terms of culture, a lot of the construction industry is run by baby boomers, and they may have been the first or second generation to run the business. There has been a resistance to investing in technology when that generation may see more value in investing in new equipment or acquiring another company to expand to new markets.”

According to Krankota, much of the progression in the construction industry is driven by the owners, which could be hotel owners, a state or municipality or an equity fund seeking to build a property.

“They’re writing the checks,” he said. “There are many players in the building of a hotel. There are hotel owners, general contractor and subcontractor, to name a few. The general contractor will come to owners and say, ‘This phase is done and we need money to pay the subcontractors.’ That whole line of communication is fraught with inaccuracies and questions from owners and, therefore, they’re really driving the requirements of technology. They want the general contractor and subcontractor to use this project management software as a requirement for doing business with them.”

In addition, technology can help reduce risks at the construction job site, control project costs and mitigate payment fraud.

“In terms of workplace safety, there are companies racing to get a standardized technology. There are companies moving to virtual reality, too. Building information modeling is where you can digitally render the building in different phases of construction, plugging in a virtual reality experience where people at the job site can walk through and know the potential risks,” he said.

“I’ve also seen the use of digital cameras on the job site, recording everything and taking data back and being able to send alerts to certain people,” he said. “For example, they can see if an employee isn’t being compliant, like they’re carrying a load up the stairs and you want them to take the elevator. It can be managed from the back office in real time.”

Krankota sees payment fraud as Nvoicepay’s sweet spot. He’s witnessed what’s happening in construction in terms of phishing attacks.

“There’s big dollars going out in payments, and attackers can find out who the payers and payees are just by driving by the job site,” he said. “They will start sending phishing emails to both companies, and if someone clicks the links, it can drop this hacker’s email onto the company’s server, and it will track the email traffic to establish who the accounts payable manager is and who the accounts receivable manager is. They can craft fraudulent emails that take on the nature of those email exchanges to fool a company into wiring money into an account.”

So, how can construction companies focused on the building of hotels embrace new technology? Krankota believes it will take communication and creating a budget line item for this purpose.

“I’ve seen companies create a task force internally led by someone in the IT department, and they’ll bring in people from field operations and accounting. They’ll have a budget they work against to try new technology, bring in things like virtual reality,” he said. “It’s about having a task force to review the tech and look for real applications as a good first start. If you pair a strong invoice solution with our solution, you can centralize the accounts payable function and pay all bills from a central location to one payment service provider, driving efficiency and mitigating fraud.”