How to Create Technology Culture in the Construction Workplace

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The economic leaps and bounds made as the result of recent improvements in fields like machine learning and data analytics make it clear that, when it comes to early adoption, the old proverb holds true—”the early bird does indeed get the worm.” Beyond the purely monetary advantages, data analytics is arguably changing how we generate and process knowledge as a society, while machine learning is changing how we complete tasks. To neglect these new developments could be to condemn your company to the proverbial dustbin of history. Unfortunately, many tech-savvy managers have trouble getting their staff to see it this way. This can come about when employees are distrustful of tech, or hesitate to change from a system that seems to work fine, or worse yet, when the proposed system seems too daunting or complicated to ever serve as an improvement to “the way things have always been done.” Faced with such challenges, how can one make new technology an integrated part of their work routine, in a manner that optimizes both the intrinsic advantages of this tech and the enthusiasm of one's staff or coworkers? In this article we will review some simple strategies for helping naysayers to see the light when it comes to building a technology-centered culture for a company. 

In the effort to build a data-driven company, intention is not enough. A 2017 New Vantage Partners study showed that, even of the companies pledged to becoming data-friendly, only 37% managed to reach their goals for technology adoption. As such, the right initial approach is key. The role of any CIO, CTO or IT manager is to help workers understand that adopting new methods is directly relevant to the company's goals and will improve employees' lives. The first people you may have to convince may be at the top. Upper-level management may fear that a new, unfamiliar process may undermine their authority. By emphasizing the advantages of the chosen technology while helping people to understand that data analytics is no longer purely a specialists' job can show how it can improve every level of a company. Data analytics is first and foremost a way to handle knowledge, and in this way can be as productive for Human Resources in helping to select successful candidates as it could be for helping programmers save time on menial tasks. 

Granted, choosing a technology because it is new or even because it is effective may be insufficient. Here, a combination of functionality and user-friendliness are key—even if the program set to be adopted does a highly important job, if it is too complex for your more cautious employees they may be dangerously slow to adopt it. If managers are not sure which technology to select they can even adopt a trial period where their team tries out a range of technologies that do the same job and gives feedback on each of them before deciding on one. Once the technology has been adopted, comprehensive training plays a vital role in ensuring success. Your more tech-savvy employees may not need as much, or the same kind of training as those who tend to struggle with technology. Here, peer education, as well as having the support of a few key team members, can really get the ball rolling. Personalizing training and allowing the tech advocates in your company to help the doubters does wonders when integrating a new technology. 

Even once a new technology is in place, it will take some time for both employees and management to fully acclimatize to it. Data-driven goals do not always line up with short term strategies for a company, but where they do it is essential to highlight their success. It can be helpful to set small goals before the longer-term return on investment becomes evident; for example, rewarding sales representatives for logging their sales in a new data collection system rather than the preexisting system. It is important to reward integration into the new system, but punishment for failing to comply should only remain as a last resort. Employees should be able to see that the data-driven innovation in question provides its own reward, and does not need to be regulated externally. 

Lastly, one important result of integrating these new innovations into the workplace is their impact on how responsibility and information is shared. Digital technologies are based upon a foundation of networking, collaboration and participation that stems from Internet culture, so data generated within a company must be more widely accessible to be useful. While not every employee has to have the same depth of training regarding data technologies (more often than not, it is essential to have at least one expert in the field on board), every employee should have access to relevant data. This provides a greater opportunity for both teamwork and personal engagement, whereas most current business hierarchies can trend toward compartmentalization and specialization, a tech-minded workplace is likely to be more egalitarian, with individuals having more access to information and more ownership in the trajectory of their company. By freeing up time from menial tasks and connecting employees more directly with the information they need to do their jobs, embracing technology allows both individuals and companies to expand to new heights beyond what they previously thought they could achieve.

Ellis Talton