We slip into our cars for the ride home from work, casually allowing the automatic driving feature to take over as we rush down the freeway, perusing social media feeds curated by algorithms. Walking into our houses, our cell phones turn on the lights, adjust the thermostat, and even alert us that the pizza Siri ordered is at the front door.
All of this, whether we realize it or not, is automation. It’s a phenomenon that literally permeates nearly every aspect of our lives. It’s also what Hitesh Dewan, Director of Technology Integration at Roebbelen Contracting, posited to a captive audience at Procore’s Groundbreak, what will usher in a new era for the construction industry. But how?
According to Hitesh, all we need to do is ratchet up to Mindset 4.0.
Take a deep breath; Hitesh isn’t suggesting we implant Wifi-enabled microprocessors in our brains and slip into the realm of cybernetics. Rather, he proposes we evolve our thinking—our mental muscle memory if you will—and encourages us to ask “what if” instead of “why not?”
When explaining his Mindset 4.0, Hitesh cited examples of thought evolution from throughout history. His technological timeline (abridged):
- 1.0 hand tools—powered tools
- 2.0 Technological revolution (steam train and telegraph)
- 3.0 Digital revolution (first calculator)
- 4.0 Computerization of manufacturing (construction is to follow!)
Think about it. We first learned to harness the consuming warmth of fire by repeatedly cracking together flints over a bed of painstakingly gathered kindling. Today, we have mobile apps that activate our Death Star-shaped fire pits at the touch of a button from nearly anywhere in the world. And what made all of that possible? The cross-pollination of multiple technologies from disparate industries. That’s the essence of Mindset 4.0.
Changing our mindset in the construction industry requires us to take a hard look at other industries to see what technological advances are happening (and working) and ask ourselves, “what if we adapt that technology for construction?” Hitesh had a slightly more eloquent take when he intimated, “you can only expect to see in the direction you look.”
You can only expect to see in the direction you look.
While I wistfully entertained a modern-day vision of Dick Tracy’s radiophone (maybe I’m dating myself here?), Hitesh cited the manufacturing industry—certainly not a huge leap from construction—to illustrate his Mindset 4.0 approach. “Smart glasses” provide workers with hands-free instructions, checklists, and even a camera to document their progress.
Why does this matter in construction? Because we strive for connectivity, information transparency, and gaining better insights from the data we generate.
Hitesh has a motto: “Develop your mindset. Hone your skillset. Leverage your toolset.”
Develop your Mindset
It’s this first step—develop your mindset— that’s often overlooked as new technologies enter the industry. However, it’s a prerequisite for every subsequent step, and there’s more to it than perhaps first meets the eye. Hitesh said it is crucial to first develop a culture of innovation. Polarize your employees around the new mindset to create cohesive teams that face the same direction and work toward a common goal.
Hone Your Skillset
Hitesh suggested it’s all about cross-pollination. You can learn plenty from other industries. We look to SaaS to harness the data raining from the Cloud; AI to develop an automated sixth sense; Agriculture to understand the utility of drones; Robotics to augment human ability and increase safety. In short, find the tools that help you connect your people, devices, and information.
Leverage Your Toolset
Once the cultural momentum takes hold and skill sets are defined, it’s time to realize digital dexterity (and I’m not talking about sleight of hand magic tricks). Hitesh believes that enhancing individual capabilities so that everyone shares the same level of technological savvy will create a team that reaches for technology intuitively.
This is happening. It’s up to the industry to adapt and grow.
As we consider the pace at which technological advancement continues, it’s easy to conjure a dystopian future where Skynet has usurped humanity’s claim as the top of the food chain. Thankfully, Hollywood’s sentient robots remain in the realm of our imaginations, and instead, we find our technological tinkering can help the people who build the world. Hitesh’s closing words, “This is happening. It’s up to the industry to adapt and grow.”