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The future of work. It’s impossible to know exactly what the years ahead will bring to the workforce, but one thing is for sure: technology is going to play a massive role in it.
Recently PwC read the tea leaves of market and business trends to create several possible scenarios: a world where by 2030 innovation rules, or where corporations are king, where social responsibility and trust dominate business, or one where artisans and “humanness” are uniquely valued.
One important point the firm makes is that this isn’t some “far future” to sit and react to when it comes, but one that has already begun and should be acted upon. “Change is already happening,” PwC says. “And accelerating.”
AI technologies play heavily into that change. For construction, it’s safe to say that the future of work includes using machines to will help you better run your business.
The future of work in construction
Where in some industries there is a fear that “the machines will take our jobs,” construction has for years suffered from the problem of not having enough humans to do the job in the first place. Without enough people to do the work in the field, back office, and front office, backlogs today are at an all-time high.
Also, the next generation of workers being recruited aren’t happy to spend their days inputting, cutting, and pasting numbers into spreadsheets. The future of work demands technology that uses AI to do the grunt work and saves humans for what they are great at, such as innovating new ideas, planning and decision making, and building relationships.
Briq: been there, doing that!
We’ve known this at Briq since our inception. Developed with a mission of using technology to ease the workload of construction financial professionals, Briq taps into the power of AI to unify and streamline financial workflows — so contractors can do more in less time.
As PwC suggests, the “future of work” is here, and we’ve been helping contractors to prepare for it for the last five years.
How AI is changing the future of work
While AI is rapidly evolving, today it’s best described as the ability to teach a machine to do tasks typically performed by humans, but that are repetitive, and work intensive. (The training, by the way, is also by a human.)
Through machine learning, AI can get better and better at performing these tasks. Automation is the act of doing the tasks that have been learned, in the case of Briq this is by bots that rapidly complete repetitive tasks like data collection and input, or workflow management.
Generative AI, popularized lately with apps like ChatGPT, uses existing data to create entirely new things. It’s scary for many, but also hugely exciting to consider how it can be used in construction.
Automating construction workflows
To succeed with what the future will throw at them organizations must look at “the three A’s” set down in the book The Adaptation Advantage: atomization, augmentation, and, of course, automation.
Atomization – First things first, before even thinking about the “future of work” you must understand how you work, and the steps and tasks involved in your existing workflows. Today, the workflows related to projects could fill all the whiteboards in your office. Take your workflows and break them down into understandable and manageable ones.
Automation — Now that you have the workflows broken down, take the portions that are better done by AI and automate them: repetitive tasks, generating a spreadsheet, collecting, and sharing data.
Augmentation — Once all the grunt work is automated away, what’s left is an augmented experience for the workers, now knowledge workers instead of data entry robots themselves. Augmentation is getting the right information to the right person at the right time to do the right thing.
Put simply: understand the way your business works today, figure out what can be done by a machine, and use AI technology to achieve a smarter way of working. This is the future of work as we see it.
What money workflows can be automated?
While human arms and legs build constructions, finance fuels every project: budgeting, cash flow, wages, hiring costs, equipment, materials, and so on.
Technology like Briq lets organizations control the money workflows in construction, eliminating entire steps in the workflow. Briq acts like the playbook, a centralized platform to automate construction workflows from multiple departments and traditionally siloed systems.
7 workflows to automate in construction
- Project initiation
- Estimate to budget
- Project forecast to WIP
- Revenue forecast to cash flow forecast
- Payment management
- AP and credit card risk management
- Change order management
There are always humans in the loop with these workflows. But instead of spending 80 percent of their time on data entry and crunching numbers and 20 percent on critical thinking around that data, it flips the equation.
How Briq helps
Briq isn’t just a platform for financial automation. Briq solution engineers help clients to understand their existing workflows, breaking them down to introduce new ways of working — and then setting them up with automation that lets them do more with less.
And that more with less is crucial to the future of work. It means time is saved by reducing the dependence on human resources for tired, repetitive tasks.
Briq augments human ability, again, by putting the right information into people’s hands at the right time, improving planning, and helping better predict outcomes. Long-term, better planning, more accurate budget forecasting, and using AI to respond more proactively, all help avoid dreaded fee erosion.