The Impact of the Internet on Bidding Practices in the Construction Industry
I think we have moved beyond the conversations about whether the Internet is going to change some of the long standing practices in the construction industry. It wasn’t that long ago that Invitations to Bid had to be faxed, rolls of drawings had to be couriered out, addenda had to be faxed and ultimately a detailed bid submission including bid bonds and attachments had to be placed in an envelope, sealed and driven across town to be submitted before time ran out. All of that can now be done faster, easier and with less risk of errors over the internet. This is a prime example of the wave of change sweeping the industry.
It is a fair question to wonder how quickly this is all happening. A recent report published by the Economist Intelligence Unit called “Digital Economy Rankings – Beyond E-readiness” takes a close look at that question. The study takes a much broader view of the world than my narrow interest in the construction industry but is none the less interesting. One of the conclusions of the report is that “ … the digital economy rankings demonstrate that there are many ways to harness the power of the Internet to improve economic prospects and the lives of people.” Referring back to the scenario described above it is clear that this is absolutely true for the construction sector. New technologies are revolutionizing long standing practices.
One of the more fascinating statements made is that “Innovative digital practices and applications are arguably being conceived and put in practice in the emerging world faster than in the developed world. Simply put, there are no alternatives but to become “more digital” with whatever assets are available.” To me, this reinforces what we see in practice. People and companies don’t want to change their practices when the status quo is an option. If there is no option they are more likely to adopt the innovation. Just think how much further ahead we could be if we had the same attitude towards new technology.