How much of an impact will this ability have? Bell mentions exponential timesavings. People are talking about how things that used to take weeks, days or months will now take hours or days. That kind of streamlining frees up assets to move on to new projects, allows clients to move in sooner, and drives savings to the bottom line.
The Web really flexes its muscle in terms of design and project management. Rather than wearing out service trucks and cell phone batteries getting approvals or changes, companies can center project development over the Web. Now an engineer out of town can check blueprints from his hotel room, rather than waiting until he's back in his office. Pursell explains, There are a number of companies providing some excellent products where they have taken the construction process and allowed the construction team to come in and easily set up a single database-driven project management space on the Internet. There are different levels of authority and administration, but they all know where to go to get the latest information on the project and to keep the project moving.
The construction world also stands poised to buck the disintermediation trend. Bell believes the future will see the increased importance of the middleman, whom he says will serve as an independent, honest broker. He states, We think the Web is going to empower the intermediary with all kinds of tools, templates and communication capabilities to enhance their value proposition to the tenants on the one hand and the owners on the other.
Bell has an optimistic view of the future for enabled construction, particularly in regard to what he calls an efficiency revolution. We're just at the beginning of that, and this industry is even further down that curve than others. We have a lot of runway for this industry to begin to absorb this technology and make it part of the process.