B2B News for Thursday, December 23, 2021: Predictions from Procore & B2BNN’s People

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I almost published today’s date as 2002. I am not sure if it was a simple typo to correct or a wistful lapse into the past. Those were simpler times. There was no social media, blogs were already old hat and Snake was still the best game you could play on a cell phone. And yet, we could still predict everything that is happening today. Cell phones have awesome cameras, WiFi is mostly a blessing and remote work was possible a lot earlier than it became a reality. Even our present pandemic has been predicted since the mid-1990s and, well, there’s nothing to else to say about it, but vax up, mask up, keep your distance and try to be kind. I personally find that saying that phrase to a ska or dance hall rhythm makes it easier to live by.

Procore, a provider of project management software for the construction industry, sent us a number of predictions for 2021.

  • More AI, automation and drones: Construction will see core capabilities like project management innovated with new AI and automation. And as automated project tracking grows in importance, so too will technology like drones, as they provide a constant update of what has changed over time on the job site.
  • More robotics and prefabrication: More companies will adopt robotics such as rebar-tying robots and practices like prefabrication in an effort to adapt to the ongoing labour shortage. Regarding prefabrication, instead of waiting months for an update on the status of building a design, companies can see where the order is and when it’s coming thanks to better visibility into the supply chain.
  • Labour shortages will continue and drive change in how projects are managed: The core labour challenge will remain getting the right trade to the right job at the right time. It’s not uncommon for trades to sit for weeks at a time between projects, or for trades to be unavailable, delaying a project. Companies will feel the pressure in 2022 to have a real-time understanding of who their workers are and where they’re currently assigned.
  • Hybrid work will change how office space is used: The hybrid work model will drive changes in offices, such as prioritizing more open spaces, common spaces, kitchens and places for teams to gather. There will be a need to balance the office’s role as a place for meeting your co-workers in-person and continued social distancing.
  • Commercial will be converted to residential: As companies consolidate their offices, building owners will scramble for new tenants, perhaps trying to attract residential occupants. Office space will be converted into apartments, nursing care facilities and other uses to respond to market needs. Key factors that determine optimal reuse in a property include location, building structure, cultural significance, sustainability and ROI.
  • A focus on climate change: Many construction companies are in the early stages of addressing climate change; there will be more innovation in minimizing waste and streamlining production. There will be more focus on sustainability and creating buildings that will be resilient in the midst of climate change.
  • Startups will address more niches in construction: For the past five years, hundreds of new construction technology startups were started to solve one of the many challenges facing the industry. There are still a large number of opportunities out there to take advantage of as we head into 2022.

Here at B2BNN, where our team hasn’t seen each other in such a long time, we are still getting by on hope. We’re looking at the future and seeing opportunities for re-building the economy as a real team that configures and reconfigures depending on the project. Perhaps we won’t be sharing office spaces, but we will be sharing ideas and getting together when it is safe to brainstorm and recover our creative energies.

“I think employee experience will become the new customer experience at a lot of organizations in 2022,” said Adam Tanton, the co-founder of B2BNN. “Hiring and retaining skilled and talented workers who have a lot of options will become a critical focus for most companies in the B2B space. When I started my career in the tech boom of the late nineties companies were bending over backwards to attract talent. In my first job right out of school I was offered a great salary, benefits, etc etc, but on top of that, I was offered a vacation in the Bahamas as a signing bonus. It was the same for many of my peers in tech. That ended when the tech boom crashed but I think we will see that level of effort spent on attracting top tier employees across many different sectors this time around – healthcare, technology and manufacturing are three big ones I can think of right off the top of my head.”

Inspired by Adam’s memories, I can say I really want a tropical vacation as soon as it’s safe, but only where employees are part owners of the resort and there is a sense of fairness and sustainability at every stage of the exchange. That’s not a prediction, it’s a wish.  In terms of travel predictions, I think it’s quite clear that business travel will never revert to pre-pandemic levels. Conferences will be combined with team-building exercises and opportunities to socialize or network, brainstorm and listen to presentations follow by debriefing discussions. The pace will have to be completely different and, probably, the vibe will be more summer camp than convention hall in Vegas, at least until our social skills, fitness levels and emotional readiness for crowds recover.

Procore’s software, as well as other construction services, will need to start making adjustments in 2022 for the move from loft conversions to office tower conversions. If there is a way out of this housing crisis, it involves the re-purposing of office space from cubicle farms to family homes. Plumbing upgrades, green spaces, social, recreational and educational zones will all require massive changes in urban planning and property maintenance and management among other real estate services.

The re-development of urban areas, however, will take the pressure off the supply chain issues we have seen over the past two years and offer opportunities for both infrastructure and process improvements beginning right now.

“We are in for years of vaccines,” sais B2BNN publisher Jen Evans. “Testing will be everywhere. Business travel and entertainment will continue to be slow for 2022 while digital transformation continues to ramp up across industries out of necessity. Home offices will become fully functioning media centres while workers decide what level of risk is acceptable to them. Rampant poverty while the Great Reset, which will not be what anyone thinks it will be, comes to pass. Society will undergo some convulsive evolutions.”

Jen didn’t mention it, but she has been out feeding the homeless of Toronto while securing hotel rooms for individuals and families when the shelter system fails. We would all love to predict an end to homelessness in 2022, but again, that’s a wish not a prediction. May we learn to turn wishes into realities in 2022. That’s a blessing.

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Kate Baggott

Kate Baggott is a former Managing Editor of B2BNN. Her technology and business journalism has appeared in the Technology Review, the Globe and Mail, Canada Computes, the Vancouver Sun and the Bay Street Bull. She is the author of the short story collections Love from Planet Wine Cooler and Dry Stories. Find links to recent articles by following her on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/kate-baggott-9a0306/