The engineering and construction (E&C) sector is worth more than $10 trillion a year. And while its customers are increasingly sophisticated, it remains severely underdigitized. To lay out the landscape of technology, we conducted a comprehensive study of current and potential use cases in every stage of E&C, from design to preconstruction to construction to operations and asset management. Our research revealed a growing focus on technological solutions that incorporate artificial intelligence (AI)-powered algorithms. These emerging technologies focus on helping players overcome some of the E&C industry’s greatest challenges, including cost and schedule overruns and safety concerns.
In the immediate future, we expect AI’s proliferation in the E&C sector to be modest. Indeed, despite proven high return on investment (ROI) and widespread management interest in AI solutions, few E&C firms or owners currently have the capabilities—including the personnel, processes, and tools—to implement them.1
However, a shift is coming. Stakeholders across the project lifecycle—including contractors, operators, owners, and service providers—can no longer afford to conceive of AI as technology that’s pertinent only to other industries. Indeed, adjacent industries, such as transportation and manufacturing, are already in the process of breaking down the barriers between one another and operating more as ecosystems (for example, solutions, tools, and algorithms that were industry-specific are more likely to become effective having impact across industries)—increasing the threat of competition from market entrants that have not traditionally been capital project players.2