BuiltWorlds Venture East 2023: Construction Contractor’s Dilemma: To Share Or Go It Alone on Artificial Intelligence

Few topics in construction tech are hotter than the topic of how to develop effective AI strategies in AEC. This year’s 2023 BuiltWorlds Venture East Conference afforded the opportunity to probe questions with representatives from two leading contractors in the field Kaushal Diwan, Partner/Board Member, DPR and Cutler Knupp, Director, Strategy & Technology Investment, Dysruptek by Haskell. Rounding out the panel, Legacy Capital’s General Partner, Anthony Rish and Jay Cami, Co-Founder & CEO of ConstructAI offered additional perspectives on the question. 

  • Know your existing systems, and how the new solution will fit with them.  It was apparent from the discussion that friction often arises in AI implementation when a selected solution looks to replace existing solutions or is difficult to tie into existing solutions. More successful implementations appear to be of systems that are able to layer on top of a firm’s existing stack and draw from data in existing systems


  • Know where your data is stored and how clean it is. As a corollary to the point about being able to tie data into existing systems, contractors need to make sure they know where their data is being stored and understand how clean and interpretable it is.


  • Identify the key problem you want to solve and then go look for solutions, rather than looking for specific AI solutions and then trying to push adoption of those solutions. A significant trend within AEC firms is integrating AI solutions selectively, addressing specific needs rather than embracing it across their entire tech infrastructure. This approach seems beneficial, indicating a thoughtful adoption of AI to solve targeted problems, rather than succumbing to it as a passing trend. Larger tech companies with AI capabilities also seem to support and encourage this deliberate and problem-focused approach.


  • Know what Data Needs to Be Kept Private and What Data Can Be Shared. Data privacy and management was a major topic because some data such as client data may need to be kept private or only shared under strictly controlled circumstances while other data may already be public or not critical enough to warrant keeping proprietary.  These considerations are key when thinking about where to engage off the shelf or startup provided solutions as opposed to where to develop proprietary solutions.


  • Understand your firm’s actual AI Technical Competency - Firms like DPR have teams of people who understand how to maintain a data warehouse, data management, and even how to develop algorithms. Companies that do not have these resources generally will want to stick to simpler solutions.


  • There are lots of Opportunities to Leverage AI Beyond Project Management That May Be High Yielding and Also Simple and Cheap- Companies looking at how to leverage AI in their AEC Businesses can look at a range of options beyond project management workflows, if they are interested in leveraging AI. Designers have an increasing array of tools, while self performers may want to look at AI enabled equipment. Additionally larger generalist tech companies are rapidly developing simple and inexpensive tools for a range of tasks that are not specific to our industry but that could be valuable to driving efficiency in marketing, sales, communications, training, and a variety of other administrative tasks.

In September of 2023, BuiltWorlds launched a Research Track specifically aimed at helping architects, engineers, construction companies, and sponsors of construction projects with their Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning strategies. Click here learn more about this latest track, the meeting of the group this February and how to get involved.