Sustaining a competitive advantage is a challenge in a fast-changing industry. ROI is the key factor to gaining an advantage.
- Competitive advantage. What does that really mean? We're talking about applying technology, certainly for return in investment, but this is capitalism. We're in a cutthroat, competitive industry, and we have to have some things that are sustainable competitive advantages. That's competitive advantages that will take you beyond just the adoption of one tool. My dad, amazing guy.
He's my business partner. One of my best friends. Awesome guy. Life-long business owner. He had this cartoon on his wall for 26 years of running a Teflon company, and it was a soldier, and he had a sword in his hand, and he was on a horse, and there was a salesman down by him. Of course, you're saying, what's a salesman doing on a battlefield? And the soldier said, don't talk to me, you're wasting my time. Can't you see I have a battle to fight? The salesman was holding a machine gun.
It was a good lesson. My dad told me never to forget that lesson. He said, James, always listen to the salesman with the next technology tool that comes along, because you never know. It may be the one that's able to set you apart. But there's a second lesson in that cartoon, because the machine gun wasn't a sustainable competitive advantage. It was great for the first guy that was on the battlefield. It was great for the first 10, the first hundred, but when everybody had one, it was no longer a competitive advantage.
It was a right to play issue. You had to be able to have this to play on the battlefield. It was what you had to have to survive. Technology, tools, and construction are the exact same way. Some start out as competitive advantages. Most start out as competitive advantages. But they all end up in the bin of what you have to have just to be able to play on the ball field. So something I really want you to remember as we go through all of these different topics is that these are competitive advantages for now, but five, 10 years from now, it'll be an entirely new set of tools.
If you had a new estimating system in 2003, congratulations and arrears. That was nice, over a decade ago. If you adopted BIM in the mid 2000s, again, congratulations and arrears, but 3D modeling, that's now something you have to do just to be on the playing field. So the question begs itself, if individual tools are not sustainable competitive advantages unto their own, then what is? The only sustainable competitive advantage in your company and in you as a person is your willingness to change and adopt new technology and the culture in your company that you create around innovation.
Now, I get to deal with thousands of construction companies on an annual basis, and I must say, I am growing tired. I am growing tired of CEOs getting up in conferences and telling me their construction company is innovative and advanced and moving forward, and I find out they won't even approve the purchase of an iPad. Innovation does not happen because you say you're innovative. It happens when you invest capital and you risk resources and you create a culture of change.
Winston Churchill really said it best. Now, I like a lot of his quotes. But he said, to improve is to change, but to be perfect is to have changed often. That is the key to creating a culture of innovation, is changing often, being willing to change often. Not for the sake of change, but for the sake of a sustainable competitive advantage.
Follow James Benham—the CEO of JBKnowledge, Inc.—as he explains how construction science and computer science are merging into one joint field of study. James shares essential terms that you need to know to speak intelligently about topics like the cloud and machine learning. Plus, he dives into topics like the Internet of Things, the evolution of drones, and 3D printing. To wrap up the course, he covers IT budgets, staffing, and investing in research and development.
- Learning about the origins of construction technology
- Reviewing essential construction tech terms
- Understanding the Internet of Things
- Reviewing the evolution of drones
- Learning about the 3D printing process
- Investing in IT
- Investing in research and development