Survey: Small construction companies lukewarm on tech investment

by , author, Construction DIVE, February 28, 2018

Dive Brief:

  • A recent customer survey from small business funding siteKabbage revealed that fewer than 35% of small construction companies planned to make investments at some level this year in technologies that could help their businesses and further bring them into the digital age.
  • More than 65% of contractors who responded to the study did not have a plan to invest in tools like big data solutions or mobile technologies, and the same percentage was either neutral, against or not likely to spend more than 20% on social media advertising.
  • Kabbage also found that even with well-publicized cyber attacks and other computer-related crimes, not even 40% of small construction firms planned to invest in cybersecurity. More than 50% of the contractors surveyed, however, answered that they plann to streamline their operations in 2018 by getting rid of paper and manual processes.

Dive Insight:

The construction industry as a whole is starting to shake the “slow adopter of technology” label, but surveys like the one from Kabbage indicate that there is a category of contractor that still is resistant to technology no matter the benefits or the protections it could provide.

Executives of small companies may believe that cyber criminals only target big contractors, but that’s not the case. Todd O’Boyle, formerly with Precipient and now director of product management at WatchGuard Technologies, told Construction Dive that small and mid-sized businesses also are at risk of a cyber attack. No matter their size, construction companies, he said, tend to be high-cash-flow businesses, making them perfect targets for cyber criminals. Jonathan Gossels, president and CEO of SystemExperts, added even the smallest construction business has something of value to criminals.

And while small construction companies might not have the cloud setups or integrated systems that larger businesses do, many of their employees use tablets and smartphones to help them conduct business, which leaves those firms open to cyber attacks. For example, phishing emails only need one person to click on one link to give criminals access to confidential information.

To better protect company data, attorney Michelle Schaap of Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi said contractors should at the very least keep their firewalls and anti-virus software up to date (although that’s no guarantee that new malware can’t make it through those protections). Schaap said contractors should also partition information so that if one device comes under attack from a virus or a scam, the rest of the company’s devises and digital technologies aren’t affected.