Graycor Southern’s Brian Gallagher recently authored Strategies for Adapting to Disruption in the Construction Industry in Construction Executive.
The Harvard Business Review introduced the concept of disruption as early as 1995. The authors’ insight was that small companies can successfully challenge larger incumbents by targeting market segments that are being overlooked, often offering their product at a low price point. Those small companies then move upmarket, taking market share from the larger companies. This applies to the construction industry.
The Harvard Business Review article focused on computer technologies, which are, inarguably, fast moving, with many product offerings that don’t address the immediate requirements of mainstream customers. However, disruption is not limited to computer technology. Any process or product that is fundamentally different from what is currently in use—and that causes unforeseen, large-scale change—can be disruptive. An example of a new technology that is not computer-based is the improvement to battery operation that has enabled electric cars and renewable energy storage. Similarly, improved oil extraction technologies have enabled hydraulic fracturing, which in turn has led to lower natural gas prices. Prefabrication and modularization are disruptive methodologies specific to the construction industry; they can result in lower cost and improved quality.