Construction Site Image by Michael Gaida from PixabayIFS has published findings from a survey of senior construction leaders. The research asked questions about AI. The report, which was not available as of writing might expand on the details that IFS published.

There are high hopes for the impact of AI on the construction industry. 76% of senior construction and engineering decision-makers at large firms in the UK say that their business holds high expectations for AI.

With expectations come perceived benefits. According to the research:

  • 31% said that executives and boards see strong value in terms of enhancing market knowledge
  • 29% believe AI will help ‘product or service innovation’
  • 29% will help to power the ‘consistent growth of the business’

There is no indication that IFS conducted a qualitative survey to explain exactly how respondents expect AI to power business growth.

While 68% say that construction is ‘adopting AI at a faster pace than others’, it is hard to justify that statement. In the CITB report, A Challenge and an Opportunity: Artificial Intelligence in the Construction Industry, only 3% of respondents in their survey have seen employers adopt AI (in January 2021). Their growth figures are impressive, though, with analyst firm GMI predicting that between 2023 and 2032, AI in the construction market will grow at a CAGR of 20% to more than $15.1 billion.

The reality of adoption

The IFS research makes it clear that AI is infiltrating the construction industry. The research showed:

  • 36% of firms have developed clear strategies and are seeing tangible results from their AI initiatives, demonstrating the potential benefits of a well-planned approach.
  • 31% are in the process of gathering proposals for pilot projects, indicating a proactive stance towards exploring AI applications.
  • 31% are still in the research phase, reflecting a cautious yet determined effort to understand AI’s implications.

However, despite this progress, has AI made a significant difference yet? 64% of respondents expect it to take another 1-3 years before AI has a significant impact on their organisation. What isn’t clear is whether the rest will take longer to make an impact or whether it has already made an impact.

Despite these efforts, nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents believe it will take one to three years for AI to make a significant impact on their organisations, illustrating the need for patience and sustained effort. So, why the delay?


The challenge that CITBR saw three and a half years ago, skills shortage, is still a problem within the construction industry. It is not just the construction industry that is suffering. Even the government recognised the shortage. It announced the creation of a £118m fund towards UK universities and research in order to avoid a future AI skills gap.

IFS found that 36% rated the quality of AI skills in their organisation as passable. It infers that two-thirds are still woefully short and will either look to partner or recruit. The former is expensive and the latter difficult, considering the shortage of talent. Despite this, 27% said that upskilling is not a priority, although it offers possibly the best way to address the skills gap.

Other challenges include the readiness of technology to adopt AI. Organisations need data in a central repository or connected rather than silos to leverage the best that AI can offer. Although 76% of leaders report a high level of architectural readiness for AI adoption, there are still concerns.

  • 42% of respondents said their technology landscape is legacy-based and is slowing their progress in adopting and deploying AI across their organisation.
  • 41% said they were unsure of the potential use cases in their business, highlighting a need for clearer strategic direction.

The latter is perhaps more concerning as it shows the leadership is listening to the hype of AI as a must-have but has not yet identified where investment should go!

Kenny Ingram, VP of Construction and Engineering at IFS (image credit - LinkedIn/Kenny Ingram)
Kenny Ingram, VP of Construction and Engineering at IFS

Kenny Ingram, VP of Construction and Engineering at IFS, commented on the findings,

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

These are interesting findings but without the full report to review, it isn’t easy to review it. The findings are interesting and show that the adoption of AI within construction has accelerated in the last few years. However, there are some key issues:

  • Legacy systems prevent organisations from leveraging AI fully
  • The shortage of AI skills is impeding AI deployments
  • Many construction firms are not yet aware of the real value that AI can deliver

There will be some exceptions, and IFS, with its AI-powered solutions for construction will hope to assist construction firms with transforming their organisations.


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