Competing in Today’s Electrical Construction Industry: Opportunities and Challenges with Technology

It’s no secret that the nature of our work is shifting. Not just in the electrical industry but across all industries. The makeup of the workforce continues to change and to evolve as the baby boomers increasingly retire and millennials become the largest demographic among U.S. employees. Along with the change in the workforce comes added pressure from businesses to implement new ideas and technologies that will improve the bottom line and create additional value for customers, while adhering to budgetary restrictions.

The Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC), a national nonprofit trade association for merit shop electrical and systems contractors with over 50 chapters representing over 3300-member businesses recently developed an emerging technologies sub-committee to explore issues relating to emerging technologies in the industry. Made up of contractors and manufacturers, the sub-committee’s goal is to monitor the changing landscapes relevant to emerging technologies and the impacts on the IEC membership and the industry as a whole.

Technology is inescapable and the electrical trade is on the cutting-edge of these advancements. Electricians are dealing with higher demands, more complex systems, and difficult integrations in projects ranging from high-tech installations to smart homes. These advanced systems bring their own set of challenges for electricians, but they can also bring opportunities to grow the industry.

In the field, tools continue to evolve as they are made for specific tasks making it easier for the fieldworker to complete their work. Electrical equipment is being redesigned with the installer in mind, and communications have improved with the use of the smartphones and tablets. All of these advances support getting the job completed quicker and under budget.

In the office, the increase in technology has infiltrated every aspect of our business. There is estimating software that is customizable and assists with quicker and more efficient takeoffs. Accounting software that can give you real time accounting and job cost information for effective project and financial management. Email correspondence that alleviates the need for paper and optimizes communications with customers and suppliers. And the use of the internet to research products, order materials, and check on deliveries, all assist to get more accomplished at a quicker pace.

As technology changes, the list of opportunities will continue to expand both in the field and in the office. As it is further implemented, contractors will face new challenges and opportunities for growth; including a better educated and trained workforce. Luckily, electricians are ready and able to take on the challenges that new technologies can bring and welcome the opportunity to do and learn more. IEC is positioned and poised to lead the industry to new heights with education, training, and exposure to growing technologies and business practices in this new and ever-evolving frontier in the construction industry.  The future is electric.