The construction industry is currently undergoing a digital disruption, late in the game relative to many other industries. And like most industries, this disruption is arguably inevitable – once the digital bug proves itself in a bottom line, widespread adoption is more or less a survival mechanism to win contracts and produce quickly. It might also prove imperative for an industry facing significant labor shortages in a growing market. Building talent is certainly a viable long term strategy, but getting the most out of the existing workforce is front and center for most construction enterprises. Procore, an aggregator for construction management software solutions, is looking to be the leading software solution to ease these labor shortage issues and, at a more macro level, be the dominant launchpad for this digital revolution.
So how did this labor shortage come about? The causes are multifold – the recovery lag from a loss of 600k workers during the 2008 recession, a growing industry that maintains this deficit at 434k1, wage inflation keeping demand fulfillment low, and of course the retirement of the baby boomer generation. On the more theoretical side, Millennials are shunning jobs that are dirty, dangerous and underpaid. In a survey by the Associated General Contractors of America, 80% of construction companies can’t find the workers they need.
Parallel to this issue comes the downside of an emerging digital revolution. The industry is facing an oversaturation of specialized software solutions. The effects are twofold – many (specifically the boomers) are hesitant to accept the overabundance of solutions and the constant requirement to onboard, while others who choose to embrace it must toggle between several apps to manage differing needs on site. Whether these apps improve or deteriorate productivity is largely dependent on the individual and how they employ the app. However, the very fact that rampant toggling occurs in an industry where 93% of workers report using smart phones for work means value is clearly being left on the table3. The value comes in the form of worker productivity. A well-known pain point for workers is redundant entry of data into multiple software solutions coupled with the need to manually synergize the data between apps.
These core issues in construction provide an opportunity for a single company to be the platform of choice, the conduit that integrates heterogenous solutions into a single, user friendly interface. Procore is currently leading this front. Users can now adopt a single system to track projects, resources and finances from the owner down to the general and specialty contractor.
Besides a well-organized user interface that displays graphics to help visualize each facet of a complex operation, Procore has also developed a unique pricing model that eschews charging enterprises per user. To really encourage platform adoption, Procore charges purely by the subscription features requested. This helps prevent construction firms from making the painful decision to limit users. Now they can freely invite all employees onto the platform, and even more crucially, they invite their partners to reinforce networked growth. Along with opening up the app to third party developers, Procore seems to be making all the right moves to tip a market.
So back to the labor shortage problem. At first glance, it would seem obvious that a single source app that helps manage information across all sectors of the construction process would naturally increase efficiency. Interestingly though, retention and recruitment might also be in play. A network that allows users to understand and appreciate the pulse of operations has the intangible effect of increasing worker satisfaction. With a system that dips into safety, it also alleviates some of the risks on site. Finally, as this ecosystem grows to include cutting edge technologies such as Augmented Reality and AI, it might just be the edge needed to attract a newer generation into the construction fold.
So how can we determine if Procore is winning this space? From a customer feedback angle, it consistently ranks at or near the top for construction project management. Since 2014, its annual recurring revenue grew from $10 million to over $250 million. And after some recent acquisitions to bolster its market position, it looks set to IPO at a valuation of $4+ Billion this year.
It’s always difficult to firmly conclude a winner in a digital space. However, timing is often one of the most crucial factors that comes to play in how a winner is determined. Construction is a naturally dense ecosystem of many different languages and skills, and with a digital disruption amplifying these differences, it is no shock that a winner is needed to bring it all together. It would appear that Procore is in the right place at the right time for now.
 Forbes, The Construction Labor Shortage: Will Developers Deploy Robotics?, Juliette Cilia 2019
 PlanGrid, The Construction Labor Shortage Doesn’t have to slow you down, 2019
 Construction Dive, Survey Ranks top construction apps, finds lack of integration, Jenn Goodman 2020
 The Street, Five Tech IPOs to watch out for, Annie Gaus, Jan 2020