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New IT infrastructure for Gilbane includes LLMs, payment automation, and unified tech departments

A look at 153-year old real estate titan Gilbane’s digital transformation

A look at 153-year old real estate titan Gilbane’s digital transformation
A look at 153-year old real estate titan Gilbane’s digital transformation

Canada’s construction industry has been slower to get on the digital transformation train. Yet virtual design and automation presents serious opportunities for the industry to evolve with digital transformation. 

Research shows that more than 80% of construction companies have room to improve their data capabilities, and the most commonly cited benefits of digital transformation were increased productivity, customer experience and staff safety.

One company that made it happen is Gilbane — a U.S.-based real estate development company worth more than $6.5 billion, with family roots that persevere to this day. In fact, they even have employees in the family’s sixth generation. Despite the “legacy” mindset in the company’s fabric (it’s 153 years old) and business industry, Gilbane boosted risk management and productivity under a brand new modular IT infrastructure. 

Here’s how they did it (and how you can, too):

Unify all digital initiatives under one leader

The company created a position that was responsible for overseeing the progress on multiple tech initiatives, including AI, analytics, IT, and cybersecurity. This helped them avoid the risk of wasted budgets through silos and miscommunication. 

“We believe this structure is the most effective to bring together our data and technology resources to drive transformation and get a real return on invested capital.”Karen Higgins-Carter, Chief Digital Information Officer (CDIO)

Invest in analytics and AI for risk management

Safety is a primary concern in the construction industry. Despite improvements in safety measures, equipment, and training, the construction industry still experiences high rates of death and injury. In fact, in 2022 the National Safety Council ranked the construction industry in the top four most dangerous, noting that it experienced the most workplace deaths.

Gilbane’s team is investing in analytics and AI with large language mode experiments to help them identify similar trends that indicate potential unsafe characteristics on a worksite, Higgins-Carter told CIO. “In construction, our teams are managing the construction of hundreds of projects happening at any one time,” she said. “Our analytics capabilities identify potentially unsafe conditions so we can manage projects more safely and mitigate risks.”

“To help us manage risk, I need to understand the leading indicators of risk on a job, like attrition or high volumes of change order.”Karen Higgins-Carter, Chief Digital Information Officer (CDIO)

Automate payment processing with operation-specific triggers

Higgins-Carter told CIO the company recently piloted an automated payment program for Gilbane to pay subcontractors more efficiently. Powered by videos and photos of work completed as triggers, payments are automatically dispensed to the necessary parties. 

Educate the entire team and inform new processes with their experience

Hold meetings and training sessions to ensure executives and employees  understand the benefits and functions of any new tech or business processes. 

“We can’t deliver technology if we don’t understand our employees’ experience. If I go out to a job site once a month, then my team will too.”Karen Higgins-Carter, Chief Digital Information Officer (CDIO)

Read the full article on CIO here.

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Written By

Veronica Ott is a freelance writer and digital marketer with a specialization in finance and business. As a CPA with experience in the industry, she's able to provide unique insight into various monetary, financial and economic topics. When Veronica isn't writing, you can find her watching the latest films!

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