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March 3-7, 2026

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Investing in technology: A guide for contractors



Investing in technology for contractors can be a daunting task. Aside from the price tag, new technology also comes with a learning curve for it to be truly beneficial. Fortunately, a few types of technology have matured for the construction industry to use effectively: telematics and machine control. 

Expand your view 

To reap all the benefits of implementing new tech for your construction business, you really need to expand your viewpoint of what technology can do for you.  

Equipment technologies have both direct and indirect benefits. In an example from the study, the direct benefit of increasing productivity and performance comes from millimeter-level accuracy readings that help to ensure materials are used efficiently and prevent down time that can drain the budget. An indirect benefit is that contractors can tackle more advanced work with time and materials saved from the advanced equipment. 

John Somers, AEM’s vice president, construction & utility sector, said part of the issue is only thinking about telematics in terms of determining equipment location. “They don't really necessarily think about also monitoring all the diagnostic trouble codes so they know when to do proactive maintenance, and also can monitor idle time to educate an operator to turn the machine off when it's not actually doing productive work,” Somers said. Now we’re idling less, we’re burning less fuel, diesel costs, engine hours… So, I think that a lot of people don't take that holistic view into all the different benefits they can get.” 

Understand your expectations 

When you budget for implementing innovative technologies, you need to understand what is expected of you. This is likely laid out financially in your annual budget. When dealing with investors or anyone who has a checkbook involved in your contracted jobs, you must go back to those direct and indirect benefits, while elaborating that the ROI isn’t necessarily immediately available. 

“If you think about all the other benefits that trickle down from that and add all those together, that’s when I think contractors really start realizing the ROI,” Somers said.  

When you invest in technology now, you will certainly see some immediate benefits, but the major ROI can come even a year or more down the line. Remind your investors – and yourself – of this timeline and all the indirect benefits in the meantime. Also remember that investing in this technology will make your business competitive for new hires. 

“I think the industry needs to do a better job of showing some of the technology that is used in the field,” Somers said. “We are using some really cool automation technology and doing data analytics. So, if that’s what you’re interested in, the construction industry is doing that.” 

When you have useful technology implemented with company-use standards and training documentation, bringing in new workers will take less time to train. Then, they are working with incredibly accurate technology to help eliminate mistakes or other user-error issues that may occur. With this opportunity, you’ll find another indirect benefit: upskilling seasoned workers. 

Upskill your team 

While a limited workforce continues to challenge construction, using new tech in your business will help you keep your current workers while employing workers who may be new to the industry. When implementing technology, you may need to hire more positions. 

“I don’t know a ton of contractors who 15 years ago had somebody on staff with the title of data scientist,” Somers said. “A bunch do now because they’re getting all this equipment data and figuring out how to analyze it, look for efficiencies and prevent downtime. That’s a whole new role there.” 

The human body can’t do hard labor forever. Eventually, our bodies can take less strain, or we suffer severe injury and life is changed in an instant. Recent technologies allow you to train your current workers who may need a new direction in their current role or just want to expand their skills. You can train these workers how to use the new tech you want to implement. Then, you have more openings for entry-level workers. 

Step #1 

This all sounds great in theory, but how do you know where to start? The good news is you’ve probably already pinpointed where to start. 

“If you don’t start now, you’re going to be behind,” Somers said.  

Step one is to identify your pain points. What are the biggest drains on your budget or workforce? What is the problem your company has that consistently brings added stress or financial burden? Chances are there is tech to help solve your problem. It’s hard to carve out time on a job site to sit and study your business; but, like any piece of equipment, that time is an investment. Taking the time to plan now saves you time and money in the future when you’ll be under more time constraints looking for the right tech. 

Because technology like telematics and machine control offer direct and indirect benefits, you can find something that tackles your company’s problem directly while offering protection from other potential issues. 

Next steps 

The nature of technology is that it continues to advance, sometimes more quickly than we’d like. Once you’ve implemented your new technology, you’ll wonder what to do next. Telematics and machine control technologies are not designed to do only one thing. 

“Make sure you're fully implementing and using it to its full capacity,” Somers said. “It's been around there for a while. Before you start jumping into something else, make sure you get the most benefit out of what you're already working with.” 

Before jumping into the next “big thing,” look at all capabilities of the technology you already have. Perhaps you’ve noticed your productivity increase, but you’re interested in boosting your sustainability goals. Since this machine technology isn’t intended to just do one thing, it might be able to help with another challenge or enhance something your company already does well. 

Regardless of where you currently stand, the message is clear: the construction industry is leaning into machine technology. Investing in tech now is needed to remain productive, profitable and competitive in an already tight job market with thin margins on construction projects. 

Click here to learn more about AEM’s study and to hear more from John Somers on the Bridging the Gap podcast. 

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