Will machines jeopardise your working relationships?

My sneak peak at the responses so far to the 500words digital-first contracting survey shows some interesting trends on how current practices in contracting vary and how they might change in the future. So how might changes to the business landscape impact construction contracting?

Will contracts embrace the rise of the machines?

So far, respondents think that machine learning and artificial intelligence will have the biggest impact on the way we write, review, negotiate and sign business deals in the next ten years.

Artificial intelligence generally involves the use of natural language processing to respond to human interactions automatically (such as chat bots). Machine learning takes that one step further and allows computers to aggregate data and responses to respond to new situations. If you have ever interacted with a chatbot, you’ll have experienced AI and possibly ML. It’s not complex – if I can create a client on-boarding chatbot with minimal coding experience, then anyone can!

As the march of technology continues, the responses highlight that not only will machines play a greater role in contracting processes, but construction could benefit from the use of blockchain for recording data relating to transactions, possibly through linking with IoT devices.

However, as I’ve previously highlighted, successful contracts rely on effective working relationships between two companies. Is there a danger that adoption of these automated and digitised processes removes the personal touch, and in turn engenders a lack of trust?

How do you feel when you realise that the query function on a website is a bot and not a human; and what can contract platforms do to mitigate against that?

What should you do?

As technology continues to impact every aspect of business operations, you need to stay alert to the rapid changes. Find someone in your business with a passion for technology and ensure they evaluate what will work for you and your clients, while sticking to your values and recognising the importance of the personal touch.

If you’ve got a different view, let me know your thoughts by spending just 3 minutes on my survey.

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