Transforming the Construction Industry in the Coming Decade: An Opportunity for St. Louis IT Innovation



Lee Metcalfe

For the past three years, investments in construction industry startups have skyrocketed. These startups are looking to improve the industry’s communication, payment processes, workforce development and management processes while promoting access to real-time information across the construction value chain. Many of these improvements are driven by significant IT hardware enhancements; building, tailoring and deploying software; data analytics tools and the ability to leverage artificial intelligence.

A popular technology-focused publication, TechCrunch, recently published an article with the headline, “Construction Tech Startups Are Poised to Shake Up a $1.3 Trillion Dollar Industry.” The article asserts that “the lack of tech sophistication on construction sites materially contributes to job delays, missed budgets and increased job site safety risk.” A huge industry coupled with enormous, unrealized efficiency gains has fueled this recent explosion of startups and the money to back them.

In coming St. Louis CNR editions, I will delve deeper into the nature of the IT innovations coming to the construction industry: the tools, techniques and tactics such as agile software development, digital product thinking and data analytics use cases.

But let me raise with you now a strategic, almost tectonic shift in St. Louis that is poised to support the construction industry like never before. National IT and innovation trends – coupled with the recent movement by leaders in the St. Louis community – will improve coordination and focus resources on key economic and industry drivers for our region.

One key to this momentum is leveraging our own innovation community even more effectively. Just see page 67 of the recently released STL 2030 Jobs Plan: Driving a Decade of Inclusive Growth ( effort is bringing together an alliance of CIOs to drive workforce development and take advantage of other opportunities that can be leveraged for individual companies as well as the St. Louis IT community as a whole. 

St. Louis is already a technology hub. But if we can operationalize this new level of collaboration and coordination, St. Louis will not only be a technology hub. It will be the technology hub in the Midwest, if not nationally. 

Daugherty Business Solutions is in the middle of this movement. We are proud to be a St. Louis-based company and applaud the construction industry in this region for its positive impact on the community. I encourage you to examine this new plan and renew your engagement with the leaders in our innovation community including Cortex, T-Rex and The Yield Lab. 

With all the challenges of the last year, 2021 offers huge opportunity. Let’s make the most of it.

Lee J. Metcalf is vice president of Daugherty Business Solutions and a retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral. He can be reached at or (314) 409-4392.

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