Sources of Technical Information

In this article Julie Croasdale comments on some of the findings from the Construction Media Index 2022 on the sources of technical information that construction decision makers use.

 

Product information drives the idea generation and product selection processes that decision makers undertake to specify products. This can take many forms including: aspirational imagery; technical product datasheets; enhanced data for product directories and installation videos.

To support this final step of specification this information could even be a pre-written product specification complete with technical drawings/BIM models.

Understanding where decision makers look for product information and what forms they are accessing can be invaluable to a product manufacturer. At the idea generation stage, online searches are the most popular means of sourcing product information with manufacturers’ websites and search engines key. Since 2019, there has been a general increase in the use of social and information networks to gather ideas and product information, with YouTube and Pinterest increasing in importance.

What is clear is that despite product information being freely available on manufacturers’ websites and in product directories, its provision alone is not fulfilling requirements. For technical information and advice, engagement with manufacturers has increased significantly since 2019 and, no doubt because of the pandemic, ‘email a manufacturer’ and ‘phone a manufacturer’ widely used.

Further validation, interpretation or technical support seems to be required and it is manufacturers who are seen as the best placed to provide it.

Technical and CPD seminars continue to hold importance. The pandemic forced the majority of these to be held online, and while we can expect face-to-face presentations to return the online seminar has become an established part of the information gathering process. This provides manufacturers with opportunities to engage with a much larger audience, solving design challenges and building relationships.

Product information is also in the spotlight as part of the government’s Building a Safer Future initiative, driven by the Grenfell tragedy. This requires, as part of the more stringent regulatory regime, to create and maintain a golden thread of information.

The starting point of any building is the products that form it and for the golden thread concept to work the product information being supplied to specifiers at the outset needs to be accurate. To support this, a new voluntary code is being launched in spring 2022. The Construction Code for Product Information (CCPI) works on the basis that all product information should be clear, accurate, up to date, accessible and unambiguous. Product manufacturers signing up to the code and having their information processes and products verified will further position themselves as trusted advisors to architects and other specifiers.

 

Julie Croasdale, Associate
Competitive Advantage