The construction industry is on a roll. As one of the largest contributors to the country’s economy, the industry presently employs more than seven million workers, says market intelligence and advisory firm Mordor Intelligence, and represented about $1.3 billion in spending last year, according to Statista. Mordor predicts that the North American marketplace will grow annually by 4.2% through 2024.
Among the steady drivers of this progress are the evolving technologies geared specifically to this marketplace, which historically has been slow to embrace the latest advancements and improvements. Modern construction practitioners realize that integrated, automated and innovative software solutions are not only needed to compete but to maximize profitability in today’s connected world.
Another key is the desire to boost efficiencies by directly connecting the field with decision makers and the historical job or client data stored at the office. There is no substitute for the ability to instantly access work details, plans and schedules at any time from virtually any location. This is now possible through easy-to-use, cloud-based software applications designed to offer remote users access to the same data available via office desktop computers. This includes the ability to seamlessly integrate information from multiple Internet of Things (IoT) edge devices, wearables, connected sensors and equipment through mobile platforms.
From Necessary Evil to Advantage
JBKnowledge, a company providing architecture, engineering and construction companies with technology solutions, surveyed professionals about construction technology adoption, IT staffing and budgeting in its seventh Annual Construction Technology Report. The study didn’t find major change during 2018, and the executive summary contemplates “whether today’s hyper-digital world gives us so much data to make decisions that it’s often hard to make decisions.”
Challenges do exist. The integration of legacy systems with the latest cloud-based software applications hasn’t always made for smooth transitions. An Acumatica blog post cites a conversation with a controller at a large general contractor from the Midwest who shared how hard it was to retrieve reports and data from the construction accounting software his company had used for more than a decade. As a result, the field organization chose a cloud-based project management program without ensuring that the two systems could work together to create and exchange fresh data. The outcome included the ongoing production of manual, paper-based reports to offset system shortcomings, which were not exactly the competitive and operational benefits they were seeking.
That’s why the right partner is so important. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of software applications from which to choose. But which is the right one for your company? When it comes to construction, it’s impossible to provide a single, cookie-cutter solution for every job and client. That’s the value of specialization. Few cloud construction software solutions fulfill the requirements of every customer and user on their own. Look for a product with an advanced open architecture that allows best-of-breed third-party applications to connect and interact with other programs. Furthermore, platforms that offer support for Open API standards not only ensure the easy integration of today’s true cloud applications, but also tomorrow’s software advancements and innovations.
Generational Technology: It’s a Thing
Slowly but surely, a generational shift is occurring within the construction industry as more millennials enter the marketplace. This is often with the goal of taking over the family business with a far greater understanding of today’s cloud technologies and all of the possible ways they can improve workplace, operational and jobsite efficiencies.
This next generation is helping steer the construction industry on the right track with its heightened emphasis on growing, thriving and competing with the benefit of new technologies. It’s good to see that the building industry has finally begun to embrace the curve with an insightful eye on the latest methods and means for improving companywide productivity, capturing and storing in-depth project data for instantaneous retrieval and stimulating profits across every operational phase.