Evolving Systems are Key to Competitive and Profitability Advantage
The construction industry is on a roll. As one of the largest contributors to the country’s economy, the industry presently employs more than 7 million workers, says market intelligence and advisory firm Mordor Intelligence, and represented about $1.3 billion in spending last year, according to Statista. As for the future, 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. Construction Dive reported that “there’s no better incentive for technology adoption than increased labor productivity” as stated by 66% of the contractors who responded to a recent survey. “Next on the list are schedule management (52%), delivery on budget (51%) and safety (51%).”
Another key is the desire to boost efficiencies by directly connecting the field with decision makers and the historical data stored back at the office on any given job or client. There is no substitute for the ability to instantly access work details, plans and schedules at any time from virtually any location. All of this is now possible through easy-to-use, cloud-based software applications designed specifically to offer remote users access to the same data available via office desktop computers. This includes the ability to seamlessly integrate information from multiple IoT edge devices, wearables, connected sensors and equipment through mobile platforms that enable the seamless integration of business applications and cloud-based services.
From a necessary evil to profitability advantage
JBKnowledge, a company providing architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) companies with technology solutions, surveyed professionals about construction technology adoption, IT staffing and budgeting in its 7th Annual Construction Technology Report. Frankly, 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.” Still, CEO James M. Benham emphasized the importance of technology innovations in transforming the construction business with heightened efficiencies.
But challenges do exist. For instance, 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 – 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? Which is the one that will effortlessly integrate with legacy systems to store, generate and retrieve information needed at a moment’s notice and from just about any device connected to the Internet?
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 on their own fulfill the requirements of every individual customer and user. Look for a product developed with an advanced open architecture that allows best-of-breed third-party applications to easily connect and interact with other programs to create a true end-to-end solution. Further, 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 (and why it matters)
Slowly but surely, a generational shift is occurring within the construction industry as increasingly more millennials enter the marketplace. This is oftentimes with the goal of taking over the family business with a far greater understanding of today’s cloud technologies and all the possible ways they can improve workplace, operational and jobsite efficiencies. A 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey recently revealed that 32% of millennials believe innovation and creativity are essential for organizations.
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 and advances. The information world is changing rapidly with the near-daily employ of new applications and devices. As a result, 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 company-wide productivity; easily capturing and storing in-depth project data for instantaneous retrieval; and stimulating profits across every operational phase.