In a world where technology has rapidly changed the way we live and work, the construction industry has been notoriously slow to adopt these types of improvements. In fact, research indicates that more than half of construction companies still rely on pen and paper for critical tasks ranging from estimating to bid management. Others are using spreadsheets to complete bids, rather than turning to software solutions that can make the process more efficient.
So why does the construction industry remain stuck in the Stone Age when solutions exist today to boost the industry’s efficiency?
Why Are Construction Firms So Slow to Go Mobile?
One reason keeping more construction companies from moving from pen and paper is that many smaller construction companies still can’t easily bridge the divide between mobile and desktop solutions. A 2014 JB Knowledge survey found that despite strong interest in mobile technologies, few construction companies have the infrastructure necessary to integrate mobile and desktop strategies or to secure work done on the cloud. Others, however, are simply reluctant to allocate funds for new tech tools.
Yet by bridging this disconnect and relying more heavily on new technology solutions, construction companies can harness real-time data to rapidly boost their jobsite efficiency. When accurate information is always available, contractors can make better decisions—ultimately reducing errors in the fields, and the resulting delays and costs overruns.
Trends Pushing Tech Adoption in Construction
Of course, tech adoption is happening in construction, just less explosively than in other industries. Pushing adoption are the following:
1. Large contractors. For many construction professionals, the jobsite is the office. To run this office well, large contractors understand that they will see a significant return on their investment in mobile solutions simply through reducing errors when transferring data from the field to the office. That’s why more superintendents are confirming supplies have arrived on site or organizing contractors from their mobile phone rather than returning to the trailer or company office.
2. Design and manufacturing. Tech adoption from the design and manufacturing industries—ranging from building information modeling software to 3D printing—is increasingly finding its way into use by the construction industry. This shift is helping spur large general contractors, and their subcontractors in turn, toward adopting technology solutions that can mean major improvements in efficiency.
3. New employees. Today’s young project managers are bringing with them a reliance on technology. Experienced construction managers reluctant to adopt new technology will soon find they’re passed over more frequently for promotions.
A Simple Solution for Reducing Construction Risk
Perhaps the biggest reason construction companies should be looking at technology is that the industry is inherently risky, in terms of both jobsite safety and the risks to schedule and costs. Contractors who rely on real-time data, for example, will find that taking a proactive approach to risks can improve quality control, as well as simplify their processes.
Consider, for example, project managers who use mobile apps to take the place of paper time cards. With a punch of a few buttons, managers can instantly and accurately capture workers’ hours, virtually eliminating mistakes. General contractors like Lockard Construction note that these apps also can help site managers instantly analyze the day’s production, which makes it possible to make rapid changes onsite—a big money-saver for contractors and owners.
As construction companies look to manage their growing businesses, technology solutions will increasingly be key for making better decisions, and realizing higher profitability.