Construction firms have had to quickly embrace modern digital trends to remain competitive and maximize profit margins. From mobility and accounting to construction project management and beyond, fewer processes are being handled through traditional measures such as hand-written files and paper-based information governance. What's more, virtually every digital trend that has sprouted up in the past few years has had direct implications for the construction industry.
Here are four of the more prominent modern movements in technology and their impacts on the construction industry:
- Mobility: Construction has always been heavily rooted in remote work. Smartphones, tablets and mobile apps have helped to drive performance improvements across the sector. This will only be the case when mobile assets are properly managed and governed at all times.
- Cloud computing: Rather than having to purchase and maintain expensive servers internally, firms can now purchase IT services on an as-needed, hosted basis through cloud computing. This applies to software, platforms and infrastructure, helping to reduce capital expenditures and boost IT flexibility in one fell swoop.
- Big data: Thanks to the digitization of information and filing systems, construction firms can now become more intelligent through the use of big data analytics. When these businesses leverage cloud-based management software, they will be better positioned to capitalize on the power of analytics.
- The Internet of Things: Similar to mobility, the IoT is already having a major impact on field service management in construction. With sensors and connected devices, everything from standard projects to facilities management needs can be strengthened in the construction industry.
Although these advantages are already being enjoyed by many organizations, the path toward digital transformation is no easy matter. Rather, construction firms need to recognize the difficulties and complexities involved ahead of their digital ventures. By leveraging construction management software tailored to the specific needs of the industry and provided by an experienced, specialized vendor, digitization efforts can be a bit more seamless.
Reasons behind digitization
International Data Corporation recently listed its predictions for the impact of digital transformation on the largest enterprises in the world, affirming that these strategies will become increasingly central to general business processes in the near future. According to the researchers, roughly 66 percent of the 2,000 biggest companies will have already incorporated digital transformation into their core strategies within the next two years, and for good reason.
"Digital transformation is not just a technology trend, it is at the center of business strategies across all industry segments and markets," IDC Research Vice President Bob Parker asserted. "Enabled by the 3rd Platform technologies of social, mobile, analytics, and cloud, digital transformation represents an opportunity for companies to redefine their customers' experience and achieve new levels of enterprise productivity. Investment related to digital transformation will constitute the majority of growth in technology markets over the next five years and, as such, is becoming a priority for technology vendors as well."
The analysts argued that the next few years will be highly shaped by digital endeavors, and that these efforts will translate to doubled productivity among 60 percent of companies by the end of the decade. What's more, IDC stated that three-quarters of enterprises will incorporate information-centric digital processes and business models by 2018, and that 20 percent of workforce members will be using automated tools to complete their daily tasks that same year.
Construction firms that have not yet started to automate their core processes through digital management solutions are simply not going to enjoy the most efficient and productive ebb and flow of operations. However, the researchers did state that 60 percent of businesses will need to appoint a new corporate executive position to navigate digital transformation, which might not be feasible for many construction firms.
As such, managed IT services and hosted software solutions might be the best path forward, especially from a financial efficiency standpoint.
Managed services excel
In the same vein of appointing a new official to run digital transformation processes, companies might struggle to handle all of the new technologies entering into their strategies without outside assistance. Business 2 Community contributor Buddy Marti recently argued that managed services will almost always be more advantageous than hiring more IT staff members for full time positions, speaking generally to organizations across industries.
However, considering the fact that the average construction business is not going to have a large IT department staffed with data scientists, mobility specialists, software development gurus and the like, this industry might be especially well-suited to managed services. Marti listed some of the core reasons why the right managed solutions vendor can be a far more profitable choice than hiring more technology employees.
For one, he stated that cost efficiency will generally be stronger given the fact that technologies and support are paid for on an as-needed basis rather than coming with massive up-front costs and long-term maintenance expenses. The author also stated that the range of tools, as well as the ease of provisioning more over time, involved in managed services are far more progressive than what the average IT department would be able to provide.
Construction-centric software solutions for mobility and other needs will generally improve performance, but firms can get a much bigger advantage by working with a vendor that can customize the services to the unique needs of the company. This would involve a large range of tools available and plenty of options to personalize the contract, as well as adjust it over time seamlessly, for optimal functionality at all times.
Marti went on to state that skills development and acquisition for IT-related jobs has been a continued issue for organizations in virtually every industry, and construction is no different. Managed services can alleviate some of the stress involved in skills gaps and talent shortages in the IT department. Finally, the author argued that relationships with clientele and others can be enhanced by the use of managed services, as other employees will have more time to focus on these matters rather than being bogged down by technology requirements.