What, in one word, is the technology concept that has had the most dramatic effect on the construction industry? That single word might surprise you: MOBILITY!

The construction industry requires a large number of people to be involved in the planning, designing and building of new projects. The desk-based nature of early computing technology and the large project files required for each phase of construction combined to cause this industry to be one of the last to take advantage of advances in technology. However, with the growth of high-speed Internet and continued improvements in mobile devices, software and applications, the construction industry is now in the forefront of using technology tools for business management.

The tech savvy construction firms of today are leveraging technology to reduce costs, speed work, enhance collaboration and facilitate decision making. Here are some of the ways they are doing so:

Communication – In the past, project managers in the construction business considered communication to be one of their biggest obstacles to success since their teams were so often on the road or onsite. With improved applications such as hosted Exchange email or cloud file sharing/syncing software that offer ways to easily share documents, messages, pictures and more at a moment’s notice, the communication challenges for construction managers have been greatly diminished.

Design – The design process in construction has been shortened dramatically with teams now able to view, share and collaborate on their designs in real time. More recently, 3D design applications have enabled improved visualization of ideas. And now with 3D printing available, designs can be brought to life in beta form with great speed and minimal cost. Another big improvement, thanks to tech advances, is that the tracking of approvals and changes can be managed with immense accuracy.

Project Management – With so many documents involved in these projects, cloud and mobile technology teams are now able to store huge files safely, as well as access them and share them as needed almost anywhere on almost any portable device. This keeps all key personnel on the same page—enhancing productivity and reducing costs. Another key component of any building project is scheduling, resource and cost management. Modern software applications used on sites now enable the project management of construction projects to be better automated and more easily monitored. Even drones have been used on construction sites to facilitate the monitoring of progress. (Learn more about the use of drones on the construction site in our back-page article.)

On the Horizon – The next big technology advancements to come in this industry include augmented and virtual reality tools, safety helmets with heads up displays, smart glasses built into safety goggles and smart sensors for a variety of monitoring options. Pull out those sunglasses…the future looks pretty bright for the construction industry!

In all industries but especially construction, technology—and mobile technology in particular—is no longer an expense item, but rather a value-added tool. The smart construction manager leverages technology advances to drive margin to the bottom line.

First published in our October 2015 IT Radix Resource newsletter

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