If I had to celebrate one of the biggest contributors to human history, I would have to say it’s the construction worker. Without the construction worker, cavemen wouldn’t have gotten shelter from the rain, the pharaohs wouldn’t have their pyramids, I wouldn’t have an office to go to, and you wouldn’t have a house to live in, or a road to drive on to get to it. The construction worker is one of the most enduring, productive and integral contributors to our lives. They’re not going anywhere; but their job is evolving.
Technology has always evolved construction - from the advent of the abacus over 4000 years ago, to the introduction of the bubble level, to the start of the computing age in the 60s, to adoption of hand-held calculators and portable laptops in the 70’s and 80s, to the presence of smart phones and devices today. The construction worker has always had newer and better ways to view, document, store, and share information.
As the adage goes – “the only constant is change.” Here are five trends in technology that we see as the next construction industry game changers:
#1: Centralized Data Storage
The cloud is here to stay. It enables a critical capability that many jobsites are currently lacking – a unified view of data. Today, most construction companies still rely on a variety of different software solutions, spreadsheets and systems to store and share their information. By centralizing data and information, companies gain holistic visibility, analysis and reporting from anywhere at anytime. The construction worker of the future knows exactly what the latest information, dates and deadlines are – even if they’re changed from 1000 miles away.
#2: 24/7 Universal Data Accessibility
Technology is being “democratized.” Years ago, only a supervisor or senior manager on a construction site might have had access to a computer. Today everyone has a computer in their pocket… and most people have equipped themselves with it. Think about how many devices you have with you right now – probably at least one smartphone, if not two, maybe a tablet or a laptop. Thanks to this proliferation of technology, the construction worker of the future is also now a knowledge worker. The construction worker of the future has instant access to the data they need to do their job, the moment they need the information, avoiding delays, and increasing productivity.
#3: Improved Visibility and Analysis
Technology has done incredible things to liberate data. The tools of today enable updates regardless of the screen – whether that’s a laptop, a tablet, a phone… even a watch. These same tools enable companies to quickly create dashboards and reports so everyone has up-to-date status on a project, regardless of where they are or what device they’re using. And they’re flexible enough that users can create custom views to see the data exactly the way they want, to be as productive as possible.
#4: Actionable Insights
Construction workers often still live in a world of “static” information – printed pages and handwritten notes. This data can change – often - and they need to know when it does. Today’s technologies are enabling a “dynamic” information model – as data changes, the system knows if it needs to alert anyone. This means our construction worker gets insights and recommendations on what to do rather than having to interpret it from scratch. Imagine that a subcontractor misses a date – who and what else will be affected? What materials do I need to reschedule? The construction worker of the future is proactively alerted and gets the right information at the right time in the right context, enabling better decision-making capabilities when conditions change.
#5: Flexible Process Management
Construction is a unique industry - there isn’t one system or process to apply across the board on any project. Companies may be managing hundreds of projects and each project might have unique specific needs. A construction worker must be agile to be successful. Platforms that allow for rapid application development, with little or often no coding required, enable agility and flexibility. Users can scale up or down on demand, deploy new projects based on templates and best practices, and change processes as the market demands. The construction worker of the future will be able to rapidly adapt technology to his business rather than having to adapt his business to the limitations of technology.
Technology will continue to influence this industry in the future. One look at the coming wave of drones, wearable tech and robotics shows that this evolution isn’t stopping anytime soon.
What else is in store for the construction worker moving forward? Join Rob McKinney, the @ConAppGuru and the Association of General Contractors of America on an upcoming webinar called, “The Construction Worker of the Future,” sponsored by Intuit QuickBase, to hear more about how technology is changing the face of construction and how you can better prepare your company for growth. Register today.