Steel, Concrete, Trucks and now - iPhones and iPads.

Construction lags behind most industries in adopting technology, due in part to a resistance from the old guard – or the “this is how it’s always been done” mindset of the C-suite. An older generation of leadership is now feeling the pressure of the maturity of smartphones and their adoption within management teams, quality app user experiences in the banking, travel and other consumer industries, and greater expectations in terms of visibility and requests for information from clients.

These pressures have given rise to cloud-based applications and custom developed cloud solutions in larger construction firms worldwide, which is filtering down to mid-size operators.

“An older workforce is feeling the pressure of the maturity of smartphones… and greater expectations in terms of visibility and sharing information with clients.”

Applications like Aconex, which allow developers and Project Managers a single application where all correspondence is managed and stored – are now treated as a crucial ingredient to successfully deliver projects.

Smartphones have made their way in organisations through the employee

With 72% of construction professionals now owning a smartphone, and 64% of construction professionals who use a laptop – the timing for digital transformation within an organisation has already begun.

Today, 65% of organisations use cloud based software for project management and project scheduling processes. With key personnel shifting between office and site on a frequent basis, fewer and fewer construction professionals can deny the importance of a mobile strategy.

The data within construction has been restricted for decades to 1-dimensional data such as purchase orders, requests for information, meeting minutes and site diaries. With little overlap, or ability to cross-reference and analyse this information till now – the potential to now exploit new technologies to gain an advantage in budgeting, time management, resource management and quality assurance is generating excitement in one of the oldest industries in the world.

90% of construction professionals collect data on site, but only 19% use digital solutions to do so. With the above mentioned maturity of smartphone adoption by construction professionals, data collection has been made simpler and cloud applications are now allowing project teams to store, collaborate, share and provide insights and information with this data.

Startups are solving problems that have existed in construction for centuries

The tech community is now seizing the opportunity that exists. New startups who are disrupting the industry and offering better ways for construction teams work include Rhumbix and PlanGrid.

A typical commercial construction project translates to approximately 200 – 300 plans for the project. Minor changes require revisions to a plan and the process of distributing these amendments is at best, troublesome.

PlanGrid looks to change just that. With PlanGrid, everyone involved with a construction project has the ability to view the blueprints on their iPad through a simple interface that even the least tech-savvy workers can use.

Over time, the app has expanded its capabilities. Today, customers use PlanGrid to share plans, markups, photos and reports with their entire project team. It also now works on both iOS and Android devices, and allows users to collaborate even while offline. The latter feature is necessary due to the nature of the construction work, which is often far away from Wi-Fi signals or strong cellular coverage.

Rhumbix is solving another issue in construction using digital technology. The bulk of the software is centred on using geolocation to accurately pay workers for the number of hours worked, which is easier said than done. Construction worker salaries are amalgamated from a variety of different monetary pots, each of which has its own cost code. Hundreds of cost codes exist on a site, making this more and more challenging at scale. Rhumbix also tracks pay, benefits, and other compensation.

The future is exciting for construction contractors and builders

Arcade envision a future construction industry that pioneers technology and business insights. The physical world in which construction breathes is the ultimate breeding ground for Mobile app solutions such as Rhumbix and PlanGrid, wearable technologies which incorporate GPS such as Google Glass and the now real world of augmented reality.

We forecast apps like these will work together in today’s API economy creating a best-of-breed scenario where construction firms can integrate apps improve significant workflows within their processes and develop custom solutions to fit process gaps and provide customised and company-specific reporting, analytics and business insights to improve strategic decision making.

Arcade are now working closely with a number of Tier 1 and Tier 2 contractors and builders providing consulting and digital transformation solutions to solve common nuance problems, improve efficiency, reduce costs, manage resources and assist in the timely delivery of projects through analytics and business insight solutions.