Modern Contractor Solutions, September 2015 – Technology is gaining prevalence in the construction industry. While this upward momentum in tech—specifically mobile tech—allows contractors benefits such as GPS tracking, account management, bidding, equipment management, etc., there remains a drawback. A primarily untapped market has the potential, once technology gains footing, to become flooded with various software and applications. This issue is already affecting the construction industry.
“I think what happened in the construction space is that there’s a growing litany of applications that kind of serve a group of niche needs for construction companies. So you wind up getting a whole bunch of different applications that serve a specific piece of the company’s operational requirements,” says Paul McKeon, CEO of B2W Software. In a matter of time, you may find yourself drowning in a one-trick-pony-esque sea of apps.
Yet, the younger generation entering into the construction industry expects the presence of the technology currently circulating in the industry. And why shouldn’t they? Growing up with mobile devices that allow access to almost any information, at any time, no matter where you are, generates a technology-driven culture that crosses from leisure-time into the workplace. It’s not simply a matter of personal convenience, but profitability starting at the bottom line. The question is not, “Should we use technology,” but, “How can we make the technology we are using more efficient?”
TACKLING THE ISSUE
When Paul McKeon spoke at the Construction Finance Management Association’s (CFMA) Annual Conference and Exhibition in Chicago back in June, he tackled the question of whether mobile applications could help companies generate profitability at the jobsite. His answer to that was “yes.”
“I think that the advent of the tablet has really become a game-changer in the construction space. It’s changed the way companies are able to do business and really enabled companies to collect data—collect information—and share information in a way that was previously not fully available.”
AVOID THE DISCONNECT
Sharing information is a priority feature of technology in any industry and one of the main reasons to use any type of software. The disconnect starts when a company is forced to use anywhere from 5-7 applications to cover the spectrum of operational requirements: an app for scheduling, and app for equipment management, an app for project development, etc. Having to input the company’s data into each app becomes burdensome; above all, this mode of management is inefficient. “Having a bunch of applications that don’t share information and don’t clearly allow people to collaborate in real time ultimately becomes complex and it doesn’t work,” explains Paul. “There has been a growing desire and demand from the construction space for a better way to manage that information. What the market has really been looking for and asking for is a more unified approach to manage the data, a platform that the mobile device can leverage to capture and analyze information.”
Paul’s singular platform solution means that interdepartmental sharing becomes instantaneous. Streamlining data in this way can include benefits, such as jobsites getting the appropriate number of crew and equipment due to the scheduler/project coordinator seeing jobsite data in real time and equipment getting proper maintenance due to real-time updates from field employees, equipment operators, and/or management team members.
“It’s a single application that’s tied to an operations platform that covers a whole workflow that people are involved in doing: scheduling work, having crews go out in the field and do the work, maintaining equipment, and so forth and so on. The other benefit is that there is data that touches more than one operational aspect of the business,” says Paul.
IS AN AIO THE RIGHT SOLUTION?
Essentially, the solution to narrowing down the apps and rising above the surface of the flooded market is an All-in-One (AIO)—a type of platform which may not have the best rap. The potential for something to go wrong with an AIO is not unheard of. Some of those potential issues include the following:
- By providing a single point of delivery, AIOs also provide a single point of failure.
- There is generally a core application around which the AIO is based, making additional functions less adequate.
- If the business running the AIO goes down, so does the AIO.
- Customization of AIOs can become extremely expensive; however, it is necessary to run all aspects of business operation software properly.
Are these true of all AIOs? Not necessarily. For instance, an AIO made for optimum customization is not likely to become more expensive the more you customize it. The key is finding the right company, the right product, the right platform. Paul’s company, B2W Software, offers an enterprise-class, highly customizable and flexible, browser-based software with extremely robust security. His focus on making technology in the construction industry more efficient has led him to try to “get people to evolve from the notion of integration of 5 or 6 or 7 different products.” Paul’s goal is to get everyone tied, operationally, to the same set of data; “that, really, I think, is the heart and soul of what’s changing the market.”
SUMMING IT UP
The addition of mobile technology to the construction industry has been beneficial in more than one way. Paul says, “The major benefit—overall—in using the mobile capability to capture and collaborate around data is the incredible boost in efficiency that you get out of having everybody be able to understand what’s going on in real time.” The data-share ability of a proficient AIO platform will only push the benefit of mobile tech higher. “The collection of all of that increased efficiency, collaboration, and analysis creates a totally different way of running a business and a much more efficient way, and as a result being able to make better decisions in a more timely fashion. It absolutely drives profitability.” ■
For More Information: B2W Software provides enterprise-class software, services, and solutions under one platform, tailored to the construction industry. To learn more about B2W Software, visit www.b2wsoftware.com.