Five years ago, the mobile technology landscape on construction sites looked very different. The variety of tech used was much more limited, and many contractors didn’t consider this technology a priority. JBKnowledge’s 2017 Construction Technology Report found that 41.4 percent of contractors—the largest group of survey respondents—believed mobile capabilities were “not very important” in 2012. That view has changed, however, as in 2017, only 16.9 percent of contractors believed mobile wasn’t very important, while 83.1 percent said mobile was important or very important.
This data suggests that not only have the devices themselves changed —we’ve seen more intuitive smartphones and tablet devices, along with the rise of wearables especially in recent years—but that attitudes have also shifted quickly. And that’s no surprise, seeing as mobile technology has become so pervasive in all facets of our lives.
The Most Popular Mobile Devices
Mobile device adoption in construction has grown rapidly in recent years. In 2013, drones and wearable devices for construction workers had little if any role on the jobsite. But now they’re quite common, along with the continued use of laptops, tablets and smartphones.
Interestingly, while mobile use has increased overall, respondents in JBKnowledge’s report indicated they’re actually using fewer devices daily, with the exception of wearables. This suggests people are consolidating their devices and doing more with fewer tools. On the whole, though, laptops, tablets and smartphones were the most common mobile tools on construction sites in 2017, likely since they can serve many purposes.
The Benefits of Mobile-Friendly Software
So what is leading contractors to use more mobile technology on the jobsite? In many cases, apps are being used to simplify processes, facilitate easy tracking and reporting and better connect data and workflows between the field team and the office. Mobile applications for construction-specific tasks have grown in popularity and contractors have more applications than ever to choose from.
Benefits of apps that integrate the office and field include:
- Improved communication and collaboration
- Efficient project management
- Lower risk of errors and quicker mitigation of problems and mistakes when they occur
- Less time spent re-entering data from one system to another
- Access to the latest data for better visibility into projects that allow actionable decisions in real time
Cloud-based, mobile-friendly software makes it easier for those working on jobsites to access the information they need quickly so they can work smarter. It also allows data to be input directly from the field so that the back office is always working from the latest information. These mobile applications are intuitive and relevant for the field staff, allowing them to access what they need in just a click or two versus having to navigate more complex menu systems in back-office software.
Simple is the key to successful project execution. Viewpoint Field View, for example, is a cloud-based browser and offline-capable mobile solution that helps manage jobsite activities, produce field reports and facilitate collaboration on construction jobsites. It assigns accountability for actions, creates and shares detailed reports and monitors key metrics to keep everyone on the same page.
The Future of Mobile Apps for the Construction Industry
As technology evolves, we may also see many more novel uses for mobile devices. Some experts believe mobile apps and wearable technology could offer big benefits for safety training, for example. Meanwhile, the use of—and practical applications for—drone technology in construction continues to uncover new efficiency opportunities. Drones are already being used to create work in progress and 3D mapping for construction projects, integrating data to construction ERP software platforms.
These mobile applications could also improve learning and even attract more young workers to the industry, an added benefit of technology adoption. Contractors should definitely keep an eye out for unique uses of mobile technology that could boost performance on their jobsites.
We work with contractors throughout the industry to help them find integrated, mobile solutions that work for their businesses. We’ve seen firsthand how having access to data in the field improves job execution, as well as how access to real-time field data in the back office improves financial decision-making.
For more information about how mobile devices and software can boost productivity in the field, visit our Field Productivity Solution Page. Have questions about how integrated construction software can help your business? Get in touch.