The last few months I’ve been on the road speaking at conferences and talking with contractors about their use of technology. Those I spoke with are implementing tools to help them tightly manage their projects, keep costs in check, better serve their customers, and do more with current staff. Perhaps the biggest trend, however, is the growing number of contractors who are now using the cloud and mobile technology to accomplish these and other business goals.
That hasn’t always been the case. Just four years ago, we surveyed contractors and found only 16% felt that cloud computing was important for their businesses. In fact, the vast majority of construction professionals at the time hadn’t even heard of “the cloud.”
Since 2012, however, there has been a steady adoption of cloud technology in the construction industry. Earlier this year, we collaborated with the Associated General Contractors (AGC) on their 2016 Business Outlook, which surveyed more than 1,500 construction firms. Of those firms, 59% currently use or plan to use cloud-based solutions. That number will most certainly increase in 2017.
The move to the cloud has been spurred, as always, by business needs. Aging hardware has been the tipping point for many contractors to consider outsourcing their equipment needs. The universal wish for improved communication and decision making in the field has also escalated the use of new cloud-based mobile construction apps.
Today cloud computing is maturing, offering contractors even more ways to take advantage of this game changing technology. Sorting through the varied possibilities of the cloud, I see four main cloud computing trends that will have the biggest impact for construction companies in 2017:
- Software as a service (SaaS) applications will further simplify work life on the job site and will offer tighter integration with other software used by contractors.
- Hosted cloud services will continue to grow in popularity among contractors (even larger construction companies) who want to outsource all or part of their IT operations and infrastructure.
- Browser-like links will give greater authorized access to accounting and other important information without putting the data directly into the cloud.
- Hybrid cloud options will become more standard as a way for contractors to keep very sensitive information more secure while taking advantage of public cloud efficiencies where it makes the most sense.
In my next few posts, I’ll delve a bit deeper into each of these cloud computing trends. Join me to learn more about where cloud technology is heading and what it means for your construction company.