Sometimes it seems like information technology is moving at lightning speed. For instance, I just replaced an iPhone I’ve had since 2011. From the comments made by the technical staff helping me, you’d think I’d unearthed my old device from an archeological dig.
Four years is a long time in information technology years. Since 2011, we’ve seen rapid growth in the use of the cloud for business purposes. Construction firms, in particular, are tapping into the mobile revolution, using increasingly sophisticated smart devices and cloud-based apps to improve communication to and from the job site. What will the next few years bring?
Hang on to your hardhat. Things are about to get really interesting:
Internet of Things (IoT): A smart home is a good example of the Internet of Things where everyday objects such as lights, thermostats, and security systems will send data to the cloud, essentially becoming part of the Internet. This allows home owners to monitor their residences 24-7, even when they are away. IoT will become increasing important to your customers who want these features in their homes and facilities. The technology will also become more available for your business as objects such a parts, building materials, construction machinery, even devices worn by workers relay information that lets you monitor inventory levels, equipment repair needs, and safety.
Streaming data or high-velocity data: The information collected from various objects, building information models, audio and video files, web logs, and more is called big data. Streaming this data so you can view it real-time (as it happens) will bring a whole new meaning to decision making and efficiency. This type of data analysis is already happening to monitor the “machine health” of construction equipment in order to reduce breakdowns and unplanned downtime.
Data visualization: With all this data there has to be better ways to “consume” it. Data visualization provides a graphical representation of data that makes it easier to interpret the data, spot trends, and make decisions quickly. In the future, a picture will be worth a million data points!
No-touch interfaces: Look mom, no hands! Tomorrow it will be commonplace to operate computers, tablets, smart phones and other devices through hand motions, voice, or signals. For client presentations on large tablets and for your project managers who are constantly on the go, you can see the advantages.
Technologies such as these four are still on the horizon for many construction companies. But they do provide a glimpse into some exciting possible applications for construction in the future. Let your imagination go wild!