The construction industry today has convenient access to cloud-based videoconferencing, chat and virtual voice solutions. By simply using an on-demand app on any laptop or tablet, that device can be transformed into a voice, data and video collaboration tool that allows construction managers to connect with clients and team members across the country and around the globe.

Videoconferencing and chat functions eliminate the need to be tied to a phone line or an office. This reduces the need for extensive office-based infrastructure and provides easy ramp-up or scale-back capabilities, depending on company needs during busy months and off-seasons.

Advantages of Cloud-Based Communications
Increasingly, businesses are moving away from laptops and toward tablets. While the construction landscape has always been mobile—employees move from jobsite to jobsite and back to the office—it is becoming even more demanding. With cloud-based communication options, construction professionals have the opportunity to be more productive, as their work can be completed from any location.

While communication is of upmost importance, it is tied to data. By utilizing cloud-based communications and data, not only do contractors have the ability to stay in contact, but they also have access to the data necessary to make quick decisions. It is literally at their fingertips, no matter their location.

The jobsite also becomes a conference room. Collaborative decisions can be made in real time, bringing even more agility to the construction industry.

New apps allow all business calls to be made from the employee’s personal phone—or tablet or desk phone—that is linked to one corporate number. If an employee leaves the company, he does not take the corporate access number with him. Executives do not need to worry about business calls funneling to the former employee, and the employee has not been assigned a company phone, so the potential for equipment loss is reduced.

As a result, construction companies can reduce overhead costs and keep a firm control on IT equipment and maintenance costs.

By utilizing cloud-based solutions for communications, companies can expect to see an uptick in employee productivity and customer satisfaction. With the ability to communicate data at their fingertips, contractors can deal with issues quickly and immediately.

Identifying Opportunities for Cloud Computing
It is not unusual to see someone carrying a cell phone (or two), a laptop and a tablet—all at the same time. Imagine a site manager attempting to coordinate CAD documents and BIM among these devices. Further, imagine that he wants to take pictures and email them or discuss design changes.

To accomplish this task in the past, the foreman would set up a video conference on his tablet, email pictures and data from his laptop, and use his phone to connect with the conference. With cloud-based communications and data, all of this can take place from one device, giving the foreman flexibility and making collaboration more effective.

The time of large data servers and the office space to store them is quickly becoming a thing of the past as the virtual office takes over. When it comes to data, the transition to a purely virtual model has already been made, at least for larger construction companies. Moving communications to the cloud is the next logical step.

Through this migration, construction companies will find their technology budgets shrinking, with a reduction in capital investment. They will become more efficient at the same time: a true win-win situation. 

Potential Challenges of Cloud-Based Communication
As with all new technology, cloud-based communication can pose challenges. While the technology is a good fit for companies of all sizes, the learning curve may be a little higher for smaller firms. Small business leaders may not have the in-house staff to help with the transition of learning how to use and set up the equipment, and they may not have the resources to train employees.

In addition, employees in the field and on the jobsite will need to develop a new comfort level when dealing with this  technology. Consider utilizing an outside service to help with both implementation and training. Because no two companies are the same, no two training programs should be either. When working with a company to set up cloud-based communications, look for one that tailors individual training to the company’s needs and its employees’ needs. In addition, look for a support partner that will be available to assist in training all future employees.

Implementing a cloud-based communication process should involve several steps, starting with a site visit and review. Once the company visits with the solutions provider, a design can be developed for the contractor to review and sign off.

Few industries are better suited for cloud communications than construction. With its evolving jobsites and need for quick action, mobile technologies and the cloud are a perfect fit to keep this agile industry moving into the future. 


Stephen Canton is chairman and CEO of iCore Networks. For more information, visit www.icore.com.