Contractors that keep pace with changing technology will be better positioned to analyze and improve job performance, speed up routine processes on the jobsite, attract and retain the next generation of talent, enhance owner and client relationships, and better manage the inevitable changes that occur throughout the life cycle of a job.

While there are many benefits, the construction industry in particular needs to be mindful that changing ingrained processes also will require investment, time and momentum to implement. 

Customer-Centric Ecosystems
The recent shift of the business technology ecosystem from the back office to the frontline has broadened relationships between businesses and consumers. As companies refocus their priorities on customer value, IT solutions that deepen insight into customer bases—such as big data, email marketing, automation tools for marketing and customer relationship management—are taking precedence over traditionally valued IT systems. With the advanced knowledge that these tools provide, businesses not only are jumping at the opportunity to invest in the overall customer experience by providing more relatable content, personalization and ease of access, but also are equipping their teams with the information necessary to stay relevant to today’s customers.

Real-Time Collaboration
Onsite workers use a variety of mobile devices and virtual tools, which often are linked to cloud-based computing platforms. For example, BIM and VDC technology allows construction professionals to virtually plan and build projects. Other tools allow multiple users to edit drawings, track changes or provide updates. And, mobile apps allow workers to easily estimate materials, create or export blueprints, schedule subcontractors or review contracts. However, these tools are rarely optimized for integrated collaboration.

Automation
Streamlined and integrated solutions are redefining business operations. The latest generation of software solutions allows businesses to refigure administrative efforts and redirect focus to value-adding business functions. Everyday operations such as payables, budgeting and forecasting can be automated through software service providers such as Tallie, Adaptive Insights and Bill.com.

Reductions in time-intensive processes, manual errors and costs allow for the increased efficiency needed to enhance organizational growth in today’s marketplace. Further integration with enterprise resource planning systems can provide the visibility needed for organizations to manage corporate performance in real time.

Data Security
As technology advances, so do cyber threats. Construction companies must be prepared for potential breaches and the internal and external risks such incidents introduce. With the increasing use of cloud storage, information is as accessible as it is prevalent. Proactive measures such as cyber insurance, threat modeling, and regular testing and monitoring of organizational infrastructure are necessary to help prevent unintended access to critical organizational and client data. However, technology can only do so much. Ultimately, companies need to train employees and implement formal documentation of security policies to protect critical information.

Foundation for the Future
Construction is a cyclical business. Before the next downturn, when spending on construction projects will decrease, consider implementing technology-enabled efficiency drivers and standardized processes that will improve a company’s sustainability and agility. For example, newer predictive technologies can gather real-time data from workers, equipment and other jobsite assets to identify risk, cost and performance trends. The more standardized operations are, the easier it is to implement strategic changes when needed. If carefully considered, these tools can be a smart way to help businesses weather a full range of economic conditions.  


Bill Kracunas is a partner at RSM US LLP and Chris Wetmore is a director in RSM’s Technology Advisory practice. For more information, email bill.kracunas@rsmus.com or chris.wetmore@rsmus.com.