In 2010 iPads made their way onto building and construction job sites for the first time. A mere three years later, nearly 13 000 construction, development and design apps had hit the market. Looking back at the last decade, a lot of technology has been created to support the building and construction sector, but it hasn’t been absorbed by the industry at the same rate.
JB Knowledge has become the authority on this topic through their annual Construction Technology (ConTech) survey and subsequent report. The 2019 edition was just released with valuable findings about the latest tech trends impacting the industry. Builders can use these insights to better digest the industry-wide changes underway and position themselves within them. The report also provides a new source of data to help with planning the year ahead.
This year’s ConTech survey was conducted in the Summer of 2019, and included participants from across the industry like general contractors, commercial building specialists and construction service providers. Read on to see they revealed.
The Rise of Apps for Construction
The use of apps in the construction industry is on the rise. Builders are looking for ways to become safer and more efficient.
In the ConTech survey, 49% of respondents indicated that when making the decision to purchase new software, mobile integration is “very important”. While 93% use smartphones on construction sites, laptops (83%), tablets (64%) and even smart watches (11%) were other forms of mobile devices that need to be taken into consideration.
Popular mobile apps used in the industry range from facilitating better communication between stakeholders to better equipment management and workflows. Whether you love them or hate them, apps are here to stay and are changing the industry. For example, more than half (58%) of respondents reported that they use apps for daily reporting. Other popular app uses listed were:
- Time management (53%)
- Safety management (41.5%)
- Plan management (39.1%)
App Fatigue is Real
With more and more apps becoming available, the risk of app fatigue increases. The average person uses nine mobile apps a day, and with so many apps being used for their personal lives (social media, banking, online shopping and so on), having to download and learn to use even more apps for work can feel overwhelming.
App fatigue in general can slow the adoption of new apps. Privacy and security concerns have also been a potential deterrent. Ultimately, integrating apps onto job sites isn't always as straightforward as it may seem.
The report shared that 53% of respondents have to manually transfer data between apps that don’t integrate with their existing workflows. This can be both time-consuming and potentially frustrating, so some users choose to avoid the apps completely. The report also indicated a lack of adoption may be partly attributed to longer-standing companies having less willingness to adopt new technology. As a result, the full benefits of mobile apps to the industry at large are not being realized.
There are so many different advantages that apps bring to builders, but if they don't get used it doesn't really matter. Companies need to focus on integrating the apps they have, instead of adding more apps to the mix.
Focusing on Adoption Versus Availability
The bottom line is that just because you have apps available for your employees to use, doesn’t mean they’ll adopt them. If your company is testing and trying new technology, you need to have a plan in place for selection, adoption and support. Here’s our advice on how to get started:
Choose apps that are easy to use and intuitive. If appropriate, involve your employees in decision making. Employees are going to be far more invested in using apps if they understand why they’re needed and how they’ll make their jobs easier.
Remember that people need time to learn how to use the apps and an opportunity to ask questions. There will be a learning curve, so having a plan for rollout and transition will make it less stressful and more successful.
Finally, ensure there’s ongoing support for the apps you choose to use. For example, here at RenoRun, we offer an in-app chat function so our customers never feel like they’re stuck. You could also appoint onsite app “experts” from your team, host in-person or digital workshops for staff and provide documentation.
If you really want to get serious, these are some additional pointers to ensure your technology integration plan is successful:
- Conduct a needs analysis with all stakeholders, focusing on scope, quality, cost and time
- Get buy-in from management on all selected technology and expected outcomes (with clear milestones along the way)
- Do a trial if it’s a paid app or tool and test the system before you adopt it company-wide
Adopt What Works for YOU
With technological advances in the construction industry showing no signs of slowing down, we should expect even more apps in the coming years, so choose wisely. Find the technology that fits your needs, fits your budget and can easily be adopted company-wide. Once you've found mobile solutions for your company, take time to adopt them properly. Remember technology should make your next build easier, not harder!
Image 1: Custom graphic by RenoRun, with permission from JB Knowledge