Smartphones have made possible business models that were unimaginable just 10 years ago. Uber, a company that is built on the ubiquity of GPS-enabled mobile devices, is currently valued at $50 billion—higher than 80 percent of the S&P 500.
Smartphones have been so disruptive because of the communication problems they solve. Good communication is an “art.” Mobile communications coupled with the right cloud-based document control platform, empower construction subcontractors with the following benefits:
Accuracy refers to how correct the information is. This is difficult to achieve with voice communication because humans are fallible and frequently make errors.
Relevance refers to the ability of the technology to give the right people access to the information they need.
Timeliness refers to how quickly information can be delivered to interested parties. This is important because information loses relevance and accuracy as it ages.
Smartphones are ubiquitous and powerful enough to run advanced applications that reduce human error. Most importantly, they’re now so fast that data-hungry applications are no longer a pipe dream.
Following are some of the ways forward-thinking construction companies are using mobile technology to be competitive.
Most smartphones support push notifications, which allow for instant communication between any app and its preferred audience. Whether smartphone owners are looking at their phone, busy working or asleep, an app can deliver messages for whenever someone is free to look at them.
Push notifications are most powerful when they are given context, such as the user’s location. An example of this is geofencing, which allows apps to set up notifications that trigger when users enter or leave an area. Construction firms can utilize this feature by notifying a foreman when workers have arrived, or when a piece of equipment has been delivered or picked up.
Many traditional companies have difficulty keeping employees and customers informed in real time. Mobile technology breaks down information silos and replaces them with software that facilitates collaboration. Sharing critical documents, notes and updates with each individual regardless of geographic location makes for stronger teamwork and greater productivity.
Switching to digital technology allows companies to do things that weren’t possible with paper documents. Team members can annotate and edit digital versions of critical documents—asking questions, clarifying doubts and emphasizing key points. Cloud computing takes this one step further by keeping documents up to date, allowing teams working across large jobsites to act as a cohesive unit.
Project managers facing shrinking project timelines will appreciate the efficiency of mobile technology. In the past, decisions were made on paper, which then sat in a room and became the source of truth for the team. Then, email came along, making it easier to send documents to each other. However, email makes it difficult to keep everyone on the same page without resorting to dreaded “reply all” email threads.
Today, mobile software that is connected via the cloud gives everyone on the team access to critical documents so they can get the right answers every time. This reduces mistakes and increases efficiency by empowering field technicians to make decisions quickly and move on to their next task.
Equipment managers have a lot to gain from adopting mobile technology. All equipment breaks down eventually. Less downtime means higher profits. With mobile equipment management apps, users can request service with a tap, and be notified when help is on the way. Cloud management systems also can keep a watchful eye on overdue rentals, and issue reminders when a dozer that was needed for two weeks hasn’t been returned yet.
Foremen who manage their jobsites with mobile technology breathe a little easier because they have less to worry about. Smartphones are ideal for completing safety checklists, and communicating with colleagues both on and off the jobsite. Scheduling tools make it easier to get workers, materials and equipment in the right place at the right time. At the end of the day, foremen who embrace mobile technology get more done and get their workers home safely.
The efficiency that companies gain by adopting mobile technology leads to better customer service. Increased productivity means that deadlines are met more often than they are missed. Better visibility of project progress means that accurate updates can be delivered to key stakeholders in a timely manner. Better accounting tools lead to better estimates, and fewer mistakes keep wasteful spending down. Companies that embrace mobile technology complete more projects on time and budget—and there is no better competitive advantage than that.