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Mobile technology helps empower the on-site team and those working in the field by providing access to a wealth of project information, allowing the users to carry out a complete series of traditional paper based processes seamlessly on a single mobile device.
The use of mobile technology within the construction industry is not a new concept, however the uptake of mobile devices in recent years has significantly increased. The introduction of affordable tablet computing within the consumer market and the maturity of the available systems has caused a paradigm shift in innovation within the construction industry.
The market is now full of construction related applications from design viewing tools, all the way through to snagging applications. The large majority of apps have been designed well with highly intuitive user interfaces, however many are point solutions and not integrated with one another.
On the surface mobile technology seems like a suitable solution for improving outdated and traditional construction processes. The real challenge arises when trying to digitally replicate the approval journey of a typical quality control paper document, such as an inspection and test plan. This is the result of a lack of understanding or appreciation of typical construction processes by the software vendors, matched with an unwillingness to change from a risk adverse construction industry.
The industry is experiencing progress with a number of tools now available which allow the construction companies to take control and map in their own workflows without being reliant on a third party software vendor.
Many mobile apps are designed to work offline and as such connectivity is becoming less important as a number of solutions can now sync with a cloud database when a connection becomes available. Reluctance in the adoption of mobile technology is now sporadic due to the mobile technology revolution that everyone is experiencing in their personal lives.
A major challenge the industry still has to overcome is the lack of interoperability and reliable data exchange between different systems. An issue that is so important to an industry that operators across several sectors, contains numerous well established customers, joint venture projects, largely subcontracted work and operates in conjunction with a massive supply chain.
The trend occurring in the industry is a general reluctance to integrate, the major software providers are striving to provide a complete service solution and protect their market share. A willingness to be flexible and collaborate is more evident from the smaller, ambitious software vendors.
Mobile technology is unlocking a plethora of opportunities to the construction industry and those that share the vision of an open and collaborative environment (that the BIM agenda was born from) will play a significant part in bringing construction into the 21st century. Ensuring the industry is positioned to fully benefit from a future of big data and digital data exchange.
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