Head in the Cloud: Surveying the digital age

Umar Sani Bello
Technology has permeated every aspect of people’s lives, simplifying complex tasks and accelerating the turnaround process. Cloud computing offers quicker and real-time approaches, which is an advantage individuals in the construction industry are embracing. Thus, it is important to understand the new tools available, how they will help your work, and the cost of not using them.

As design/construction professionals navigate through the turbulent waves of the industry, it is important to be armed with the best tools of the trade at a reasonable cost while keeping track of several projects and simultaneously juggling multiple deadlines. In a world continuously demanding faster completion times, builders are faced with the challenge of changing their current systems or being forced out by the competition.

By utilizing cloud-based technologies, organizations are able to streamline communications with trades, expedite work-order turnaround times, and help project managers gain an overall understanding of the position of each project in real-time. The versatility of the technology allows for a more integrated approach to managing projects; issues can be documented with a smartphone or tablet and made instantly accessible on the web.

Cloud computing concept with laptops in the sky
Cloud computing offers quicker and real-time approaches, which is an advantage individuals in the construction industry are quickly embracing.
Photo © Bigstock.com

Maintaining a user-friendly cache of data and analytics to help analyze past projects and guide future ones has never been easier. The transition has further been simplified by the inclusion of processes to promote integration with familiar systems, such as Microsoft Excel.

Communication has become one of the most important cornerstones of businesses. Establishing the correct communication channels is just as important as speaking the right language. The construction industry is undergoing a dramatic level of transformation on every level. This change has caused a level of incompatibility with old models, making them obsolete. To complicate matters more, the rate at which different parts of the industry are adopting technology is different, making synchronization another part of the problem. These problems manifest in delayed reaction times, miscommunication, and slower delivery; they ultimately lead to decreased productivity.

For decades, the construction industry processes have been slowed down by the deep level of complexity. Establishing consistent communication channels with various stakeholders is time-consuming and demanding. Even with the advent of technologies like cell phones and e-mails, the speed of production has only been marginally improved. In most cases, project managers prefer to use more traditional tools like Excel sheets and notepads to record their data, whereas administration uses more analytical software. Due to this difference, an extra step is required in copying data from one group to the other, which leads to delays and potential mistakes. The nature of the system also makes it difficult to catch any errors in data recording. The builder passes its demands to the administrator who punches the request into the system. This is a virtual black box to the builder—it is only after the whole process has been completed the builder can see whether a mistake was made. This is where cloud technology shines—the level of information accessible by builder, project manager and administration is completely adjustable. All three parties can closely monitor various stages of the order and ensure it is carried out correctly, and on time.

Through connectivity, cloud technology is able to solve myriad problems. The database is designed to provide all users with the most up-to-date information available. Some programs incorporate the notification feature, updating as soon as changes are made. Gone are the days where an order, project, or a note disappears into an oblivion of papers. Users are able to keep track of relevant information and sharing this data has never been easier and convenient. The digital nature of all information stored means it can be accessed from anywhere in the world, while archiving is fluid and stress-free—ideal for firms dealing with hundreds of projects.

Umar Sani Bello, B.Eng., first worked in technical sales in the Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) space before shifting to the construction industry. With a degree in engineering, he works at Buildmetric as a marketing and sales representative. He can be reached via e-mail at ubello@buildmetric.com.

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