Construction Industry Growth: Is Your IT Environment Ready?


Hammers pounding. Cranes raising. Drills spinning. Saws cutting. Envisioning the process of building and construction typically conjures up sounds and images of power tools and large equipment… not laptops, smartphones and tablets. But the truth is that a significant number of construction employees rely heavily on technology – and use a keyboard and a mobile phone more frequently than they use a hammer or saw.

The reality is that today’s business runs on technology. And no matter what industry you’re in, when that technology doesn’t run properly, the results can be painful and costly.

Each industry has its own distinct needs – and challenges – when it comes to technology. Construction and development is no different. It’s a growing industry that is poised to account for 13% of the global economy by the end of the decade, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. But recent reports have us wondering if small and mid-size construction companies are prioritizing their technology needs in a way that enables that growth and productivity?

The Business of Construction

Construction companies typically follow a project-based workflow and are geographically distributed organizations. The collaborative nature of the construction process is key. Whether they are designing building plans on computer aided design (CAD) software, purchasing materials, managing inventory, or in the field on a job site implementing those designs – construction employees rely on a highly connected, stable technology infrastructure that enables them to collaborate and to do their jobs well.

Construction’s demands for reliable technology infrastructure to support the fundamental necessities of job is undeniable.

Growing Pains

Similar to other industries, computer needs may start out simple for construction startups. But a growing workforce and the addition of subcontractors, more job sites, and satellite offices increase the complexity and place new requirements on the supporting technology infrastructure.

As the business grows ahead of its technology, system reliability, connectivity, and performance issues can bring construction teams to a standstill – resulting in lost productivity and lost revenue, says Ken Brooks, a project controller at Delphi Construction in the Boston area.

Reactive IT issues begin to divert critical focus from the business of construction. But recent studies lead us to believe that construction companies are their own stumbling block when it comes to planning ahead. According to a 2014 technology report published by JBKnowledge, more than 30% of over 1000 construction companies surveyed said their IT budget made up less than 1% of their revenue. A study conducted by Gartner Benchmark Analytics confirms this percentage and also found that amongst 19 industries, the construction industry is spending the least on IT.  At iCorps Technologies, we’ve come across IT budgets ranging from 2% (low-end) to 10% (high-end) depending on the industry and company goals… but 1% (and under) for a rapidly growing industry is hard to swallow.

The Road to Success – Where do I start?

What we’ve noticed is that many construction companies just don’t know where to start when it comes to their IT needs and long-term planning. And we don’t blame them. Their expertise is construction, not IT.

If you’re a construction business (or if you’re in another industry) and this message rings true for you all we can say is… it may be time to call in the IT pros.

A Technology Assessment is the first critical step to making effective technology decisions. While many IT providers offer “free” assessments, the information gathered often leaves much to be desired and could leave you feeling even more lost. Consider making a minor investment in a technology assessment that will ultimately provide you with a clear understanding of your IT operations, technology and infrastructure.

iCorps offers a small, fixed-cost assessment that 1) offers detailed documentation so you can make informed decisions 2) provides an objective third party, vendor-agnostic evaluation of your network and 3) leaves you with a strategic technology roadmap for your business.

For an industry that is positioned for much growth over the next five years, technology and long-term IT planning can no longer be an afterthought. [Tweet this!]

Construction businesses, stay tuned… we’ll be providing a checklist of criteria to consider when analyzing your information technology environment.

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