The AEC industry is mobile by nature—always has been. So topics like ‘enterprise mobility’ aren’t so much a discussion about what is new—but rather, what is next.
The landscape in construction today looks like this: Workers equipped with smartphones, tablets and other connected devices interacting with countless apps of all types, everyday in order to improve productivity and streamline workflow.
So at a broad level it’s safe to say that mobile has indeed permeated the AEC industry. What comes next, however, requires a bit deeper of a dig in order to uncover just how deep it will penetrate into the enterprise. Not only that, but it becomes a situation in which builders and contractors are looking to best prepare for what’s next.
When looking ahead for the AEC space, I believe it is important to evaluate the broader landscape of technology. Going forward, I see four broader trends associated with enterprise mobility with the potential of having wide-sweeping impact on how the AEC industry gets things done.
- Mobility Integration. Enterprise mobility is no longer operating in isolation from the rest of the enterprise. Integration with other key technologies will continue to progress, as data from these applications must be linked to back office functions and even play a greater role in processes like BIM (building information modeling).
- The AEC App Store. Could we soon be nearing a time when larger AEC companies are managing corporate-sanctioned apps on PCs and mobile devices? Enterprise app stores are indeed a real thing and promise greater control over the apps used by employees. Not only that, but they hold the potential for greater control over software expenditures. It’s not too far fetched to believe that as more and more large AEC firms embrace the idea of enterprise mobility that they will want to have greater control over the apps that their employees are accessing.
- Prime Time Cloud for Construction: Today you have major cloud vendors like Amazon AW, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure Cloud all making a play to extend their offerings to include mobile cloud solutions and services. The AEC space is ripe for these cloud giants to extend their mobile offerings.
- Cloud Content is King. All those great cloud-enabled storage apps like Box and Dropbox or productivity apps like Evernote suddenly become a gateway to putting your corporate data on the public cloud. More and more, these applications are being embraced for collaboration on all levels. We are already seeing the trend where major software applications are integrating with applications like Dropbox, Google Drive, Box and One Drive, among others.
The days of early adoption with regards to enterprise mobility are well past us. In fact, being mobile is simply a prerequisite these days for getting things done effectively. Our clients have been adopting cloud-based desktops, apps and file storage.
Take as an example, Torcon, Inc. This privately-held construction management and general contracting firm is a long-time AEC Cloud client, running our hosting services for its deployment of Prolog from Meridian Systems.
The contractor is taking this system to a new level through the addition of a tablet PC-based field technology solution called Converge, which integrates with Prolog. With this mobile solution, such tasks as punch list updates, safety notices and daily field reports are available from the field. And the value does not stop there as Torcon anticipates using the mobile application for a range of additional functions like punch list management and the initiation of RFIs (requests for information).
Torcon’s use of enterprise mobility is highly indicative of the current AEC landscape. And that begs the question: What is next for enterprise mobility in the AEC space, and how will you best prepare your firm going forward?
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