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By John Biggs
June 25, 2018
When it comes to the business world, one of the great advents of the internet age has been an equalizing effect, enabling smaller companies to access the same tools and technologies as their much larger counterparts, and reap the same benefits.
This democratic distribution of innovation has ensured that the benefits of those technologies are usable and affordable to companies no matter their tech budget. Yes, there is typically an initial capital outlay to implement new technology into a business operation, but if used effectively, the time and cost savings realized will usually outstrip the initial investment, and do so quickly.
The Big Equalizer
One of the biggest equalizing technologies has been the cloud, with its Swiss Army knife-like ability to perform a multitude of tasks, fully customizable to a company’s specific needs. The cloud lets companies store and rapidly access vast amounts of information, host applications and programs for everything from workflow management, safety, billing and scheduling, all accessible by anyone granted access.
A big benefit to basing programs and applications in the cloud is eliminating the need for a dedicated IT department, a cost-prohibitive hurdle for many smaller companies to clear. Running programs in the cloud is considerably easier and cheaper than having in-house staff dedicated to manually updating software or security monitoring. It helps to have a few staffers on hand with some technical know-how, but today’s cloud-based app suites are designed to be relatively plug-and-play. Cloud computing also eliminates the need for physical hardware, like servers, which need to be upgraded and repaired. Cloud also keeps data in one place under virtual lock and key, with unlimited storage capacity.
The concept of “the cloud” is still a little unclear, maybe even intimidating to some, particularly in an industry like construction with a track record of being slow to change. Some training might be necessary to bring workers up to speed, but once contractors have the benefits explained to them, it becomes easier to convert the non-believers.
Smaller companies have the advantage of being more nimble than their larger competitors, but they face the same deluge of disorganized paperwork and communication as a construction company of any size. By streamlining those processes, cutting down the paper stack and unifying communication in a cloud-based app, these companies can focus less on keeping bids and change orders organized and more time winning contracts and getting work done. Every process that can be pawned off on cloud-based apps instead of requiring human workers to get involved means better productivity and greater efficiency.
The beauty of cloud-based suites of apps is how customizable they are. Contractors can decide one day they need a certain capability, and easily change gears and try something else if their needs change or if the application isn’t solving their issue. Free trials are routinely offered by cloud applications to let contractors see first-hand if a solution is the right fit for their operation. This also allows companies to dip their toe in the cloud-apps waters before going whole hog and fundamentally transforming their operation based on “shiny object syndrome.”
If you’re unsure where to start, ConstructionDive says one option is to find out what cloud-based tools competitors are using, or to ask architects and engineers what contractors they work with are deploying. App providers themselves, such as Procore, can often provide case studies that demonstrate how their suite of tools have been applied in specific use-cases to help companies solve their problem.
The cloud isn’t nearly as complicated in practice as it is a concept. And smaller companies hesitant to take cloud apps for a spin may do so at their peril, because you can bet your competitors are actively exploring what the cloud can do for their business.
If you liked this article, here are a few eBooks and webinars you may enjoy:
Security in the Cloud: Tips on How to Protect Your Data
Bringing Construction Financials to the Cloud
Cloud: 8 Reasons to Ditch Your Spreadsheets
Integrated Software Solutions
mobile construction technology
Cloud-Based Construction Software
Five Ways Tech is Transforming Jobs
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