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By John Biggs
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The utility of the cloud has evolved considerably since Procore was among the first movers to broadly apply the game-changing technology to the construction industry. What was once predominantly for securely storing files and information has blossomed into a platform with uses spanning everything from software to data analytics to artificial intelligence to improving workflow and collaboration.
Perhaps not surprisingly, then, as its usefulness has broadened, construction companies around the world are seeing the transformative possibilities of cloud technology, and are putting resources behind implementation of the cloud for a diverse range of business functions.
On the analytics side, the cloud makes it easier and cheaper than ever for contractors to take the vast stores of data company-wide and convert it into actionable insights using tools like KPIs and dashboards, which are becoming more accessible from mobile devices, ensuring that data is always readily available to everyone who needs it, whether in the office or the field.
Edge computing has brought the cloud out of the ether and directly to users. Edge computing creates what is essentially a locally based mini-cloud that can analyze data in real time directly from the source, rather than processing it in the cloud itself or using far-away data centers. This frees up bandwidth, speeds up applications and cuts down on the time needed for data processing and analytics. This is especially useful in Internet of Things (IoT) applications where a network of connected devices depends on rapid-fire, low-latency responses.
Another term being thrown around a lot these days is the hybrid cloud, which combines local, private clouds and the public cloud, allowing for better interoperability with APIs and other services used by different businesses or contractors. It also allows more flexibility with how data is stored and processed. Daily functions needed to be accessed more regularly can operate from within the local cloud while storage and database functionality can be relegated to the public cloud.
Notably, the cloud has become a software platform where companies can run tools and applications instead of depending on local servers for processing power. Procore has a whole marketplace of cloud-based applications that brings everything a project manager could need under one roof. Cloud-hosted software is not subject to the same downtime or cost of upkeep as physical hardware, so it’s an ideal solution for industries involving many moving parts like construction, which often use a suite of different applications.
As uses for the cloud have gotten far more complex, so have the demands on what applications hosted in the cloud can do. Instead of cloud apps being siloed, integration has become the order of the day, enabling companies to automatically perform processes that involve both the field and office. An example provided by Construction Executive is daily field reporting. With today’s cloud technology, managers can utilize mobile devices to closely track job site activity while also sending work-in-progress information and other reporting details directly into their on-site systems, where it’s automatically distributed to the relevant departments.
Another big change is even large contractors have started migrating their system and data to the cloud, According to Construction Executive. Initially slow to adopt the technology out of fear for potential security concerns, large firms are making the leap in big numbers as the cloud matures as a platform and its security is trusted more broadly. Larger firms typically have more capital invested in their in-house hosting systems and more data overall than smaller firms, so to see these companies outsourcing at least part of their IT infrastructure is a seismic industry shift.
Needless to say, the cloud is growing up fast. It’s come a long way from its early days as a semi-abstract techie concept to an indispensable tool with real time- and money-saving applications for companies of all sizes. It’s likely to only increase in usefulness as time progresses and companies find new ways to realize the efficiency gains the cloud capable of facilitating. The cloud has truly arrived, and it’s changing everything.
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
Project Management Software
Cloud-Based Construction Software
5 Lies You’ve Heard About the Cloud
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