NEW YORK - Contractors are investing in improvements to the mobility of their construction project data, yielding business benefits, according to a new report by McGraw Hill Construction on information mobility in the construction industry (click here for report). However, there are significant gaps that need to be overcome for the benefits to be widely achieved across the industry.
Overall, the most highly reported benefits are better team collaboration (reported by 76%) and improved productivity (reported by 68%). Bottom line benefits, such as shorter project schedules, lower project costs and increases in project ROI, are significant for those that are tracking the benefits.
However, only half (51%) are tracking information flow at all, and only 20% are tracking the flow of their information outside their own firms—a significant need in the industry in order to understand and improve the flow of information.
“There are proven results in the value of information mobility investments, with contractors reporting shorter schedules by 9%, project cost decreases of 10% and increases in project ROI of 2%,” says Harvey M. Bernstein, vice president of Industry Insights & Alliances at McGraw Hill Construction. “We need to encourage the industry to track and report these benefits so they can justify investing in information mobility, thereby improving their profitability.”
Another challenge is determining access to data and information—ranked as one of the most important factors driving investments in information mobility. While the industry has made significant improvements in information flow within or outside an office, only 37% report that their workers onsite can access information outside the trailer. The two most important functions of information mobility reported by contractors are gathering real-time data from the jobsite and conducting analyses of those data.
“Since construction always takes place ‘in the field’ through a ‘distributed enterprise,’ it seems reasonable to expect ‘industrial-strength benefits’ from applying information mobility innovations, which have been increasingly enabled by ‘consumer-led’ investment and inventions,” says Huw Roberts, Bentley vice president, core marketing. “In this important and timely SmartMarket Report, McGraw Hill, as the trusted source of intelligence for and about the contractor community, for the first time assesses and quantifies the business benefits already being achieved by the front-running technology adopters. In addition to helping others to catch up, the Report, in particular, usefully identifies the wide gaps remaining in securing construction information mobility with integrity. For Bentley Systems and other developers of collaboration servers, field ‘apps,’ and cloud services, this also helps to prioritize major opportunities.”
Contractors are acknowledging this need and are looking at the future investments and tools to help them capture these benefits. For example, 60% of respondents expect to use cloud services over the next two years, compared with only 37% today. This will allow smaller firms that don’t have resources to invest in servers to more easily share information—and allow for easier remote access of data. However, the industry acknowledges that they will need to address security factors as they more heavily invest in remote information sharing, with important features considered, such as document security (by 71%), secure access (68%) and version control (56%).
Bentley Systems was the premier partner on the study. Bluebeam was a contributing partner, and the BIMForum and buildingSMART alliance were association partners.
On Wednesday, October 30 at 11:35 a.m. UTC (6:35 a.m. EST), McGraw Hill Construction will be presenting key findings at Bentley System’s “Year in Infrastructure 2013” Conference at the Hilton London Metropole, London, UK.