Technology is bridging the gap between the office and the construction site. Bring your own device (BYOD) is a growing trend in which professionals use their personal devices to conduct business activities. BYOD has carved a niche in the construction industry—foremen, engineers and other high-level construction professionals use these their mobile devices to enhance communication, access documents and complete simple calculations. Cloud-based computing enables construction professionals to take their work on the go, and the growing market of powerful devices enables computing from anywhere.
Based on a 2012 Enterasys survey, Forbes reports that 74 percent of companies allow some sort of BYOD usage. Expect more contractors to adopt this growing practice.
BYOD is made possible by cloud computing, which stores data on a remote server that is accessible online. Google Drive is a popular example of a cloud. Users can save and share documents to anyone with a Google account. There’s no need for local servers and no need to be tied to a desk.
For construction workers, engineers and architects, cloud computing is a dream. With the proper devices, construction professionals could make calculations from a jobsite and share it with partners back at the office. Smartphones and tablets are the most popular BYOD devices. The Apple iPad is largely credited with igniting the tablet market, and North Carolina-based Crescent Construction Services uses iPads to expedite their projects. “I don’t have to lug a load of paperwork or anything else,” Crescent Construction VP Julian Clayton told Apple.com. Another plus? With the technology in place, computer engineers are developing construction-specific mobile apps to further improve the BYOD experience.
A number of mobile apps are advancing the BYOD cause in the contracting industry. Construction Calc, a construction-focused tool developed by Snappy Apps. This sophisticated app enables contractors to calculate measurements in feet, inches and fractional inches. Split screens shows users the result, memory and measurement values all at once. Mobile apps eliminate the need for cumbersome documents, too. The Canvas Business Forms app enables project managers, foremen and construction workers to easily exchange documents. If everyone on your team has these apps, you’ll have an easier time getting on the same page when things change. Mobile apps are more convenient and powerful than tangible documents.
Beyond sophisticated apps, smartphones and tablets provide contractors with simple tools they need during day-to-day tasks. Most of these smart devices come equipped with a level, a compass, a graphing calculator and a flashlight. Third-party apps provide even more function to boost productivity. The key is choosing a device that fits your operations. Mobile provider Blackberry is an advocate for BYOD. It provides businesses with fully encrypted work spaces to keep their projects safe and secure. If you’re in the market for a mobile business device, look for something with a high-resolution screen for blueprints and other designs.