IT leaders in the construction industry have a big job to handle these days. Many are expected to maintain mission-critical pieces of the IT operation, while also keeping an eye on changing future technology initiatives. IT leaders are also responsible for balancing near-term company objectives with long-term vision in order to enable a company to thrive.

As Shawn Pressley, senior vice president and chief information officer, Hill Intl., www.hillintl.com, Marlton, N.J., explains, in the past the objective of IT was to fix machines, but now the CIO needs to look beyond just the IT functionality and understand relevance as it relates to the company’s overall business activities and objectives.

This trend can be seen throughout the construction industry. Gartner, www.gartner.com, Stamford, Conn., reports organizations have to deliver on multiple IT priorities, without a significant increase in budget. How can IT leaders go about doing this, while aligning business priorities with technology trends? Gartner points to some of the top business priorities in 2012 including increasing enterprise growth, attracting and retaining new clients, reducing enterprise costs, and creating new products and services.

IT leaders can use technology to meet these goals in a number of ways. For example, business analytics and BI (business intelligence) can help increase company growth, while mobile technologies can be used to attract and retain new clients. Moving to the cloud can reduce some enterprise costs, while collaboration technologies and workflow can help innovate and develop new products and services. These are just a few of the big examples of how IT leaders can align business objectives with technology.

As an example in construction, the Hayner Hoyt Corp., www.haynerhoyt.com, Syracuse, N.Y., a general construction company that offers services in hospital and medical facilities, warehouses, manufacturing plants, distribution centers, hotels, financial institutions, educational facilities, and more, recently upgraded its ERP (enterprise-resource planning) platform to take advantage of business intelligence and analytics.

The organization has been using software from Computer Guidance Corp., www.computerguidance.com, Scottsdale, Ariz., for more than 14 years, primarily for financials such as payroll processing, job costing, corporate reporting, and more. The Hayner Hoyt Corp., recently upgraded to eCMS v.4.0, adding IBM Cognos Business Intelligence and Analytics.

The application allows users to improve decision making, forecasting, and gain an understanding of what is going on in the business. BI and analytics are key today, due to the ability to understand operations better and increase company growth.

For IT leaders, strategic technology decisions can help improve the overall operations of a company. At this year’s Technology Day conference a panel discussion with technology leaders within the construction industry will debate the IT issues of today and tomorrow. For anyone involved in construction, this will bring the industry together to address how IT can be used to facilitate growth, attract new clients, reduce costs, and innovate, among others.