The BYOD (bring your own device) trend has hit construction. But there are many questions contractors need to consider before sending field workers to the jobsite with their personal devices to use for business purposes. For example, when following BYOD, how do you deploy software to the field when workers are using a variety of different platforms and devices?

The answer to this question, and more, will depend on each individual organization. But, for those interested, there are cross-platform mobile applications and software designed specifically for the construction industry.

Certainly, one specific area of the industry that has a big need for mobile technology and devices is service construction. Some service organizations might be standardizing on one device these days, while other are considering how to implement policy and strategy for a mobile workforce that is using multiple different devices.

For the latter, a number of technologies exist that provide cross-platform mobile applications. For example, yesterday, MSI Data, www.msidata.com, Milwaukee, Wis., announced mobile software that can be deployed across multiple platforms including iOS, Android, and Windows mobile devices.

MSI Field Force Studio offers a suite of configurable mobile applications that can automate tasks such as repair, installation, and preventative maintenance, as well as inspections, site surveys, and assessments. The technology is designed for field service organizations, such as those in the construction industry. The mobile software can be used on iPads, iPhones, Android, and Windows mobile devices.

According to the company, with the cross-platform mobile workforce applications, contractors can access and record work orders, inspections, labor time, service history, asset tracking, and much more. The information gathered from the mobile applications in the field can be integrated with MSI Data’s field-management software in the office.

The technology can also integrate data collected in the field with third-party software in the backoffice for ERP (enterprise-resource planning), CRM (customer-relationship management), and billing.

This is just one example of a technology platform that allows contractors to use the same mobile applications on different devices in the field. For construction companies that are considering BYOD, software such as this allows for collection in the field from different mobile devices.

According to Gartner, www.gartner.com, Stamford, Conn., the rapid proliferation of consumer mobile devices is changing the traditional IT environment in enterprises, as 90% of businesses have already deployed mobile devices, with smartphones being most widely deployed.

With regards to BYOD, there are a number of security issues Gartner suggests organizations should consider, including mobile data protection, network access control, and mobile device management technology.

For the construction industry, BYOD could be a good strategy, but it will be crucial to determine the best way to manage the disparate operating systems. As the trend continues to take hold, it will be interesting to watch how the industry develops best practices for BYOD.