Today’s mix of multi-purpose devices with new and improved field software applications for construction make it easier than ever to take processes to the field. But given the proliferation of devices and applications to hit the market recently, which ones are construction professionals choosing most frequently when going mobile?
While research from Constructech’s 2011 IT Playbook shows smartphones are the device of choice (81%) for completing mobile tasks in the field, one must ponder whether the small form factor of the device will hold up in the long run for construction. In other words, could this trend be due more to the fact the smartphone market has matured a bit quicker than that of, say the tablet, for construction?
Devices like the BlackBerry and iPhone continue to permeate the construction market–in the hands of more construction professionals than any other mobile device, according to the IT Playbook–with Android-based smartphones gaining momentum as well. However, some in the market predict strong growth for ruggedized tablets and notebooks to be coming on strong in the next few years. VDC Research, www.vdcresearch.com, Natick, Mass., for one predicts the adoption of these devices will be in the range of 7.5% through 2014, as opposed to a growth rate of 3-5% for rugged smartphones in that same timeframe. However, the category of nonruggedized smartphones, which both BlackBerry and iPhone fall under, are predicted to grow at a rate of 12-14% in construction during that time.
Looking at the top-three tasks that respondents from the IT Playbook are carrying out remotely–field reporting, project management, and scheduling–would lead you to believe that the larger form factor of a device like a tablet or a notebook would lend itself more to executing these tasks. The always-connected nature and faster processing speeds of devices like tablets may make them more appealing in the long run over something like a notebook, but it’s hard to discredit the level of comfort that construction professionals have with the latter device.
The mobile market in construction is beginning a new chapter, lead by new game-changing devices that hit the market seemingly each day and construction software applications that leverage the unique capabilities of these devices. Perhaps it’s time to revisit your mobile strategy.