It is the age-old question: What comes first the technology or process? In today’s market, where connected devices are coming to market faster than ever before, this question is becoming more important, particularly as contractors are beginning to take their technology to the field in new ways.

While construction companies can become caught up in the latest gadgets and apps—basically the ‘cool’ factor of these technologies—it is still important to keep in mind how the devices will apply in business processes. In fact, some contractors are looking at their processes first, and then selecting the mobile devices to use in the field.

This has become a topic of discussion on Constructech’s LinkedIn forum lately. In the discussion, Lisa Radcliffe-Harrington, IT director, Maine Drilling and Blasting, www.mdandb.com, Gardiner, Maine, a drilling and blasting company for highways, site development, quarries, and house lots, says the company developed a field data collection strategy with goals and objectives as well as deliverables and metrics before selecting the mobile device.

This topic was also addressed at the AGC, www.agc.org, Arlington, Va., 2011 IT Forum Conference in Chicago, Ill., yesterday with the editors of Constructech magazine presenting on multiple sessions. In particular, Apple’s iPad has changed the tablet market for the construction industry. Now, consumer devices are becoming more common in the business world, providing competitive advantages to the construction industry. However, the proliferation of devices and platforms is requiring construction companies to make some difficult decisions.

Should you standardize on Android or Apple? Or should you even standardize on one single platform at all; should you consider multiple platforms? While these are difficult questions to answer, an important element to keep in mind is your ultimate goals and objectives for your mobile strategy.

In addition to tablet computing, yesterday’s AGC forum also addressed another key area for the construction industry—the role Microsoft SharePoint plays in contractors’ overall IT strategy. This is another area where developing a strategy is key to overall project success. The conference concludes today with breakout session on how to do more with less, and the overall impact IT can have on improving operating costs.

When selecting new devices, does the technology or the process come first? That is ultimately going to depend on each construction company. However, the important element to keep in mind is to not become swept up in the ‘cool’ factor of these connected devices and make sure to constantly keep in mind the importance of process and strategy when selecting and implementing new devices.