Survey shows broad participation in construction technology offerings

Updated Feb 11, 2019
Shown here with a tablet mounted on a handheld receiver, Vermeer’s InSite Mapping tool gives you the ability to white line, or mark, the bore ahead of time.Shown here with a tablet mounted on a handheld receiver, Vermeer’s InSite Mapping tool gives you the ability to white line, or mark, the bore ahead of time.

One of the strange anomalies in the construction technology industry is that fact that none of the technology software vendors know how big the market is. They know how much technology they sell, but the ones I’ve asked say they can only guess at the amounts their competitors sell.

The folks at JB Knowledge have just released their 2018 Construction Technology Report and it’s well worth your reading as it covers the industry as a whole and offers a comprehensive sample of about 3,000 construction contractors and their technology preferences and opinions. Our story here will give you a quick synopsis, but you can download the full report at the link below (if you give them your name and email).

The full report has additional observations on trends, BIM use, and the role women could play in the construction industry vis-a-vi software and technology. Note that the report covers software apps, mobile devices and drones, but not GPS or telematics technology.

Spending on construction technology was flat in 2018, which stands in contrast to non-construction technology spending which rose 6.9 percent in the same period, but nearly half of the respondents had a dedicated IT staff.

The company mobile strategy is rated as important or very important to more than 80 percent of these contractors. Only 16 percent said it wasn’t. Smart phones have eclipsed laptops in the field, but about half the respondents secure employee devices or don’t let employees use personal devices in the field. A third of the companies don’t have data management policies.

Apple’s iOS operating platform is the most popular with 72 percent using it. Windows garners 53 percent, Android 38 percent. And some contractors, somehow, somewhere are still using a Blackberry (0.9 percent). With 3,000 people surveyed, that’s what, 2.7 people? Perhaps they talk to each other.

Photo and video apps are the most popular uses for mobile devices in the field, followed by daily reporting, time management, plan management and safety. The survey noted that the number of software apps contractors use daily has been dropping since 2012 when the average was six apps. That now stands at just two apps, but the report theorizes this might be a result of contractors streamlining their technology use or failing to have a system in place to evaluate and purchase new apps.

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The three top accounting programs were Viewpoint, Sage 300 and QuickBooks, in that order. Winners in the take-off software category were Bluebeam, “Other” and Accubid/Autobid. Top estimating programs were Sage, Accubid/Trimble and custom. And “other” took top honors in the bid management category followed by Smart bid and then “custom.”

The use of drones (UAVs) has remained consistent in the last two years with 37.5 percent of the companies using them and 58.9 percent not.

One of the most interesting findings in the survey was the response to the question on what limits contractor’s exploration or implementation of new technology. The top answer was the lack of personnel to support the programs. Second was budget, third employee hesitance followed by management hesitance.