Construction and the Cloud

It’s been suggested in the past the construction industry is slower to adopt new technology than many other industries, and there’s some truth in that. Part of the problem lies in the sheer number of sectors within the industry, from architects and designers to heavy machinery providers and construction crews.

Getting everyone involved to adopt compatible software and tech is a painstaking and laborious process. Cloud services for construction are a case in point, but small to mid-sized construction firms are beginning to see that the cloud offers both flexibility and IT savings.

Defining the Cloud

Information technology diagrams often use a cloud to illustrate online services, which can be confusing to people without an IT background. Simply put, cloud computing allows users to store applications, data centers, networks and servers on the Internet. The cloud also allows smaller companies to access applications usually reserved for use by the big players in the industry.

The advantages of cloud computing are obvious: users can access data without being bound to the office. For an industry such as construction, where employees, managers and subcontractors are often spread between offices, construction sites and supply locations, cloud computing offers a means for everyone to have instant access to the applications and data they need.

Large companies tend to have IT departments, and their own well-established networks. Small to mid-sized construction companies, however, often lack this infrastructure, and have limited funds for maintaining and upgrading their network. Cloud computing removes many of the costs of an IT infrastructure, allowing smaller companies to focus on design and construction. You got into the business to build, not fiddle with computer upgrades.

What Fits in the Cloud?

Some applications are more suited for cloud computing than others. It’s a good idea to start off small with cloud computing by adding your most generic applications first — those apps and software that are standard across multiple industries. Start by moving accounting and word processing apps to the cloud. Once you’re comfortable working in the cloud with general applications, you can start migrating construction specific software online.

The last software to move should be apps you developed in-house or highly specific applications that you’ve customized for your business. These programs tend to be the ones that don’t always adapt as well to cloud life. You may find that some of these apps have to remain in-office.

Choosing a Cloud Service

While you can hire a general cloud provider, some companies provide cloud services specifically for the construction industry. These providers may charge slightly more than the generic cloud providers, but they bring an understanding of the unique challenges of construction IT to the table, and are well worth considering. No matter what area of the industry you’re in, from architecture to Caterpillar training, cloud services offer solutions to your IT needs.

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