When it comes to the use of technology on construction jobsites, smart phones are at the center of the action, and a new study ranks the top apps that construction pros rely on to help them do their jobs.
Nearly 93% of respondents to the 2019 JBKnowledge ConTech report said they use smart phones for their work, more than laptops at 83% and tablets at 64%. The use of smart phones by construction professionals has grown nearly 21% since 2014, according to Kara Dalton-Arro, marketing manager for JBKnowledge, a construction and insurance consulting firm.
Top workflows using mobile apps include photo/video management, tool tracking, time management, BIM viewing files, and plan and project management. One type of app in particular — those for safety management — experienced the largest rise in usage at 4%, the report found.
As smartphones continue to gain momentum, mobile apps for construction workflows will become smarter and more convenient, the report said. The top mobile app brands in each category were:
- Daily report management apps: Procore, Bluebeam Revu and PlanGrid
- Photo/video management apps: Bluebeam Revu, Procore and PlanGrid
- BIM file viewing apps: Bluebeam Revu, Navisworks and BIM 360 Docs
- Plan management apps: Bluebeam Revu, Procore and PlanGrid. These were followed closely by cloud-based file sharing services such as Dropbox, Citrix Sharefile and Egnyte.
- Safety management apps: Procore, Bluebeam Revu and iAuditor
With so many applications, the study noted, app fatigue is a common problem among those in the industry. Nearly all users can relate to toggling between the same five or six apps despite having 20 or more downloaded. "Contractors find there is a pressure to use specialized apps for every task, " Dalton-Arro said.
"In the construction industry, the dilemma is there is not a one-size-fits-all app so builders are forced to use many different apps," she said. "When the different apps do not integrate or talk to each other, builders will have to enter the same information or repeat processes."
App fatigue also is prevalent among builders because the lack of integration can be so frustrating that it sometimes causes user to regress to manual entry.
While smart phones are an invaluable tool for contractors, not all workers strive to keep them safe from cyber attacks, the report found, but data security methods are increasing. Security methods such as employee training and cyber liability insurance coverage have gained traction, but the approach that is growing fastest with construction firms is two-factor authentication, which has gained 13% in popularity over the past year.
These stopgaps have helped to decrease the amount of data security breaches by 2% since 2018. Seventy-seven percent of respondents said their firms did not have a data security breach in 2019 while 12% said they had and 11% said they were unsure whether a breach had occurred.
Of the reported data breaches or attempts, phishing scams topped the list, followed by other threats including ransomware, denial of service and exploiting vulnerabilities in security.
The foremost prevention for cyber attacks is educating users to identify a threat and investing in the tools to defend against attacks, Dalton-Arro said.
In related news, the report also found that workers who specialize in construction technology are making their mark on the industry. At 13% of respondents, construction technology/IT systems management jobs were the third most common professional role, behind 13.7% for executives and 16.2% for finance and accounting. These tech-focused jobs came in even higher than project manager, at 9.6%.