There seems to be a rising trend for use of tablets in the US, either informally or as part of a web based system and companies like Vela/Autodesk are getting some traction there. But here in the UK the pace is slow. Tier 1 contractors are trialing but not buying into it to a major extent. COMIT has carried out some good market research into barriers to adoption of mobile IT by end users but what are the barriers to corporate adoption of this technology ?
I have seen tablets (primarily iPads) increasingly whipped out in meetings, but many are the users' own, not ones provided by companies - which suggests some kind of standard Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy is needed within many companies. This should at least cover what levels of security are provided for company information stored on the devices, what happens if the device is lost/stolen, and what happens if the individual leaves the company.
Having listened to case studies of firms who have, for example, replaced "board packs" with iPads (the paper saving over a year alone covering the cost of the devices), I still hear of users who want paper and are resistent to any imposed technology solution (fear of the unknown?). Education and training needed, perhaps.
Connectivity will also be an issue, of course. Tablets make a lot of sense out on-site, but few sites offer wi-fi across the site (notwithstanding sites which have, for example, extended wi-fi underground!) and some applications are less useful without real-time access.
Paul, thanks for replying. What I had in mind was in-field systems only. My question is " how important does the UK construction industry think mobile IT is for its business" ? Anyone else want to comment ?
I notice there has not been any other replies to the topic I kicked off. Is mobile IT of interest to Be2camp members ? Anyway since I posed the question here are are some of my thoughts on it. Mobile IT has a great deal of potential to improve efficiencies in construction operations in field, in managing sub-contractors, QA, commissioning, safety and also in combination with BIM. But as in the case of collaboration software which Paul blogged about in Feb in Extranet Evolution there are a range of barriers of various sorts. The reason I titled the above " corporate barriers" is because as in collaboration software one of the main issues is the non-involvement of top management and the trialing and project centred and hence transient nature of purchasing. I think there are a number of reasons for this; both product categories above lend themselves to possible deployment by project since they are operationally focused in an industry where operations are organised by project unlike say an ERP system. There is actually a very attractive ROI in using mobile IT in this sector but getting that message out to a fragmented and vast industry is not easy. That ROI involves both the time and money saved by cutting out huge amounts of report writing on quality matters and also the time saved by being able to access information while in field without having to go back to the site office a number of times per day to say nothing of the value of the audit trail that is created. However getting that message through to senior management level is a challenge. This is of course also an industry where IT has not been used as a source of competitive advantage as in other industries so managements are not generally thinking about how to reconfigure processes through IT.