Elizabeth Manning is the managing editor of Construction Business Owner magazine.
Advice on using tech solutions to grow client relationships & what the industry needs to keep progressing
In 2018, technology solutions that help jobsites and backoffices run faster, smarter and leaner are the focus for many construction business owners. If you're wondering what tool you should implement next, or what tech trends are on the horizon, we may have the right advice for you.
Ken Pittman has been the chief marketing officer (CMO) for TrueLook since 2011. Along with Chief Operating Officer Roger Yarrow, Pittman determines TrueLook’s product roadmap and helps develop new features. He also runs Truelook's customer advisory board, meeting top construction industry customers to learn industry needs and gather product feedback. Previously, he ran his own web marketing business and worked in marketing for the music industry for about 6 years prior to that.
We recently caught up with Pittman to talk all things construction tech. See his answers below.
CBO: What new or updated tech solutions should construction business owners be implementing to ward off litigation on the construction jobsite?
KP: Any technology that enhances open and effective communication. This will keep your project on track and minimize costly mistakes. Clients who feel informed and included are also less likely to litigate. Another critical step is to keep proper documentation of everything. With these goals in mind, there are clearly some technologies that can have a huge impact. There are plenty of great project management software options that aid coordination and efficiency. Companies relying on pen and paper or loose collections of spreadsheets are at a major disadvantage.
Visual media documentation is consistently playing a larger role—from simple photos to drone imaging to 360-degree virtual reality (VR) and beyond. Some of the most exciting construction tech is in this space. Being able to visually detail every step of your work is huge for preventing or fighting litigation.
CBO: How can construction cameras in particular help business owners in future litigation?
KP: Construction cameras offer a few types of documentation that can help avoid or fight litigation. First, they promote the open communication aspect I previously discussed. When clients and team members can freely see the jobsite progress and communicate with photo documentation, there are less surprises and misunderstandings. Secondly, having photo and video documentation allows you to prove your side of any dispute. If there is an incident on-site, you may be able to provide evidence that your team complied with all regulations and avoid a fight with a lawsuit or OSHA violation.
Some camera systems, such as TrueLook, include historical weather data and photos from your entire project progress. If there is a dispute about weather delays, you can easily prove or disprove the actual site conditions.
CBO: What solutions or trends do you see as the natural next step for construction tech?
KP: One immediate advancement needed is better integration between all the technologies. For example, tech like drones and cameras should work with your project management software instead of being a completely separate tool. To this end, TrueLook is constantly working on new ways to share data and communications with popular software like Procore and PlanGrid. Another advancement for camera technologies is in machine learning and smart tagging. Imagine if your camera knew what it was seeing with no human input and could send actionable data to you.
Basic drone photography has become a lot more accessible and legal hurdles are improving, but advanced drone imagery (e.g. topography surveying) is still an expensive endeavor. As tech develops over time, these could become much more accessible and affordable. We are also seeing a lot more interior photo documentation tools pop up, attempting to capture 360-degree visuals throughout the project timeline. However, these are mostly experimental or cost-prohibitive at the moment.