One of the many decisions leaders in the construction industry have had to make in the past few years relates back to the selection between various management technologies, and cloud computing has likely been in every related conversation. The cloud has completely revolutionized the private and public sectors, acting as the new foundation for IT and collaboration, all the while allowing organizations to embrace the modern era of competition and strategic oversight.

Construction firms tend to live and die by its abilities to tightly manage resources, workforce members, projects, accounting, reporting and a range of other tasks in an efficient, timely and accurate manner. The old days of construction project accounting compared to modern capabilities is one of the great examples of how novel technologies have completely revolutionized the sector and the firms therein, allowing those businesses to succeed in projects at a low cost.

Not so long ago, reports and accounting were managed in paper files, sometimes even handwritten, and would be far more difficult to maintain accuracy within or analyze in an efficient fashion. Today, this is simply not the case for the vast majority of construction companies. Rather, many have spent the past decade or so modernizing their management frameworks through the deployment of more advanced information technologies, and this pertains to infrastructure, software and more.

Now, although each construction firm will need to establish which approach to software and infrastructure deployments most closely align with their specific objectives and requirements, virtually every business can benefit from cloud-based options. Newer studies have shown just how quickly the world is shifting its collaboration and IT foundation into the cloud rather than on-premise legacy systems and the sky is the limit for potential performance improvements following implementation.

Following the finances
One of the best ways to see how organizations are being impacted by cloud computing is to analyze where the investments are going, and a new report from Gartner did just that. The analysts forecast overall spending on public cloud services to exceed $200 billion globally this year, which would represent 16.5 percent growth compared to 2015 when $175 billion was spent on these technologies. The growth rate has indeed been massive for five straight years now.

“The market for public cloud services is continuing to demonstrate high rates of growth across all markets and Gartner expects this to continue through 2017,” Sid Nag, Gartner research director, affirmed. “This strong growth continues reflect a shift away from legacy IT services to cloud-based services, due to increased trend of organizations pursuing a digital business strategy.”

Somewhat surprisingly, the two largest segments of the market include cloud advertising and Business Process-as-a-Service, with the former seeing $39.2 billion in investments last year and the latter $79.4 billion. Notably, these segments are also growing the slowest out of all segments. Still, BPaaS is expected to be far more prolific in 2016 than in 2015, with analysts predicting that this component will grow by 8.7 percent year-over-year to a total size of $42.6 billion in global investments.

In the construction market, BPaaS can apply to a wide range of technology deployments, but are likely tied into workflows, project accounting and enterprise resource management for most adopters today. In that same vein, Software-as-a-Service is also forecast to enjoy strong growth this year, at 20.3 percent, following a 15.5 percent rise in investments in 2015, Gartner noted.

Construction firms that use cloud-based management software will tend to enjoy more agility in their IT departments, quicker completion of analysis and reporting projects, stronger access to the solutions and myriad other advantages. However, construction leaders need to remember how backend infrastructure and platform components interact with software, and understand the value of migrating these systems into cloud environments to ensure optimal interoperability.

Infrastructure was seen as the fastest-growing component of cloud computing in 2015, as well as years prior, and this is expected to remain the case in 2016. According to Gartner, spending on Infrastructure-as-a-Service rose by 31.9 percent in 2015 to $16.2 billion in expenditures, and is set to exceed 38 percent growth in 2016 to $22.4 billion in investments globally this year.

“IaaS continues to be the strongest-growing segment as enterprises move away from data center build-outs and move their infrastructure needs to the public cloud,” Nag added. “Certain market leaders have built a significant lead in this segment, so providers should focus on creating differentiation for success.”

At the end of the day, construction leaders will need to make their own decisions, especially when it comes to the selection of on-premise or hosted cloud services. With all of the advances taking place in the public cloud services market though, this might be the best option for the majority of businesses today.

Breaking into the future
Perhaps the most important reason why construction companies need to embrace cloud technology is the rapidly evolving electronic market. The Internet of Things and mobility are two of the more powerful trends in construction and other industries, and will be nearly impossible to embrace efficiently and safely without modern infrastructure and software in place ahead of deployments.

The best cloud-based construction management and project accounting software will tend to be available through mobile devices, and the impact that access to these assets can have on field workers is profound, to say the least. Empowering the workforce should always be viewed as a major objective in construction, and cloud computing software and infrastructure can help to do just that, all the while improving transparency for administrative and executive staff members.

With all of the options available today, construction companies might fall into the type of thinking that leads to the selection of a major vendor for those needs, but this would represent a missed opportunity. Rather, construction firms should look to work with a solutions vendor that specializes in the construction industry and has the ability to customize the various tools therein in accordance with specific, individual needs and requirements.