It is not often during the discussion of the construction industry that information technology (IT) solutions are incorporated into the same conversation. But there has been a shift in recent years in which these two subjects come together in any discussion focused on more effective communication and project management, productive collaboration, and the real-time information sharing that is essential in every aspect of construction projects.
The use of information technology in the construction industry has more than doubled according to a 2014 construction technology report released by JBKnowledge – a technology solutions provider to construction and insurance companies worldwide – in conjunction with Texas A&M University’s Construction Science Department, and the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA).
The construction industry has become an information-intensive one, requiring efficient and effective IT solutions from an equally efficient and reliable IT consulting provider. Such a provider knows its clients’ industry, has knowledgeable, trained staff, delivers the best in products and services and has a long history of client satisfaction. York, Pennsylvania-based Business Information Group Incorporated (BIG) fits the bill on all counts.
BIG has over one thousand clients, and about fifty percent of its revenue is generated by construction companies. The company was co-founded in 1992 by brothers John and Scott Dolmetsch. Through its proficiency in providing IT solutions, BIG enables construction companies, employees, and stakeholders to remain connected to the various aspects and stages of construction projects. This ensures that each project meets the demands of successful completion – namely on-time, within budget, and to quality standards.
“We do work across the United States, and we’ve done work in Canada and Australia,” says Jennifer Dangro, BIG’s vice president of sales and marketing. “We work with anybody from the [small and midsize business] to the ‘enterprisable’ account that has thousands of employees.”
Its ninety-eight employees support wireless, software consulting and security and networking divisions. Jennifer explains that sometimes the company serves as the IT department, the chief information offer (CIO), the project manager, and/or the network engineer. “We sometimes provide all of those roles.”
Business Information Group has established several partnerships over the past twenty-six years including its seventeen-year relationship with Viewpoint, the construction industry’s leading provider of construction management software and, most recently, its relationship with Duo Security, a cloud-based security solutions provider that engages Multi Factor Authentication.
“At the end of the day, BIG acts as an extension to our clients’ business. It’s our job to create a safe, secure, and reliable environment, regardless of whether that’s using a product like Duo or Viewpoint,” Jennifer says.
Being aligned with over twenty premier manufacturers enables BIG to provide a sense of security and reliability to its clients, and the company has, “business conversations around how to protect your organization while creating a productive environment and using technology as the backbone to support that,” she adds.
Every construction firm will have unique requirements concerning required IT solutions, dependent largely on the scope of its projects. What is feasible for one firm may not work for another. Assessing various IT solutions that will enable both a competitive advantage and a success-driven project requires a strategic approach that BIG fully comprehends.
Pat Rumbaugh, BIG’s director of AEC network services, explains that a construction company’s business strategy has to be recognized. “First and foremost, we need to understand how they are looking to move forward as an organization.” BIG ensures that companies have the hardware compatible with various software packages and that tablets or other mobile platforms can be readily integrated. “BIG has the capability to support the entire project lifecycle and uses tools and technologies like Viewpoint for Construction to connect the office, teams and the field.”
Jennifer adds that BIG assists companies in realizing where they stand today versus where they want to be in the next twelve to thirty-six months and “can help create that technology roadmap.”
The implementation of technological solutions in the construction industry has more than doubled in recent years; however, there are still construction companies that are not investing nearly as much as they should in technological strategies. Rather than being seen as an expense, such companies need to acknowledge that technology investment adds value to any project which diminishes margin erosion caused by lack of efficiencies.
Business Information Group’s strategy is to partner with firms that comprehend that technology is, “an important function of their business, and it should be something that supports their operation, productivity, mobility, and collaboration,” says Jennifer.
A predominant focus for BIG is on the continuing digital transformation in the construction industry and the various processes and systems that accompany such a change. “The construction industry is typically slow to adopt new technologies,” Jennifer states.
“We live and breathe in an industry, as far as the technical industry, that does nothing but change every single day,” she says. “We’re really a conduit to help enforce, honestly suggest, and transition that change for the client.”
The detrimental effects of cybercrime, an ever-evolving breed of criminality in the construction industry – or any industry – can be far-reaching and devastating, grinding businesses both large and small to a halt. According to Cybersecurity Ventures’ 2017 report, cybercrime costs will reach six trillion dollars annually, worldwide, by 2021. And it is estimated that between $57 billion and $100 billion of the United States economy is lost annually as a result of cybercrime according to a recent report by the Council of Economic Advisers.
“Unfortunately, being a victim of cybercrime is not an if but a when,” says Jennifer, adding that there are a number of approaches that will mitigate risk but, “It’s still not one hundred percent – ever.”
“The best practices have a layered approach,” Pat adds. “The typical anti-virus is not something that is acceptable to be the only form of security anymore.” He explains that other forms of security may include firewalls, spam filters for emails, web filters for internet traffic and application firewalls for various applications, for example. “Despite all these things, it’s still not 100 percent guaranteed.”
Business Information Group is recognized as one of the best places to work in the state of Pennsylvania. “I give credit to the people that started and still run BIG today – the culture that they’ve created to empower their people to make the decisions they need to be successful,” Jennifer says.
The company is also one of the fastest-growing companies in the state and has been growing in the double digits for quite some time. And there is a clear reason for this, according to Jennifer. “Things are becoming more complex. You can’t be a generalist anymore. It’s all about specialization. BIG, hands down, has a very deep, very educated team of technical resources that can handle small companies and large enterprises.”
“We understand how these firms make money,” Jennifer states. “When you understand the actual industry, and what they do on a day-to-day basis, it makes it much easier to work with a firm like Business Information Group, because we can support that.”