When it comes to construction software, the name Carol Hagen is synonymous with wisdom. A construction software specialist and social media consultant, Hagen has been immersed in the world of construction software, including construction estimating software, since 1986. Since then, she's continually educated the construction industry on the impact computer technology has on accuracy, productivity and workflow.
We spoke with Hagen recently about where she sees the future of construction industry software going, the biggest changes she’s seen in her nearly three decades of experience with it and how a software gets her seal of approval.
One area where Hagen sees continually rapid development is Building Information Modelling (BIM) software. It’s already evolved to the point where you can have 6D capabilities, meaning the building models can be rendered in virtual 3D and also have the dimensions of how much time it will take (4D) and the cost (5D) built in. 6D BIM also includes product information on all the components of a building linked to the virtual 3D model.
The future of BIM, Hagen predicted, will be focused on making it simpler, to do in one or two clicks what currently takes seven or eight clicks. Although, it will all be done by voice command eventually, she added.
Currently, a lot of architects and contractors who have 30 or 40 years of experience in the field are teaming up with young architects fresh out of school who know how to use the software to get the best of both worlds: experience and technical savvy.
The future of construction will involve tools and components “talking” to each other, Hagen said. At a recent Fiatech conference she attended, presenters explained how eventually a bolt will be able to communicate with the wrench tightening it and tell the wrench that it is at the proper torque and that the person using the wrench can stop.
Every component will have this type of communication ability, she said, and all the data from all the building’s components will be uploaded into a database for that building, which will make it easier to ensure all the components have been installed correctly and make it easier to pinpoint any problems in a building.
Components will then also be able to report when they need to be replaced or repaired, Hagen added.
Hagen says the biggest change she’s seen in terms of construction software is that when she started in the mid-80s, computers were all stationary devices and now everyone’s got one in their pockets.
“Back in the 80s, everything was based on the desktop. Now, it’s ‘How do I make myself mobile and collaborative’?”
Nowadays, everyone wants to be able to access the data they need from anywhere and share it with whoever they need to.
Hagen’s word on software holds a lot of sway with contractors and she has criteria that she sticks to when recommending software for businesses. In order to get her seal of approval, Hagen says, a software has to not only solve an immediate problem, but also be capable of solving problems that crop up over the next year.
It also has to be issued by a company that looks like it will stick around for the long haul and not just vanish overnight. A lot companies will have a great idea and put out a mobile app, but they won’t actually have the support staff or company infrastructure in place to be a real business, Hagen said.
The reason a lot of these little companies can pop up and become successful quickly is because a lot of the big players in the construction software industry who have been around for a long time are failing to give their customers what they want.
“Some of the software players that have been around for years and years and years really have not looked at what they need to provide to the clients, so their clients are looking elsewhere,” she said.
Construction companies are constantly looking for solutions to their problems and software companies that take innovative approaches to solving those problems have a good chance of attracting business away from companies that are less flexible.
But smaller companies that prove to be innovative and have good ideas will often see their talent pilfered by larger companies or the entire company will be swallowed by a larger company, Hagen noted.
You can visit Hagen’s blog here to keep up with her recommendations about construction software.