I finally made the switch.
As I write this column, I’m three weeks into what I’m calling my “iPhone Era.”
Since 2010, I’ve utilized a smartphone, but frankly was too cheap to shell out the cash for a top-of-the-line iPhone. My lower-tier device allowed me to check Twitter and Facebook, take some low-quality photos and videos of my cats, and make phone calls to my mom and dad (everyone else, my wife included, was an exclusively text-based communication relationship).
Finally, my wife and I pulled the trigger and purchased iPhones. This device runs smoother and faster than any other smartphone I’ve used.
In numerous meetings with industry folks I would hear how iPhones were changing the way business was operating, for better or worse.
Unfortunately, news at the midpoint of 2014 suggests that they are causing some harm to our industry.
FMI, a provider of management consulting and investment banking for the construction industry, lowered its 2014 outlook. FMI’s first-quarter forecast showed an 8% increase in construction-put-in-place this year. The firm’s new report adjusts that number down to 7% with one major factor in the decline being growth in digital markets.
According to the FMI report, the need for building new spaces has slowed as e-commerce — while still a small but growing percentage of total sales — picks up the slack for new business. Additionally, engineers and contractors’ pricing continues to be challenged as building owners desire more green construction methods.
E-commerce continues to carve out more of the industry’s purchasing market, most notably in the retail and educational construction industries. Construction of office parks and health-care facilities is noticeably slowing down.
FMI states that commercial construction will see a 6% increase in 2014, down from 7% in the initial 2014 report. Additionally, the education sector will see only a 1% increase this year after early projections of 3%.
The recalculations aren’t dramatic, but any potentially lost revenue is money that could go to pay down company debt, building upgrades, or, most importantly, provide your valued employees raises and bonuses.
But, I keep thinking about the iPhone. We love them and we’re not going backward. Everything we could possibly want or need is literally at our fingertips. How can we as an industry fully prosper without limitations?
The answer is within that iPhone on your desk or holstered to your belt. It’s communication, plain and simple. Press that green icon with the phone, dial up those digits and place a phone call. While we love all the new bells-and-whistles of a new smartphone, the technology wasn’t designed to hinder our industry but to help us communicate better. The real responsibility for doing that, however, falls on us.
Stay in touch with the manufacturers reps, building owners, contractors and wholesalers you work with. Make those communications personal.
We can read only so many emails in a day before we want to pull our hair out. Recently, during the course of a week I received more than 500 emails. Judging from some email boxes I’ve seen during my in-person interviews for my magazine articles, I’m on the low end of the spectrum.
Find yourself a proverbial time machine. Use your phone as it was initially intended for by Alexander Graham Bell — to transmit our voices to one another across far distances.