Tools of the Trade, 3.0

Many Internet experts believe the road to Web 3.0 is a short one. They envision a day — not too far off — when your browser will act like a personal assistant, learning and responding to your likes and preferences. For the construction industry, which has already adopted smartphones and tablets at higher-than-average rates, this means contractors will soon be able to ask an open-ended question like “where should I buy a new recip blade?” and get a list of outlets based on their current location, buying patterns and brand preference.

Hey, Marketers: If Web 3.0 knocked on your door today, would your brands be ready to compete?

If you’re not so sure, there’s ample reason to get serious about these new tools of the trade, according to a national research study of 500 general contractors, electricians, plumbers and HVAC specialists conducted by Eric Mower + Associates Group B2B in 2011. Here are a few interesting stats supporting the notion that — Web 3.0 or no — contractors are embracing mobile technology:

  • 77% usually or occasionally check websites to research a specific product, compare products or check pricing
  • 29% make online purchases for business
  • 50% use a smartphone on the job
  • 49% have a laptop with mobile web access
  • 21% have an iPad or other tablet

Tools of the Trade, Infographic

Other recent studies shed more light on how contractors are using mobile devices. A December, 2010 report by the Channel Marketing Group and Allen Ray Associates included verbatim responses like:

“We use smartphones for minor take-offs, supplemental and change orders and to direct some workers. More importantly, we have increased the number of change orders.”

“Phone cameras are great for getting approval for change orders.”

“Access to knowledge and some training is more important now than it has been in the past.”

“When local distributors don’t have some product we need in a day or two, we’ll talk with Automation Direct. Product shows up the following day. Local distributors are more than a little ticked off, but it is a matter of keeping our people busy with revenue-generating work.”

Clearly, the construction industry isn’t behind the curve when it comes to adopting mobile technology, and for good reason: If anyone needs a personal assistant, it’s a busy contractor.