The iPhone has quicklyworked its way into home automation via a slew of applications for companies such as Lutron and Crestron. Now cell phones are headed further up the construction chain. Software maker BuilderMT announced a marketing partnership with Verizon Wireless in which BuilderMT’s Business Process Management’s “drag-and-drop” icon-driven process management will be accessible through Verizon network cell phones. The data from phones in the field can be integrated and sent to builders’ back-office software and mobile devices of allied trades, suppliers, and subcontractors.

This wireless applications approach is part of a larger strategic push by the construction industry to lower costs. BuilderMT president Tom Gebes says the approach works across a range of applications, from tasks as simple as moving jobs among vendors or as complex as generating change or work orders by phone, on-the-fly, with all the information automatically integrated to all mobile devices and back-office systems. Gebes reports a five-times return on investment as reported by builders using the cell phone approach.

Several software companies now offer handheld project management applications for builders, but most seem to find the Internet sufficient as a network. “It’s not out of the realm of possibility, but we don’t have any plans right now” to go beyond a combination of a Windows-based mobile app and the Internet, says Sean Whitescarver, support specialist at Virtual Boss.

But as the home builder market readies itself for the next stage of the economy and mobile network providers look for more corporate partnership opportunities, the Verizon/BuilderMT pair-up portends one more strategic path in the future for builders.