When market forces shift and customer preferences evolve, businesses rely on the collection and analysis of data to design and implement company policies, executive decisions and operational workflows. The benefits of these activities range from improved operational efficiency to reduced operational costs.
Recent research has revealed that 71% of owners believe that effectively capturing and retaining data will help their construction business reduce lifecycle operations costs. Despite the obvious benefits of developing an effective and efficient data workflow, a vast majority of companies face challenges when implementing a comprehensive data gathering and analysis plan.
According to Gartner, 87% of organisations have low business intelligence and analytics maturity. Businesses are constantly collecting data but have no idea how to transform that data into useful insight. This is especially true in the construction industry, where data is generated in every area of the business, from the boardroom to the construction site. Here are three reasons construction businesses must radically improve the way they collect, organise, and analyse data.
Why Construction Data Workflows Need Transforming
Businesses waste large amounts of data due to the lack of actionable insight
Clive Humby, chief data scientist at Starcount, says data is an infinitely valuable resource that is being underutilised. He explains: “Data is the new oil. It’s valuable, but if unrefined, it cannot really be used. It has to be changed into gas, plastic, chemicals, etc. to create a valuable entity that drives profitable activity; so must data be broken down, analyzed for it to have value.”
To be broken down into valuable insight for business leaders and project managers, data generated on- and off-site must be collected and stored effectively. However, the reality of data collection in construction is that a vast majority of the information gathered by construction companies is regularly wasted without extracting any insight. In fact, by 2025, 80% of data worldwide is expected to be unstructured, and therefore, useless.
Using data effectively can help business leaders identify areas of operational inefficiency, improve cost management and gain greater insight into project performance. To do this, they must ensure that each piece of data that is generated by connected technologies—office productivity software, cross-department communication platforms and more—is properly gathered, recorded, stored and updated.
Data moves too slowly due to silos and decentralised data collection systems
Any construction project, regardless of its size and scope, requires a significant amount of collaboration from disparate teams and divisions. In order to communicate, contractors, sub-contractors, suppliers, and site managers still rely on outdated methods of collaboration such as email. However, using email means that construction businesses struggle to find and combine multiple pieces of data. The lack of a constantly updated centralised data storage system means that there are always multiple versions of a single document being shared across business silos. As a result, it takes more time for managers and supervisors to identify and retrieve the latest documents when they need them.
In addition to communication platforms, data is also generated by applications used by on-site workers and office employees. The output of these applications is often exported and stored in a variety of locations. A recent survey revealed that almost half of construction businesses transfer data manually from applications that are not integrated into a centralised data server. Considering how often the scope and brief of a construction project are adjusted, the manual transferring of data can be expensive, time-consuming, and prone to error.
Construction companies fail to establish a culture that values data-based business intelligence
When thinking of digital transformation and its impact on operations, business leaders often spend a significant amount of time researching and deliberating about which products and services to use. However, much less attention is paid to creating a culture that values the data that is generated by these products and services. Regardless of the software, the success of any data management plan depends on the extent to which employees buy into and effectively use the software and hardware components of the plan.
Research from McKinsey & Company revealed that companies that are successful in implementing a data-driven culture from top to bottom are twice as likely to reach their data and analytics goals and are 1.5 times as likely to record an increase in revenue. The emphasis that companies place on choosing the right pieces of their technology stack, while important, is not as important as ensuring that the company’s software and hardware are easy for employees to use and that its benefits are properly explained to each employee.
How Integration Improves Data Collection and Analysis for Construction Companies
The mistakes and shortcomings of incomplete and inefficient data workflows are all linked, in one way or another, to integration. For raw information to become data and for that data to become knowledge, business leaders have to ensure that the collection and storage of data is systematic. This can only be done once all the systems used by a construction company are in sync.
As operators in the construction industry begin to understand the benefits of embracing digital tools and connected technologies, software and hardware providers have already begun to sell highly specialised products with highly specialised use cases. It’s crucial that companies develop their data workflows while keeping these fringe use cases in mind as well.
The construction sector relies on different stakeholders and companies coming together and collaborating. Ensuring that each company can store and share data natively on an integrated system helps businesses reduce the amount of wasted data, increase collaboration across data silos and create the conditions for the formation of a data-driven culture.
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Tom Stemm is the CEO/Founder of Ryvit. Tom leads a team of integration developers, application enthusiasts, customer heroes, and sales superstars on a mission to eliminate duplicate data entry and rampant data errors from the construction technology world.