Technology is advancing at a rapid pace and with it comes many changes and opportunities. In the last few years alone, construction companies have integrated new technologies into the workflow to reduce inefficiencies and streamline processes. The integration of tools such as drones, Building Information Modeling (BIM), virtual reality and 3D printing has significantly changed how companies manage projects, and these devices are just the tip of the iceberg for the industry. According to KPMG Global Construction Survey 2017, 96% of all data collected goes unused, 30% of companies are using applications that can’t integrate and 90% of the data generated is completely unstructured. The survey findings highlight just how challenging it has been to leverage big data to make meaningful changes within the organization, its processes and policies which can result in a bottom line impact. The opportunity for those construction companies to leverage the data to analyze trends and identify patterns in workflow are compelling. For most the main challenge left is bridging the gap between data collection and analysis.
Depending on the size of the project, construction companies can generate an extensive amount of project data across key job points. As technology integration continues, there will have a broader source of data points from which to access key process and performance information. The unfortunate reality is while most can collect the data there is very little analysis occurring.
Big Data Challenges
According to Big Data = Big Questions for the Engineering & Construction Industry, there are several challenges that companies must address in order to be successful with data analysis.
- Structure – A key challenge is in the implementation of the tools, resources and processes needed to identify, review and analyze the data. It’s one thing to have access to millions of pieces of data, but another to know which is important and how to understand it. Once the proper structure is in place a company can set expectations for how the process will work and what type of analysis will yield the “sweetest” fruit. The challenge for many is in setting expectations r what the analysis can produce and time needed to extract actionable information.
- Analysis – Success with big data is about more than collecting information. Companies need to hire professionals who understand how to use the software, tools and framework, as well as understand the construction business and project lifecycle. Without such a resource in the process, it makes it difficult to realize ROI or goals. The need for this expertise has created a new breed of analyst known as a Construction Technologist. They have the unique combination needed to help identify strategic data insights.
- Data Silos – It’s not a surprise that data for many industry companies is kept within silos. As new technologies come into use it can amplify this effect. Considering the various types and sources of technology, it’s reasonable to be concerned about the need for integration (or worse yet) manual entry of data into systems. According to the 2017 Construction Technology Report, 83% of construction workers rate the use of mobile devices and technology as important. This reflects the drive towards the integration of new tools and data sources moving into the future. Companies need to proactively plan for how they meet the data silo challenge, so data can be taken from a single source for analysis.
Your Data Strategy – The Payoff
Construction companies who make the investment in big data can open the door to significant benefits. Those who do will have access to essential information that can help refine and enhance multiple areas of the business. The key is to develop a strong data strategy for implementation across the company. A good strategy establishes solid practices, creates shared resources, eliminates duplicate efforts, standardizes data formatting and conventions and ensures consistency. The result is a strategy that yields valuable information about operations, finance, accounting, human resources and multiple other aspects of the business.
As the construction industry continues to experience growth, it’s essential to find new ways to identify opportunities to streamline costs and enhance profit (among other changes). The role that big data plays in the process is crucial and it’s important to ensure your construction company is carefully considering how to use its assets and resources to leverage the information. If you have questions about the power of data analytics or need assistance with a construction audit or tax issue, Barnes Dennig can help. For additional information call us at 513-241-8303, or click here to contact us.