If data is the new oil, how can construction tap into its riches?

Topics: Digital Transformation

In 2017, The Economist published a story titled: “The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data”.

If true, why is construction stuck fighting for dangerously low margins? As one of the data-richest industries in the world, it is not right that small mistakes have such devastating potential.

The concept behind the “data is the new oil” phrase is that raw data has no worth on its own - the same as oil. When it’s gathered, refined, and connected to other relevant data, the value is in the final product.

Data could be the industry’s most valuable resource and best asset, but it is often left unused.

Construction software has provided the tools to convert this raw data into value. While adoption is picking up pace, there is still a long way to go. Everyone should be able to drink from this pool of riches, so let’s discuss why this does not happen, and how it can become a reality sooner than you think.

So, what is construction’s data problem?

A lack of digitisation makes it difficult for construction firms to make the most of data. An FMI study showed that:

  • 95% of all data captured goes unused in the construction industry
  • 90% of data generated is unstructured
  • 13% of construction teams’ working hours are spent looking for project data

Construction often takes a siloed approach to software, and it forms even more siloes. When one department has a problem, they find a solution to solve it. But often ignore the broader digital transformation opportunity.

Let’s look at estimating as an example. The department buys estimating software, and it does the job well. But what about the project team? Does the data transfer into their systems without manual intervention? If not, you lose the data’s value.

The best way for the industry to tap into data’s riches is to go digital and integrate. The results would be transformative. Systems and processes would speak to and understand each other. Companies would see complete overviews of every project and use those insights to improve performance.

Data: fuelling the future of construction

Step into the future of construction; it’s digital.

In this perfect world, you see exactly where your business stands at every stage of the project lifecycle. You measure real-time costs against the budget and see how resources are allocated. You foresee risks, prioritise tasks and finish the project ahead of time and on budget.

We are not quite there yet, and to some it seems unreachable. But it is close enough to touch, with experts like McKinsey predicting it will be “The Next Normal” in construction. It is the future Causeway is helping to build right now.

In this oasis, every construction company will enjoy the riches that data provides.

How do you maximise the value of your data?

Is your data connected? We often ask contractors this question, and the answer is usually a resounding no. Without connect data, you cannot see the big picture - the whole project. And when data is not complete, it is often less helpful than none at all.

Your data must be three things to speed up delivery and secure as much profit as possible:

  • High Quality

Can you trust the data that comes from the site? If you cannot, that is a problem. Let’s say the paperwork tell you to expect more deliveries, but they reached the site weeks ago. You didn’t know because the delivery notes were lost in the wash or never collected - it can be a costly mistake.

Quality data starts with how you collect it, and that means capturing it at the source. You can do this with a software solution, like a mobile app. It would record the data in real-time and store it in the cloud and on your system. Everyone could access it when needed.

  • Easy Access

Everyone that needs access to data must have it at all times. Nobody should have to scramble around looking for vital information. This means having a single source of truth – and no siloes.

If your data is stuck on someone’s laptop or buried under sheets of paper, you cannot use it. If you need to rekey information manually, it leaves you open to costly errors, lost time, and missed insights.

  • Real-time

Margins are so small that anything but real-time data has an enormous impact on the business. You cannot afford to make decisions based on legacy or outdated information. It is too late to react proactively.

The results would be transformative if you could access quality data. Understanding performance in real-time opens up so many roads to success. The business will not only survive. It will thrive, with more consistent, productive and profitable results.

Convert your raw data into value

There are 343,000 UK construction companies, and most survive on small margins.

It’s unhealthy to ignore the issues this raises. Why shouldn’t the world’s most essential industry enjoy the riches that others do? The path to wider margins is paved with whole, real-time and easy to access data.

It requires the right approach to construction software. Where the broader digital transformation journey is considered. A siloed approach to technology can help in the short term but impact the long term results.

The size of your business does not matter. A connected approach to technology will convert your data into riches. It will break down siloes and form a single-window view of performance. Not just for one project, but all projects, and in one place. Imagine the insights you would get from this type of information.

Data can be the construction industry’s most valuable resource, and there are riches for everyone. All we need to do is convert our data into oil.

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