Resiliency is one of the most helpful traits that companies can have during economic uncertainty and stress. Your ability to thrive during hard times (like a pandemic and recession) is directly linked to how quickly and effectively you can bounce back.
That’s why it’s critical to develop resilience in your business. You can do this by building a resilient workforce and by implementing models and processes to future-proof your business.
Another thing to consider is data and technology. If you want your business to succeed in the future, you need to equip it with the right tech.
This is exactly what we’ll tackle in the third installment of Autodesk’s Construction Resiliency Playbook. Below, we’ll dig into how businesses can create resiliency with data and technology programs.
Let’s get started.
Data and technology are massively important to staying resilient, but achieving success takes more than just collecting information or deploying new solutions. When not carried out properly, technology and data programs can actually inhibit resiliency.
Consider the following challenges:
Working in silos. Data and technology silos are a major issue in the construction industry. While it’s good that construction firms are getting better at collecting data, many organizations are still having trouble deriving useful insights from all the information they’ve gathered.
Research from Forrester found that 74% of firms want to be more data-driven, yet only 29% are successful at turning data into insights and actions.
This is because all that construction data is handled and processed by separate teams or applications. According to Manu Venugopal, Group Product Manager at Autodesk, while the amount of data captured in construction has doubled in the last two years, most of what's collected are stored in silos.
“Unless we break down the silos, we can’t fully leverage all this data and get insights from it."
Technology overload. Much like with data, being successful with technology isn’t necessarily about adopting more platforms and applications. It’s about equipping your team with the right solutions.
Trying to implement several tools within a short period of time can overwhelm employees. This is an issue that we’ve seen during the rise of the pandemic. While COVID-19 accelerated digital transformation in the industry, many organizations experienced technology overload, thus hurting their productivity and effectiveness (i.e., the very problems that technology should’ve solved).
That’s why when dealing with technology and data, companies must move forward with a strategy for implementing solutions and optimizing them for success. The key is to ensure that technology helps — not hinders — your team members.
Now that we’ve covered the biggest tech and data issues that are hindering your company from being fully resilient, let’s dive into the solutions and steps you can take to address them.
The first step in succeeding with technology is to make digital transformation part of your core strategy. Technology shouldn’t just be a means to an end, nor should it be something that you “have” to get on board with. Rather, it should be a major driver of your company’s success strategy.
Industry data shows that companies that make tech a core part of their strategies are more successful. According to McKinsey's research, "at leading companies, digital and corporate strategies are one the same."
What does this mean for your organization? For starters, it’s time to rethink the role of tech in construction. Instead of viewing technology merely as a tool that you’re using, start seeing it as a competitive advantage.
Map out a technology and data strategy for your business, then make sure that it’s closely tied into your corporate plans for the future.
While new and innovative technologies are a key component of organizational resiliency, you should avoid the trap of tech and data silos.
As mentioned earlier, working in silos prevents organizations from unlocking insights from data and technology. Additionally, siloed operations hinder effective communication and lead to inefficiencies — ultimately curbing your company’s ability to be resilient.
That’s why it’s important to invest in connected construction solutions. Don’t just adopt new technology or collect data for the sake of it. See to it that all the solutions you’re using can integrate with each other, so that stakeholders, workflows, data, and tasks can stay in sync. To improve efficiency and collaboration, information must easily flow across teams, platforms, and various project phases.
Doing all that starts with evaluating the tools you’re using and identifying areas of waste or inefficiencies. Are team members constantly re-entering the same information? Do stakeholders struggle with finding the most updated version of project documents? If your organization is suffering from the above issues, that’s a sure sign that you need to start connecting your construction apps and software
It’s also important to note that connected construction isn’t just about integrating various applications. It’s also about connecting people within the organization.
As Matt Lamb, Chief Information Officer at Rosendin Electric, puts it, “Connected Construction is really kind of a broad statement, because all the different applications are connected, but it’s also the people who are all connected, from the trade contractors up through the GCs, to the owners and the design team. We’re all able to talk in the same language with a lot of the same platforms.”
Keep this in mind when you’re working on connecting your various construction components. Remember that while you’re technically integrating different applications, at the end of the day, your goal should be to connect people and keep them in sync.
Interoperability — i.e., the ability of software to create and exchange data — is an invaluable component of future-proofing your business. When your systems and platforms are interoperable, team members can access the same information and insights regardless of the applications that they’re using. This means they can collaborate more effectively and make better use of the data they have.
This will be increasingly important, particularly as various industries — including construction — become more data-driven.
As the Data Interoperability Standards Consortium points out, "The world is increasingly shaped by data and algorithms. Therefore, it is critical that common, clean approaches to working with data are resilient, meet market needs and support growth.”
It’s high time that you invest in data interoperability and integrations in your business. A good step in the right direction is to adopt or develop a common data exchange (CDX) framework. This essentially means agreeing on the language and data formats that stakeholder would be working with.
To get started with data interoperability, teams all have to determine what data will be shared and in what format. That way, everyone is speaking the same language and working from the same standards.
According to Nathan Wood, Chief Enabling Officer, SpectrumAEC, “A common data exchange (CDX) framework allows project teams to define the interoperability requirements that will unlock machine learning, and AI. Data insights will be hard to come by if you don’t first solve the interoperability dilemma. It’s about bearing down and investing the time necessary to build common language and optimize workflow, allowing teams to break down data silos and build them back better with the appropriate integrations and security protocols. The only thing left to do then is test, learn, iterate, and evolve!”
Allison Scott, Director, Construction Thought Leadership & Customer Marketing at Autodesk, said it best: “What technology like data analytics, and even more specifically machine learning and artificial intelligence, is doing for us [construction] is unlocking our ability to harness the project data – organize it, interpret it to uncover patterns faster.”
By implementing advanced analytics such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, you can make smarter decisions and be more resilient in the future.
To that end, ensure that you have systems and solutions that can shed light on project performance data, particularly when it comes to areas like efficiency, safety, and financials.
It also helps to provide data visibility across your organization. Rather than keeping project data within board rooms, offer more access to middle management and teams who want to understand their project and individual performance. Doing so will help your organization address risks and errors — sometimes even before they occur.
With AI, machine learning, and predictive analytics, teams will be able to easily spot trends, which will allow you to make more informed decisions and determine the best course of action. The right data can help you decide whether or not to bid on a project. Construction analytics can also allow you to discern if bids are reasonable, if issues are likely to occur, and what you should do about them.
“I can see a growing demand for data that doesn’t just focus on monitoring progress but data that allows teams to take action and avoid errors and poor performance before it materialises,” says Matt Keen, Sr. Industry Strategist, Strategy & Operations, Autodesk.
He adds that he can also see “teams across the industry becoming much more strategic about defining and deploying data strategies to react quicker to changing circumstances and more actively leveraging AI and Machine Learning to interrogate data to identify errors earlier.”
Upleveling your technology and data program isn’t just about upgrading to the latest software or collecting more information. Equally important is ensuring that you have a competitive strategy in place and that all your systems, teams, and workflows are tightly aligned. Taking these steps will help you be more resilient and better-equipped for the future.