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Connected Construction: How to Strengthen Your Digital Backbone Through Data

If you work with data, you’ve likely heard of the following quote from the British mathematician Clive Humby:

“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 data must be broken down, analyzed for it to have value.”

There’s a lot of truth to that statement. Data is important, but you won’t reap the benefits if you can’t extract valuable insights from it. 

So, the question is: are you putting your data to good use?

If you’re in the construction industry, there’s a good chance that your efforts around utilizing data aren’t enough. According to a report by FMI, 96% of all data in the engineering and construction industry goes unused. That’s a colossal waste of information — not to mention the time and manpower spent collecting it. 

Construction firms need to get better at leveraging analytics, and this is exactly what we’ll tackle in our upcoming webinar.

On July 30th at 11am PT / 2pm ET, join us as we explore how you can use data to identify and fix issues around quality, safety, and RFIs in our webinar, “Top 5 Construction Insights to Manage Risk.” You’ll also learn why data gets stuck in silos, plus how you can get the “full picture” and make the best use of the information you have. 

Build a Solid Data Foundation for Improved Construction Workflows

As McKinsey points out, leveraging analytics “can help project teams assess market conditions, portfolio composition, and individual project performance.” To stay competitive, you need a strong digital backbone — specifically, one that’s built with data and analytics. A robust cloud-based platform makes it easy to view data, spot trends, and gain insights that’ll improve various areas of your construction projects. 

Consider the following:

Improve safety. Properly leveraging data means you can plan projects, spot compliance or hazard issues, and optimize schedules to reduce the number of hours laborers are onsite. All of this leads to a safer jobsite

Gaining the right information requires solutions like analytics software, and unfortunately, the majority of contractors aren’t using data effectively Research from Autodesk and Dodge Data & Analytics found that just 19% of trade contractors report using software for inspection and safety on the majority of their projects. 

This is problematic because when teams don’t have the best tools for collecting and analyzing data (e.g., they’re still using Excel, email, or pen and paper), insights end up in siloes, fall through cracks, or are missed entirely. 

You need to figure out which data and analytics solutions are appropriate for your firm — and how to integrate them with your systems. Doing so puts the right information at your fingertips which can lead to a safer and more efficient jobsite. 

Reduce change orders. Change orders are never fun. They can increase the costs and timeline of a project and cause overall stress. 

A big part of managing and reducing change orders lies in the effective capture of data. And once again, construction professionals can do better at this. 

Autodesk and Dodge polled hundreds of construction professionals and found that less than half (47%) are collecting data on the impact that change orders have on the project. We also found that trade professionals are 10% less likely to capture and collect data on change orders than general contractors.

As for the reasons behind this? According to the survey, 40% of contractors found collecting and recording data to be too time-consuming and another 22% said they didn’t have an easy way to do it.

This is where having a strong data foundation comes in. With the right infrastructure, collecting data doesn’t have to be difficult, tedious, and time-consuming. Investing in the right platform today will pave the day for effective data collection and analysis. In turn, you can use those insights to understand projects, so you can reduce — or at least better manage — change orders. 

Improve RFIs. While the majority of contractors (73%) log RFIs and responses on over half of their projects, only 30% are comparing RFI data from past projects. This highlights one of the key issues we brought up earlier: having data is great, but the real benefit lies in actually using it. 

When it comes to RFIs, comparing historical data can help contractors identify breakdowns in communication and shortcomings in processes. These insights can ultimately improve future projects and collaborations.

Having a strong digital backbone (built with connected data and analytics) can be of tremendous help here. The right solution will enable firms to not only collect RFI data frequently and consistently, it will also make the analysis process easier. 

Enhance quality during project closeout. Not having the right data and documentation can prolong or delay project closeout. 

Our research shows that 68% of general contracts experience problems “getting off the job” at least 25% of the time. Sixty percent of respondents also said that closeout issues have a high to a very high negative impact on their profitability. 

The way to address this is to have the necessary data on hand when you’re ready to turn over the project. Accomplishing that requires capturing information and intel in the field and ensuring proper documentation. 

Needless to say, having a connected and reliable system for collecting data is key to this process. 

Learn How to Get More Out of Your Data

The points outlined above are just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much to explore and do when it comes to data. If you’d like to learn more, register for our webinar, the Top 5 Construction Insights to Manage Risk

You’ll discover the top findings Autodesk data scientists have uncovered across the global industry — including the top causes of change orders, the types of RFIs that lead to quality issues, and more. 

Grace Ellis

Grace Ellis

Editor in Chief, Autodesk Construction Cloud Blog

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