Why data could save your construction company and build organisational resilience

The Australian construction industry generates nearly 360 billion in revenue, about 9% of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and has a projected annual growth rate of 2.4 per cent. However, looking at the 2021-2022 ASIC figures, construction disproportionately represented 26% of all insolvencies; as economic recovery remains uneven, uncertainty looms across the region, and those figures edge closer to 30% for the fiscal year, it is important that the industry builds resilience to weather the coming storms. 

Solve your most serious issues 

The specific points of information you choose to analyse will change over time but collecting and having access to the right data will at least help you identify where to start.

It’s no surprise that for many in this economic climate, the most pressing area of focus is project financials; materials and skilled labour are expected to increase by 6%, 7% and 6% respectively in Asia Pacific. It’s clear that the cost of delivering projects in the region will continue to rise, not to mention the shortages that are further challenging the ability to deliver within schedule. 

Data gathered by connecting technology and process can help you get a true picture of where efficiencies can be gained. While it’s normal to have multiple issues that need attention at the same time, a good rule of thumb is no more than three major focuses at any one time.

Enable access to data for the right people at the right time

An effective data strategy will require different types of data and retrieval methods – this is especially true if you’re relying on point solutions to gather your data sets. 

With data ownership now being top of mind, the “openness” of the platforms that construction businesses use is a key consideration when choosing to partner with a vendor. Take the simple example of Document Management, the backbone of any project; an available API to connect this with other project information, client deliverables or even archiving/backup functions is of paramount importance for off-the-shelf integrations, or custom forged connections. With the average construction company using over 6 systems, how they produce, share and consume that data becomes a highly impactful narrative to their success in this time. 

This is where reducing the number of those point solutions to a single platform that links the design phase to the construction phase is critical, not just to ensure that everyone is working on the same set of documents but also to ensure that everyone has the most-up-to date information they need to do their job whether in the field or in the boardroom. 

In fact, according to research done by JBKnowledge, Inc. only 6% of contractors say all their applications integrate in the field.  This leads construction professionals to resort to transferring data manually or using spreadsheets – which in turn can lead to costly and even, disastrous mistakes.

Quality (and Quantity) of Data

Data quality is an issue that all contractors face. Utilising a project management software that standardises data sets can help multiple stakeholders collaborate effectively. It can also provide confidence that sensitive project data is secure and accessible only to stakeholders that require access. 

ISO 19650 is a series of standards which define a common unified framework for effective collaborative production and management of information across the full lifecycle of a built asset. In other words, it’s an internationally recognised best practice process for creating, sharing, and exchanging information on built assets and projects. 

As a result, going one step further and seeking to ensure your data strategy is ISO-compliant can help future-proof your systems and processes to meet changing compliance and regulatory needs. 

The Future of AI in Construction

Needless to say, Artificial intelligence has a large role to play in the future of Construction; we’ve seen ChatGPT (who didn’t write this, I promise) sweep through our lives and change the world’s view of just how close AI technology is to being implemented in our daily activities. While we might not know exactly what shape that will take in the next 5-10 years, one thing we can be certain of is the need for access to data: whether that be data warehouses, data lakes, and data lakehouses. 

Getting on the front foot by digitising process, creating consumable data, and ensuring it is accessible through a platform(s) that is open means that you are setting yourself up to take advantage of the benefits that Machine Learning will undoubtedly bring, making the turbulence we have experienced over the past number of years a little more predictable.

Stephen Browne

Technical Sales Manager, Autodesk