The last time you walked by a building site, you likely passed workers in hardhats and safety gear, heavy machinery, and stacks of construction materials.
That’s not exactly breaking news.
But you also might have seen a fairly new feature: a drone flying around the site, taking photos, and gathering information to help the project team optimize its resources throughout the build.
The drone (cool as it is) isn’t the real story here though. It’s the data the drone is gathering.
After years of lagging behind other industries, data volumes are exploding in construction.
Contractors are gathering: “design and BIM data from the planning stages of a project, jobsite data collected by wearables, mobile devices and sensors on equipment/materials, accounting and job progress data from the office, project management data and much more.”
The problem is, most of that data isn’t actually being used for anything.
Without digitization capabilities and advanced data management strategies, construction data is incredibly siloed (so it’s hard for most people in an organization to know it exists, let alone access and/or share it).
According to FMI, an astounding 96% of engineering and construction industry data goes unused.
And here’s the kicker.
The total global volume of industrial data doubles about every two years, as more people come online, digitization sweeps across most industries, and the IoT expands to include more and more devices.
So, if you don’t have a data strategy, each successive year, you’re falling exponentially further behind.
Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen.
Structured vs unstructured data: Why it matters for your data strategy
To begin working on your data strategy, we need to talk about your end goal(s).
In an ideal world, many construction companies want to use their data to drive value via machine learning and artificial intelligence and/or automation.
As Deloitte notes, benefits of integrated data solutions include:
- “Improved governance based on automated workflow systems;
- Reduced data handling errors;
- Overhead efficiencies;
- Improved data analytics and insights facilitating;
- Enabling artificial intelligence and machine learning, by making use of structured data and data analytics;
- Sharing data and information between parties, increasing transparency and allowing an enterprise delivery approach to be created; and
- Improved asset performance based on increased data availability.”
But that requires first being able to access your data. Which is where structured vs. unstructured data comes to play:
- Structured data, or quantitative data, is organized and has a clear architecture, which makes it easier for machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms to process it. When you think of structured data, think names, addresses, dates, and other ‘simple’ forms of data you might find in a spreadsheet.
- Unstructured data, or qualitative data, is harder to process by conventional methods or data processing technologies. Unstructured data would be things like sensor data, productivity data and sentiment data (e.g., social media comments). This data has been produced in almost unfathomable amounts over the last 10 years.
According to a recent report, by 2025, 80% of all global data will be unstructured. This will create challenges for organizations looking to drive value from their data, especially as data volumes grow year after year.
Effective data management is becoming integral to project success
As your construction projects become increasingly data rich, their successful delivery will be inextricably linked to how well you manage that data.
Enhancing your approach to data management will make it easier for your team to access, interpret, and use your data even if they have only a basic understanding of the topic at hand.
Not everybody is going to be a data scientist. But with structured data, not everybody has to be. You also enable other technology to work for you.
A focus on data structuring will help you:
a) make more robust, data-driven decisions and
b) fully leverage automation, as well as artificial intelligence and machine learning.
These two elements are increasingly necessities for companies that want to optimize project outcomes and performance overall.
The best time to create a comprehensive data strategy that removes your data from silos and centralizes it in an organized, structured form, which can then be easily accessed by your team and processed by machine learning and artificial intelligence … was 10 years ago.
The second-best time is today.
Pick the right partner to design and execute your data strategy
At this point, you’ve probably already realized a chaotic approach (or worse, no approach at all) to data management is a non-starter for a construction company looking to compete in the world that is soon to come. And maybe in the world that already is.
After all, the drones are already up there.
You’ve probably also realized that many of your competitors are behind on their approach to data management. And there’s an opportunity for your business as a result.
Vog can help you design a comprehensive data strategy and create apps and software that will improve your project and worker efficiency and enable better business strategy development and execution.