The ‘digital path’ requires you to learn about data and digital tools that can model data, create dynamic reports, apps and whole lot more!…
As you’ve probably guessed, I’m not simply referring to Excel here…
We’re talking about the huge array of data platforms available to construction professionals that can connect to data sources and generate invaluable insights for the benefit of projects, business operations and the industry as a whole.
I knew that a detailed cost plan took days, sometimes weeks to create due to all the repetitive data entry tasks, giant spreadsheets, and endless checks…
My company invested in software that could create a highly detailed cost plan, based on the latest construction drawings, and you only had to enter the data once. It only took me 3 days to produce.
Cue the mic-drop/epiphany/jaw-on-the-floor moment…
The time saved was a revelation!
I was engaged, un-plugged and baffled as to why this platform wasn’t being used across the business…
‘It’s too complicated….’
‘I haven’t got time to learn this…’
‘Can’t we use Excel instead?’
I felt genuine excitement for the potential of this platform and what it was capable of. Finally, I had found the start of a path which I could wrap my brain around, bridging the gap in my mind between traditional work practices and digital technology.
I would be lying if I said that the pursuit of this path wasn’t filled with challenges along the way. This post has been written to benefit anyone in construction who is genuinely curious about pursuing the data path. I have outlined some takeaways and points below, which I hope will help guide you along your own digital journey.
The goal for many companies was to leverage these technologies to turn project data into actionable insights – enter data platforms and analytics.
Big businesses wanting to insulate themselves against any sudden changes in the market, have begun to use data platforms to extract the value hidden in their data. On the other hand, some businesses have chosen to lean on time-tested working methods, requiring manual repetitive actions and processes.
Wake up, Neo!
“I can’t seem to get this to work!” exclaimed a colleague. It wasn’t in my remit, but I felt compelled to break from my morning routine of email wrangling to help. The software was new, complex, and innovative in what it could do. It was a bespoke platform designed for the business that could produce detailed cost plans by analysing spreadsheets and digital take-offs.
But… Where do I start?
Begin with gaining awareness of the current state of the industry. Systems and processes that involve fixed outcomes, repetitive tasks or manual manipulation of data are changing due to the availability of off-the-shelf data platforms and cloud-based systems.
Many companies have begun to collect data, devise their own digital platforms and implement new business models that would build upon their existing services.
The industry is still evolving and there’s ample opportunity to take your first steps on to the digital path however, it doesn’t just stop at digital tools. technology is just one piece of the puzzle! Operating models, processes and business culture are also key components that need to evolve with the times.
Amid all this change, it is also important to consider the role you would like to play, regardless of whether you’re a seasoned Surveyor, Risk aficionado or Project Manager on the go. Do you want to be a disruptor, a champion for digital change, the bridge between old and new ways of working or something else entirely?
Over to you…
Often the best place to start is where you are right now. Before data and digital solutions became my focus, I found myself researching and reading publications on BIM (Building Information Management), AI and Machine Learning, and other data-driven technologies. To begin, ask yourself the following;
- What data-driven solutions and tools are you currently using?
- What obstacles are you now facing in your line of work?
- What is a common source of frustration with your data?
- What is a common source of frustration with your existing workflows?
- What interests you about digital technology and data analytics?