Big data is the large volume of information that inundates business owners. Data can come from anywhere, not just an application, including the internet, smartphones, cameras, sensors and electronic devices.
When considering the impact of Big Data, however, it is not the amount of data that is important. It’s what organizations do with the all of this data that matters. Data of any variety can be analyzed for insights that lead to better decisions and strategic business moves.
Harnessing and interpreting big data is especially challenging to contractors. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the value of construction put in place is $1.2 trillion. And as any contractor knows, every construction project generates extremely large amounts of data.
Anything that was ever built used plans, and those records exist whether in a computer or on paper. Construction data tends to be siloed and only available to the people who collected it. Gaining access to that data and interpreting it is complicated and time-consuming.
Move out of the silo
The McKinsey Global Institute found the amount of data in all industries doubles every three years, in line with Moore’s law, which observes the ability for computing capacity to expand exponentially. In “Imagining Construction’s Digital Future,” the institute said the construction industry is among the least digitized, where “spending on information technology accounts for less than one percent of revenues for construction, even though a number of new software solutions have been developed for the industry.”
The best way to move out of the silo is to first move away from paper to online. Relying on paper to manage data only delays information sharing and makes it more difficult to capture and analyze that data. One way to harness big data is with an integration platform as a service (iPaaS) application that allows contractors to seamlessly integrate the applications they choose to use to operate more efficiently. iPaaS is a suite of cloud services that enables users to develop, execute and govern integration flows between unrelated applications.
Integrating applications can allow systems, operations and business functions to work together more effectively. Companies that execute on a defined integration strategy between the systems they use can share data instantaneously versus having to wait for systems to collaborate. Integration, as a strategy, is all about automation and time savings. Allowing two independent applications to work together will eliminate double-entry, reduce errors and ultimately give the team time back to use more productively. In one case study, a company was able to increase productivity by 19 percent by automating tasks through integration. Breaking down silos is the first key step toward allowing companies to enhance their workflow efficiency, increase the accuracy of their data and give their team time back to be more productive.
Expanding productivity of the team is crucial to keeping projects on time and on budget. Integration and interpreting big data helps to identify waste across the operation, be it materials, dollars or time. All the data created by different sources (i.e. jobsites, accounting, human resources, machinery) provides insight into what is happening across all aspects of project delivery. Adopting technology that will improve the way a contractor operates and then moving into the cloud and integrating the data these technologies produce will give everyone involved in a project access to information in real time.
If information is king, then data is its queen. If contractors don’t collect it and interpret it in a meaningful way, they will lose the throne to any competitor that chooses to leverage big data properly.