Deconstructing construction data

Data is playing a key role in understanding and improving the way we live, communicate and work. The use of data has enabled new discoveries and innovations and it has been the lifeblood for advanced technologies and new ways of working.

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Today, data underpins business-critical issues including interoperability, standards, collaboration and real-time learning. No business or industry can advance in today’s digital world if data is not at the centre of decision-making processes. Businesses have little chance of survival if data is inaccessible or siloed.

"While some key players are at the leading edge of innovation, others are still trying to understand the basic benefits of moving systems and processes into the cloud.”

In 2018, the Australian Government announced the Consumer Data Right (CDR), designed to give consumers greater access to and control over their data. Its very purpose is to improve consumers’ ability to switch between products and services and encourage competition between service providers, leading to healthier economies and the continuous innovation of products and services.

Industries such as banking, energy and telecommunications are opening access to their data under the new regime. This underscores the value and sets expectations for the accessibility of data throughout the broader economy, including the sizeable construction industry – which produces around 9 per cent of Australia’s gross domestic product.

Learning from others

In the construction industry, digitisation is ongoing. While some key players are at the leading edge of innovation, others are still trying to understand the basic benefits of moving systems and processes into the cloud.

As the sector continues this process of maturing and understanding the value of data, other sectors are becoming increasingly data enabled. Rather than fighting the battles already fought and won, the construction industry would be wise to learn from the experiences of others and accelerate its own use of data.

The increasing use of data to drive growth and succeed in the construction industry is becoming evident. Construction contains one of the most complex stakeholder networks of any sector and firms of all sizes can see the benefits of capturing, integrating and standardising information across the supply chain. Data is fast becoming the glue that holds the industry together.

Removing silos and accessing data-driven insights can deliver measurable benefits, including increased productivity, better collaboration, improved decision making and risk management and reduced expenditure. Access to data improves communication and collaboration, and that is making life easier for people working in construction.

Fundamental to success

An industry poll conducted on behalf of Procore across 160 construction companies around Australia found data capture and analysis is becoming increasingly fundamental to the success of construction businesses. More than half (56 per cent) of respondents said they would switch software providers to ensure better control of and access to their data.

The same survey also found nearly three quarters (73 per cent) of businesses say they should have access to their data however and whenever they want it meanwhile around two thirds (67 per cent) say losing access to their data would have significant financial repercussions on their business.

All construction companies in the poll also believe they could at least double their cost savings if they were to better utilise data. More than a quarter (26 per cent) say they could save between 10-20 per cent if they fully utilised all available data to drive better outcomes.

The construction industry has been hanging on to manual processes and accepting outdated business models for long enough. The digitisation of the industry is well underway and the next step is removing any commercial barriers to realising all the goodness that can come from better access to data.

Australia should be able to set the bar high on matters of policy and innovation – and construction has a golden opportunity to play a role.

Promising innovations like 5G and digital twin technology are moving through the hype cycles – exciting and energising the sector for the future. But without being able to identify, manage and access data, construction companies won’t be able to take advantage of these over-the-horizon technologies.

The opportunity for data to transform construction is fundamental. The focus should be on unlocking the potential of data to ensure the highest quality projects, the safest environment for workers and the best infrastructure for our future.

Tom Karemacher is Vice President APAC for Procore Technologies

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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