The lifeblood of all modern technology is data. The devices generate massive volumes, which we call "Big Data", and whose exploitation can be very instructive. Whether it's a smartphone app or a robot, data streams allow machines to maneuver, capture, react, measure and communicate. Let's focus on uses in the construction industry.
Data has operational and analytical value.Capturing and analyzing this data enables us to understand what we actually do today, how we do it, and how we can make it better. It’s a benefit that applies whether it is a human being doing the analysis, or as it is the norm in the era of big data, a human aided by a machine.
Regardless, it is the gathering and analysis of data that can helps construction companies break through a bespoke, one-off model of construction to identify best practices and homogenize operations across all sites, projects and geographies.
The same data can also be used to add value to existing services for customers (e.g., providing them real-time intelligence about a project), or to create new services (e.g., offering O&M services built upon the digital knowledge of an asset as-built).
“Experience [with disruption] in other industries shows that companies that have been quick to embrace emerging technologies and develop new platforms—the first movers—have gained a strong competitive advantage.”
McKinsey Global Institute, “Navigating the digital future: The disruption of capital projects”
Furthermore, data can be analyzed to help you understand your employees better: Who are your top
performers? Who is most likely to leave? How many people do you need tomorrow, and with what skills?
Who has the best safety record? Why? Analytics on field data can help you answer questions like these and many more, so that you can devise recruitment, retention and training strategies that work.
Data collection: the starting point for a performance analysis
But first, you have to start gathering data. You have to make gathering, analyzing, and extracting value from data an obsessive pursuit.
Using mobile software to capture key metrics like quality can enable you to identify operational norms, and which projects deviate from those norms. Those with a higher than average number of issues require further analysis of the data captured to identify problems. Those with fewer than average need scrutiny too: they either offer best practices to institute globally, or they represent projects wherein issues are not being caught. Either way, having a global view of norms and deviations - for good or bad - within your company is a key starting point for positive transformation. And the same type of analysis can be done for subcontractor and employee performance, for the types of issues encountered, and more - once you have benchmark data from the field.
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