The construction industry has shifted its focus from certainty to clarity in the wake of the pandemic. Guaranteeing certainty for arrival ...
The construction industry has shifted its focus from certainty to clarity in the wake of the pandemic. Guaranteeing certainty for arrival times of materials, for example, has evolved to providing enhanced clarity into their supply chain path and progress. To facilitate widespread access to this information across the construction supply chain, everyone in the industry must work together on solutions that are supported by interconnected data tools.
The construction industry’s current state is characterized by fragmented data and a lack of real-time visibility, which can lead to increased risk, ineffective planning decisions, and liability issues. But there is a better way. Using tools to promote interconnected data flow can provide that necessary real-time visibility. A noteworthy comparison is supply chain management in the retail industry, where there is a streamlined process for not only tracking and shipping to customers, but also manufacturing and shipping to distribution. Brands have an accurate idea of where a package is at all times and have the ability to update customers when there is a delay or if their package is on track to arrive sooner than anticipated. That level of predictability is exactly what the construction industry needs.
Imagine this level of predictability on jobsites. Knowing when important materials are going to arrive allows teams to plan ahead and work efficiently. Supply chain transparency and predictability would greatly benefit owners as well by knowing if suppliers have the required parts in stock to make the supplies, what the manufacturing status is, or when the materials will be assembled and shipped and delivered to the jobsite. If there is an unavoidable delay or shortage, this knowledge could allow an owner to defer the entire project and shift to a different one, or sequence the work on the existing project in a different order so the schedule is not delayed.
The kind of data flow required for these much-needed industry enhancements isn’t common in construction today. Making strategic investments in advanced tools and entering collaborative partnerships, however, are two actions that could quickly change that reality.
How interconnection can drive transformation
Beyond clarity, another benefit that the industry’s transformation to interconnected data would bring is the facilitation of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in construction. Take for example exception-based project management. Tiffany LaBruno, Head of Product, Owners at Procore, spoke enthusiastically about the potential benefits at Procore’s recent Groundbreak conference.
“If we were to use AI embedded into a workflow, we could drive those kinds of exceptions to the top and then use machine learning to figure out what that data means,” LaBruno explained. “Understanding thresholds and common leading indicators that are provided from that data are going to be able to show project overruns. This gives our project managers visibility into that risk so they can mitigate it even earlier.”
Collaboration makes it all work. Once AI identifies exceptions to the norm and ML suggests overrun thresholds, Procore can then surface those exceptions to a project manager.
It’s all made possible with interconnected data, which plays a significant role in enabling technology to deliver valuable insights and improve decision-making. A recent Deloitte survey found that AI systems rely on vast amounts of data to learn and make predictions, and the quality and accessibility of that data directly impacts the accuracy and usefulness of the results. Interconnected data ensures that AI systems have access to the most comprehensive and up-to-date information possible, allowing them to provide more accurate predictions and recommendations.
In a disconnected data environment — like the construction industry — AI systems are limited. However, when data is interconnected, these systems can access and analyze data from multiple sources, giving them a broader and more diverse range of information to learn from. This results in more accurate predictions and insights, as AI can draw on a wider range of information to make decisions based on multiple factors in real time.
Why partnerships are critical for successful transformation
To be clear, attaining streamlined success with the help of interconnected data requires more than facilitating partnerships between construction companies and digital tools; it’s about the industry working together to find the funding needed to bring these digital solutions to life.
The siloed, project-based nature of construction — an industry fragmented into owners, general contractors, subcontractors and material suppliers — conspires against robust research and development on a programmatic level and promotes inertia. To facilitate that kind of research and development, the industry needs to come together as a whole.
Procore is committed to doing its part to help. Learn how Procore can help construction owners.
Holly A. Wilde
Holly leads the Owners Audience marketing team at Procore. Both in and out of construction, she focuses on commercializing technology that has the potential to change our social fabric. In addition, Holly mentors young founders at the Anderson Venture Accelerator.