Business intelligence is big in business right now, but is it right for construction? Learn how BI applies to our industry.

Business intelligence (BI) is a hot topic in many industries as businesses look for ways to capitalize on larger data sets to make informed decisions. As a result, the market for business intelligence tools is growing. The construction industry is no exception. With contractors gathering more and more data from jobsites, they’re also beginning to ask how BI applies to them.

Viewpoint hosted a webinar called “How to Know – The Value of Business Intelligence in Construction” on January 24 to answer some common questions about business intelligence for the construction industry and provide insight into what it means, its value, and how it can be implemented effectively. Here are some highlights:

Business Intelligence Defined

The definition of BI you receive often depends on who you ask, but fundamentally, the term is pretty simple. It’s about enabling organizations to better achieve their goals. Business intelligence means understanding your chosen business environment and your relationship to it, and then turning this knowledge into actions to further your business objectives.

It’s important to note that BI isn’t just data. BI is based on data, but for data to be useful it needs to be actionable. Take a look at the pyramid below. You can see that at the foundation of intelligence is data.

Construction data is foundational to BI.

This knowledge pyramid shows that data is foundational to BI.

Contractors gather huge amounts of data these days, often through tools like powerful construction management and project management software, technology like drones, and the increased accessibility provided by cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT). But on its own, data isn’t meaningful. Data often leads to reflexive—rather than intelligent—responses.

To use data wisely, businesses need to turn it into useful information. This involves putting data into categories and giving it context to gain a better sense of the big picture. Information allows companies to react thoughtfully, not just reflexively. But many organizations stop here and don’t move on to actual business intelligence. That’s problematic because looking at information usually involves looking at what’s happened in the past. BI is about identifying trends, looking to the future, and understanding how things connect and change over time. Doing so helps businesses make smart decisions even when things are moving quickly.

Does BI Work for Construction?

BI works well for organizations with highly-standardized processes, such as those in the manufacturing industry. When a process occurs in the same location, conditions, and order every time, analyzing data, identifying trends, and making smarter decisions for the future isn’t too difficult.

There’s a myth in construction that BI doesn’t work for the construction industry because jobs are so variable. One could argue that because jobs and jobsites vary, it’s even more important to make smart, proactive decisions. Analyzing data from a job after it’s completed isn’t a bad thing, but it’s also not going to help you improve that job. BI can help contractors reduce losses and improve profits while a job is happening, and that’s a big deal for contractors’ bottom lines.

Creating a BI Strategy

So how can construction use BI when conditions are variable? That involves looking closely at what’s the same from job to job, as well as taking a more flexible approach.

Businesses need to set objectives for using their data, information, and intelligence—such as improving tasks, job performance, and overall business success—and then turn to their people, processes, and potentially new technology to achieve these objectives. Fully embracing BI means trying new things and helping everyone in the organization make smart, informed decisions. Doing so will lead to a more forward-thinking, proactive business.

For a detailed explanation of putting together concrete BI strategies for your construction business, as well as to see some real-world BI use cases, watch the full webinar. You can also learn more about BI in our How To Leverage Business Intelligence For Your Construction Company white paper.

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Posted by Wayne Newitts