New study finds better data strategies could save global construction industry US$1.85 tril

Autodesk and management consulting firm FMI Corporation have released the results from a new study, ‘Harnessing the Data Advantage in Construction,’ which surveyed over 3,900 professionals across the global construction industry on their data practices in 2020.

In the study, Autodesk and FMI estimate that ‘bad data’ – data that is inaccurate, incomplete, inaccessible, inconsistent or untimely, and can’t be used to derive actionable insights – may have cost the global construction industry US$1.85 trillion in 2020.

However, survey respondents who had strategies in place to collect, manage and analyse usable data reported benefits such as fewer project delays and budget overruns, less rework, fewer change orders and reduced safety incidents, suggesting implementing formal data strategies could enable construction teams to prevent future losses and gain competitive advantages.  

“Organisations are adopting technology, but our study shows there is opportunity for them to gain even more from their investments,” said Jay Bowman, research and analytics lead at FMI. “Without data strategies in place, the construction industry is leaving significant amounts of money and opportunities for more positive project outcomes on the table.

“The good news is that implementing data strategies is entirely within an organisation’s control, and our research identified a few ways some teams are successfully collecting, managing and using their data to support decision making.” 

Key findings from the study include: 

1. Bad data is leading to poor decision-making and outcomes. Thirty percent of respondents indicated that more than half of their project data is ‘bad’ and results in poor decision making more than 50% of the time.

Decisions made using ‘bad data’ are estimated to have cost the industry US$88.69 billion in rework alone, accounting for 14% of all rework performed in 2020. These findings suggest construction teams and organisations need relevant, accurate and complete data sets to make consistently high-quality data-driven decisions. 

2. Intentional data strategies support more consistent, data-driven decision-making. The respondents who said they always incorporate project data into their decision-making (12%) are employing intentional data strategies to enable this, including regularly reviewing data for quality (40%); standardising data collection, reporting and monitoring practices (38%); and structuring data in a common data environment for centralised access (38%). 

3. Data management and analysis skills are seen as critical for team success. Most respondents (60%) stated the presence of data management and analysis skills are important for construction teams to work effectively.

When asked what project management and analysis skills will be most important for the future in the construction industry, respondents ranked workflow optimisation (57%), data management strategy (51%), data analytics (47%), data visualisation (40%) and data security (39%) as their top five skills.  

“As the construction industry continues its rapid digitisation, it’s important to remember that the utility of technology extends beyond its immediate functions to identifying risks and opportunities with data-driven insights,” said Allison Scott, director of construction thought leadership, Autodesk Construction Solutions.

“This study quantifies the immense value of putting frameworks in place to capture and manage data. Organisations that implement formal data strategies stand to gain the most ROI from their technology investments, so it is important to collaborate with vendors and determine how to make the best use of the data being collected.”  

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