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Construction industry remains optimistic— report finds data analytics is key

Construction stakeholders with a clear digital strategy saw benefits from technology in their roles, according to the annual survey from InEight.

Sponsored by InEight

Despite market uncertainties caused by, inflation, persistent labor shortages, and supply chain constraints, the construction industry remains optimistic, according to a new report from InEight.

InEight, a provider of integrated project controls software that is used by owners, engineers, and contractors to plan and execute construction projects, released the results of its annual Global Capital Projects Outlook (GCPO) report to Renewable Energy World. The report was based on responses from an online survey of 300 respondents (contractors and owners) across the Americas, Europe, and APAC.

The GCPO found that construction stakeholders ranked digital technologies, data collection, analytics, and insights as the top opportunities for growth within the next year. Respondents selected the same focus areas in 2021, albeit in a different order.

Brad Barth, InEight’s chief product officer, noted that owners and contractors are searching for efficiencies and cost savings, higher productivity, a better risk profile, and greater confidence in project costs and safety improvements.

“The factors that are holding organizations back from a greater technology investment include financial factors and change management,” Barth told Renewable Energy World.

Begun in 2021, the GCPO report is a yearly survey that looks to gauge optimism levels across the industry while assessing project performance track records, as well as plans and attitudes towards technology. It includes insights into the health of the industry, project certainty, and digital transformation as it applies to both organizations and people.

InEight conducted an online survey of 300 respondents across the Americas, Europe and APAC. The data includes responses from both contractors and owners. 

The GCPO found that construction stakeholders ranked digital technologies, data collection, analytics, and insights as the top opportunities for growth within the next year. Respondents selected the same focus areas in 2021, albeit in a different order. (Source: InEight) Human-centric technology

Recent advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence are now being applied with a practical purpose in the construction industry. Systems like InEight can take data captured from previous projects and use that to inform new projects, augmenting and compounding individual knowledge and experiences in the creation of estimates and schedules.

“InEight refers to this as ‘collective knowledge’ — the aggregation of actionable experience from all projects across all individuals,” Barth said. “InEight’s system enables a benchmarked and risk-based approach to estimating, planning, and scheduling, and provides a single source of truth for project documentation such as drawings, models and other documents. By tracking the planning assumptions against actual outcomes all the way through the project lifecycle, InEight customers develop an ever-growing historical knowledge library that drives scalable growth and creates more predictable project outcomes.”

Respondents from organizations with a clear digital transformation strategy already see benefits from technology in their roles, with numbers consistently above average.

Overcoming implementation resistance

According to Barth, reluctance to digitalization in the construction industry has traditionally fallen into predictable categories. Modern, cloud-based solutions and some recent trends in the industry are shifting those dynamics.

First, new systems are no longer costly and time-intensive to install and implement. A robust, end-to-end project controls system used to be the domain of large organizations with large IT staffs, but no longer. Cloud-based solutions require virtually no IT assistance, no hardware and can be implemented in weeks, not months or years. Sophisticated project controls solutions can be implemented on a project-by-project basis, or throughout the enterprise, with a fraction of the operational disruption than at any time in the past. 

And second, having a modern project controls system is no longer a nice to have, but a must have. Expectations for the technology used by the organizations involved in large and complex capital projects have risen dramatically in recent years. The ability to collaborate seamlessly, create reports swiftly, and share information in an efficient and predictable way means spreadsheets and e-mails are no longer the acceptable default. Technology use is even a factor when it comes to recruiting, serving as a barometer of a company’s commitment to innovation.

“The construction industry is changing away from the traditional design-bid-build approach, which often placed an undue amount of risk on the contractor and discouraged information sharing in the name of change order gamesmanship,” Barth said. “Progressive delivery methods such as design-build, along with shared-risk models, are driving greater collaboration between owner and contractor, more transparency, and longer-term relationships that span across multiple projects.

“Innovative owners are making technology usage a key part of these relationships, going so far as to specify the use of certain systems by all stakeholders to ensure efficient and predictable project outcomes.”

Alleviating market uncertainty

No industry has been spared from record inflation that is plaguing the U.S. economy. Inflation, combined with labor shortages and supply chain constraints, are the chief concerns for owners and contractors, creating risks in predictable project delivery that must be mitigated.

Higher than expected prices or lack of material availability can have dramatic impacts on a project’s budget and schedule, so procurement planning must be carefully coordinated with engineering and construction and include multiple contingency plans. Likewise, the labor shortage creates additional pressures to execute work as efficiently and productively as possible, while minimizing unproductive time and re-work.

Both owners and contractors — 56% and 55%, respectively — view these unexpected or unmanaged risks as factors that influence whether a project can be delivered on-time and on-budget.

“There are not many levers to pull to make these issues disappear, but technology is one of them,” Barth said. “End-to-end project controls systems like InEight provide a way to create risk-adjusted plans that can be executed efficiently no matter what scenarios arise.”

This is because how information is organized and analyzed is paramount to project certainty. And that means overcoming the limitations of multiple point solutions which, while effective in collecting and processing data unique to their specific functions, are often unable to share it among each other.

This is why an integrated project controls platform is the logical course.

Some key benefits of the InEight project controls platform include:

  • Converting the constant flow of data into a standardized structure
  • Providing a single source of truth for all project data
  • Using real-world data from current projects
  • Replacing human optimism bias with data-supported realism

Today, managing capital projects involves controlling risks that can affect performance and outcomes. It all comes down to having the right information at the right time; in other words, the right data. InEight has the platform — and the team support — to make it happen.

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