With nearly 700,000 companies competing in the U.S. construction industry and trillions of dollars being spent on construction every year, it’s not surprising that builders and architects are using big data to outdo their competition. What is big data, you ask? In simple terms, it’s the process of collecting and analyzing an enormous amount of data – hence the “big” – generally to improve the outlook for a company or organization.
When most people think of big data, they think of numbers, analysis, and some well-spoken character delivering a presentation on a projector while pointing at a graph with a stick. However, you stand to gain much more than number-crunching by taking a thorough look at your construction company’s key metrics and project statistics. With that said, here are seven ways the top construction companies are putting big data to good use:
1. Collecting Field-Level Data to Enhance Cost Management
Every action that is taken on a construction site should be cataloged and the data that results from such record keeping should be fed into software like Rhumbix or Autodesk. While detailed instruction on the usage of the aforementioned software would go beyond the scope of this guide, it is worthwhile to state that every construction company owner should know how to use both of these powerful tools. Essentially, Rhumbix gives you a system for collecting data related to materials, labor, and other mission-critical data.
2. Determining Ideal Building Sites
Choosing a spot to build on is not always the job of the construction company that’s doing the building, but somebody has to make that decision. Building planners, architects, engineers, and other professionals use big data to determine an optimal location for the foundation of a structure. How does big data help with this matter? By examining data and running advanced computer simulations, researchers are able to gain insight into related issues like local natural disasters, material strength, and other factors that could influence the integrity of a building.
3. Inventing Custom Solutions
The construction industry is constantly expanding. New tools, equipment, and products are invented and released on a yearly basis to accommodate the constant influx of new parts and machines that are also continually invented. Necessity is the father of invention, and the construction industry is fueled by the human necessity to build. Manufacturers and inventors analyze big data to design parts, choose materials, and discover ways to upgrade their aftermarket products over the competition. Everyone wants to have the product with the best features and specs in its price range. That competition creates the need for product testing and validation, which all leads back to big data.
4. Increasing Profitability
Of course, every company’s goal is to become more profitable, and construction companies are pretty good at that. Construction companies use spreadsheets and accounting software like Quicken to keep thorough records of expenses in order to design a comprehensive budget. The simple of act budgeting might not seem like it would require big data, but when you’re dealing with millions of dollars’ worth of materials and labor on a regular basis, it helps to have a powerful system for tracking and organizing everything.
5. Using Analytics for a Better Web Presence
You can’t talk about big data without mentioning web analytics. Everyone starts with Google’s Webmaster Tools, which are really might be all you’ll ever need as a small business owner. There are countless tools that can be used for web analytics, and it doesn’t really matter which one you use as long as you take the time to learn how to use it to its full potential. Now, if you’re operating a larger company or business that’s fast-growing or conducting a high volume of transactions, then you may want to consider being picky about which analytics software you use. Construction companies analyze the big data related to their web site in order to determine which keywords to use and how to better target their online audience.
6. Providing Proof of Concept
When it comes time to find new clients and prove your construction company’s abilities in a comprehensive portfolio, big data can be your best friend. Prospective clients always want to see the numbers in the construction industry, so no matter what the board meeting is about, big data comes into play at some point. When you can project some figures onto a screen and use them to tell a story during a pitch – that’s when you have the power to convince a client that your company is the right one to do the job.
7. Lead Targeting
Having a good pitch and portfolio won’t help much if you’re pitching to the wrong clients or competing for the wrong contracts. As the owner of a small construction company, you could consult with a big data specialist to determine which services you should be offering. From there, you could consult with a lead generation expert to determine how to find leads that will be interested in those services within your company’s geographical area of operation. Targeting the right leads will not only increase your profitability overall, but it will also optimize your conversion rate and reduce the amount of money that needs to be spent on ad revenue.
Big Data is the Future of All Business
If you’re just now finding out about big data and you’ve been skimming through life without analyzing your company’s metrics, you’ve probably been missing out on a huge chunk of income. By 2020, the vast majority of large companies and serious SMEs will be using big data in some form or another, whether they know it or not.
The construction industry is particularly reliant on big data because there are so many numbers to track and analyze. In fact, some would say that big data was invented primarily for use in the financial, economics, business, and construction sectors. In conclusion, one could argue that any construction company that doesn’t leverage data analysis is operating in an archaic manner.