Smarter Insights, Better Outcomes: The Future of Construction
August 19, 2021
“Technology continues to make data more accessible, and our industry recognizes that. Challenges will certainly persist as much of that available technology is disconnected both at the data and functional level.”
— Tad Bungener, EVP Marketing, InEight
Among the rich data captured in InEight’s recent Global Capital Projects Outlook, 2021, one particular truth has surfaced time and time again; the idea that smarter insights yield better outcomes.
The report, based on a survey of capital project and construction professionals from more than 300 large organizations throughout the Americas, Europe and APAC, was designed to gauge general confidence and optimism levels across the industry and assess track records, plans and attitudes toward digital transformation. The survey found that despite COVID-19, 92% of global respondents are either fairly or very optimistic about their future, and 91% believe their organization to be resilient.
To find out more about what kind of big picture the Global Outlook seems to be painting for the industry and where all of this optimism is coming from, we sat down with InEight’s EVP of Marketing, Tad Bungener, for his take on the report’s implications for the future of construction and capital project outcomes around the globe.
It’s been said that it’s best to begin at the beginning, so Bungener suggests going back to basics in our thinking. Why? “Because simple really is better,” he explains. “We need to remember that insights are learnings found through experienced focus within a vast array of data. If you can normalize the data and then add full project context around it, you’ll find the anomalies.”
As it turns out, those anomalies are more important than they might first appear to be.
Bungener puts it this way: “You have limited resources, right? That means you can only afford to manage what matters most. So, an ability to gain a simplified and clearer view of what matters — those anomalies — is ultimately the view against which you should apply resources. That is smarter insights.”
“And because it’s those anomalies that are in fact exposures of risk or opportunities for gain,” he says, “actively attending to and managing those anomalies will lead you to better outcomes.”
This “insights = outcomes” concept might seem like a theory, but it easily translates into real-world construction project scenarios, according to Bungener.
“If you monitor project performance across a portfolio of projects, for instance, but don’t compare task or quantity level performance, you may not notice that while a project is performing to plan at a top level, that project is actually bleeding margin on Procedure T and well above plan on Procedure F,” he explains. “While you can say, the project is holding to plan, you’re actually both losing out on potential gains and an opportunity to repeat your best work.”
“However, smarter insights would tell you that Procedure T needs attention to shore up margin erosion and Procedure F needs to be standardized as a best practice to share across other like work,” Bungener continues. “Of course, I’m ignoring the complexity and dynamic nature of the actual work, in this example. But the key is with a system that delivers both meaningful and timely insights early enough, you can maximize the impact decisions will have on outcomes. That is the essence of ‘smarter insights, better outcomes.’”
Conversely, if your insights are unreliable or limited, would this adversely affect outcomes? Bungener thinks so. “If you can’t trust your data or you are getting it 30 or 60 days later, your actions have an equally delayed influence and you essentially end up driving with only your rearview mirror,” he says. “You’ll have little chance to improve near term outcomes until your view is near term.”
Respondents to the Global Outlook are largely positive when it comes to improvements being made by the sector to deliver projects on time and on budget, with 61% of owners and 50% of contractors saying that, in the last three years, the number of projects delivered on or ahead of schedule has increased. Similarly, 56% of owners and 51% of contractors say the same for projects on or under budget.
Bungener is more pleased than surprised at this optimism: “The data confirmed what I already knew, what we see every day at InEight about this tough, resilient industry, where no challenge is too great — it’s exhilarating.”
And encouragingly, it is a trend that respondents report continuing on, with 83% confident of completing future projects on or ahead of schedule, and 82% confident of doing so on or under budget.
“Technology continues to make data more accessible, and our industry recognizes that. Challenges will certainly persist as much of that available technology is disconnected both at the data and functional level,” says Bungener.
His thoughts seem to be proven out in the Global Outlook. There, digital transformation is considered the biggest short-term source of opportunity according to 71% of respondents with data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, abilities considered most critical for success in the next one to three years.
While regions across the globe gather digitalization speed at slightly differing paces and employ varying tactics, what is a commonality is that the construction industry is foundational to the success of economies and societies worldwide. So, it is especially encouraging that despite a difficult year, respondents remain resilient and optimistic for the future; committed to continuing as a vibrant, vital and innovation-minded industry.
For construction companies trying to relate the Global Outlook’s contents to their own situations, the main takeaways are many, but there is one in particular that Bungener feels stands out and must be understood.
“I see the main takeaway from all of this as a clear call to action,” he says. “Performance gains are such that if you haven’t started your digital journey, your competition will or already has. The time is now to de-risk your future outcomes.”
Ready to take a deeper dive? Schedule a demo today to learn how to make InEight part of your project management digitalization journey.