Big Data: Good for Big Picture in Construction?

September 09, 2013

Could the days of a single monolithic stack of technology applications from a handful of vendors be numbered? As technology leaders across construction embrace more flexible, cost effective alternatives for today’s post-PC workplace, where no single operating system seems prevalent, the need for guidance is necessary.

We have already seen the shift occurring with regards to embracing things like the cloud. This article examined the idea of migrating key applications, including scheduling, project management, estimating, and more, to a cloud-based environment. Technology leaders within the software community for homebuilding advised that while such a move certainly has its advantages, there are also a few essential questions builders need to be asking their technology partners to ensure it is a smooth and sustainable transition.

In terms of integration, for example, Tom Gebes, president, BuilderMT, www.buildermt.com, Lakewood, Colo., stressed the importance of finding out whether your provider offers a full RESTful API, which has become a powerful software architecture for the Web. Without it, says Gebes, a cloud-based application will be unable to connect to the rest of your technology infrastructure for purposes of sharing data. Without it, says Gebes, builders would be just creating another silo of data in the cloud.

But cloud is merely one such initiative that builders should be thinking about in this era of the “new construction software stack.” Key initiatives like mobility, BIM (building information modeling), lean, green, and more; coupled with broader IT agendas like Big Data suddenly have the building industry in search of some guidance.

The idea to ‘build with Big Data’ has become a new objective for construction companies across the board. In this sense, it is not a commercial construction conversation or a residential construction conversation, but rather a construction conversation in general.

A recent Webinar hosted by Submittal Exchange, www.submittalexchange.com, which is a Textura company, covered the topic of Big Data in construction. Constructech Chief Editor Mike Carrozzo participated as a speaker during this Webinar, which covered broad-based strategies for understanding, adopting, and making use of Big Data.

For example, as noted by Gartner, www.gartner.com, Stamford, Conn., the three Vs (volume, velocity and variety) still are among the leading characteristics of Big Data. But there are also 12 dimensions of data management that need to be addressed. With an expected data rate increase of 44 times between now and 2020, the construction industry needs to find the proper strategies for helping get their arms around the idea of Big Data.

With that in mind, Constructech will host a panel of IT leaders in construction at Technology Day 2013, moderated by Box, www.box.com, San Francisco, Calif., to discuss strategies for evaluating and deploying innovative technologies in the construction industry.  Part of the agenda theme ‘Build with Big Data,’ this panel discussion will include technology leaders from major construction companies across the nation who will address the changing landscape of technology in this industry and the ways in which they have effectively gotten their arms around the matter.
 
Deep-dive conversations such as this one are necessary given the changing landscape of technology in construction. More than likely, construction companies have far too many questions and not enough answers around the topic of how to migrate their existing IT resources in the face of change. It’s time to come together with some targeted insight into the discussion.