The construction industry is continuing to lag well behind other industries in its adoption of digital tools, despite the technology’s potential to significantly improve project delivery and business outcomes. That point was made repeatedly by presenters at the Construction Management Association of America’s annual conference, held earlier this month in Orlando, Fla. 

Addressing the use of business intelligence and data visualization tools, Marty Turner, principal program controls manager with Jacobs, cited a 2018 KPMG survey of construction/engineering industry chief information officers showing that just 23% had a “clear digital business vision and strategy” across their enterprise, compared with 32% of all industries. Another 23% reported having a digital business strategy for certain business units.

That left 54% of construction/engineering firms entirely lacking a clear digital business strategy.

Still, Turner told attendees: “That’s a huge improvement over years past.” With nearly a quarter of all construction and engineering firms applying business analytics across all of their enterprise, “That’s incredible,” he adds.  

Right now, he says, “We’re starting to wake up to the power of analytics to be able to drive our business decisions. The lights have finally been turned on.”

The construction industry’s adoption of business intelligence tools will take several years, though, he estimates.

“In the next three to five years you’re going to see huge growth in the industry as the tools continue to get more refined and our skill and comfort level with these tools become more refined,” he says. 

Addressing “Better Projects Through Data,” Steve Jones, senior director of industry insights with Dodge Data & Analytics, cited his firm’s recent survey indicating some firms are being left behind.

In a survey of 187 contractors, 34% reported that their firm’s data gathering and analytical capabilities had remained stagnant over the past three years, while 64% reported improvement. More than 90% of firms already diving into data cited schedule and cost information as the most important to gather.