Australian construction industry relying on data for business decisions

Over half of companies surveyed said they would look for a new vendor for better control and access of data.

In a poll conducted by ACA Research has shown the importance of data to the increasingly digital Australian construction industry.

Not only are construction companies realising the significant benefits of data-driven business decisions, they also say that access control to their project information is of paramount importance.

The survey of 160 construction companies of different sizes and types around Australia found that sophisticated data capture and analysis is becoming fundamental to the success of these businesses. So much so, that more than half (56 per cent) said they would vote with their feet, and switch software providers to ensure better control of and access to their data.

“Data is everything to Spence Construction. Our philosophy is, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” said Tim Hassett, business manager at Spence Construction.

Data allows the company to identify and mitigate risks, deal with recurring issues across the business, and ultimately save time and money.

“Having access to data at our fingertips to make decisions is fundamental to our operations, and we strongly believe that any data we put into a software platform is our IP,” he said.

Construction firms are investing in capturing, integrating, and standardising data across their businesses to deliver measurable benefits, including increased productivity, better collaboration, improved decision making and risk management, and reduced expenditure.

In an economy of scale, these benefits increase exponentially with the size of a company, the survey shows:

  • More than one third of companies surveyed (34 per cent) say data capture and analysis improves efficiency and productivity a great deal. This increases to 72 per cent among large businesses (100+ employees).
  • A third of all businesses surveyed (33 per cent) and 62 per cent of large businesses identified better risk management as a key benefit of leveraging data. This undoubtedly will have helped these bigger companies weather the storm of the pandemic over the past six months.
  • All businesses recognise operational cost savings as a clear advantage in using data to drive decisions. More than a quarter of companies (26 per cent) believe they could save between 10-20 per cent if they fully utilised all available data to drive better outcomes.

The survey commissioned by Procore, also revealed that data-driven business models are nuanced and perspectives on data access vary across the Australian construction industry.

Small and medium businesses appear to be much more focused on minimising day to day costs and avoiding financial repercussions. While large companies display a greater level of flexibility in their approach to data management.

Overall, nearly three quarters (73 per cent) of respondents say they should have access to their data however and whenever they want it, and around two thirds (67 per cent) say losing access to their data would have significant financial repercussions on their business.

Concerningly, 29 per cent of respondents (and 48 per cent of large businesses) must pay a fee to export their data, and nearly a fifth (19 per cent) believe their software provider owns their business data.

Almost 7 in 10 large companies say they would change software providers for this reason.

“Accurate and real time reporting across our business allows greater visibility of minor issues before they become major issues – enabling us to act more quickly and focus on strategic priorities and forward planning,” said Matthew Rayment, chief operations officer at PBS Building.

These efficiencies have a positive impact on quality and safety, time and profit, meaning those businesses that don’t use data analytics and intelligence systems will be disadvantaged.

“Given the critical importance of data to our operations, we do not engage with software providers that charge for access to data that we rightfully own,” he said.

In 2020, data was important for the construction industry, with many companies having to pivot quickly, make tough decisions and understand how they can achieve more with less. The results of this recent survey confirm that data insights and analysis is a key strategic priority helping construction companies identify quality and safety issues, improve decision making, save time, and reduce costs.




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