Why Connected Analytics Helps You Achieve Project Certainty
When you look at the numbers, they can be alarming. Studies have shown that upwards of 60% of capital projects experience some sort of cost or schedule overrun. One might wonder how this could happen when more and more engineering and construction firms are capturing copious amounts of digitized data. It would seem the more data we have, the greater the likelihood that we could considerably lessen the cost and schedule overrun issue.
However, it’s not the amount of data we are capturing, it’s how actionable that data is during the pre-construction and execution phases of the project. In other words, it’s not about having the data, it’s how you manage it and share it with key stakeholders. You want to connect the data and make it accessible so that decision makers can connect all the dots.
Fortunately, there’s been a tremendous amount of progress made recently in construction technology software that can help project owners an d teams identify trends through advanced project platforms that unlock the power of connected analytics. Through connected data, we can ensure that projects say on schedule and under budget.
Maximizing Visibility Is Critical
When we examine the concept of connected data, what we are really talking about is a holistic view of every ongoing project. This allows project data to be connected from the start through execution, turnover and startup. Connecting construction data through a project controls platform helps decrease risk by tackling duplicate entry, process inefficiencies and other issues that arise when teams choose to store and manage information in siloed and disconnected solutions.
When organizations implement a connected data solution, they can identify projects that are in urgent need of attention and course correction. Why? Because they have access to real-time information and insights, which drives continuity in operations and prevents workers from spending valuable time researching and figuring out how to get a project back on track.
One of the greatest benefits of a construction analytics solution is the broad project visibility it offers. With only a few mouse clicks you can make better informed decisions in real time because you have sharper insights into metrics, KPIs and trends. And advanced dashboard views, much like the ones contained in InEight’s connected analytics solution, provides a detailed project snapshot. In seconds, you’re able to see pieces of information about projects, so you know where you should focus your attention.
Slice and Dice With Dashboards
Looking for some high-level metrics? Dashboard views tell you quickly how many projects you have, the total number of employees and your total equipment, as well as financial metrics. You can see your total costs to date across your portfolio of projects versus what you’re forecasting. If the data shows you’re going to be losing money, you can drill down deeper into the information to determine the reason behind this less-than-rosy forecast. With the proper connected data analytics tool, you can also deploy filters to allow for multiple project views, such as active versus completed projects, percent complete projects, geographically located, and more.
Connected analytics dashboards can often be customized to get the project view that’s most useful to you or your department. Let’s say you are a leader of one of the business units; you can rearrange the column views based on the criteria that’s most useful to you.
Demographic information can tell you how certain markets are doing, for instance, with earned versus actual costs. The data analytics will tell you when you’re having success in one market but losing money in another. You can also use the knowledge you’ve collected to determine your success rates based on certain clients.
Connecting Data Will Transform the Industry
The influence technology is having today on the construction and capital projects industry is downright astounding. Considering where we were just five years ago versus what we can do today with integrated construction software platforms shows the tremendous promise of technology, even as we face a growing number of uncertainties. Companies that are using integrated solutions are improving their data flow across the entire project life cycle. They are seeing greater owner/contractor collaboration because of the more transparent workflows and real-time notifications.
So, consider again that it’s not just about gathering the data, it’s how you pull the right information from that data and use it to see the risks before they happen. You’ll find by implementing a cloud-based, connected analytics solution, you are avoiding those dreaded cost overruns and schedule delays, and improving overall productivity.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”