With a flood of apps and software over the past five years, the construction industry is now awash in data. In fact, the volume of available project data has doubled over the last three years, according to a report from FMI/Autodesk.
However, FMI reports that 96% of data collected in the engineering and construction industry, unfortunately, goes unused. And much of the data is simply bad — leading to a staggering $88.69 billion in unnecessary rework worldwide, according to the FMI/Autodesk report.
The data collected is frequently siloed in apps and software that don’t integrate, making it fragmented and difficult to access. Even when data is available, it’s tough for capital project owners and construction firms to perform the necessary culling and analysis that offers meaningful and actionable insights and ensure the essential stakeholders have access to the right data.
Furthermore, due to the nature of construction projects, data is often scattered across multiple systems, which require multiple forms of permissions and authentication, and accessed by multiple stakeholders from government agencies to subcontractors to vendors. To make matters more complex, systems can change as the project changes.
An innovative technology called robotic process automation (RPA) — so-called intelligent automation technology using digital bots that mimic human users to access systems, manage permissions and gather data from all project systems — promises to help construction dig into its data in new and powerful ways. Already in use by banking and finance, RPA may be the key to solving construction’s data silos and interoperability problem
Here’s how RPA works in four key areas that currently are causing data problems — and lost productivity — for construction firms:
- Ingest documents from diverse silos. Unlike APIs or other ways capital project owners and construction firms have attempted to wrangle data, RPA works by creating digital bots that mimic human users so they can collect, manage, manipulate and ingest data. This function is key because it enables the bots to go into individual apps and systems that are often siloed and pull necessary information into a central databank.
- Enable users to analyze the data and deliver real-time actionable analytics. Getting actionable data insights and dashboards currently means spending thousands to hire a consultant and waiting months to see results. A large portion of that time is spent collecting data from different source systems either manually or through APIs. With innovative technology solutions, these insights and dashboards are nearly instantaneous — and highly customizable. The data collection is instant. For example, the bots can log into a government agency portal, search for specific addresses and pull permits, certifications, violations and other relevant documents into a central database, where they can be combined with other internal data then easily viewed and analyzed by authorized users.
- Do complex tasks with better efficiency and effectiveness to increase ROI. Human errors and a general lack of technological know-how create 48% of the bad data in construction and a ton of inefficiency, according to the Autodesk/FMI report. Unlike humans, RPA bots don’t make mistakes. They also do their work with lightning speed, which is key to upping productivity. Besides ingesting data, the bots can also perform complex actions, such as emailing the people who need to know about permit violations in real time.
- Ensure the right people have access to the right data. Permission issues plague construction. Systems tend to either lock data down too tightly or make it too freely available, both of which lead to problems and inefficiency. With RPA, digital bots can access data through the interface following assigned user permissions instead of through APIs where it’s an all or nothing access. Once the data is in a common database, users can be assigned data access based on roles, users, companies, or even data asset classes. such as invoices. For example, the bot can first ingest invoice data and then tag it with specific assignments, so only the people who are assigned access to the data have it where and when they need it.
To learn more about RPA and how it can help you break down data silos, connect with the Gryps experts today.