Last edited 18 Dec 2018

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5 steps for a healthy data culture in construction

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The data revolution is upon us but the construction industry is a long way from where it needs to be. Digitisation is a demanding process that is inextricably linked to the behaviour and mindset of the sector. Many people wrongly perceive the shift to digital as a continuous and linear process which will keep developing no matter what.

In September 2018, McKinsey and Company published detailed and informative research about the steps that every sector needs to take to introduce a healthy data culture. Ref

Bringing construction and analytics together can be much easier if the following five principles are taken into account:

1. Committing to a healthy data culture is forever

The development of a data culture is a continuous process. Commitment is required from all industry stakeholders if this vital transformation to succeed.

Cameron Davies (NBCU) suggested that the enforcement of a data culture as ‘CEO-mandated’ is unlikely to succeed. The uninterrupted connection between all decision-makers and stakeholders in charge of data systems and processes is of paramount importance as they work closely towards a common goal.

2. Data as the basis of the decision-making process

There is a common misconception not only in construction but in every other industry that that data as simply a challenging experiment. In fact, it is a sincere, scientific endeavour to improve the decision-making process. Every data-related effort should result in the resolution of a specific problem.

3. Quality over quantity

One of the lest appropriate phrases in relation to data is 'the more, the merrier'.

The amount of data that can be produced in the construction industry is enormous, but this brings the danger that stakeholders get lost in a sea of data that they don’t know how to use. There should always be a specific reason for the collection of data and a carefully elaborated framework for its analysis.

Ibrahim Gokcen, Chief Digital Officer at A.P. Moller Maersk, suggests that when it comes to data the problem isn’t the amount, but rather its alignment to the objectives of the organisation.

4. The democratization of data

Data should be open to all levels of an organisation.

It is difficult to impose change if people do not understand the concept; they have to see how it will improve the way they work. Decision-makers need to understand that taking the time to show their teams the benefits of data can actually accelerate the change.

Boeing CIO, Ted Colbert said; “When people begin to believe in the data, it’s a game changer: They begin to change their behaviors, based on a new understanding of all the richness trapped beneath the surface of our systems and processes”.

5. Finding data-driven talent and workforce

In the end, everything comes down to finding the right people to implement change.

The construction industry has a unique opportunity to attract young, ambitious talent with a data background. This talent boost could help accelerate change and facilitate the introduction, development and implementation of a healthy data culture.


The power of habit and problematic contractual relations are two of the main obstacles the industry needs to overcome if it is to create a healthy data culture. The connection of analytics with existing systems and processes is a complex process which demands continuous commitment and the inclusion of all industry stakeholders.

Anastasios Koutsogiannis is Content Marketing Manager at GenieBelt - real-time construction software.

--GenieBelt 11:11, 20 Nov 2018 (BST)

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