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Too often, contractors invest in expensive technology only to still lose money and time on projects. Too many leaders and their teams spend valuable work hours hunting and gathering for information and by the time they’re able to actually collate everything together, the information is either outdated or heavily error-prone. 

For any contractor that wants to be a data-driven business, remember that “Data without a decision is a distraction.” What does this mean? It means business leaders in today’s landscape shouldn’t be spending their precious time trying to track information down. Instead, they should be asking questions of their data and trying to give context to it. Everything else is a distraction. 

How Not To Run a Data-Driven Company

Dashboards with all the bells and whistles might look pretty, but if the data in these visualizations aren’t answering core questions in the business, it’s more than likely all the time and effort spent in creating them has been wasted. Nothing is worse than wasted time, and in construction, it can be the difference between going over budget or under budget. 

To combat this trap of dashboard difficulties, there is emerging Smart Search technology that connects natural language with structured and unstructured data. Rather than starting with the data and visualization, it’s important that contractors first start with a question and connect it to the data needed to answer it. For example:

  • Who is the most profitable client?
  • How much labor is needed to execute the projects in backlog?
  • Where should excess cash be allocated?
  • Which markets should the company expand into?
  • How can fees be enhanced?
  • Where is the company bleeding fees on change orders?

The best contractors start with these questions and then they put the resources together to answer them. At an organization level, this approach to data analytics adds clarity and context to the data from multiple, unrelated sources. 

Reading at Lighting Speed

Using natural language in analytics is a massively important piece of the modern data strategy, but it doesn’t stop with just querying the data. Other natural language techniques can also read PDFs, such as a contract or a change order, and derive meaning and context from it. 

This underlying technology is based on the same technology that drives Google searches, Alexa, Siri, Autocomplete and countless other functions and tools. 

Emerging machine vision technology “reads” documents at lightning speed and draws on contextual patterns to make personalized suggestions, complete requests, retrieve data and a growing list of additional query-based activities.

Need to compare contracts against a standard contract to detect phrases that may indicate risk? Need to read RFIs to know which ones have a risk of turning into a change order? Natural language is a massively diverse and under-utilized tool in most construction companies today. 

Today’s modern data analytics strategy should give words meaning, in order to give data context. No more distraction. 

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