Construction organizations looking to address process efficiencies, reduce costs, and detect risk, all while better understanding the customers’ needs, might find the answer in data. Data can help solve a number of business challenges; it is just a matter of knowing how to get value from the data.

For the construction industry, data already drives the design, estimate, budget, built out, and even the lifecycle management of a project. Now, new connected technologies such as GIS (geographic information systems), GPS, and RFID (radio-frequency identification) are coming onto the construction scene, giving the industry more data than in the past and allowing companies to collect large and complex data sets that provide new value. This ‘Big Data’ could change the way the construction industry does business going forward.

Analyst firm Gartner, www.gartner.com, Stamford, Conn., says in its 2013 Big Data adoption survey that the potential impact for this is big, with 64% of organizations planning to invest in Big Data.

While industries leading Big Data investments this year include banking, transportation, healthcare, and insurance, the analyst firm says every vertical industry shows Big Data investment and planned investment. What’s more, North America leads investments, with 38% indicating they have invested in technology specifically designed to address the Big Data challenge.

With this growth in mind, how can the construction industry move beyond the early-adopter phase, and what does investment in Big Data require? Much like any technology investment, Gartner says it starts with knowledge gathering, followed by strategy setting, and then a proof of concept. After a pilot, deployments take place and business operations begin to rely on the deployments, while the investments move from implementing systems to managing them. Currently, 70% of firms have moved past the early knowledge gathering, and 44% are in the piloting stage, while 25% are deploying.

The benefits of Big Data include being able to address process efficiency and enhance the customer experience. The challenge is most organizations are struggling with knowing how to get value from Big Data.

At this year’s Constructech Technology Day, taking place on October 4 in Santa Clara, Calif., attendees will be guided on ways in which to make better use of data, including uncovering strategies around predicting key patterns and events, better understanding how and why events are taking place, pairing historical data with early indicators, and providing greater transparency into business practices.

Like with any technology investment, Big Data is something for which the construction industry will look to identify best practices. The key will be creating a solid strategy around gathering and analyzing the data.