Transform small data into big intelligence for your business

The growing ability to process big data has led to an era of more insightful corporate leaders and more precise decision-making. Despite the multiple benefits that big data delivers, data processing at that magnitude isn’t necessary for all organizations. However, the same benefits can be reached through data analyzing on a smaller level, opening up the possibility to see the benefits of data insights for small- and medium-sized companies.

What is small data?
The common concern across the board for companies in the construction industry is not that they aren’t embracing big data, but that they are doing far too little to even understand the powerful small data that literally pushes their organization forward every minute of the day.
           Small data can be described as functions such as personnel productivity, sales data, profit, equipment uptime, machinery down time, asset life cycles, seasonal surges and dips. Small data points amount to a very big deal when it comes to monitoring, predicting and optimizing the entire health of the organization.
           Outdated tracking methods put companies at a giant strategic disadvantage. They are only reliable in their ability to report past outcomes. What they cannot do is track and report business performance in real time, nor reliably predict future performance based on actual and multiple data points that tell the true and entire story behind a company’s full set of co-dependent operations.

Seeing is believing
In past years, companies used to showcase the ever-present big visual chart in a common space that displayed either goals or targets hit. While this may seem one-dimensional, such charts played a useful role in informing, not only management but the average employee as well, of the company’s targeted performance metrics.
            Now, the chart has evolved into a flat-screen monitor—a huge screen placed in proverbial water-cooler areas throughout the workplace that actually capture, process and report live data streams that intuitively and accessibly report simplified performance metrics. Unlike poster boards, these systems are dynamic, real-time and completely customizable, provided you implement the appropriate technology into your various systems.
            Companies that have implemented modern technology are finding that, through data visualization in real time, managers and employees convening around the proverbial water coolers are actually seeing their company perform (or underperform) in real time. Rather than looking at a static chart or report that details past performance, team members looking at real-time metrics unfolding before their very eyes are no longer having primary conversations about recent history, but rather secondary and tertiary conversations about strategy and the future!

Adamo goes mobile
One company in the construction sector has discovered firsthand how the use of data visualization tools can help inject enhanced quality, accuracy, accountability, efficiency, productivity, predictability, profitability, cost and safety into the business. Adamo Group, based in Detroit, Michigan, found that, in order to be competitive, they needed to modernize their business strategies to adapt to current realities and possibilities.

            Like many companies in the industry, Adamo Demolition has a large employee base working in the field on projects offsite. Even the simple process of tracking hours and projects efficiently and accurately was becoming burdensome for both employees and the Adamo leadership team. With accuracy, accountability and efficiency being critical to a provider of eco-sensitive demolitions. The goal was to dismiss uncertainty and optimize the performance of their people, projects and processes, without added redundancy and bureaucracy. 
            Adamo was able to custom develop a system that empowers their people, processes and machinery in the field to track, report and analyze performance into a central system, which would both be powered by, and monitored with, mobile applications and devices. Tablets replaced the paper forms. Custom software replaced databases and sticky notes. Data processing replaced spreadsheets. Data visualization software and screens replaced printed reports and sketch-pad accounting. The solution was a mobile-friendly web application that allows workers to accurately log tasks, time and equipment used on projects via an end-to-end employee engagement program.     
            What replaced once burdensome and inefficient processes was a fully automated and intuitively organized technology asset that would infuse critical accountability and money-saving efficiency across the entire company.          

Small data = big intelligence
Being able to take raw data, convert it into something tangible and then display that data in a way that creates meaningful conversations is the difference between storing data and leveraging intelligence. It represents the difference between simply collecting data to store in a paper (or even electronic) file and understanding the true impact that this data has on the organization.
                Surprisingly, even at a time when companies are chasing big data, the construction industry is largely still relying heavily on paper and reporting of past outcomes. However, smart companies are working to interpret data to provide real-time intelligence and analysis. Companies in the construction industry will ignore small data and data visualization at their own peril. Not only will you be watching archaic displays of incomplete and possibly inaccurate information about the health of your company, you may be watching your competitors—the modernizing few—pulling away from the pack.