How AI and Machine Learning Are Helping Construction Reduce Risk and Improve Margins

By on November 7, 2018

From Construction Executive:  The construction industry is often characterized as high risk and low margin. According to a McKinsey report, almost 98 percent of projects incur cost overruns or delays. Meanwhile, the construction productivity curve has remained flat when compared to other industries.

In the last decade, with the advent of cloud and mobile technologies, industry leaders have been focused on digitizing construction workflows. This has resulted in improved efficiencies, but also has created an explosion of new data sources in the construction industry. Project teams are now capturing and documenting data on mobile devices, site progress is documented via drones and sensors are used to create a connected jobsite.

All of this data is now stored in the cloud and is easily accessible, but is it being leveraged effectively? Two major challenges arise.

First, experienced construction professionals are needed who can decipher this data to learn from it, identify risks and improve processes. With 20 percent of the workforce about to retire in the construction industry, a lot of experience and knowledge is being lost that will be hard to replace.

Second, a vast amount of information is being collected on jobsites every single day. The volumes are beyond what is possible to be manually analyzed. Technology is needed to filter out the noise and find signals in the data.

Imagine a smart assistant who can sift through thousands of data points, categorize and classify them automatically, and bring critical information to leadership’s attention. Artificial intelligence is that smart assistant. AI refers to the broad field of science concerned with getting computers to do tasks that normally would require human intelligence. Machine learning is a branch of AI that involves algorithms that allow computers to learn from data without being explicitly programmed.

According to Forbes, 80 percent of shows that people watch on Netflix come from recommendations by algorithms. And when it comes to email, Microsoft Outlook is helping cut through the clutter with Focused Inbox. By analyzing who users interact with often, and the content of the actual emails, Focused Inbox automatically helps prioritize and bring to the surface what is most actionable.

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