Digital, Trends

Expert interview from a user perspective:so-called data literacy, or data competence, is the most important aspect

Interview with Christian Heuer 13.03.2023

How do you estimate the current implementation level of data analytics in the construction and real estate industry?
My estimation is confirmed in the findings of the study: data analytics, relative to the Gartner hype cycle, is stuck fast in a trough of disillusionment. Its use is currently restricted in many cases to dashboards, just to render something visible. Things have not advanced any further in the majority of cases. Data maturity is relatively low in our industry.

What do you believe to be the reasons for this low level of maturity?
The industry operates in an extremely heterogeneous environment with numerous different participants. Data should be integrated right across organisations to elevate digitalisation to a new level. Know-how and the handling of data has penetrated business much deeper in other sectors, such as the insurance industry. Business specialists collect and analyse data of relevance to them here, not IT specialists. Many in our industry are working with more of a hands-on approach, are faced with completely different issues and are not your typical monitor workers. Which is why there is a completely different relationship to digital.

What should the construction and real estate industry do?
It is important to differentiate here. Large companies are usually considerably more advanced in the area of digitalisation than small enterprises. But many real estate organisations are relatively small. The task facing us consultants and technology providers is to introduce these companies to digital technologies. We need to show them how clearly defined improvements can be achieved with available solutions. This will enable the achievement of clearly visible added value through comparatively modest means and create an appetite for more.

So it is relatively simple, or is that somewhat deceptive?
The devil is, as in so many cases, in the detail. The biggest challenge for the industry is a low level of data maturity in conjunction with inadequate data literacy, meaning the awareness that data is an asset. Simultaneously, the demands on data architectures in the extremely heterogeneous environment of the real estate and construction industry are very complex. Clear and transparent communication in conjunction with structured data governance helps to create a better understanding of data here.What other approaches do you believe are necessary to anchor data analytics more firmly in the industry?I believe that enormous potential exists if data is merged more strongly. An example of this approach is to be found in Common Data Environments (CDEs). Complete end-to-end data integration generates new options for the use of data analytics and helps to promote acceptance. Added value should also be demonstrated if, for example, the existing database is enriched with open data. Freely available, open data can be used in this manner to cover a broader spectrum of application cases.

But this also means that these applications must exist.
They already exist in large numbers. I regard the availability of the data required for an application to be more of an obstacle. This leads to many failures. There is frequently a lack of data plausibility and consistency across all properties.

Aside from the quality and volume of data, are there further technical aspects that are relevant for the use of data analytics?
Standardisation is a very important issue, particularly where there are numerous stakeholders with whom data must be exchanged. To achieve correct integration, it is very important to know which data is actually available and how it can be read. Data integration can only be achieved with enormous effort in the absence of appropriate metadata and agreed data catalogues.The heterogeneity of the industry is, once again, also a challenge here. Different niche standards are used for particular application areas and in the associated specialist systems. The difficulty is to transfer this data from these focused systems into a universal perspective. The industry is still in its infancy in this regard, but has launched initiatives such as the International Building Performance & Data Initiative (IBPDI).

About the survey 

The Digital Real Estate Survey has been surveying the status of the digital transformation of the construction and real estate industry in Switzerland annually since 2016 and for Germany since 2019. The whitepaper presents the current situation in the two countries based on the assessments of various executives and professionals from the industry and is supplemented by the expert knowledge of consultants from pom+Consulting AG. 

The study can be downloaded free of charge.

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