Avvir Academy, Industry News
April 18, 2023

Breaking down data silos in the construction industry

Silos are useful for bulk storage of grain and food products. However, siloing construction data so it’s not easily or fully accessible within or between organizations limits the usefulness of the information. Complex construction projects typically include many different players. When each team member shares their data rather than keeping it siloed, a team can stay on the same page and successfully complete a project.

The costs of data silos in construction

While it’s nearly impossible to put a dollar figure on the cost of siloed data, in 2020 Autodesk and FMI Consulting conducted a survey of nearly 4,000 construction professionals about their data practices. They found that “bad data” may have cost the industry $1.85 trillion in 2020. They define “bad data” as inaccurate, incomplete, inaccessible, inconsistent, or untimely.

Siloed or inaccessible data, as noted in the “bad data” definition above, also leads to the other undesirable characteristics.

Why is siloed data so costly? To quote Browning’s famous sonnet, “Let me count the ways.”

It starts with lost productivity. Imagine having an orchestra with multiple conductors that have no idea what the others are doing. That’s construction when information is siloed: One hand doesn’t know what the other hand is doing. Answers to questions such as, Is everything compatible? and Have changes been made? are not answered.

Sure, a project can and will move forward. Yet errors, miscommunications, etc., are inevitable. While one member or organization in the team may be clear on how/why to proceed, others are left in the dark. When teams work with incomplete information, getting everything right the first time is almost a miracle.

Lost productivity means projects take longer to complete. An extended schedule reduces profit margins on the current project. Extended schedules can also impact future projects and credibility with owners.

Let’s say a team manages to complete a project correctly on the first attempt despite gaps in information caused by siloed data. The construction process will move more slowly because the team is working at a disadvantage. This will throw off the schedule and increase costs.

And, if work is completed incorrectly the first time, rework will be required. Depending on how early a mistake is discovered, fixing it can be very costly in terms of money and time.

Overcoming resistance to change

The issues that arise due to siloed data are well-known by many in the industry. So, why not open the silos? Grain for everyone.

Again, there are multiple reasons for the hesitancy in sharing. A construction industry executive quoted in Construction Dive noted, “Contractors do not want to lose the competitive edge they’ve gained by collecting historical data over the years.”

So, some team members fail to realize that everyone on the project is part of a team with a mission of completing the project on time and on budget. Therefore, each team member is responsible for contributing everything they have. Instead, some feel a degree of competition. Sharing data is like sharing secrets. Their focus is not solely on the current project but also on future jobs. By hoarding data, they expect to be more needed and valuable.

A second reason information remains siloed is very practical. The many different software tools used in project execution may not be compatible. Teams may want to share, but their software may limit them due to licensing or incompatibility with other software being used on a project. Software developers, like those in the field, need to break down the walls prohibiting increased data sharing.

The construction industry needs to prioritize building a culture of data sharing as mission-critical. Creating such a culture can involve carrots and sticks. Project managers can insist that team members use compatible software. To eliminate the compatibility issue, specific requirements could be included in the RFP, and companies that won’t commit to using compatible software won’t be allowed to submit a bid.

Typically there’s a financial incentive in completing a project early. If all team members were to receive a share of the bonus they would be more motivated to contribute in any way they can.

Companies regularly submit bids, as they’re always looking for another, or the next job. Their reputation is a valuable tool. When projects go right and data is shared, contributors should be rewarded. They could get first dibs on future projects. That way they take a longer view and are less caught up in the never-ending bidding process. On the flip side, companies that don’t share data and have issues involving their work should suffer negative repercussions.

Opportunities for innovation in construction

The benefits of breaking down data silos are numerous regarding saving time and money. However, it gets even better: Knowledge breeds more knowledge.

Accessing the data from each team member enables everyone to have more information, which can result in innovations. When Team A knows what Teams B, C, D, etc., are doing, they may recognize there’s a better and more effective way to accomplish their work.

It’s easy for a team member to focus on their role only. You go in, get it done, and leave. Boom, boom, boom, next project. The incentive is to get done. More data and information encourages team members to look beyond their tasks. The wider scope can lead them to find shortcuts, determine more effective paths, recognize issues, etc.

The use of AI in construction is growing rapidly. “AI is already giving contractors a lot of benefits, such as better project planning and scheduling, lower project costs and enhanced safety measures,” reports Construction Dive. It notes that AI developers have one challenge to overcome: data sharing. To get the full benefits of AI (and other technologies), data can’t be siloed.

AI can also determine what's inside images or within 3D laser scanning data, leading to valuable insights. Avvir, an AI-based program, gives teams complete knowledge of their build at any time. The most complete knowledge requires data. Siloed data leads to a blurry picture. Reality and drawings are rarely the same.

With up-to-date and accurate data, Avvir’s automated risk analysis platform gives construction teams control with automated schedule tracking, cost and earned value analysis, installation issue detection, and updated BIMs with as-built conditions. Avvir finds critical insights so teams can focus on solving issues, not finding them.


Allowing data to flow seamlessly between different platforms is a must for the construction industry. When team members silo data, they negatively impact a project. Mistakes are more likely, and time is added.

Sharing information and common data enhances collaboration and increases communication. It leads to enhanced project performance and jobs successfully completed.

Fill silos with grain. Construction data is best shared.

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