ThoughtLab, Products & Solutions
December 19, 2020
Current construction tools, like BIM, are detailed systems of record. However, once building begins, BIM rapidly becomes inaccurate and out-of-date. In this post, Raffi Holzer describes how you can transform a system of record into a system of reality through automation of construction monitoring and seamless augmentation of your BIM, using accurate and up-to-date data.
What is a System of Reality?
In the construction industry and beyond, our most important business processes are based on an authoritative set of data. Many departments rely on a system of record for critical tasks, such as customer management, taxes, and accounting. Unfortunately, every system of record has a fundamental weakness — its reliance on humans. Errors or gaps in the data undermine the integrity of a system of record, which ultimately compromises everything from workflow efficiency to decision making and financial accuracy.
A system of record that truly reflects reality would be a powerful tool. The ideal way to overcome user error is through automation. When real-time data syncs with a system of record, it can open the door to capabilities never before possible. We call this approach a system of reality.
The simple definition for a system of record is a database that captures the state of a system at any given point in time. All the data necessary to form a complete picture is stored in a central database in order to provide a repository of reliable information.
Building Information Modelling is a Powerful Yet High-Maintenance Construction Tool
Business software, like a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), customer relationship management (CRM), and human resources information system (HRIS), are all examples of a system of record. In the world of construction technology, a building information model (BIM) is another type of a system of record.
BIM is a 3D representation of a project that is more detailed than an AutoCAD file, containing specifications for systems and equipment. While this granularity is useful during the design phase, the information becomes out of date once the project begins construction. BIM cannot reflect as-built conditions without additional input.
How Can We Guarantee the Data we Use is Accurate?
This is the problem inherent to any system of record — is that it is only as powerful as the information that it receives. Current, complete, and correct data is the only way to ensure consistency. While a system of record is intended to reflect reality, virtually all construction software options lack an automated way to capture data that is not susceptible to human error. If staff aren’t trained properly or fail to complete recordkeeping, the system of record becomes less and less accurate.
For example, one of the downsides of a CRM is that account notes are routinely left blank. It’s a task that can be easily forgotten or put off indefinitely, even though sales staff need to reference those fields on a regular basis. How smoothly can their calls go if critical notes are missing? How can they develop trust with clients if they don’t have detailed records to consult? When riddled with information holes, a system of record becomes a hindrance rather than a help.
Automation can minimize the impact of human fallibility, and this technology is already available and in use. Just in the world of CRMs, there is a whole slew of tasks that can be managed through automated software solutions: transcription for meeting notes, autologging of emails and phone calls, and even smart prompts to call clients based on news events. These tools capture and integrate real data in real time, effectively overcoming biased, incomplete, or erroneous data.
A System of Reality: The Missing Piece to the Construction Technology Puzzle
A system of reality doesn’t replace a system of record — it’s the next step in its evolution.
Its data is collated from impartial sources and automatically integrated into the system. The information is then easily shared between every stakeholder, providing transparency and verification.
There are significant advantages when innovative construction technology and automation are used to curtail the weak points in a system of record. By relying on automatically acquired data, a system of reality affords its users:
- Improved veracity
- Data completeness
- Quicker actionability
- Increased transparency
For a sales team, systems of reality nearly exist. A modern CRM can be almost completely automated. It can instantly log every call, email, and text, extrapolating key information and synchronizing them into the account profile. This kind of efficiency empowers a sales person with greater insights into their clients — data that ultimately translates into more conversions.
Automated Data Collection and Analysis
Attaining that level of automation in a construction tool like BIM is significantly more difficult. Even small projects are relatively massive and constantly changing. Automated construction data collection is stymied by chaotic environments and automated analysis by a lack of standardized data structures.
But if anything, the need for a system of reality is far more significant in construction than in sales. This dearth of timely information about the goings-on on site is a massive issue. Because mistakes are not caught quickly, rework abounds, which costs the industry over a trillion dollars a year (Navigant, 2012). And information asymmetry between stakeholders is a major driver of ongoing inefficiencies that have made construction one of the least productive verticals.
Building Information Model + Avvir = Accurate and Current Construction Monitoring
Avvir is bringing the system of reality concept to construction by way of BIM. By comparing laser scans and other reality capture data of the project site with the BIM, we can essentially run a red line between reality and building plans. Any stakeholder can then resolve those differences by making changes in the field or pushing updates to the BIM. Our software thereby effectively transforms the BIM into an intelligent system of reality, a constantly up-to-date digital twin of the building.
As the CRM example above highlighted, the idea underpinning systems of reality — the direct linking of the real world with the system meant to record it — has been operational for quite some time. What is new, however, is our ability to extend this principle into more complex arenas for data collection — via the internet of things — and analysis — via machine learning. As these two fields accelerate in their development, it is our contention that existing systems of record businesses will either need to evolve into systems of reality or risk disruption by faster moving startups.
Want to learn more about how Avvir can turn your BIM into a system of reality? Schedule a demo with our team here.