As explained by Dan McCarthy, CEO of Dodge Data & Analytics, “digital transformation” is a big subject and poorly defined. During his opening keynote of MEP Force 2021, “5 Keys to Unlocking the Power of Data in Commercial Construction,” McCarthy took us on the conceptual journey that many MEP firms need to make as they decide what digital transformation will look like and how it will affect their business.
McCarthy listed three things MEP business owners need to do to grow their business:
- Make their company visible to the right people who are making decisions about using their services or products.
- Identify the right people to connect with to build relationships.
- Engage with the right people during the decision-making process, especially specification and bidding.
This is a new scene for contractors, and there’s a degree of uncertainty about the types of data to collect and which tools will help them do so. Yes, you can collect data to transform your business, but the challenge is to transform and organize resources to take the best advantage of that data.
As McCarthy pointed out, “Construction is fragmented. There’s a difference between transforming your own business and conforming to a transformation that goes across an industry.” He added, “There is no one playbook for transformation in construction.”
His advice to companies is to integrate technology into all aspects of your business. Create a framework for continuous improvement – transform the economic engine of your business.
Culture is the biggest obstacle on your digital transformation journey. The gist is that people plus attitude equals outcomes. Cultural attributes that help drive the transformation include:
- Data first mindset
- Commitment from the top of the organization
- Willingness to be innovative
As part of the digital transformation process, companies need people who are comfortable gathering and analyzing data, so they can advise the company leadership. If you don’t have people like that, you likely need to adapt your culture and add some talent resources.
Data is at the heart of digital transformation. It needs to drive decision-making. The question business owners need to ask themselves is, “Do you know that, or do you think that?” Studies have shown that data-first organizations are more successful.
The data you intend to gather and evaluate to be specific and usable. Many companies use data specifics to improve products and services and improve their customers’ experience. Your data strategy will depend on your company’s business discussions and needs. It needs to be specific and usable.
McCarthy offered these suggestions:
- Document what you want to achieve. Write it down.
- Have a cross-functional team. Multiple interests are important in your initiative.
- Have an actionable and measurable financial goal.
- Develop a defined timeline.
These guidelines will drive engagement from your entire team.
Frame the data you gather against the questions you want to answer. Keep in mind trends, patterns and insights. Examples of data types:
- Project information
- Share of projects completed by competition
- Decision-makers on target projects
- Network connections
- Bidding data, including intelligence on winning bids
- Contacts with decision-makers (marketing and business development)
McCarthy’s closing advice to MEP contractors going through this process: “Continually improve your approach, and don’t give up.”