The Difference Between Data-centric and Data-driven

4 February 2021All, DataBIM 360, Collaboration, data strategy, data-centric



Centric or Driven?

The recommendation that companies become more data-centric sounds like a great idea. Most companies have the ability and means to accumulate data – in some ambitious cases that turns out to be LOTS of data. Basically, such companies are driven by data. But that’s not the same as being data-centric.

When your company has the capability, tools and culture to gather and analyze data in order to inform better business decisions, that’s known as data-driven. Some companies have the drive to accumulate so much data, that they end up with enormous datasets, sometimes so large that manipulating them and deriving useful trends requires special servers or data manipulation in the cloud – and that can become overwhelming and distracting. It was estimated that in 2020, 90% of companies consider “information as a critical enterprise asset and analytics as an essential competency.” That number was up from 50% in the previous year.

two people in safety vests and hardhats looking at construction site with digital icons in the air

While gathering different kinds of data from disparate sources sounds cool, unless you find a way to standardize or synchronize what you end up with, the result is just a lot of data. The software application you use for analysis basically keeps the data it uses in its own separate silo, so other applications can’t use it. Instead of data-centric, this is an application-centric setup.

Different applications “interface” with each other using middleware (like 360 Sync) that periodically moves data from one database to another. Every application reads and writes through the shared model using common terminology. 

To become data-centric, your company needs to develop a model – for instance a building information model – for the way you will use the data, then make the data conform to that model. The software applications that analyze and manipulate the data may change over time, but the data remains the company’s permanent asset. 

You may also be interested in the new eBook: “How to Lead Through Disruption – Key takeaways from conversations with 60+ construction leaders.”

Becoming More Centric

Building information modeling (BIM) is a perfect illustration of a data-centric strategy in the AEC industry. Whereas AutoCAD uses vector images to represent a project through printed drawings, BIM software like Revit creates a 3D model of the project where you can explore different features of the project onscreen. Still, if the Revit model is limited to the computer where it’s created, it’s not data-centric yet. Only when it’s available for coordination, collaboration and clash detection among project teams does it become data-centric. If some of those project teams are not co-located with your company, that’s where the cloud comes in handy. 

graphic showing person in jeans and white shirt with hands on hips looking at a giant translucent graph of a construction schedule with activities on the y axis and weeks on the x axis across the top

Autodesk BIM 360 is an example of a data-centric and data-driven, cloud-based BIM management solution. It provides pervasive access to the project model, data and collaborative workflows, regardless of the application used to author them, thus eliminating compatibility issues. BIM 360 analytic tools and reporting collect data in a central location and allow teams to make decisions based on the data.

Mark Petrucci, Applied Software Director of Construction Services, provides this example: “With BIM 360 Build and the new Autodesk Build unified platform, as issues are tracked during construction, we’re also recording who is responsible for the issue and the root cause for the issue. We can then review reports and dashboard to look for patterns. If the same contractor has the most issues (data) during a project, you know to focus more attention (decision) on this contractor.

Based on the Horizontal Glue™ technology acquired by Autodesk in 2011, BIM 360 allows the use of BIM data from competing applications, allowing multiple disciplines to build upon a model. The result is improved day-to-day processes for model coordination and collaboration by the entire project team.

BIM 360 collaboration is one of the hottest trends in the industry today. If you’re ready to make the move to data-centric, contact Applied Software today and talk to a BIM 360 expert. 



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