Nearly 100 AEC professionals joined BST Global’s innovation webinar, “How AI + Big Data Will Transform the AEC Industry,” on June 28, 2022.
Led by Director of AI & Analytics Hank Tran, the session examined the unique opportunity AEC firms have to leverage artificial intelligence and big data to foster the data-driven consultancy of the future, which is built on project intelligence™ and powered by predictive analytics.
The webinar moderator, BST Global Director of Global Marketing & ERP Sales Eileen Canady, introduced Hank and shared details of his extensive experience in the world of AI and machine learning.
Hank took it from there, breaking down the evolution of AI and how it can help positively impact project outcomes, what it takes to adopt this innovation at a firm, and how it can be applied in a real BST Global use case.
“We can’t talk about AI without talking about data. Data is the underlying foundation that is needed for AI and machine learning,” Hank explained. “But not just any data. You need quality data from multiple sources in different formats. You will also need data with the appropriate signals to increase the frequency and accuracy of the prediction.”
To wrap up the session, BST Global Chief Executive Officer Javier A. Baldor joined both Eileen and Hank for a live Q&A session. Check out some of questions they addressed:
How do you get started with AI at your firm?
- Hank: “I propose starting small, and then evolve … pick a metric or a key performance indicator that’s important to your business or one that you want to improve, and build your models based on that.”
- Javier: “I believe the key is to first commit to the notion of becoming data-driven as a consultancy over time and understanding what that really means. For example, who is going to lead this initiative? I might suggest involving a “data champion” of some sort, or Chief Data Officer, who really understands the business, and can partner and liaise with different business leads.”
Should I build or buy?
- Hank: “If you can buy a car, you should buy a car, because building a car is more expensive … today, given technology and how affordable and how open-source it is, you can really have that be a subscription model. You could subscribe and that will give you the opportunity to evaluate your business result right away without having to spend much.”
- Javier: “This technology is well within the reach of just about every firm. This is not just a big company–type thing, and rather, I believe quite strongly that it is going to become a great equalizer for small- and mid-size companies who are arguably more nimble and agile.”
Is the data firm-specific?
- Hank: “Yes, the data needs to be firm-specific to start. Later on, you can enrich this with third-party data to create more insight, but you need to start with firm-specific data.”
Are the variables that go into the BST Global’s machine-learning engine predefined by BST Global or can users add their own?
- Hank: “We have about 36–38 variables that came from the system now, but eventually we can create what’s called “feature engineering.” That means creating new variables that don’t exist in the system today, which will help increase the effectiveness of the data model. Right now, we do not offer the ability to add new variables, because you have to train and identify statistically significant models.”
Would a company using a BST Global solution for several years have enough data to use these models?
- Hank: “Yes. You don’t need years of data to have great results though. But yes, all that data over the years would help. Keep in mind that you need quality data and it really depends on the use cases. I usually say 24 months’ worth of data, but some of the models I showed today was just 7 days of data, so it really depends.”
When might this be available?
- Javier: “This will be introduced in 2023. We are quite excited about that and there will be more details to follow.”
How do you proactively address issues on projects and change outcomes?
- Hank: “If you see the anomalies, the key factors or influencers, things that have caused a downward trend, those are opportunities … you have to take action.”
- Javier: “There’s a unique opportunity to create a Waze for projects. Just like Wazers in a GPS context provide digital signals that play out each and every day, those same things play out each day with digital signals on projects. The key is to model them and predict so your PMs can course-correct, much like Waze does when there’s a traffic jam to give you advance notice. We can do the same to help and empower project managers change the trajectory of projects and deliver better outcomes.”
BST Global appreciates the opportunity to host webinars like this one. Check out our Events page to find out where else we’ll be — we’d love to see you at some of our sessions!