Data Challenges

In the last couple of weeks I’ve had to immerse myself in a challenge of one of my clients. They’ve been handed a significant amount of data at the completion of a brand new commercial building, and I’ve been asked to provide comments on what the major issues are, regarding what’s not been provided that should have, what has been provided that is fundamentally wrong, etc.

To get Operations and Maintenance (O&M) material in a digital format (instead of reams of paper) is one thing, but to get it in a tabular, structured format is another entirely, when you consider what this may require of those charged with authoring it. Subcontractors and contractors alike (in my experience) tend to be keen to dump and run – with no personal investment in how well the information they provide actually supports what it’s supposed to. So defining data requirements is all well and good, but understanding process, and validating that they’ve been satisfied are different challenges entirely.

There are various behavioral drivers for this, but whatever the case, to me defining what data is required and how it is to be submitted is one thing. Being able to know the difference between what you’ve received vs. what you’ve asked for is another entirely. Skills in interrogating the data, analyzing it and reporting results in a meaningful way are emerging, but perhaps not as quickly as would be desired. Effectively communicating the results and what they mean to the data owner/operator is also a challenge, in terms of understanding the impact of the decisions they make as a result. What do you do in the face of your data not being as you’d wanted?  What problems are apparent? How do you fix them? What consequences lay in wait, based on your chosen courses of action?

While data within the O&M handover of built facilities is just one example of where improved data-savviness would help, I know there are others.

This is the kind of challenge I expect to hear and learn more about at Data Day.  It’s bugging me, but I know there are going to be ideas, approaches, tools that I will learn of from others at the event.  What challenges around data do you face? How do you see our industry struggling?  What have you learned that you are keen to share?

Data Day is nearly upon us.  Amongst a host of others looking to learn and share, and become more ‘data-savvy’, I hope to see you in Scottsdale!

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