Rock to Road

News
Applying Artificial Intelligence to your business


February 3, 2020
By AEM
Ellis Talton, head of growth with Briq.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a broad concept, not a specific product. In the same way hydraulics is a broad concept, not a specific product. Yes, both AI and hydraulics are fundamental to countless specific products, but neither is in and of itself a product.

A lot of companies are already using AI on a regular basis. You travel and pull out your smart phone to find the best place to get a burger in an unfamiliar city. A few taps and you have restaurant ratings, reviews, locations, menus, business hours, phone numbers and directions. That’s AI. The same is true with Amazon and other online shopping services and social media.

Better Business Outcomes with AI

The question Ellis Talton, head of growth at Briq, a modern construction data analytics platform, asks is, “How do I apply AI to my business?”

Just as you wouldn’t travel without your smart phone, Talton says you shouldn’t run your business without AI.

“What we really want to talk about is outcomes,” he says. “Specifically, better outcomes.”

He says while “artificial intelligence” is the accepted standard term, AI can also be thought of as “augmented intelligence” or “applied intelligence,” either of which is closer to describing how AI works in the business world.

Because of the flexibility of application of AI, those better outcomes can include improved PM scheduling, reduced downtime, fewer lost-time injuries, selection of higher-profit jobs and any other aspect of business that has data associated with it, which is essentially every aspect of business.

“At its heart, AI is statistics,” says Talton. “It happens to be good at using large numbers of statistics, large volumes of data, which yields high accuracy, which is the foundation of its value.”

AI for the Construction Industry

Talton says contractors can’t just simply use Excel spreadsheets to create their own AI, even though AI is driven by numbers,

“While general contractors have much more data than they think they do, AI requires complex management of data using sophisticated algorithms. Contractors should be subbing out their AI,” he says.

Many firms offer AI services; Briq specializes in AI for the construction industry.

Pam Hummel, director of field marketing at Briq, says, “business intelligence is not business analytics. Knowing something isn’t the same as understanding and applying it.”

And there are a lot of numbers to harvest. While you likely have an abundance of your own numbers to work with, the deepest pools of data lie outside your firm. “There’s a lot of information in the public space,” says Talton.

Here are three tips to get you started in using AI to derive better outcomes in your business:

  1. Focus on those outcomes. Don’t get caught up in buzzwords. You don’t need to know the metallurgy of chrome vanadium to understand how to use a good wrench. Likewise you don’t need the background of AI to put it use it well.
  2. Consider a service. You may want to start with AI as an in-house effort, but to get the real benefit you’ll want to employ a service. “Subbing out AI delivers value in half the time at half the cost,” says Talton.
  3. Pick the right service. Until you start shopping for AI services, you may not realize how many are out there. Filter for those who speak the language of construction. Just as you wouldn’t bring your backhoe to an RV dealer for service, neither should you bring your AI needs to someone in the wrong market within that industry.

“AI is not some scary monster in the sky,” says Talton. “It is an accessible, affordable and effective way to use the massive amounts of data now available in order to do business better. And if you currently have a well-run company, realize that even small improvements can pay big dividends over time.”

The team from Briq will be presenting the Tech Talk “Driving Decisions with AI” at CONEXPO-CON/AGG on Friday, March 13, from 9:30 to 10:00 a.m. The Tech Talks Stage is located in the Tech Experience in Silver Lot 3.