Ryan Hale, CIO at Lithko Contracting, speaks with Toric CEO Thiago Da Costa about the company, its approach towards data, the organizational data journey, the impact of AI, the importance of tools, and how Lithko aggregates its capabilities.
Lithko is a leading provider of concrete construction services for various projects, such as commercial buildings, warehouses, and multilevel structures.
Half of the company's 5,500 co-workers interact with data in some form, says Hale. Along with his team, he works to understand their needs and curate the data information for them in a comprehensible manner at the time it is required.
When asked about the data-driven approach in the construction industry, Hale states that based on reports, construction ranks at the bottom from the technology adoption standpoint. However, the industry has raised the technology adoption curve in the past seven to eight years, he notes.
Having a lot more point solutions offered in the industry, people find it convenient to interact with data and information. The good news across construction now, he adds, is the collection of vast amounts of data, unlike in the past.
Delving further, Hale believes that at this stage, the construction industry has to decode data and turn it into meaningful information that unlocks productivity. Everything in construction boils down to productivity and utilization, he says.
Adding on, Hale states that the winners in construction will be those who figure this out and Lithko has been on the journey. The next part is for the data team to assess how to seamlessly take the end-user to the point solutions and collect data.
Hale plans on bringing the collected data into a centralized environment. Then normalize it for the folks to the extent that the source of collected data would not matter because they have a better product to use and be informed in decision-making.
Regarding the exploding volume of information, Hale states that data becomes immense quickly with so much being collected. Capturing a day of work hours and units out in place, Lithko produces 12,000 to 15,000 different lines of data just by 9 am.
Commenting on Lithko’s data journey, Hale says that the organization has always had the desire to be data-driven and it is reflected in its actions. In the past three years, the organization has started to improve decision-making by turning data into information, and given the evolving data landscape, the journey has just begun, he adds.
When asked about the impact of AI and data in business, Hale recalls how AI was a buzzword to him initially. He admits being wrong and says that the tools have come a long way and are here to stay.
With OpenAI or ChatGPT, one can find solutions all the way up to coding. The organizations that know how to figure out these agnostic tools and put them in the drive train will have the biggest competitive advantage.
In continuation, Hale mentions “Lithkopedia” which has reams of qualitative data, including user manuals of ERP systems, rules, regulations, and policies. Further, there are millions of data points around job costs, hours, change orders, accounts receivable, and accounts payable.
Hale affirms that realistically, these are siloed and it is up to the user to understand where they stand and go forward with the best practice that suits their need. By looking at the tools in the marketplace, he finds opportunities to bring them together and have technology recommend to the end user what to do based on the data and technology trends.
From the construction lens, Hale states that thousands of smaller concrete construction companies could use such tools that are easy to interact with. He asserts that such companies need not hire teams of IT or data talent to begin experimenting with them.
The barrier to entry has now become much lower and large organizations may see increased competition, says Hale. To aggregate some capabilities in Lithko, he mentions building a small internal data team.
Additionally, Hale affirms having a third-party consultancy. The organization stays lean internally to keep the overhead down and then flexes and spends on a project basis externally.
Furthermore, he asserts having dedicated resources to build the data foundation, from pipelines, connecting source systems to data warehouses, to data models, to the right quality monitoring tools.
In conclusion, Hale states that the company leverages common front-end tools to build centralized dashboards but has an eye for data democratization to create power users.
CDO Magazine appreciates Ryan Hale for sharing data insights with our global community.