Getting by with a little help from our AI


Ever find yourself spacing out when someone mentions the words Artificial Intelligence? Or shuttering at the acronym alone?

Well, before you click the back arrow in petition against some pretty cool tech that’s moving our world forward, here’s some food for thought: I bet you found this website using it.

And while robots-gone-rogue has been the plotline of Hollywood blockbusters for decades, AI in real life is actually a well-intentioned system of computer operations we customize to assist or complete the often mundane or time-intensive tasks on our to-do list.

In fact, Travis Connors, a partner with Borealis Ventures, said, “I like to call Artificial Intelligence Augmented Intelligence instead as it’s really assisting humans in making decisions.”

That’s where AI fits into what we’re doing here at Curate.

Similar to Google, our software scrapes the web to find all the public municipality meeting minutes and agendas for a certain area, as our construction clients can request documents across the whole state or within a 90-mile radius of their headquarters.

Then, our AI — specifically, a type called natural language processing — picks through the documents (up to 7,000 just in Wisconsin alone each week!) to find snippets of sentences with keywords indicating the early stage of construction or engineering projects that our clients would find useful.

Often times, the natural language processing is smart enough to hit the nail on the head.

Other times, it totally misses the mark, such as the word “development” as in “commercial development” versus “professional development” or the word “well” as in “well water” versus “well off.”

Oooh the English language is a tricky thing, but luckily we humans catch those mistakes before the results get sent out to our clients. We’re consistently training our AI each and every day to produce the best possible early project information and competitor intel.

And as the software runs and learns from its “mistakes,” its AI develops what experts call a neural network.

Over time, an AI system expands its neural network, which enables it to “think” more on its own and make more efficient decisions, such as knowing the difference between those words in the English language that are spelled the same but have different meanings in different contexts.

This is actually the case for all AI systems around the world, especially for young AI systems with a lot to learn, and humans have the ability to keep AI on the right path.

Our coding guru and co-founder, Dale, has the ability to tweak our software’s AI so it does or doesn’t pick up certain keywords, and our data coordinator, David, has the ability to train our software’s AI so it knows which keywords we deem appropriate in what context.

Without AI, we’d be manually reading through all the public municipality meeting minutes and agendas to find those keywords cluing in on project information.

Can you imagine that? It’d be a round-the-clock task which would prevent us from spending as much time on more personal work such as speaking with potential clients or recruiting interns.

And since spending on construction isn’t slowing down anytime soon — a projected 27 percent increase across the U.S. over the next several years, according to — we’re thankful our software is smart enough to curate public municipality docs for us.

Putting it together: The power of a diverse network library to boost market intelligence

So, you've learned the importance of a strong network of individuals with unique talents and actually staying in touch with them, whether that be by attending industry events or chatting over the phone, but how does this relate to market intelligence?

Simple! The way every company hones their market intelligence is different. In other words, every company gauges the importance of information differently on a scale of how well it will help their business succeed. For example, what good will reading a physics textbook do for a music major's success during their senior performance?

That's where a strong network comes in: Fill your network library with textbooks only your company would find value in reading, and don't be afraid to read the same book twice! Keep tabs on the people within your industry network who can leverage both your growth as a leader and success of your company overall. So, brush off that dusty textbook and take it out for coffee. You might remember why you made a place for it on your bookshelf in the first place — and your market intelligence will thank you for it. 


How to gain market intelligence


Market intelligence is the information relevant to a company's market that is gathered and analyzed specifically to improve decision making in business strategy. 

A few simple ways to gather current and relevant intelligence is to utilize sources readily available. One of the simplest ways is to utilize the news media to share information about what your potential customers and competitors are doing in the market and adjust your strategy accordingly. This can be overwhelming, but setting google alerts you can focus in on what's most important. 

In addition to the news, utilizing sources that are more difficult to track can yield more powerful results providing a competitive edge. At Curate we gather discussions between municipal and school board committee members to uncover what is important to them. Two easy examples: If you're responding to an RFP for a school project it would be helpful to know that the school board members are especially concerned about bringing the science lab into the 21st century. Another example is finding that a local manufacturing facility is planning to expand in the next two years and wants some financial assistance from the city. These discussions don't necessarily make the local news, but they can be the difference between winning and loosing a project. 

It's important not to get overwhelmed with market intelligence, but tracking the right types of things in a timely manner can positively impact business growth. 


How to develop your personal network


In part one of the blog series How to leverage your network by using market intelligence the first step will be addressed, how to build and develop a strong personal network. A high quality, strong network is critical in the construction industry. 

  1.  Create an industry group. A small, close knit group of like minded professionals, who can share information together can be incredibly powerful. A group containing an architect, a commercial real estate lender, an insurance agent, a real estate lawyer, different types of engineers, a general contractor, and even subcontractors can freely share information to help each other and their clients. 
  2. Keep in touch. After you've made a good connection with someone, it's easy to not reach out to that person until you need something. However, as part of developing a strong network setting a calendar reminder for six months to reconnect for coffee with key people ensures a strong relationship. 
  3. Be a superconnector. Great networkers don't just take from their network, they also give (and don't keep score!). Making high quality connections for people in your network ensures you stay top of mind and increases your reach and influence. 
  4. Attend the right events. It's easy to get caught up in every last chamber or industry event, but great networkers focus on attending events that make the most sense for themselves and their business. When attending an event, go in with a short list of 2 - 3 people you want to meet and focus on getting an introduction to them.