Digital transformation is reshaping the architecture, engineering and construction industry

Digital transformation is reshaping the architecture, engineering and construction industry

Bret Tushaus, VP of Product Management, Deltek

Bret Tushaus

In today’s era of technological innovation, architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) firms are enthusiastically embracing cutting-edge technology. Global investment in digital transformation is predicted to almost double in the four-year period between 2022 ($1.85 trillion) and 2026 ($3.4). With this rapid increase, it is no surprise that Deltek’s research has found that over half of architecture and engineering (A&E) firms reference investing in new technology as a priority in 2023.

AEC firms are exploring avenues to not only enhance their operational efficiency and productivity, but also to distinguish themselves from their competitors and maintain a competitive edge. From harnessing automation and fostering collaboration to leveraging data analysis and making data-informed decisions, AEC firms continue to use technology to build resilience, identify growth opportunities and maintain market share.

The cloud has been one of the most important technologies to emerge over the past two decades. To this day, adoption continues to increase as organisations understand the business value. The question is, can Artificial Intelligence (AI) have the same impact on the AEC industry? And, if so, what kind of transformation will we therefore see over the coming weeks, months and years?

Empowering AEC firms on their transformation journey, Deltek released its 4th Annual EMEA and APAC Clarity Industry Study. The report offers a source of trends and insights tailored specifically for architecture, engineering, and consulting firms. Within this research, three pivotal themes rose prominently to guide AEC firms towards a fruitful future.

AI adoption: The AEC game changer

As stated, AI is a focal point within the AEC industry. Hardly a surprise with 40% of A&E firms in Deltek’s Clarity survey deeming AI’s adoption as “vitally important” to their overall business success.

Successful adoption hinges on embracing the solutions that increase business value. In the ever-evolving realm of AI, AEC firms should steer clear of getting lost in the hype. Instead, they should concentrate on harnessing AI capabilities to generate content, inform decisions and prescribe and automate action.

Embracing AI-based tools opens a world of possibilities, ushering in a new era of the project lifecycle. One that offers streamlined project capabilities, enabling businesses to run more projects, become profitable and focus on wider growth opportunities. For example, leveraging past performance data, firms can use intelligent automation to create and build project plans in moments rather than hours. In addition, by using predictive analytics and generative intelligence, the plans automatically can benefit from optimised timeframes and enhanced competition efforts.

AI has the potential to empower more strategic decision making by analysing historical performance and data inputs. If a business stores all its data in a cohesive platform, AI has the capabilities to forecast the likelihood of future success, which in turn, could enable organisations to allocate resources, investments and efforts more effectively.

Visibility: Data-driven insights in AEC

AEC client expectations are clear – transparency and accountability are non-negotiable. In today’s digital first project management landscape, having a clear and agreed strategy in place around data analytics and business intelligence is essential to meeting these expectations. Fortunately, 38% of A&E businesses have these strategies, with a further 39% having tools and activities in place.

In 2024, firms need to step up data and business intelligence integration to provide real-time connected business insights. Real-time connected data enables better more accurate decision-making, giving project managers a better understanding of profitability, progress and evaluation. I expect that AI will play a role here as it continues to be rolled out across the industry. However, in the meantime, firms can use integration tools to break down silos between various applications and systems. Unifying data, tools, systems and insights will enable huge operational efficiencies enabling employees to spend less time on administrative tasks and more time on the human aspects of business, for example, building client relationships.

Cloud computing: helping AEC firms protect their data

As mentioned, the migration to the cloud has been one of the biggest digital transformation trends in recent years. According to our research, this is in part due to rising concerns around cybersecurity. Three in five (61%) A firms state they are actively concerned about cybersecurity risks.

Against the backdrop of one in three (32%) UK businesses encountering a cyber-attack over the last 12 months, the cause for concern is justified. As such, identifying the right cloud provider – one that offers a sophisticated enterprise level infrastructure – has never been more crucial.

To detect and respond to malicious activity proactively, firms need to select a cloud provider where they can be confident that their data is protected by industry-standard, physical, technical, and operational measures. In my opinion, these measures also need to be supported by an expert team continuously looking for threats.

Beyond enhancing a firm’s security stance, embracing cloud systems ushers in a wealth of additional advantages. Businesses in the cloud benefit from streamlined upgrades, seamless data replication, and resource allocation optimisation. Real-time data offers up-to-the-minute business insights and boosts employee productivity. By aligning with core business objectives, firms can increase efficiency, rein in spending, and elevate employee satisfaction to new heights.

As the tech innovation journey for businesses unfolds, get ready to witness AEC firms wholeheartedly embrace the transformative potential of technology. This era of tech adoption promises to streamline operations, foster closer client collaboration, and unveil unparalleled insights.

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