By Neil Davidson, Group Vice President, Deltek
The architecture and engineering (A&E) industry is constantly evolving, and with new challenges and opportunities emerging regularly, we are seeing rapid change in the way we work. With the ripple effects of change making it difficult to plan accurately, firms striving to remain competitive and deliver high-quality projects on time and on budget now face a number of complex challenges. From talent shortages to project management complexities and technology adoption, the need to adjust strategies, scale up and down and invest in new tools when needed is essential to avoid losing market share.
In the Clarity 2022 Architecture and Engineering Survey, we found that more than half (55%) of A&E businesses admit they will lose market share within two years without further progress in digital transformation and improved technology adoption. However, the digital ambitions of organisations across Europe and Asia Pacific (APAC) are more restrained than they were a year ago, largely due to ongoing economic volatility. This needs to change. 80% of firms recognise that investing in technology to improve operations is essential to compete for more complex projects in a crowded marketplace. Furthermore, digital transformation can help to solve other challenges, such as attracting and retaining talent and improving project management. Getting it right is a win-win.
Key to successful transformation is investment in the cloud. Over recent years, cloud-based technologies have proven themselves to be highly powerful in tackling the challenges faced by today’s A&E firms. By providing scalability, flexibility, and powerful software solutions, the cloud has transformed the industry, enabling firms to work more efficiently, collaborate more effectively, and achieve better outcomes for their clients.
Below we discuss three key challenges facing A&E firms in 2023, and how the cloud can help to tackle these obstacles:
The talent crisis
Following the pandemic, the Great Resignation swept across every industry, with A&E being no exception. In 2022 it was reported that nearly two thirds (61%) of professionals would consider leaving their current employer in the next 12 months for the right opportunity, while 26% would ‘strongly’ consider leaving.
Simply put, now is the time for firms to assess their talent strategies and ensure they are putting themselves in the best position to keep the people they have and attract the people they need to future-proof their businesses.
Cloud technology can be pivotal. First, cloud is a key facilitator of remote working, allowing businesses to hire talented professionals from anywhere in the world. This can help businesses to overcome geographical barriers and access a wider pool of skilled workers. Second, cloud technology provides real-time collaboration tools that enable team members to work together more effectively, regardless of their location. This can help businesses to leverage the expertise of their workforce and collaborate more efficiently on projects. Lastly, cloud-based resource planning capabilities can help organisations to manage their workforce more effectively. This includes features such as skills tracking, utilisation reporting, and capacity planning, which can help to identify skills gaps and optimise workforce where necessary.
Complex project management
Project management teams are struggling to navigate today’s complex landscape. Talent acquisition, artificial intelligence adoption, skills development, corporate social responsibility demands, and project complexity are interlinked challenges that will require a layered strategic approach.
When it comes to managing project information, our research found that it is administrative workload that stands out as the leading challenge. Cloud technologies can provide real-time project tracking capabilities, enabling businesses to monitor project progress and make data-driven decisions. This can help businesses to identify issues and opportunities early on and adjust project plans accordingly.
Our research also uncovered that the number of projects on or under budget has remained static at 43%, highlighting the clear need for firms to invest more in keeping track of spending. Cloud technology offers cost tracking capabilities that allow businesses to track project expenses and manage project budgets more effectively. This can help businesses to identify cost overruns early on and take corrective action where required.
Slow technological transformation
Finally, as highlighted, many firms now have significantly more restrained digital ambitions than they did last year. Our research found that almost one third (29%) of firms say their digital transformation maturity will be ‘advanced’ (where digital transformation is a primary strategic focus at the executive level) in five years’ time, compared with 40% the previous year.
While digital maturity continues to be an important goal, firms are becoming less confident about reaching it as they assess what is possible and where is smartest to invest. Again, cloud technology offers the required scalability. It enables firms to scale their infrastructure and software solutions to meet their changing needs. This can help firms to avoid overinvesting in expensive hardware or software today that they may not need in the future.
The cloud has become a game-changer for the A&E industry, offering a range of benefits for firms looking to tackle the complex challenges they face. By providing access to powerful software solutions, enabling remote working and collaboration, and offering scalability and flexibility, the cloud is helping A&E firms to work more efficiently, achieve better project outcomes, and stay ahead of the curve in an increasingly competitive market.
As the A&E industry continues to evolve, it’s clear that cloud technologies will play an increasingly important role in enabling firms to overcome the challenges they face and deliver the high-quality projects that their clients demand. By leveraging a cloud-based infrastructure, engineering teams can work more efficiently, keep their data safe and secure, and most importantly – deliver better results to their customers.