How are the AEC Giants faring in the tech arms race?

About half (42%) say their firm is “on par” with their most-direct AEC competitors.

June 26, 2019 |

When it comes to adopting advanced AEC tech tools and processes, the nation’s largest architecture, engineering, and construction firms are feeling good, but not great, about their progress when compared with their direct competitors.

About half (42%) say their firm is “on par” with their most-direct AEC competitors, and more than a third (38%) are “somewhat ahead” of their market rivals. Just 4% are “significantly ahead” while a much more sizable group (16%) fears that their firm has fallen behind their key competitors on the AEC tech front. This explains the angst we’ve been sensing in the marketplace.

This data comes from BD+C’s inaugural Giants 300 Technology and Innovation Survey, which, as of May 23, had collected data from 105 AEC Giant firms. This research project is a companion to BD+C’s long-running (42 years!) Giants 300 Report, and aims to assess the state of technology adoption and innovation initiatives at the nation’s largest AEC firms.

While this project is ongoing (we hope to collect data from at least 200 firms by mid-summer), there are several intriguing takeaways from the data we have so far:

• Improved project team coordination was cited as the most significant business impact of AEC technology tools and processes. Three-quarters of responding firms named it among their top-three benefits of AEC tech. Other advantages cited often by respondents: improved client relations/vision meetings (40%); increased speed of work (39%); increased quality of work (37%); automates mundane tasks (35%).

• 3D laser scanning, real-time rendering, and design computation were cited most often as “high-ROI” tech strategies. Forty-two percent of respondents indicated that 3D laser scanning offered a strong return on initial investment; 40% for real-time rendering tools; 37% for design computation. Other tech strategies that ranked high for ROI: virtual reality (36%), 360 video/photos (26%), drones (23%), and artificial intelligence (13%).

• The majority of firms report a high “innovation conversion” rate. When asked to rate the success of individual innovation projects implemented within the past 24 months, nearly two-thirds of responding firms reported a success rate of at least 40% on projects. A sixth of firms are hitting on 80% or more of their projects.

• Two-thirds of responding firms have hired an “AEC outsider” within the past 24 months to help with their innovation efforts. The most common additions: software programmer, data analyst, game designer/VR specialist.

The full report from the Giants 300 Technology and Innovation Survey will be available for free download (short registration required) on September 6 at BDCnetwork.com/2019TechSurvey.

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