Is a unique approach to technology enough to see A&E firms through times of disruption? We asked firms in the Nordics.

November 11, 2021

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In times of disruption, architecture and engineering (A&E) firms fall into two categories: those that haven’t adapted and fall behind, and those that can find new opportunities and forge ahead.

But what separates the two? To find out – and to better understand how A&E firms in the Nordics have been performing after a challenging year of disruption – we surveyed more than 150 organizations across the region. We found out about their most pressing challenges, and the strategies used to overcome them.

In this blog we explore why a unique approach to technology has been key for firms in the region.

You can also see the full results by downloading our latest report about the trends and benchmarks for A&E firms in the Nordics.

The Nordic region walks a unique technology path

We’ve seen A&E firms around the world use technology to turn the chaos of the global pandemic into opportunity. Data technologies such as AI and machine learning have been especially valuable for firms looking to get meaningful insights faster – and make more agile, informed decisions.

While firms in the Nordics have been quick to adopt these technologies, they’ve shown a unique appetite for a broader range of solutions compared to their peers in other regions. For example, 69% of those surveyed in the Nordics considered natural language processing to be somewhat or very important to their business. This was a far higher response than firms in other geographies.

But by comparison, Nordic firms’ appetites for data technologies was slightly lower than the global average. For instance:

  • 61% consider Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the top three most important technologies vs. 69% of the total survey sample.
  • 66% consider machine learning important vs. 72% total sample.
  • 63% see Internet of Things (IoT) as important vs. 70% total sample.


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The rewards are great for tech-savvy firms – but so are the risks

It’s clear that firms in the Nordics are walking their own technology path. This will likely lead them to unique rewards, but only if they can overcome the many obstacles standing in their way.

The firms we spoke to highlighted three key technology challenges:

  • 56% identified the cost of technology as one of their top three challenges
  • 51% have difficulty prioritizing applicable technologies
  • 46% reported there’s a lack of employee education about technology trends and how they apply to the industry

Firm leaders are clearly aware of these challenges, with many putting plans in place to solve them. The Deltek Clarity report found that 47% intend to develop a strategic implementation plan as one of their top three initiatives, while 45% intend to identify a technology champion and 44% will create a budget for strategic investment.

Firms in the region must turn digital ambition into execution

The firm leaders we spoke to in the Nordics have a clear direction for what technologies they want to use, and how they plan to make the most of them within their businesses. But despite solid strategies in place, the reality is that today, firms in the Nordics are less digitally mature than peers in the rest of Europe and Asia Pacific.

When asked about their current digital maturity, respondents in the Nordics were more likely to place themselves as ‘Nascent’ (32% vs. 25%) or ‘Exploratory’ (32% vs. 28%) compared to the global survey sample.

Digital Maturity Spectrum for Architecture and Engineering Firms 

However, firms in the Nordic region have clear ambitions to focus on digital transformation and better align their technology and business initiatives to foster a culture of innovation. Just 3% currently rate their digital maturity as ‘Advanced’, but 34% expect to reach this stage in the next five years. If Nordic A&E firms can realize their digital ambitions, they’ll be in a strong place to overcome some of their pressing financial and project management challenges.

What other challenges are Nordic firms facing – and how will they overcome them?

Technology played a vital role for A&E firms in the Nordic region as they navigated their way through the complexities of 2021. While this blog has covered the technology challenges and approaches firms plan to put in place, they’re just the beginning of what the Deltek Clarity A&E Industry Report uncovered.

The full Nordic A&E Trends and Benchmarks report also explores:

  • How Nordic firms blazed a trail through a really difficult year
  • Firms’ most pressing financial challenges
  • How a competitive landscape puts unique pressure on firms in the region


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[Read] Deltek Clarity - Taking The Temperature Of The Nordic Architecture And Engineering Industries