Digital Transformation Only Works When Your People Are On Board. Here’s What That Means For AEC

Posted by Deltek on November 24, 2020

When you think digital transformation, you probably imagine hardware, software, and the code behind it all. But for architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) firms, the digital side of transformation only goes so far.

While the digital systems you develop will steer your transformation efforts, in reality it’s the way you manage change among your people that will determine whether your modernisation efforts end in success or failure.

In this blog we’ll look at what digital transformation really means for AEC, where people fit into the process, and how to bring people and technology platforms along on your transformation journey.

Digital transformation: a short-sighted name for a long-term process

Gartner defines digital transformation as “anything from IT modernization (for example, cloud computing), to digital optimization, to the invention of new digital business models.”

While the process may rely on technology then, the benefits of digital transformation go far beyond 1s and 0s. The aim of digital transformation in AEC is to help streamline and automate existing processes, and build a foundation for brand new business models. One benefits employees, the other customers. It’s all about how digital systems serve people.


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For humans, by humans

While the aim of digital transformation is to help people, humans are also the driving force behind modernisation efforts. Without buy-in from technical experts and senior leadership, it’s unlikely you’ll find the resources needed to power a successful digital transformation project.

Likewise, unless people use the new digital solutions you build, the effort you spend developing them will go to waste. So, it’s important to transform with the end user in mind at all times.

This, of course, means training staff on how to use any new systems you develop. It’s also important to educate clients about your transformation efforts, and what they mean for your working relationship. Whether it’s to forewarn about any potential disruption, or to tell them about new ways you can work together, consistent communication is important.

Drive successful change management

Managing change is never easy. That can go double for AEC—especially when it comes to technologies.

While architects and engineers are no strangers to disruptive technologies (the likes of AutoCAD and BIM solutions drastically changed the way both industries operate), many construction companies have been using the same systems and strategies for years.

The desire for technological change just isn’t there in AEC. According to a report by EY, ‘How are engineering and construction companies adapting digital to their businesses’, 92% of engineering and construction firms spending less than 4% of their revenue on digital research and development.

So, how do you motivate your people to make the change? You need to remind everyone what’s in it for them. While stats and figures help show the business benefits of digital modernisation, on-the-ground team members will be more interested to hear about how new systems will make their lives easier.

Convincing people to change can be challenging, but the rewards are worth the effort. Buy-in from your people helps drive more successful digital transformation. And in turn, more successful digital transformation leads to better, smoother IT systems. Those that can offer the best digital experiences to employees are better positioned to win the war for talent.

It creates a virtuous circle: great people drive digital transformation, and digital transformation helps you hire great people.

Your guide to successful, people-driven digital transformation

To ensure a successful digital transformation, it’s vital you get everyone in the business on board from the word go. While this presents a challenge for many AEC firms, it’s but one of many hurdles you might face on your digital transformation journey. But help is at hand.

In our guide, Digital Transformation in Architecture, Engineering and Construction: 5 Steps to Success, you can explore the practical steps that will help you modernise the way your technologies and your people work.

You’ll learn:

  • The importance of carefully evaluating your business today to deliver a successful transformation tomorrow
  • Strategies to help you start small, find quick wins, and then scale up your transformation
  • How to master the flow of data across your business to deliver maximum results

Get the guide