ACE New Zealand’s Chief Executive responds to the latest Deltek Clarity A&E Industry Report

Posted by Deltek on October 22, 2020

TwitterTweet it:'Technology that can help firms move from mass data to actionable insights is critical.'

Technology plays a crucial role in Architecture and Engineering (A&E) firms. But different firms will make very different technology choices depending on where they operate. To capture the different approaches to technology across the A&E industry, we’ve expanded our Deltek Clarity A&E Industry Report beyond North America to cover EMEA and APAC.

While the full report covers technology trends across the different regions, we wanted to dig deeper into how New Zealand firms are responding to digital transformation. So, we spoke with Paul Evans, Chief Executive at The Association of Consulting and Engineering (ACE) New Zealand about the research, and what it means for A&E firms.

Technology impacts vs. understanding in New Zealand firms

In the Deltek Clarity survey, we asked respondents from New Zealand to rank how important specific emerging technology trends were to their business and how well they understood each trend. Here’s how they responded:

 

Technology

Percentage of respondents that ranked it as ‘somewhat important’ or ‘very important’

Percentage of respondents that ranked their understanding as ‘somewhat high’ or ‘very high’

The Internet of Things (IoT)

90%

78%

Geo Location

86%

78%

Big Data

64%

66%

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

62%

58%

Data Science

56%

68%

Machine Learning

30%

42%

Blockchain

28%

42%

Wearable Tech

24%

24%

Natural Language Processing

22%

30%

IoT was considered the most important technology to the business by many A&E respondents from New Zealand, with geolocation and big data technologies just behind. When we asked Paul Evans from New Zealand ACE about the results, he was unsurprised: “The hype around IoT is warranted, as it has the potential to offer very tangible benefits for the consulting and engineering sectors. It can help us design better, smarter, and more fit-for-purpose solutions, ultimately delivering better outcomes for clients and the communities they serve.”

 

"Data on its own isn’t enough. We need to be able to manage and analyse that data effectively, so we can turn it into valuable insights that shape and improve the way we do things. Technology that can help us move from mass data to actionable insights is critical."

However, Evans urges firms to carefully consider how they can get the most from the technology. “Data on its own isn’t enough,” he says. “We need to be able to manage and analyse that data effectively, so we can turn it into valuable insights that shape and improve the way we do things. Technology that can help us move from mass data to actionable insights is critical.”

How to bridge the understanding gap

Evans also had insights to offer around how well respondents said they understood different technologies.

“The results strike me as being a case of ‘you don’t know what you don’t know,’” says Evans. “Even for those firms that do know a lot about the technologies, the digital transformation landscape changes so rapidly that it can be a challenge to keep up if you don’t have people focused on this, as your thinking can quickly become out of date.”

The answer? “Many parties need to work together to ensure that our sector is future-fit,” Evans argues. “In my view, industry organisations such as ACE New Zealand have a crucial role to play in terms of showcasing and celebrating good practice, as well as providing thought leadership. Technology providers like Deltek must be focused on showing firms what’s possible, and how to make the change. Finally, firms themselves need to be curious; they need to be brave and willing to make the change.”

Keep an open mind, but don’t always believe the hype

While much of our discussion with Evans focused on the research and what it shows about New Zealand firms today, he also offered sage advice for how firms can make the most of new technologies in the future.

Evans suggests leaders avoid falling for technology hype. “It’s all too easy for technologies to become the topic du jour,” says Evans. “Eventually, the talk gets well ahead of what that technology can actually deliver right now. I think many Boards and Chief Executives have probably at some stage bought into a piece of technology that has ended up being very expensive and hasn’t delivered on expectations. That can make them more risk-averse and cynical about future investments. The key with anything is to clearly understand the problem you are trying to solve, to define what success looks like and to select technology that supports that.”

Firms can find quick wins by replacing spreadsheets with digital solutions designed with your processes in mind. By cutting down on manual data entry, you can find immediate cost and time savings, and mitigate the risk of human error. We asked survey respondents which business units used the most manual processes, and New Zealand respondents highlighted Sales, Finance and Procurement as most reliant on spreadsheets. These areas might be a good starting point to consider for digital transformation and automation.

Explore the research in greater detail

Beyond looking at the technologies used by firms, the full Clarity survey also explores how businesses are operating, what KPIs they’re tracking, and how different firms around the world compare across key benchmarks.

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