How Technology and Innovation are Changing the Engineering World

Posted by Deltek on February 20, 2020

Engineering Week 2020 _Technology and Innovation In Engineering Firms

The home you live in. The roads you travel on. The car you drive. All of this is shaped by engineers. At Deltek, we are celebrating Engineers Week and the impact engineering has had on the world around us. From the material handing work at a cement plant, through the design of a brand new facility, our changing world is influenced and transformed by the amazing work of engineering firms across the globe one project at a time.

As we start a new decade, engineering and technology innovation are coming together to positively impact the way engineering firms work – more so than ever before. This is moving firms to greater levels of efficiency and profitability. And improvements couldn’t have come at a more opportune time as project costs continue to increase, along with project complexities putting added pressure on bottom-line results.

Deltek works hand-in-hand with these firms by providing software solutions that power project success to thousands of architecture and engineering (A&E) firms. This includes 90% of the Engineering News-Record (ENR) Top 10 Design Firms and more than 80% of the top 500. Plus, 80% of the Top 200 Fastest Growing A&E/Environmental Consulting Firms choose Deltek.

What are the biggest trends impacting the industry that are transforming the engineering world? Here are a few key themes from the 40th Annual Deltek Clarity Architecture & Engineering Industry Study. Read on to learn how the engineering world is leveraging technology to better manage projects and power business success.

Leveraging Technology for Project Delivery

Many engineering firms are embracing technology innovation to improve project delivery. Sixty-six percent of firms surveyed last year identified that creating a strategic plan for implementing technology was a top initiative. Firms are identifying how emerging technology trends can drive their business forward, balancing the benefits versus the cost and time investment.

Many firms are adopting technology innovation to differentiate their firms in today’s competitive market, increase efficiency, and attract new talent. High performing and large firms are seeing technology trends as increasingly important to their business. They are looking at big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), and geolocation as they create strategic plans for their businesses.

Some firms are prioritizing technology as a strategic initiative and setting the groundwork now to be more competitive and profitable in the future. They are identifying how and where they need to implement technology throughout the business, including educating staff, identifying key initiatives and implementing incremental changes to improve the business. Some of these firm leaders are part of think tank groups that look at emerging technologies and the impact on the business, evaluating how the industry can evolve to understand and incorporate these concepts into their organizations.

Engineers Week 2020 Technology Innovation Blog

The Internet of Things and Geolocation

The Internet of Things (IoT) and geolocation were identified as the most important technology trends impacting the architecture and engineering sector this year. These technologies are creating a more connected world that allows firms to more easily share information so decisions can be made faster.

IoT refers to the billions of devices around the world that are connected to the internet, collecting and sharing information. According to Forbes, “... tools and machinery are increasingly intelligent and connected, generating data that drives efficiency and enables new paradigms such as predictive maintenance to become a reality, rather than a pipe-dream.”  

What does this mean for engineering? Connected devices offer the potential to better manage a facility or project. This contributes to more automated processes and greater efficiencies gained with less room for error. No more delays in sending information from the job site to the office, plus auto-generation of reports instead of re-keying data.

Geolocation is more prominent now than at any time in history. Firms can leverage geolocation information to make things easier for their employees and clients. For example, geolocation data can be used to determine an employee’s location, track how long an employee is on a job site, or deliver valuable details about the client when arriving to a project site or the client’s office. With users’ permission, geolocation can be used to automate a large number of activities and reduce the burden on employees. This allows firms to better manage projects and improve client satisfaction.

The firms that are investing time and money now into technology are creating the foundation to drive their business forward, giving their firms a competitive edge. Lerch Bates is one firm that is redefining engineering innovation through technology, by using Deltek solutions they were able to track elevator design for the tallest building in the world – Burj Khalifa. Moving forward, they are excited to be upgrading to Deltek Vantagepoint and taking advantage of new features like optical character recognition (or ICR) technology, according to Debbie Greuge, Accounting Manager.

Technology Innovation and Process Improvement

A top initiative of A&E firms this year was process improvement. Key areas that needed attention included project manager training, as only 28% of firms indicated formal training; business development, with less than half of teams using any formal process; and human resources, as firms struggled to find and acquire the employees needed to deliver their projects on-time and on-budget.

In the engineering world, projects are the foundation of the business. With 52% of firms failing to use a formal project management process, 34% of projects behind schedule, and 29% of projects over budget, there is still plenty of room for improvement. Many firms that are adopting new technologies are also taking a deep dive into their overall business processes – making changes that set up their firms for success.

One Engineering News-Record Top 500 Design Firm embracing technology innovation is Pennoni. They are also using technology as a catalyst for project and process improvement. Pennoni recently upgraded its ERP to Deltek Vantagepoint. Markus Weider, Chief Innovation Officer, stated, “Part of the reason we’re doing this is that we’re giving Project Managers the ability to plan their projects. It’s clearly a large shift because a lot of people plan projects in Microsoft Excel and then as the project winds on they don’t really have effective tools in an Excel world do any kind of real time updates. So we finally have a kit of parts that lets the PMs – who are capable of this and eager to use these tools – they’re going to embrace it and many have already.”

About the Deltek Clarity A&E Industry Study

For over 40 years, Deltek has surveyed leaders in the architecture & engineering industry to identify the key issues impacting the market, highlight bright spots, and forecast future trends. 

Download the report to discover the key shifts that are transforming the A&E industry and what firms need to do to stay successful in a competitive market. Be a part of the 41st annual survey and to benchmark your firm against the competition and receive early access to the results.