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A Bombshell Dropped by the AIA Survey on Technology Featured Image

A Bombshell Dropped by the AIA Survey on Technology

I recently got my hands on an advance copy of a new survey coming from the American Institute of Architects entitled Technology, Culture, and the Future of the Architecture Firm. If you’re realizing that there’s just not enough new, compelling content on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, or YouTube; or, if you’ve already finished the non-fiction category on the New York Times Best-Seller’s list, I encourage you to check this out once it becomes publicly available. For me, it was a true page-turner! 

One of the over-arching themes in the survey relates to how dramatically technology has evolved and transformed the way architectural firms operate. If your firm thinks “tech” is about CAD or BIM software – or maybe about some fringe technologies that are not essential for your firm (like virtual, augmented, or extended reality), you are still driving your office around in a horse and buggy. 

If your firm has any interest in thriving (if not growing) in the future, it is important that you get on the technology train and start your transformation before it’s too late. 

The survey includes broad representation, with respondents split equally across firms with 1 to 4 employees, 5 to 19, 20 to 99, and those with more than 100 employees. 

One of the most disappointing takeaways was that firms think the “tried and true technologies available to manage projects is good enough or can’t be improved.” In addition, the cohorts state that their time is at a premium and they just don’t have enough available to devote to areas of their practice that could “improve the trajectory of a project or even that of the firm itself.” 

OMG! Are you kidding? What’s wrong with you people? If someone told me I can improve my health, extend my life, increase my happiness, make more money and be more attractive to my spouse by simply taking 30 minutes out of my day to (I don’t know), wash dishes; you’re damn-straight, I’m going to be washing dishes every evening before going to bed. Not only that, but I’m also going to start looking forward to it. 

Furthermore, the survey reports that as firms lag in their adoption of modern, efficient technology resources and tools – everything suffers. It becomes increasingly more difficult for them to retain existing clients and win new ones. Even more sobering, the survey has found that larger firms have more resources and are implementing new technologies at a much faster rate than smaller firms. We can’t forget that “technology is the great leveler.” It is what enabled David to slay the Goliath. If smaller firms continue to delay in the adoption of these new technologies, they will allow larger firms to increase the gap.  -The inevitable conclusion is that small firms will be getting the scraps discarded from larger firms.  

If this trend continues, we will find ourselves with fewer and fewer small firms capable of taking on the giants. The survey identifies certain technologies that are “key differentiators,” and “should be a core focus for technology adoption strategies.” Among these are technologies that enable: 

  • “Making accurate projections for projects and budgets” 
  • “Keeping track of project and spec changes” 
  • “Real-time visibility into project costs, budgets, and profitability” 
  • “Identifying failing projects requiring attention” 

Clearly, a firm that has these insights can make much better decisions, and serve its clients better, than one that doesn’t. That’s why the AIA paper says that: 

“Finding a path to adoption of leading technologies . . . is something all architects should be seriously exploring.” 

Why do I care? Well, this is my life’s mission: to create the best business technology so architects can do what they love most: creating great architecture. This survey is the wake-up call to firms of all sizes that they must implement modern, cloud-based software applications to address every aspect of their business, from the obvious design, production, specification tools to project management, client relationship management, human resourcesbilling, and accounting. If you’re looking for the most modern, native-cloud software to run an architectural firm, look no further than BQE CORE ARCHITECT. 

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The Author

Steven Burns, FAIA

Steven Burns, FAIA, spent 14 years managing his firm Burns + Beyerl Architects. After creating ArchiOffice®, the smart office and project management solution for architectural firms, Steve brought his management expertise to BQE Software, where he is perfecting the business strategy and product development.

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