70% of AEC Firms Say the Information Explosion has Impacted Collaboration

That’s despite more firms utilizing mobile devices on building projects with view to improving information access.

‘Evolution of Digital AEC’ research shows rapid growth of information being driven by traditional channels of communications; email (30%) and meetings (43%)

Digital Construction Show, London, UK—21st October 2015

Seven in ten (70%) architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) firms feel the deluge of project information is holding them back from effective collaboration. Worse still, only 4% of construction managers say their organizations are collaborating highly effectively and see no major need for improvement, according to new independent research conducted by Vanson Bourne, commissioned by Newforma. The research is based on in-depth interviews with 100 UK-based professionals working for organizations in the AEC sector. The results highlight the rapid growth of information volume as a key barrier to project collaboration, which could impact competitiveness for firms in this sector which are increasingly expected to meet collaborative BIM requirements when bidding for public contracts.

Growing Technology Adoption

The ‘Evolution of Digital AEC’ research was conducted to understand the impact of technology adoption on the processes and operations of UK AEC firms. The findings highlight the increasing use of technology and devices within project environments to support project development, design and collaboration, with adoption growing from 30% to 36% in the past 12 months and anticipated to accelerate to 41% over the next 12 months. When it comes to specific devices the majority of staff from respondents’ organizations are using laptops (80%) and smartphones (75%) on a daily basis, while over four in ten (42%) are using iPads.
Whilst the rising adoption of devices is facilitating faster exchanges and communication between workers in the field, it also increases the options being used for information storage. As individual teams continue to use their own internal systems and preferred storage processes, the information generated on projects ends up in siloes.

Emails and Meetings Key Information Sources

Interestingly, despite widespread use of technology across all segments of the AEC industry, the biggest driver of information sharing on construction projects comes from traditional sources. Around four in ten (43%) of respondents identify face-to-face meetings as the biggest source, followed by email communications which is cited by 30% of respondents. Commenting on the findings, Paul Daynes, regional director, UK and Northern Europe, Newforma, said, “It is critical for AEC firms to ensure they have a way to manage the growth of information resulting from the increasing use of technology and the complexity of today’s project environments. Not doing so increases the risk of delays and cost overruns when individuals work from outdated plans and specs, fail to factor key input to a decision, or neglect to act upon decisions made. Given the rapid rise of project information, it’s no surprise to see a strong correlation with low reported levels of collaboration.”

Leveraging technology to manage project information

According to the research, the solution lies with technology; over four in ten (44%) of AECs said that investing more heavily in new technology solutions to make sharing information easier and more efficient would lead to more better collaboration on projects. However, there are a number of challenges firms are facing with this; 42% cited an inability to integrate with other digital tools as one of the key obstacles their organization experiences. In addition, nearly nine out of ten (86%) respondents think that their organization’s workforce could be more willing when it comes to using the new digital tools that their organization invests in.

“The AEC industry is clearly struggling with information overload on projects, which is being held in silos across a number of platforms including email, file servers, cloud storage and document management systems. The research highlights that this translates into a sector which is being held back from effective collaboration – and in not managing this information effectively, they also risk not reaching construction efficiency goals,” continued Daynes.

“In order to exploit the next generation of technology and become competitive on a global scale, the UK AEC industry needs to first find a way to manage the basics. Efficiency-boosting project information management tools that integrate seamlessly across all existing systems can simplify the information discovery process, and in turn ensure the collaboration of project stakeholders.”

Digital Construction Week 2015

Talking about this research in more detail and how firms in the AEC industry can handle the project information explosion, Newforma will be attending and speaking at the Digital Construction Show (21st – 22nd October) this week at the Business

Design Centre in Islington, London. The Digital Construction Show is part of Digital Construction Week (19th – 23rd October), the event series for the entire built environment throughout design, construction, engineering, management, and operation.

To arrange a face-to-face briefing with Paul Daynes, regional director, UK and Northern Europe, at the show please contact Adam Lodowski at Racepoint Global:

+44 (0)20 8811 2139

About Newforma

Newforma develops, sells and supports project information management (PIM) software for architecture, engineering, and construction firms worldwide, and the owners they serve. Newforma products make up the first industry-focused and integrated solution to connect firms to each other, to their project information, to their processes, and to remote team members, all for the purpose of more successful project delivery. Customers use Newforma software on more than 1.7 million projects worldwide to raise productivity, reduce exposure to risk, strengthen their brands, and liberate time and attention to focus on design, construction, and client service. For more information, visit www.newforma.co.uk.

About Vanson Bourne

Vanson Bourne is an independent specialist in market research for the technology sector. Our reputation for robust and credible research-based analysis is founded upon rigorous research principles and our ability to seek the opinions of senior decision makers across technical and business functions, in all business sectors and all major markets. For more information, visit www.vansonbourne.com.