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What the Future Holds for the Industry

June 7, 2011

On May 13, the last day of the SMPS New England Regional Conference (NERC), attendees heard about where the AEC industry is heading from Ken Tichacek, a PSMJ consultant and the founder and principal of Think Like Your Clients, LLC. Ken discussed the importance of marketing and business development for all AEC firms, and then went on to give 10 predictions about how the design industry will change in the next decade.

10 Earthquakes That Will Rock Our Industry

  1. Death of the mid-sized firm… and the mega firm: Mid-sized firms won’t be able to compete due to their increased overhead. Mega firms won’t be able to differentiate themselves enough to win projects.
  2. Death of the old business model for professional practice: AEC firms will begin charging for the value they provide, not for their time.
  3. You will learn to live in a cloud: This is already beginning to happen, but cloud-based computing will continue to grow, as it’s a huge benefit for integrated project delivery.
  4. Unprecedented excellence in project delivery: The integrated project delivery approach will result in better projects.
  5. Lightning-quick project delivery: The combination of integrated design teams and technological advances will decrease deliverable times.
  6. No more employees: Flexible teaming arrangements will change the way employees work within firms.
  7. No more drawings: Who needs actual drawings when tablet PCs, IPD, and BIM will make them irrelevant?
  8. Licensing will become irrelevant: Integrated design means that no one will own the drawings.
  9. Geography will become less relevant: Technology is already helping people work remotely and manage projects online; this trend will only continue to grow.
  10. You will talk text-ese: Already guilty. LOL!

These predictions are covered in greater detail in PSMJ’s top-selling book, Impact 2020; the book also includes information on the 10 urgent actions firms should take to meet these future challenges.

What do you think of these predictions for the future of our industry?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Valerie permalink
    June 7, 2011 11:39 am

    Interesting things to think about. While some feel like old news (changes in project delivery and the irrelevance of geography), I’m intrigued by #6 and how it correlates to and changes #1. If there are no employees, there’s no loyalty and/or longevity. If there’s no loyalty/longevity, there’s no nurturing of the “next generation” in leadership of a firm. If there’s no “next generation” of leaders, I’d say there are no more firms, regardless of size.

    You could also look at it from a different perspective. Firms have lost an average of 30-40% of their workforce during the last few years (an unsubstantiated number I’ve heard thrown around by multiple sources). Some of those previous employees have set out their own shingles, others are following the work and doing temp assignments at multiple firms. Are those two options sustainable and desirable to those living that life? If they are, that gives more weight to the #6 statement, but if its not we may be about to implode a profession.

  2. June 8, 2011 11:04 am

    Is the marketing profession sunk? Surely you are correct that mid-size firms are pained by overhead costs, which include marketers and marketing. Surely mega firms are considered untrustworthy in many local markets. Surely, employees are expensive, given rising health care costs. But in an A/E/C world of small, nimble associations of professionals — the picture you paint when #1 and #6 are put together — how will contracted pr and marketing professionals get to know the technical professionals well enough to market them accurately and creatively? Or do you see technical people doing all their own marketing?

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