Embracing Disruption: Navigating Transformative Changes in the AEC Industry

13 July 2023AEC, Digital TransformationAEC Industry, Architecture and Engineering, Construction, digital transformation, innovation



While talent acquisition remains a significant concern for CEOs in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry, it is not the sole challenge they face. The true hurdle lies in the danger of complacency when confronted with disruptive innovation in engineering, design, and other sectors of the industry.

Recognizing this, the Digital Innovation Framework emphasizes the need to proactively address the question: “How will the design industry be disrupted, and how can we actively shape its future?” In the pursuit of staying ahead and thriving, firms must position themselves to adapt and seize opportunities amidst these disruptions. This article highlights several disruptors and innovative advancements poised to reshape the AEC industry, offering insights into the transformative potential that lies ahead.

tech stack ideas for construction, icon of light bulb in foreground, city skyline in backgrouind next to harbor

How external tech can disrupt the AEC industry

Renowned author and marketing professor at NYU Stern School of Business, Scott Galloway, predicts that “dispersion” will be the defining disruptor of the next decade, similar to how globalization and digitization transformed business in the past 50 years.

Galloway describes dispersion as the distribution of products and services over a broader area, bypassing gatekeepers and reducing friction and costs. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the pace of dispersion, and its impact is expected to profoundly disrupt the AEC industry in three key areas.

Dispersion #1: Corporate Headquarters

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a remote work revolution, reshaping the expectations and needs of employees. The traditional five-day office workweek has lost its grip as flexibility becomes a sought-after commodity. While some eagerly returned to the office, a significant number of individuals now demand the freedom to choose their work environment. Consequently, the commercial real estate sector has suffered, and the decline will persist as more companies transition to a hybrid business approach.

In a recent PWC survey, it was revealed that 10-20% of office real estate inventory needs to be repurposed or eliminated, posing challenges for architectural and engineering (AE) firms focused primarily on “Workplace” or “Corporate” projects. In contrast, firms specializing in “Residential” or “Multi-family” spaces enjoy a larger competitive market.

As organizations embrace fully remote or hybrid work approaches, the office footprint will undergo significant reductions. Underutilized office spaces will undergo transformative redesigns, accommodating more on-demand collaboration areas. Discover the future of workspaces and how AE firms can adapt and thrive in this shifting landscape.

Learn how other construction leaders are handling disruption. Download the free Applied Software, Graitec Group eBook: “Leading Through Disruption and Digital Transformation.”

Dispersion #2: Health Care

Industries with low Net Promoter Scores (NPS) are prime for dispersion as customers demand better experiences and support. The Healthcare industry is one prime player that is a subset to this disruption, with Telehealth leading the delivery of healthcare services during and after the pandemic. Medical offices will shrink and be repurposed as more services are delivered virtually, causing design firms working in the sector to quickly adapt.

gray robot writing math and scientific equations on all over a greenboard with white chalk

Dispersion #3: Higher Education

The same can be said for the higher education sector. The pandemic revealed to academia the full potential of delivering education through technology in contrast to the constraint of campuses. With academia having a strong focus on adapting their business models to online learning, physical campuses will no longer be the only source to deliver education, challenging AE firms focused on the living designs for campus facilities.

The higher education sector has experienced a paradigm shift due to the COVID-19 pandemic, unveiling the untapped possibilities of online education beyond the confines of physical campuses. With a strong emphasis on adapting business models to online learning, academia has recognized that education can be delivered effectively through digital platforms. This evolution challenges AE firms primarily focused on designing traditional campus facilities. Such challenges include innovative approaches to designing student-centric learning experiences and the integration of flexible, adaptable spaces.


Disrupt or get disrupted

To navigate the transformative engineering innovations reshaping the AEC industry, your firm must embrace disruption in its business strategies. Incorporating proactive approaches that recognize and leverage these disruptive forces will position your firm as a leader, unlocking new opportunities for sustainable growth in the evolving AEC landscape.

As a true innovator, it’s crucial to ask yourself how you can adapt and propel your firm forward amidst rapid change and disruption.

You can achieve high-level performance through strategic planning, operational efficiency, and cutting-edge technology implementation by partnering with Applied Software, Graitec Group. With a specialized focus on the AEC industry, our expert consultants and solution architects can collaborate with you to develop a roadmap for navigating upcoming disruptions.

Contact us today to start your transformational journey through the disruption and redefine your business’s future. 



New call-to-action

4 Inspiring Benefits of AI-Driven Digital Modeling and Simulation

25 April 2024AEC, AI, Architecture and EngineeringCarol Dunn

By harnessing the power of AI-driven digital modeling and simulation, architects and planners can embark on a journey that leads…


18 April 2024AEC, ManufacturingCarol Dunn

GRAITEC is proud to announce the launch of GRAITEC File Sync, an intuitive file synchronization application designed to streamline collaboration…

PRESS RELEASE: Ideate Software Becomes Part of GRAITEC Group

11 April 2024AEC, Manufacturing, Press ReleaseCarol Dunn

GRAITEC, a leading global software developer specializing in the architecture, engineering, construction (AEC), and manufacturing (MFG) sectors, has announced the…