Jonathan Brookfield, technical consultant at Diatec Group, writes that digital transformation is a key focus in almost all industries.

The AEC sector is no exception. However, there’s a concerning statistic; a staggering 70% of all attempts at digital transformation end in failure. The question is, why such a high statistic? In this article, I share my experience with common pitfalls and how these can be mitigated against by the having a digital strategy.

The mistakes and pain points that my colleagues and I at Diatec see in industry are:

  • A technology-only focus;
  • Adoption and behavioural change not considered in planning;
  • No visibility on the return on investment;
  • A Lack of alignment with the wider business and business goals;
  • No time allowed for staff away from project work to implement change.

Technology alone will not provide an adequate solution

Often, we see technology as the only factor in implementation, when what we are really implementing is change.

Technology is part of the solution, but will not provide a solution if looked at in isolation. Successful technological investment has three key ingredients: technology, people, and process.

Change management

Where I have seen digital transformations fail is often a lack of change management. By factoring in people and process in the process, we have the beginnings of a change management process. Successful adoption will include proven change management methodologies such as Kotter’s eight-step change model as part of the strategy.

The importance of collaboration

Key to a successful strategy is leadership from the top of the organisation but needs to include representatives from all tiers of the organisation. Siloing the development of a strategy amongst those only in the management tiers of an organisation demonstrates a lack of empathy towards those further down who will inevitably need to champion and instil the change.

Demonstration and communication of value

Depending on where you sit in an organisation, your perception of value is undoubtedly going to vary. For example, a technician is going to see change through a completely different lens to a project manager.

The change is also not going to be felt in the same way throughout the organisation, and there will be inconsistence rates of effort to achieve such a change.

This means that value must be communicated throughout the organisation depending on the outcomes for example how the change will mean being more competitive in the marketplace, provide a unique selling point to clients, or increased efficiency when producing deliverables, streamlined workflows etc.

Foresight for investment

We are seeing exponential growth in technology, a digital strategy cannot predict the future, however a robust and pragmatic Strategy can set out a framework for evaluating, testing, and implementing successful technology adoption aligned with business goals. Ensure investment has a ROI and is not seen as a cost to the organisation.

Fatigue mitigation

When we talk about fatigue in this instance, we’re not referring to a loss in momentum, stamina, or slowdown in pace in digital transformation. What we mean by fatigue is a loss in value or a loss in value realisation.

Timescales having a significant impact on fatigue. The further away from our implementations start date we get; the more likely fatigue is to set in. Scalability is also important.

Your implementation success relies on the outputted value. Big-bang or waterfall initiatives will create significant impact if delivered successfully, but they also have far greater lead times, making them more susceptible to fatigue. Targeting smaller, more frequent wins in your strategy will help mitigates the impact of change fatigue.

Resourcing and capacity

Hiring has become a real issue within the AEC industry This means that the right skillset is either scarce or non-existent inside of an organisation. In my experience, roles such as BIM managers can become overloaded inside an organisation as their time is torn between innovation, business development, tendering, and project delivery, far too much for an individual to take on all at once.

Outsourcing is an attractive option during the implementation of technology if procured sensibly. Aspects to look out for here is that word empathy again, whomever comes into the organisation needs to align with the organisations’ values and needs to demonstrate understanding towards identified pain points; duration of contract, linking to our strategy being linear, outsourcing should be seen as a temporary fix while a long-term solution is developed and must not be relied upon as you would a permanent employee.

Outsourcing can bring a differing perspective thus broadening the approach and stimulating ideas as they come from a place outside the organisation or even industry.

AEC digital transformation case study 

IN2, an international engineering consultancy, provide a great example of digital transformation in the engineering industry. They overcame synchronisation errors and improved model performance by adopting Autodesk BIM Collaborate Pro. The implementation resulted in enhanced workflows, reduced errors, and improved understanding of design requirements for engineers.

To discuss this further and understand the implications for your organisation please contact Jonathan Brookfield at

Jonathan Brookfield.