10 ways the AE industry won’t change

While everything in the AE industry seems to be constantly moving, some parts of the industry will remain stable throughout.

By Morrissey Goodale October 9, 2023

Change. You can set your watch by it. It’s constant. It’s relentless. It’s all-consuming. AE firm leaders deal with it day and night. Whether it’s the digital transformation, the remote work and education revolution, climate change, geopolitical conflict, supply chain disruptions, or the confounding economy—you name it, it’s changing. It’s not all bad, of course. Change can bring about improvement, excitement, and hope. But even so, being on your toes 24/7 can take a heavy toll.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could count on something—anything—to remain the same, even for a little while? Couldn’t we all use a little stability—just a few things we could hang our hats on for years to come? Believe it or not, through seemingly never-ending upheaval, there are still some aspects about the AE industry that will continue to hold up over time.

Here are 10 of them:

  1. People will still run this business. Maybe not forever, but for now, that’s the way it is. People produce exceptional service. People deliver terrific quality. People provide valuable expertise. And they will tomorrow, too.

  2. Client relationships will still matter. The importance of building and maintaining strong client relationships will remain a constant in the AE industry. How those relationships are cultivated will surely evolve from one generation to the next, but any new methodologies will be aimed at producing the same outcomes—such as trust, communication, and understanding client needs—which are timeless principles and unlikely to change.

  3. Expertise and specialization will still be a human thing. Technology has certainly led to significant advancements in the AE industry, and it is likely to continue to play an increasingly important role. But it won’t replace human expertise. Many decisions architects and engineers make involve complex and nuanced considerations that go beyond data analysis. These decisions often require creativity, contextual understanding, and the ability to balance multiple competing factors—qualities at which we humans tend to excel.

  4. Ethical and social factors will remain in our hands. Architecture and engineering professionals often have to consider ethical and social implications in their projects, such as ensuring buildings are accessible, environmentally friendly, and culturally sensitive. AI still lacks the capacity to make value-based decisions and navigate these complicated ethical considerations.

  5. Responsiveness will still be a differentiator. How many of us have the discipline to quickly respond to a request from someone inside or outside our firms? We don’t like it when we have to call our attorney three times to get a simple document finalized or ask an employee five times to return a client call. It’s a huge time-waster and incredibly frustrating. Those who depend on you or want to reach you don’t like it any better when they bring an important issue to your attention and it takes you two weeks to respond. And in a society that’s growing more impatient by the day, responsiveness will become increasingly coveted.

  6. The importance of collaboration won’t diminish. Collaboration will remain essential for providing comprehensive services. Cross-functional teams and knowledge sharing will continue to be important for accessing expertise, innovation, problem-solving, quality control, risk mitigation, morale, and more.

  7. Quality will never go out of style. Delivering quality is a timeless expectation. It has to be—there’s too much at stake. Aside from the obvious life and safety consequences, there are other considerations, such as your firm’s reputation, exposure to a whole host of liabilities, and the missed opportunity to contribute something meaningful and impactful to the world.

  8. Continued learning and development will always be required. There’s that pesky change again. We’ll always need to stay on top of it. Keeping up with industry trends and evolving skill sets is crucial. Professional development and learning will always be important for staying competitive.

  9. An AE firm’s reputation will always be fragile. A sterling reputation takes a long time to build. Anyone who has started their own firm can attest to that. Trust and respect don’t happen in the blink of an eye. It takes years of dedicated service and consistently delivering value to build a recognized and respected brand. And yet we’ve all seen plenty of examples inside and outside the AE industry of how fast it can all come crashing down. A mistake here, an over-the-line comment there, or plain old bad judgment can be the wrecking ball that instantly obliterates your crystal display.

  10. People in our business will still try to do the right thing. This isn’t blowing smoke. The AE industry is made up of great people. They’re not just smart, talented, and dedicated—they have integrity. They try to do the right thing. Virtually every firm I work with includes some form of truthfulness in their value statements—and they live it.  Sure, there are individuals who are not necessarily well-intended, but they are the outliers. This industry is made up of trustworthy people who share a desire to make the world a better place for us and future generations. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

While the way AE firms deliver their services may have evolved in response to the pandemic and technological advancements, the core values and principles that underpin their operations are less likely to change over time. These enduring aspects are foundational to the profession and will continue to guide firms in their interactions with clients and the broader business environment.

Morrissey Goodale is a CFE Media and Technology content partner.

Original content can be found at Morrissey Goodale.