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Top 5 Disruptors: 2014 Predictions for A/E/C Firms

There’s nothing like the optimism and energy of a new year. And, the past 12 months have clearly demonstrated a slow and steady recovery for many architects, engineers, construction professionals, and related consultants. What will the new year hold for this volatile industry? I suppose we each have our own predictions; here are five disruptive forces that I believe will make their mark in 2014.

Number 5: 3-D Technology – Not just for movie theaters.

CADD and BIM have been revolutionary, but 3-D printing is really exciting for construction professionals. In 3-D printing, the model is driven directly from the digital design file without involving trades to build the model. A recent ENR article discusses the myriad of opportunities associated with this disruptive technology.

Number 4: Transparency – The only option.

We all want to know who we will be working with, and that means learning about the individuals beyond the corporate brand. That’s where transparency comes in. Highlight your staff, build up your Visible Experts ℠ — those people who have attained high visibility and expertise in their industry. This creates a personal brand that is recognizable industry-wide. In the long run, the halo of these experts will contribute to the growth of the firm.

Number 3: Websites – It’s not 1999.

I’m not referencing Prince’s 1999, but rather the early days of corporate websites. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times – websites are not online brochures.  Websites are the engine that can attract talent, generate leads, demonstrate your past expertise and showcase your innovation. Why is it that there are still many A/E/C firms out there that have websites that echo Prince’s era?  If you still don’t know where to start, check out our Website Planning Guide.

Number 2: On-Demand Marketing – Even for A/E/C.

There are lessons to be learned from the B2B and B2C worlds when it comes to marketing. As described in a recent McKinsey article, on-demand marketing is not just about “anytime” but rather “relevancy.”  Executives that are preparing their firms for the coming years are not ignoring such lessons but rather rushing to anticipate the disruptions that will be faced by the industry. A/E/C firms that are leading the pack are already employing disruptive approaches to market their firms, enhancing their visibility and growing their reputation.

Number 1: It’s All About Content, ST****!

In 2014, the proliferation of content (video, blogs, webinars, speaking, writing, social sharing) produced by A/E/C firms will be the #1 disruptive prediction. Whether shooting a first video blog post or holding the inaugural webinar, individuals are being driven to produce educational content – in fact, many are being dragged kicking and screaming. For most Baby Boomers and Gen X individuals, creating content has become a  generational disruption: they've never done it before, don’t care to do it at all. A/E/C leaders will need to put reservations aside and focus on creating content (or supporting the creation) of content to build winning reputations and winning professional services brands.

Happy New Year!

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Author: Sylvia Montgomery, CPSM A Senior Partner and the head of Hinge’s A/E/C practice, Sylvia collects many shoes and wears many hats. When she’s not traveling around the country for speaking engagements or client meetings, you will find Sylvia creating marketing and branding strategies for clients, supervising her A/E/C team, developing new business, or working on her personal brand. With a 20+ year career spanning visual communications, strategy, and marketing, and over a decade working in the A/E/C sector, Sylvia brings a creative, business-focused approach to her client engagements.

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