4 Challenges for the Architectural Industry and How Technology Can Help


Use Cases in Construction

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​Today more than ever, AEC companies need to rethink what’s possible to be more resilient in a changing economy. In the architectural community, the calling is clear— firms are struggling to meet their operational and technical needs and know they need digital solutions to get there.

Hitachi Solutions and Microsoft experts recently explored these challenges facing AEC companies with AIA California members during a listen-and-learn event where attendees shared what’s top-of-mind for them in 2023.

What was clear to all was that their operational struggles are shared, and in most cases, modern digital solutions can meet many of these challenges. Let’s take a look at some of those top concerns.



Sustainability is no longer a checkbox exercise for many clients, attendees said, it’s an area of critical investment. And architects and builders need to adapt and learn how to make sustainable, environmentally-friendly choices in their designs and use of advanced materials.

Designing safe, durable, and adaptable buildings has always been the architect’s goal, but new issues like sustainability, climate change, air quality, and net-zero energy present new challenges. It’s a lot to keep up with, it carries risk and it’s hard to track.

How technology can help

Many firms are using Building Information Modeling (BIM),  a 3D model-based process that helps architects plan, design more energy-efficient buildings, and assess the environmental impact of those designs. Energy modeling allows architects to analyze and optimize the energy performance of buildings, their heating and cooling systems, lighting, and ventilation and can help reduce a company’s carbon footprint.

Project control and regulatory compliance

The process of reviewing and finalizing specifications and construction documents has long been a pain point for architects. Many attendees said they lack an effective way to track project changes so they can make course corrections during projects, as well as complete design and specification reviews efficiently.

It’s not easy— building codes, regulations, and certifications all play into the design and these can be complex and vary from location to location. The issue becomes increasingly complex when working with some local regulatory agencies, who often are behind on technology and still working with paper-based systems in many cases.

How technology can help

Cloud-based project management tools can help architects and other stakeholders manage projects effectively and help ensure profit margins. These tools allow team members to assign tasks, track time and progress, and set deadlines and can be integrated with CRM and finance systems for a full picture of how projects affect the company’s overall performance and planning.

To measure performance and profitability, prebuilt and custom dashboards can provide insights including KPIs for schedules, costs, risks, and more — a real-time summary of detailed performance data to inform better decision-making.

File sharing and collaboration

Firms need a better way to share files and collaborate on project documents with external stakeholders— engineers, contractors, and more. Project participants need a “single version of the truth” for every document, as well as a streamlined way to manage change requests for all upstream and downstream documents. They want to be able to automatically send and update plans, contracts, or blueprints, and link RFIs and submittals back to initial drawings for reference.

How technology can help

Many AEC companies now use digital document repositories, or portals, to upload blueprints, certifications, and other documents, track changes to them, and record all decisions made to the content. All project stakeholders can join the portal and subscribe to the content, receiving notifications when updates are made and when someone needs to act.

Managing risk

With all these challenges, comes associated risk and the need to manage that risk. Many architects pointed to shifting project scopes as sources of disputes with clients, which can lead to hard feelings, poor relationships, and lost business.

Dealing with contractors, clients, and finances creates uncertainties and the need to better understand how firms are accounting for and recognizing risk needs to be clear to everyone —salespeople, estimators, and project management.

Attendees said they needed a more integrated experience, including a risk register that is transparent to everyone working on the project, internal and external. They stressed the role of real-time information availability as critical to promoting effective risk management, as well as the importance of democratizing that information to all affected stakeholders.

How technology can help

Software tools are available that are designed specifically for risk analysis and management in the AEC industry, including the identification of potential risks, the assessment of their probability and impact, and the development of risk mitigation strategies. These tools use advanced algorithms and simulations to analyze different scenarios and identify potential risks that may arise during the construction, operation, and maintenance of a building. They can also be used to assess risks related to structural integrity, fire safety, indoor air quality, and other health-related concerns.

Hitachi Solutions, Microsoft, and the AEC Industry

At Hitachi Solutions, we’ve been working on transformative construction-related functionality with AEC companies for years. Be sure to check it out! You’ll be energized to think about how you can modernize your company’s processes to work more efficiently with project stakeholders and clients.

Then,  contact us. We would love to talk about the AEC project process and our digital tools for the AEC industry. Every day, our innovative technology and integration with Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Project Operations are helping more and more AEC companies stay on top of today’s challenges, prepare for the future, and maintain a viable profit margin.