Just found an AEC Weekly article from 26 September 2005 giving the results of a major European industry study “New Business Potentials for Architects and Engineers” completed for Nemetschek and described as "a thorough investigation of what potential and challenges lie ahead for architects and engineers in Europe and the UK".
When it came to information technology, unsurprisingly – given that the survey was focused on the design community – respondents placed most value on "construction/CAD functionality".
Primary concerns for a successful AEC software solution were ease of use and a good price/performance ratio, but other characteristics, included the provider’s reputation, and the amount of training required, were also important.
The article also noted:
"Interestingly, British respondents identified investment in human resources (38 percent) as a most important aspect of meeting specific challenges in today’s market, while on average only 20 percent of the European practices regarded this aspect as important."
I wondered why my countrymen focused on human issues more than their European mainland counterparts. Initially, I thought it was perhaps because we have a skills shortage in the AEC professions in the UK. But on reading the related press release, I learned the 100 British professionals surveyed were anxious about "tougher competition, more demanding customers, and new legal requirements".
What was expected from software vendors was also spelt out:
"Today, software vendors must offer tools for change and cost management, design management, and collaboration in order to actively support their customers in meeting market expectations….
"… almost one third of the architects and engineers feel it is critical to upgrade CAD systems to solutions that enable an integrated end-to-end workflow. 21 percent are eager to invest in other software and education."
Plainly, simply sharing documents and drawings is no longer enough. For designers, it’s increasingly about managing design team processes and integrating the design function with other project team disciplines.