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Researching the Market: Our 2020 Client Interview Report

Strategic planning is a core part of who we are at Nitsch Engineering. We believe in putting in the work to identify a clear plan for growth, breaking the plan down into implementable steps, and then working the plan until we achieve our goals.

In February 2020, as we began working on a new strategic plan to carry our firm into the future, we knew that we needed to talk to our clients about what they were seeing in the market. A month later, the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way many of us saw the world – and the future.

As we began to look past the immediate impacts of the changed world around us, Nitsch Engineering performed a market research study in June 2020. We invited some of our top clients to answer 10 questions, with the goal of understanding what trends will play out in the next three to five years that may impact the architecture/ engineering/ construction (A/E/C) and building industries markets.

We interviewed 22 clients, including a blend of architecture firms, construction management firms, engineering firms, commercial development firms, academic institutions, public agencies, and municipalities. We then sifted through our clients’ comments and sorted them into the STEEP analysis framework, which breaks trends out into five key categories:

Societal: Factors that relate to society as a whole, including demographics, lifestyles, religion, education, and other social environment elements. These trends relate to how people behave. -- Technological: Factors that relate to technological advances, changes, and innovations – and how those impact business success. These trends often relate to efficiency and ease in the workplace and industry. -- Economic: Factors that relate to the overall economy. These trends relate to the overall health of the local/regional/national/global economy, and how that impacts clients’ capacity to retain services. -- Environmental: Factors that relate to the natural world and its resources. These trends often relate to the increasing importance of sustainability and resilience to address the reality of climate change. -- Political: Factors that relate to the political and legal realities of the market in which a company operates. These trends relate to how changes in political power impact policies and funding in almost all industries.

Based on client feedback, the top trend in each category is:

Societal: Remote Work Impacts Us All; Technological: Data-Driven Decisions and Operations are Up; Economic: Economic Recession is on the Horizon; Environmental: Sustainability is a Focus Now; Political: Pending Election has Large Implications

The top five overall trends are:

S1. Remote Work Impacts us all (12%); S2. Safety and Wellness Remain a Focus (7%); EC1. Economic Recession On the Horizon (7%); S3. Client Service Still Rules! (6%); S4. Succession Planning Accelerates (6%)

The percentages shown for each trend reflect the number of comments made for that trend as compared to the total number of comments made in the entire survey.

We are sincerely grateful to the clients who participated in this survey for taking the time to talk to us about what they see happening in the market. Taken together, the trends they identified give us a perspective on the future that is full of challenges and opportunities.