A/E/C Industry Competitiveness Research

Current Research Program - 2016-2017
Market Prominence

Research is revealing twelve strategies currently being employed by the nation’s most successful A/E/C firms to increase competitiveness and achieve market prominence.

Research at the Institute reveals a dozen strategies for increased competitiveness.

Achieving a position of market prominence is undoubtedly the holy grail of business performance. It’s actually a more powerful experience than managing to dominate a market for a period of time. Market dominance is typically an exciting, albeit brief, experience usually demanding a hefty modicum of chance. Market prominence, on the other hand, connotes an imposing position that endures. It isn’t luck. It can’t be achieved by commercializing the latest fad. You don’t get there by simply being in the right place at the right time. It belongs solely to those companies that consistently and repetitively do the right things, and it can be made to last for generations.

I share this conclusion having researched A/E/C market competitiveness at the Institute, an interdisciplinary collaboration of academic, industry, and community leaders. Here, we have been looking at the critical issues facing the industries responsible for designing, constructing, and managing the built environment. We have been interested in the observable fact of market prominence in the A/E/C industry for quite some time, and over the past four years, we have translated our general interest into a specific learning opportunity.

Here are the characteristics we measured to identify market leaders:

Name Recognition

Ask the major participants in any market segment and they tend to repetitively mention the same names.

Expertise Recognition

Market leaders are invariably successful at attaching, in the minds of major repetitive buyers, qualities associated with advanced expertise and performance, whether or not the expertise actually exists.

Premium Pricing

Buyers honestly believe they’re going to get more value from market leaders and are typically willing to pay for it.

Preferential Competitive Treatment

In a competitive sales arena, clients often allow market leaders to skip the qualifications stage of the competition and go directly to the short list.

Prestige Among Employees

Survey professionals in any defined market and ask them about the best places to work. You will find a high correlation between market prominence and desirable work environments.

12 Strategies for Increased Competitiveness

Predicting the future, no matter how much data you have, is a dicey proposition. Nonetheless, Institute’s work in this area would be largely useless if we couldn’t provide insight into how future market leaders are likely to acquire prominence.

Conventional wisdom tells us that yesterday’s leading A/E/C firms achieved their positions by consistently applying three practices:

Aggressive personal networking
Effective competitive sales
Consistently performing as promised

Today’s game is more complex. We believe there are 12 performance characteristics, each requiring its own executable strategy, that will be essential to consistently outperforming the competition.

Inspire with vision

Vision-driven companies attract better employees, function with greater purpose, and are more adept at holding the attention of high-value clients.

Lead with values

Companies that genuinely nurture a culture of well-developed values are more effective in the marketplace.

Focus competitive programs

Distractions are everywhere. We find that the fourth leading cause of failure among ventures less than five years old is a lack of competitiveness focus.

Capture category ownership

Dominating a market category, even temporarily, can be handsomely profitable. Tomorrow’s market leaders will know how to shape new categories and declare ownership.

Use persistent branding

Branding has been studied for years and yet few companies in the A/E/C industry regularly exploit its power.

Create marketing breakthroughs

Tomorrow’s market leaders will develop the capacity to repeatedly win projects for which they are not the most qualified competitor.

Exploit competitive intelligence

The next generation of market leaders will operate with more accurate information about the competitive landscape.

Launch a competitive culture

The responsibility for tracking the competition, searching for new opportunities, and nurturing a competitive advantage must become the quest of every key employee.

Establish customer intimacy

In a highly competitive environment, new market leaders must create techniques that will illuminate the unarticulated needs of high-value customers.

Acquire and nurture high-impact people

Aspiring market leaders must create programs to identify, recruit, and manage people who are worth more than their pay.

Develop a culture of obsessive improvement

Self-congratulatory ventures don’t long survive. The most successful competitors institutionalize the process of constant evaluation and growth.

Formulate new strategic alliances

In the next several years, differentiation will be hard to achieve within the boundaries of any individual discipline. The next generation will create more efficient project delivery methods by exploiting the power of interdisciplinary collaboration.

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