A recent survey was conducted on information technology (IT) by BST, the Construction Industry Round Table (CIRT) and Engineering News-Record Magazine. CIRT is an organization of 100 CEOs of design and construction companies. The survey interviewed the members of CIRT, CEOs of firms ranging in size up to 35,000 employees. It focused on capital IT investment, investment spending figures and investment criteria. The following are highlights from the survey's results.

  • Firms are spending 1 to 4 percent of revenues on Information Technology (IT), which translates to millions of dollars in IT investment for the typical firm, AND are planning to significantly increase IT spending in the years ahead, despite the lack of success in measuring ROI.

    The survey found that firms in the 301-500 employees range spent the most on IT at $5,368 per employee, with firms in the 5,000-plus range spent the least at $2,838 per employee. Interestingly, non-construction firms in the 5,000-plus range will spend 457% more than their construction counterparts, or $3,765 vs. $824 per employee.

    Nearly 80% of the firms surveyed were Completely Unsuccessful or Not Very Successful in measuring an IT ROI, up from 60% in last year's survey.

  • CEOs and their organizations are personally embracing the use of IT.

    Fifty-three percent of the CEOs surveyed are spending at least 10 hours of their time per week on a computer.

  • Recruiting and maintaining good people and increasing profitability are at the top of the CEOs' minds.

    CIRT CEOs were asked to rank from one to five their organization's key challenges. CEOs ranked "Recruiting and Maintaining People" and "Increasing Profitability" as their top two chief concerns, with last year's survey top concern, "Better Management of Projects," falling to third.

  • IT is perceived to be an integral part of an A/E/C organization's ability to achieve success and to deliver a sustained competitive advantage.

    When asked where IT has delivered a competitive advantage, over 50% of those surveyed reported that their Project and Financial Software offered the best advantage, and another 40% said their WAN was the best area.

  • The Internet and related communications technologies will continue to significantly impact and transform the A/E/C industry.

    In the short-term, CEOs will continue to focus on a new area in their B2B/E-commerce Initiatives and Project Specific Web Sites, according to 21% of the respondents. Interestingly, construction firms are approaching B2B more aggressively than their non-construction firm counterparts by a 2 to 1 margin. The next closest area, at 18%, is Project and Financial Software Systems.

    Looking to the future, clearly B2B/E-commerce and Intranet/Extranet Internet will play a dominant role, as over 50% of CEOs will be focusing on these areas.

    Nearly 3 out of 4 CEOs said Recruiting is their number one use of their Internet Web site, narrowly edging out Public Relations.

  • Two emerging technologies, Leveraging B2B and Knowledge Management, will be the focus of progressive A/E/C firms in advance of client demand.

    Nearly 9 out of 10 CEOs plan to leverage B2B initiatives for such things as bill presentation, purchasing and payment over the Internet. Nearly half of the CEOs responding will be doing this over the next 12-24 months.

    About 1/3, or 32%, of firms have in place a Knowledge Management Ssolution for sharing intellectual capital.

  • A/E/C leaders are using traditional procurement approaches for IT infrastructure components while incorporating a variety of approaches to vendor relationships.

    Adopting Best of Breed strategy at over 61% of the firms surveyed seems to be the preferred vendor relationship model, up from 46% in last year's survey.

    When CEOs were asked whether they can influence vendor direction and products, less than half of CIRT executives said yes at 47%.

  • CEOs are aggressively pursuing and accommodating IT staff while considering ASP outsourcing applications management solution models.

According to 55% of the CEOs asked, Flex Hours was the top IT recruitment strategy, but a couple of emerging trends were also noted. There has been an increase of 160% amongst firms that are offering a Signing Bonus and 264% in Telecommuting since last year's survey.

Project Specific Web Sites (37%) and Project and Financial Software Systems (29%) are the top applications planned for deployment utilizing an ASP model.