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The Effectiveness of Data in Architecture

How can firms adapt to the ever changing digital landscape in the architecture industry when it comes to data?

The architecture industry isn’t alone in facing the modern challenges of data management. With technology that is developing faster than most architecture firms can keep up with—it’s time to ask for help. Without access to data, most firms would function inefficiently, or not at all, however, data needs to be managed properly, within a universal system to achieve the level of effectiveness and efficiency that will make a difference in a firm’s growth. 

In 2021 there is so much data out there, that it has established a massive physical presence. According to Architecture Magazine, “a new type of architecture is emerging in which large skyscrapers, such as 375 Pearl Street in New York City (commonly known as the Verizon Building), are being retrofitted into digital warehouses that accommodate computers rather than people”. It’s overwhelming to say the least, but solutions do exist for architects and can be implemented with the right IT partners.

Top Challenges 

According to a paper published by IRM UK Strategic IT, the architecture industry is facing significant challenges when it comes to data. Listed as the top five areas of concern are: evolution of methodologies and culture; adapting to changing architecture; complex data environments; data quality; and business focus. Statistics gathered by IRM estimate that poor data quality “costs a typical company the equivalent of 15 to 20 percent of revenue”, and dramatically affects corporate efficiency. 

Clean vs Dirty Data

Aspects of clean—or quality—data, according to the Data Management Body of Knowledge, include “accuracy, timeliness, completeness, consistency, relevance, and fitness of use”. Knowing that your data is current, correct, present, and usable is key to making good business decisions.

When data decays it becomes “dirty” data. Low quality, decayed, or dirty data is inaccurate, out-of-date, and really, not usable. It takes up space, time and resources that could be used on better business efficiencies. Many companies don’t take action to deal with data decay until they’re living through a major breach or event. It’s time for architecture firms to be proactive when it comes to data quality, implementing a continuous improvement philosophy. Ideally business leaders should establish a culture around data, and enforce accountability. 

Pull Quote: “Modelling and metadata management can help to measure, control, and improve the quality of the data.”

The truth is that data decay can happen even over a short period of time. Research from Gartner has shown that 30 percent of CRM contacts will become inaccurate or out-of-date within a year. A recent study by Salesforce claims that number is upwards of 70 percent. To read through a few database best practices, check out this blog by Adam Stewart, our vice president of Sales Innovation Technology, where he outlines how firms can keep a clean and reliable database.


How databases and modelling tools are built has fundamentally changed as well. According to IRM “the rapid proliferation of unstructured platforms, also called schema-less or ‘big data’, must be understood and properly managed as part of an enterprise portfolio”. Improved integrations are a must for working within this new structure, or architecture firms will repeat the same mistakes over and over again, experiencing issues like poor user adoption, just with different technology.


Dealing with data has become increasingly complex, we all know that. Driven partially by mergers and acquisitions, too often you will see firms coming together who were using completely different platforms, systems and applications. Instead of properly dealing with obsolete data management systems, many will needlessly hold on, increasing the amount of data clutter, putting off finding a true solution.

What Can Be Done?

There’s no denying that clients of architecture firms are demanding data from architects. According to Architecture Magazine, clients are “eyeing the data-rich Building Information Modelling (BIM) that firms use to document projects as a way to supply data for downstream applications like facilities management”. To move forward, architects must be able to easily access data from a universal system, in a time-effective manner, to do their jobs well. 

In 2021 we are used to on-demand information and instantaneous results—these expectations carry over to any industry, including architecture. Read Introhive’s digital transformation playbook to find out how your firm can navigate the changes to become at the front of the digital game. 

Read our digital transformation playbook to understand how 70% of digital transformations fail due to lack of user adoption and behavioral change.

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