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Be AI-Ready: Eight Steps to Structure Your Firm’s Tactical Plan

joist ai
By Rohan Jawali
A/E/C industries are undergoing a significant transformation as they grapple with the challenges of modern marketing and business development. But, as these needs and complexities grow, so will the challenges and limitations within our own teams and daily workflows.
Using the construction industry as an example, budget allocation toward business development and marketing is relatively modest, averaging about 3% of revenue, which is significantly lower than the 10% typically spent by other B2B companies (Evenbound HubSpot) (Merehead). This conservative approach reflects a traditional reliance on the seller-doer model and long-term client relationships that foster repeat business.
Although that mindset has worked for the past century, the growing complexity of both project and pursuit, as well as competitiveness of the market, are pushing A/E/C firms to rethink their marketing strategies. Because of this change, our industry has found itself in an adapt-or-die era.
So now that we’ve established what you already know: You’re understaffed, overworked, and know you need to adapt in a notoriously competitive industry. You likely find yourself asking, “Now what?”
A/E/C stands at an inflection point with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI). AI offers unprecedented opportunities to revolutionize workflows, enhance efficiency, and drive growth in ways we never imagined possible. For business development teams that are often stretched thin, AI offers a lifeline by automating routine tasks and freeing up valuable time for lean teams to focus on strategic activities and streamlined operations.
AI-driven tools can also improve company strategy, such as lead generation and client engagement, allowing companies to maximize their limited marketing budgets effectively. By leveraging AI, firms can reduce operational bottlenecks, uncover hidden insights, and open up growth opportunities to drive sustainable growth despite limited resources and bandwidth.
Dharmesh Shah, co-founder of HubSpot, recently referenced Elon Musk’s quote: “Every person in your company is a vector. Your progress is determined by the sum of all vectors.” This sentiment is especially relevant for A/E/C firms. With limited staff dedicated to growth functions, it’s crucial to be disciplined and find efficiencies in every aspect of operations to drive growth.
As AI technology becomes more accessible, smaller firms can now level the playing field by adopting AI to boost their capabilities. Meanwhile, larger firms can use AI to enhance their resources, drive innovation, and stay ahead of the competition. This shift is transforming the industry, making it an exciting time for all businesses to embrace AI and reach new heights.
Although this relatively new technology holds the key to unlocking substantial value creation and gaining a competitive edge, diving headfirst into any pivotal change takes more than just enthusiasm. AI adoption demands a strategic and systematic approach.
Following, we guide you through the intricacies of organizing a tactical plan to introduce AI into your marketing team’s strategy and operating procedures. We’ll help you and your team navigate the complexities of AI adoption and explore the key steps needed to ensure your success in this transformative journey.


Step 1: Establish an AI Task Force/Committee

The first step in embarking on the AI integration journey is to form a multidisciplinary team to drive AI initiatives. Designate a single leader to provide clear direction and accountability. Ensure the task force includes representatives from IT, marketing, business development, operations, and other relevant departments. Fostering collaboration within this team is crucial to ensuring comprehensive and cohesive AI adoption efforts.
It’s important to measure AI adoption among your users. A common reason software implementations fail is a lack of user adoption and engagement. Monitoring and evaluating the impact of AI on business performance is essential. Establish clear and measurable KPIs to track user adoption, engagement, and overall progress. Implement a feedback-loop mechanism to use insights from performance evaluations for continuous improvement. Regularly update AI models and strategies based on user feedback and performance data. Leverage advanced analytics and predictive modeling capabilities to anticipate market trends, identify opportunities, and proactively address challenges. This ensures that AI initiatives are effective and widely embraced by your users, maximizing impact on the organization.
By following these tactical approaches, A/E/C firms can navigate the complexities of AI integration with confidence and conviction. As the industry embraces AI-driven transformation, those who adeptly harness its potential will be well-positioned to lead the charge toward a future defined by efficiency and competitive advantage. AI is not just a technological tool, it is a strategic asset that can propel your company into a new era of innovation. Embracing AI goes beyond keeping up with the times; it affords the opportunity to lead and shape the future of A/E/C.

Step 2: Develop a Data Strategy

Creating a robust data strategy is foundational for AI integration. Start by understanding your current data sources and assessing your digitization stage. If you haven’t started with digitization, that might be the logical first step. Additionally, ensure compliance with relevant data-protection laws and industry-specific regulations to maintain the security and privacy of the data used in AI applications.

Step 3: Outline Business-Use Cases

Identifying and articulating compelling business cases for AI is essential. Start by understanding your priorities — what’s critical to maintaining your competitive edge and meeting your growth goals. Conduct a detailed analysis to identify pain points and inefficiencies where AI can offer tangible benefits. Develop clear business cases for AI applications, such as streamlining marketing workflows, enhancing customer experiences, and optimizing business development strategies. Project the ROI from AI integration to secure stakeholder buy-in, and draw insights from successful AI implementations in the industry to validate your proposed strategies.

Step 4: Know and Understand Your Security Policies

Ensuring robust security protocols and understanding the ethical implications of AI-powered solutions is paramount. Several software companies have banned the use of AI for writing code due to security and accuracy concerns, but allow AI-assisted code reviews to improve code quality. Ensure compliance with industry standards and regulations, such as SOC2 and ISO standards. Proactively address security concerns and implement stringent measures to mitigate risks, safeguarding data integrity and privacy. Additionally, understand the ethical risks associated with AI, such as bias and transparency, and incorporate ethical guidelines to ensure responsible AI use.

Step 5: Commit to a Budget

Securing financial commitment for AI integration involves conducting a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis to assess the short-term and long-term financial impacts of AI adoption. AI implementation can be compute-heavy, so it’s important to manage expectations. Evaluate the total cost of ownership, including upfront implementation and training costs, licensing fees, and maintenance expenses. Establish clear financial frameworks and governance mechanisms to ensure practical resource allocation and maximize the value derived from AI initiatives.

Step 6: Select Your Vendor(s)

Choosing the right vendor is critical to the success of AI integration efforts. Many software implementations fall short due to gaps in execution and alignment with business needs. To avoid these pitfalls, develop practical criteria for evaluating AI vendors, considering factors, such as experience in the A/E/C industries, technological expertise, and support capabilities. Conduct thorough due diligence, including reviewing case studies and seeking references, and engage with industry experts and consultants to identify suitable AI solutions. Ensure the selected AI solutions are scalable and flexible to adapt to future business needs and technological advancements. This approach minimizes the risk of implementation gaps and maximizes the chances of successful AI integration.

Step 7: Train Your Team

Empowering employees with the necessary skills to leverage AI tools effectively is crucial. Implement training programs to develop proficiency and address change resistance by fostering a culture of innovation and continuous learning. Proactively engage employees, solicit feedback, and provide ongoing support and guidance. Facilitate cross-functional collaboration and knowledge-sharing to ensure the organization embraces and supports AI integration efforts. Regularly schedule team conversations to review what’s working and what’s not. Prompting workshops are particularly beneficial in helping teams understand which prompts prove most useful to your organization.

Step 8: Measure and Evaluate Performance

With over 15 years of contech experience, Rohan Jawali has committed his career to solving challenges of the built world. After graduating from Texas A&M, Rohan joined Hensel Phelps where he helped procure and manage landmark projects throughout California. Harnessing his passion for innovation, Hensel Phelps promoted Rohan to their technology department, where he gained a front-row seat to the technology challenges A/E/C companies were faced with. It was then that Rohan envisioned a tool to help solve those challenges. From this desire to alleviate inefficiencies, Joist AI was born. Today, Rohan oversees the operations of Joist AI, including innovation and product development.
Contact Rohan at