The second annual IHS Engineering360 Pulse of Engineering survey reveals a work environment where the pace of engineering is accelerating and designs are becoming more complex, while at the same time design cycles are shrinking and time-to-market pressures are increasing.
It’s a testament to their talent and grit that engineers are up to the challenge. Consider some of the other findings of the survey:
• 59% of engineers are required to do more with less
• 69% of engineers are working on three or more projects simultaneously
• 54% said the number of competitors is growing
• 70% reported shortages of resources and specialized knowledge at their companies
• 63% are facing budget constraints and 71% time constraints
Despite these pressures, engineers are performing well at their jobs. For example, 56% said they frequently or always meet launch dates, 80% meet product quality standards, and 76% meet customer satisfaction goals. On the more sobering side, 49% said the pressure to cut costs and meet deadlines are putting product quality/rework at risk.
Knowledge drain offers suppliers an opportunity
The research showed that a significant percentage of the engineering workforce is aging or on the move. Thirty percent of respondents said they could retire in the next five years, and only 40% said they were very likely to be with their current employer five years from now. In many cases, when these employees leave—either through retirement or job change—institutional knowledge goes with them.
Forty percent said their companies lose specialized knowledge and expertise faster than they gain it. And only 40% of companies have formal practices in place to identify senior-level and specialized experts to train, transfer, mentor, manage, or retain their knowledge among others in the organization.
Knowledge drain may be one of the reasons why 43% stated that design involvement from external partners, vendors, and customers has increased. Industrial marketers have a great opportunity to step in and help fill the knowledge void as well as build customer satisfaction and loyalty by producing trusted, reliable technical content, along with professional development and training courses that help engineers do their jobs more effectively. Your customers will turn to you for authoritative knowledge and you will become an essential resource to these companies.
Environmental sustainability is a focus area
Another trend revealed in the survey is the importance of environmental sustainability. The majority of respondents said designing/developing environmentally sustainable products was important to their companies. Fifty-six percent reported that environmental/sustainability pressures on products/designs have increased over the past two years. In addition, the majority of engineers said that the number of environmental/sustainability regulations, regulatory complexity, and frequency of regulatory changes have all increased.
If your products are energy efficient, help reduce energy consumption, or are made from safe or recyclable materials, make sure you get that message out to your target audience. The same is true with messaging around other trends reported in the survey, such as engineers being asked to do more with fewer resources while having to meet aggressive launch dates.
Take advantage of these trends in your marketing. How can your products reduce time to market for engineers? Improve productivity? Save time and resources?
Engineers have a strong voice in purchasing decisions
Engineers play an important role in the industrial buy cycle and in making purchasing decisions. Sixty-eight percent said they recommend/specify products/vendors; 64% evaluate products/vendors. The top three attributes engineers look for when choosing a supplier/vendor are price, performance, and service/support. If you focus on those attributes, you’re in the game, no matter the size of your company. Only 20% said that a well-known brand/company was a top-three attribute in making purchasing decisions.
Get the research
For additional survey data, download an executive summary of the 2016 Pulse of Engineering research, which presents top survey results. To obtain your complimentary copy of the complete research report, including recommendations to industrial marketers to help them better understand their target audience, strengthen relationships with customers, and position their products to align more closely with industry trends, contact your IHS Engineering360 Media Solutions account executive or email email@example.com.