When a construction IT conference at the ICE sells out three months beforehand after just three weeks, it’s clear there is a lot of interest in the subject. Building Information Modelling (BIM) currently seems to be the UK industry’s hottest topic, and some of the SaaS-based construction collaboration technology vendors plainly don’t want to get overlooked in the rush.
To be fair, Asite has been pushing its BIM capabilities for years; Asite started talking about its collaborative BIM (cBIM) toolset in late 2006, and it was launched the following year, when even the BuildingSMART BIM enthusiasts in 2007 were still talking about a 5-7 year time span for industry adoption. Similarly, Bentley was talking about using its ProjectWise collaboration system to help manage the ‘I’ in BIM in 2007 (though ProjectWise isn’t normally deployed on a SaaS basis). As sponsors, Asite’s Tony Ryan and a Bentley representative will both be contributing to a panel discussion at October’s ICE BIM event.
Both firms have continued to promote their BIM toolsets, and other collaboration vendors have also begun to take notice of BIM adoption. Aconex‘s CEO Leigh Jasper, for example, blogged in April about the growing use of his company’s SaaS platform to manage BIM models; 4Projects‘ CEO Richard Vertigan was working on BIM in the 1990s prior to launching the vendor business; and it was significant (to me, at least) that one of the contributors to the working group report to the UK Government Construction Clients Board (post) was Sanjeev Shah, CEO of Unit 4 Collaboration.
The latest sign of growing collaboration interest comes from one of the smaller UK players, iSite, who see “Building Information Modelling as pivital [sic] to the future direction of the construction industry”:
In recognition of this we have commenced a pilot project looking to provide our customers with tools to integrate building models into to the iSite portal – allowing customers a global view of building assets, quantities and performance across their portfolio.
The pilot project will look at utilising industry standard data exchange protocols to easily plug building models into the portal. iSite will be drawing on the experience of our colleagues S&W Design as well as working with BIM experts the _Space Group
Such initiatives are welcome, but is there is a risk of too many projects being run in parallel with potential lessons not being shared, and different approaches and standards emerging? Following the recent formal launch of the Government Construction Strategy (at the ICE on 19 July), various client-led and industry-led working bodies will be striving respectively to ‘pull’ and ‘push’ the UK AEC sector towards effective BIM adoption, looking at both technology, and the even more important cross-cutting people and process issues. I understand Constructing Excellence will be supporting the Construction Industry Council‘s BIM Forum in this process, trying to help coordinate and disseminate best practice, and looking to establish industry practitioners’ current and future needs with respect to collaborative IT.