South Africa lagging in AEC SaaS use?

CS&IT coverI have written occasional pieces for South Africa’s Construction Software & IT: A Journal for Digital Construction Solutions (post), which is edited by Vaughan Harris (also associated with the Cape Town-based BIM Institute). He has forwarded a link to some survey results relating to technology and building information modelling (BIM) adoption in the region.

The article – SA BIM Survey reveals local industry as technology laggard – suggests South Africa’s construction industry is struggling to reap the full benefits of design software, data and analytics, 3D scanning, mobile solutions and automation, while the sector’s current economic difficulties do not encourage investment in upgrading systems so cash-strapped businesses continue to use their existing software. It appears this may also affecting investment in BIM and cloud-based collaboration, though the latter is also reliant on having reliable internet connectivity.

The journal ran its first South African BIM survey, and as the survey was conducted online (with respondents primarily recruited through email invitations in a BIM newsletter, a Zoho campaign, and links in social media) the results are not representative of the industry at large, but offer a glimpse of how some of the the more digitally engaged organisations in South Africa are using technology in construction and in the built environment.

As well as some clues on favoured design authoring tools, I learned that 55% of respondents said they used cloud-based document management systems such as Asite (the UK-based provider who opened a South African office two years ago), and two Johannesburg-based operations: Docwize and Key360 (provided by project manager SSG Consulting). There was no mention of Docia (since 2014 a RIB-owned solution, which opened a South Africa office in 2012), Aconex (which also has a Johannesburg office) or India’s Wrench (adopted by South Africa’s Murray & Roberts), though this may, of course, be due to the survey sampling methodology.

The survey also showed some smaller firms were still using cloud-based storage tools like Dropbox and Google Drive (despite the latter not being as secure and BIM – or AEC – specific). Sixteen percent of respondents said use of cloud-based document management systems is hampered due to poor internet connectivity.

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