Friday, March 2, 2018

BIM – ‘I’ for Intuitive

I have been on an international job hunt lately, I guess nothing unusual in the current times.
Got a bit surprised with the two countries I targeted, my PM offerings scored much higher than the BIM skills I put on the table.
In fact, any role I found that had some BIM flavor added to it, I felt was squarely focused on the technicians’ field, something that definitely was not the case a decade or so ago.
Could say, it is a sad time for good BIM-mers with degrees and experience.

In my optimistic times, I like to think of good BIM peoples within the construction industry akin to specialists within the field of medicine, people that acquired another extra set of skills above their general training.
When I sink to more realistic (pessimistic) frames of mind – I see exactly the opposite, good BIM people get pulled down, well below generic engineers, often even the CADdies.

All this useless vacillation, while in fact I know that I should not, nor should the industry at large, swing between these extremes, but instead strive for something that I believed from decades ago to be the key goal: BIM to become a universal industry language.

Are we getting any closer to this idea?
We are not, take my word for it.

Or don’t.
Do your ‘I’ research yourself, where the ‘I’ stands for ‘Intuitive’ within the ‘BIM’ acronym and test how well it does.
Because, for any type of universal uptake for BIM to happen, it must become easy AND intuitive.
Past are the times when the only good BIM was the one you had to work hard for.
Or, I hope those times are passed, people that are prepared to work the ‘hard to get off the ground BIM are fewer and fewer’, can’t rely on them to change history. It is the time for the tools to be bending backwards to be taken seriously.

I will not be revealing any secrets, by stating that in fact a very, VERY small fracture of the industry is involved with anything related to ‘proper’ BIM.
This leaves a large proportion of the people outside of it. Or worse, absolutely BIM ignorant.

This fact alone should make the BIM fraternity’s highest priority to, simply speaking, focus all their efforts on recruiting new, BIM virgins.

However, to convert masses of the industry’s non-BIM population into becoming BIM literate at any level, there is the key challenge, how to make the tools thrown at them ‘locking’ with them, be intuitive and easy to use.

This is, of course a huge expectation from any toolset, considering the non-BIM-target audience easily covers 4 decades of age and work experience, from baby boomers to late millennials. What might work with one end of the scale will unlikely float the boat of the other.
A massive task to fulfill, but one that cannot be ignored.

And I’d love to have the main toolset-paddlers (i.e. AEC software sellers) come forefront and produce some real data, on just how good their toolsets score when it comes to ‘intuitiveness’.
And do that measuring across BIM novices, aged between 20 and 60.
I could, of course go further and chop that up across various roles within the industry, but I think the age factor is challenging enough to separate the real players from the pretenders.

So, here is a little challenge, – dear software creators, are you prepared to have your software tested on true non-BIM-mers across 4 decades of an age spectrum and zero BIM experience?

Would you face off with others in placing your tools into the hands of those that never used anything remotely BIM like, and trust their skills to get by, based on the intuitiveness of your products?

I don’t expect any straight answers, although I’d love to receive some.



  1. I think you have been working in the wrong part of the world. Here in Norway it is like "No, I do not want your .dwg, send me your .ifc.

    1. Odd, thanks for your comment. The issue is not with the country I think, in most places I’ve been over the last couple of years ‘BIM’ is present, and some modeling based work is done by most companies. Where the problem lies (for me) is that the number of truly (or even semi-) literate BIM people in the industry compared with the BIM-ignorant ones is still very, very small and does not seem to be increasing with years passing. In most cases the ‘ex CAD’ people (and often ‘just the technicians’ – I state this with caution as I have no issue with technicians per se) transitioned to BIM, or the new ones (again, technicians, draftspeople, modellers…) start of as BIM-people. This leaves out the majority of the industry, from the engineers, PMs, QSs, planners etc on the design side to the PMs, CMs, main and subcontractors etc on the construction side. Some of them may claim to be ‘BIM-readers’ or ‘BIM-utilizers’ but I am again very skeptical of their general ability to do anything meaningful within the BIM field. Software providers, like Autodesk recognize this (others probably too) and try to get a larger piece of the pie by charging these quasi users all sorts of subscriptions, but this still does not solve the overall problem of participation. A totally new approach with cheap, intuitive software would go some way.