BIM, There’s an App for that: #BIM

What is the future of BIM?  While this may seem premature as many people are new to BIM and IPD and their implications we can see parallels in the computer industry itself.  And we look at the computer industry what we are really looking at is the storage/management and use of data since the computer is only a tool and if we are not using it really its just a paperweight.

The computer originally was used to compute data, numbers, and one of its first big hits for mass consumption was Visi-Calc, an electronic spreadsheet that did the math for you, which took the place of paper.  That was good.  The spread sheets got more robust in power and features.  New entrants came in, remember Lotus 1-2-3.  It started getting really popular and more entrants came in, Microsoft brought out Excel, and now Microsoft Office, which Excel is a part of is the main revenue generator for the company.  Companies were created to add functionality to these programs, in templates and automated worksheets, bolt ons and the like.  It became such a big industry that a consortium lead by Sun created Open Office, free for the taking.  Google then created its own spreadsheet program on the Web utilizing cloud computing.  And google, if anything, is about the data, and cloud computing with its data available to all allows firms and individuals to add value with products and services and bid on projects immediately accessible to them.

BIM is the format for data that will allow this same revolution take hold in the A/E/C Community.  And its already starting to happen.  The building in 3D allows all sorts of data to be embedded or available in the project.  Revit, Microstation, ArchiCAD all allow you to build on a 3D platform.  Navisworks for collision detection, Ecotect or IES for performance analysis, etc.  Now with the adoption and creation a new data portability standards IFCxml, AGCxml, etc. it starts to become easier to work cross platform.  Companies like Onuma are working on BIM servers that will host the models so everyone can start to work together.  Once the BIM gets up in the cloud it afford more firms to add value through products and services.

Andersen comes up with an app that can pick out the windows and provide bids for replacement windows, with ROI and energy savings calculators built in, Trane same thing for retrofitting.  Contractors can bid on the digital projects, anyone who fabricates or installs building products can so digitally. Rendering firms, etc.  The building becomes the operating system that people build on.  This type of platform breaks up the hegemony that is Autodesk, but that acquire companies to fortify it, like the purchase of Naviswork and Ecotoect so you can program a building from design to destruction within their family but their business model will also have to shift.  IBM made the transition to a powerful services vendor.  But you need to get energy analysis on a building, get bids on a new roof, find a new commercial cleaner, yea there will be an app for that.


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