Digital Builder Ep 10: 3 Things We Learned About The Future of BIM Adoption

Digital Builder Ep 10 3 Things We Learned About The Future of BIM Adoption

When it comes to the adoption of Building Information Modeling (BIM) on an international level, there are equal amounts of challenges as there are opportunities. Will we ever reach a global standard for BIM? 

On Episode 10 of the podcast, Ariel Castillo, Strategic Process & VDC Specialist at Miller-Davis Company, and Steve Rollo, National BIM/VDC Manager at Graham, join us to discuss the future of BIM adoption and standardization across the world. Other topics we chat about include:

  • Understanding what BIM and Virtual Design & Construction (VDC) really mean
  • The biggest challenges with rolling out new construction technologies
  • What BIM adoption and standardization look like in Latin America and Canada
  • Predictions for BIM globally over the next decade

 “The lack of understanding something goes back to education which eventually translates into resistance to change.” — Ariel Castillo

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Here are 3 things we learned about the future of BIM:

1. BIM Adoption Still Has a Long Way to Go

It’s become apparent that international BIM adoption is going to be an uphill battle, at least for the next five years. But that’s not to say the battle isn’t worth it. Construction groups will need to reconfigure processes and overhaul company culture to ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to BIM adoption. Even though it will be tough at times, there’s no doubt that BIM is the future of construction. And like any groundbreaking innovation, adoption takes time.

“Back in 1997, Clayton Christensen wrote one of my favorite books,” Castillo says, “it's called, The Innovator’s Dilemma. One of the key takeaways that we have in that book is that the value to innovation is an S curve, which means that improving a product takes time and many iterations. The first of these iterations don't provide much value, but in time, the base is created and the value increases exponentially.”

As for the five-year question, Castillo believes that companies will recognize the need for BIM, whether as an internal or market-driven decision, but implementation will still require a leap of faith. That could turn the adoption period into a longer-term scenario, but will ultimately result in BIM being a construction industry standard.

“Resistance to change is just the nature of innovation, and it will take multiple years to pay off,” Castillo says. 

2. Terminology Will Change

In the years to come, BIM isn’t going to simply be a high-level idea that only leadership worries about. It’s going to affect everyone in the construction industry on a daily basis. This means that education and clear communication are going to be essential to the shift to BIM. 

It’s highly probable that the term “BIM” fades away. This is because it will be standard for the entire construction industry, so referring to it by name will no longer be necessary.

“I think BIM is no longer going to be a fancy term, it might even disappear, as the process just becomes the norm,” says Castillo.

“Companies will be expected to use digital tools throughout their day-to-day activities. It's just going to be the normal way of coordinating tech activities.”

“On the notion of BIM and even potentially VDC disappearing as a standard term, I completely 100% agree with that,” Rollo says. “In fact, I see a shift already starting with that. There's a lot of misconception, because the term is building information modeling; they're thinking about just the structure, not everything else that might encompass the project.”

What’s more, as BIM adoption becomes more widespread, all stakeholders at an organization will need to be trained in using new tools every day on the job.

“There's now this notion of digital project delivery, which is starting to become a term in Canada that is gaining a little bit of traction,” says Rollo. “There's a lot more to it than just the virtual models now. When it comes to technology, that all plays together. So we have to be a little bit more expansive on that. This idea of possibly changing the term or the terminology, I definitely can see that in the next five to 10 years. We're going to refer to BIM and VDC almost as, this is what it was, and now this is what it is.”

Rollo adds that as BIM adoption expands in North and South America, other global regions will also see adoption grow.

“I think if something like that starts to become a little bit more expansive, and as more traction in the Americas happens,” Rollo says, “as that starts to grow a little more globally, I think that's going to have exponential impacts on the industry globally.”

3. Standards Will Be Essential to Adoption and Success

With global growth, many countries have already adopted a national BIM standard. Other countries, including the United States, have yet to implement BIM standards, which will be vital to expanding adoption and success. 

“When we talk about different standards from country to country, it is difficult to say that we're going to have one specific BIM standard—that's almost impossible,” says Castillo. “I mean, if you think about, we've been using CAD for many, many decades, and there's so many different ways to work.”

Beyond the U.S., Castillo says there are a number of countries leading the way on setting standards for BIM adoption, which is accelerating as other countries follow their lead. 

“Now, when it comes to Latin America, Chile, which is the country that's pretty much leading this movement, was advised by the U.K.. The U.K. has embraced this standard,” Castillo says. “Since Chile is now leading this movement, all the countries that are getting advised by Chile are also taking that standard as well. So, you can see how it's like a domino effect. Now, I know this is only for government projects right now. When it comes to the private sector, it might be a little bit different, but we can definitely look at what others are doing, and try to find something that's similar, and obviously making sure that it works for everybody. But instead of creating a new wheel, let's just basically take what's already there, adapt, and make it better.”

For Rollo, challenges to standardization of BIM adoption include the speed and timing of technology availability and implementation.

“I think one of the biggest challenges, at least that I'm finding up here in Canada, is the speed and timing of how technology is growing and adapting,” Rollo says. “This is a huge factor that throws a big wrench into what would be effectively a global standard. When you have so many different technologies, tools, and software available that are in that same bubble or same umbrella of the same task that it's executing, you run the issue of compliance from project to project. The speed in which that change is happening definitely makes it challenging for that level of adoption, not only at the company level. I couldn't even imagine how challenging that is for those that are trying to push in and implement what they're thinking of as a global standard.”

Eric Thomas

Eric is a Sr. Multimedia Content Marketing Manager at Autodesk and hosts the Digital Builder podcast. He has worked in the construction industry for over a decade at top ENR General Contractors and AEC technology companies. Eric has worked for Autodesk for nearly 5 years and joined the company via the PlanGrid acquisition. He has held numerous marketing roles at Autodesk including managing global industry research projects and other content marketing programs. Today Eric focuses on multimedia programs with an emphasis on video.