Rob Charlton, CEO of Space Group (www.bimshowlive.co.uk)

Analysis

The next generation: Rob Charlton reflects on BIM Show Live

24 March 2020 | By Rob Charlton

Rob Charlton, CEO of Space Group (pictured above), gives an overview of this year's event and notices a distinct change in demographics.

The dust has settled on BIM Show Live 2020. A lot has happened in the couple of weeks since the event. We were very lucky to squeeze it under the wire before the Covid-19 restrictions came into force. Most conferences for the next six months have been cancelled.

We had probably the widest range of speakers this year, covering a real breadth of topics including some that are not perhaps traditionally or typically associated with BIM (like biophilic design and ageing). Speakers seemed to go down well, with the majority of the delegates saying the speakers made them think. It’s good to our industry continually broadening its horizons. 

This year’s BIM for Good theme seemed to resonate with delegates. I think the time was just right and not only did our keynote speakers reflect the theme, so did the classes generally. There was a lot of positive discussion around the need to look out and not just inwards as a sector. Hopefully the event has inspired a few people to look at opportunities in what they do every day.

The new awards format was well received as was the net zero carbon aspiration. The vegan food seemed to be popular. There is still a long way to go with this but I think we made a good start. We’ll be continuing to look at new ways in which we can meet our target – we all have to do as much as we can.

This new generation are getting involved in digital construction for the technology itself rather than necessarily looking to address issues. This is a positive in that now the issues are no longer as obvious as they once were.– Rob Charlton

Every year the age profile changes. When I am on stage looking out the cross section of ages gets broader. The original old timers, such as myself, still come along every year. However, there is a new audience who are younger with a specific tech focus. It’s great to see new generations with new ideas engaging with the debates we’re having.

When we set out on the BIM Show Live journey nine years ago, most of us were construction professionals with experience of the challenges in the industry. Many of us were promoting the use of BIM as a tool to improve workflows and outcomes. We had the battle scars to remind us of the importance of driving change.

The emerging audience are a little different. Generally BIM is now accepted as the norm, it is only really the laggards who are still not getting on board. This new generation are getting involved in digital construction for the technology itself rather than necessarily looking to address issues. This is a positive in that now the issues are no longer as obvious as they once were.

However, the role of those of us with the grey hair is to share the benefits of our experience to help new generations understand the challenges which technology will help to address.

I came across slides from 2012 in my Dropbox while pulling together my presentation for this year. What struck me was how low tech we actually were back then. When I look at this year’s classes, the sector is doing so much more in sophisticated delivery and research taken from other sectors.

Every year the network gets stronger. A good number of the delegates have attended every one of the conferences. David Philp and Simon Rawlinson have chaired every single one.

We have built up some great friendships over the years. However, it is also important to encourage new blood so that BIM Show Live doesn’t just become an old timers’ get together. The event has to continue to be as fresh and at the leading edge as it was when we first launched it.

When it comes to where delegates travelled from, there is an interesting split. We had around 450 delegates over the two days, which is about the same as we get every year. However, this year we had more international visitors than usual. The split was equal between the North East, international, London and the rest of the UK. It was great to see how the networks and discussions continue to expand outward from the event.

We learn from every conference and want to make things better and respond to the feedback we get. We have already spent some time thinking about next year with it being such an important milestone. When we started this event we had no idea it would last 10 years and that it would build the reputation it has.

Our 10th anniversary will be very special. We have some great ideas.

We will be sharing dates and locations over the next few weeks. Keep an eye out as we have some surprises that we’re looking forward to sharing with the BIM community.

To find out more about BIM Show Live, visit www.bimshowlive.co.uk, or follow on Facebook, on Twitter @BIMShowLive, on Instagram @bimshowlive or LinkedIn.