Interview: Henry Fenby-Taylor – Behind BIM2050’s relaunch as dotBE

The BIM2050 group has rebranded itself as dotBuiltEnvironment (dotBE). Henry Fenby-Taylor, BIM implementation manager at WYG and programme manager at dotBE, explains the aims and ambitions of the new network.

What exactly is dotBE, is it basically the BIM2050 group with a new name?

Fundamentally dotBuiltEnvironment is about making change whereas BIM 2050 mainly predicted the future of the built environment and technology so that we could bring it to everyone’s attention. Now that we’re a network we’re about making a real difference, making a positive change by bringing it about ourselves and helping others to do the same.

Those are pretty lofty ambitions, how are you going to achieve them?

The BIM 2050 group had a very tight scope around predicting the future of the built environment sector. Which is a pretty wide field of interest I’ll grant you, there’s a lot of possibilities and variables there, but what came out of that exercise was the most important thing and that’s what gave us this new direction.

We came to the realisation that innovation and invention need to penetrate our market much better and that this change, well it’s up to our generation and subsequent generations to implement.

So sure, dotBuiltEnvironment is about enabling innovation and change, but it’s also about meeting the needs of the professionals who are going to have to deliver this change. It’s the people that really make change and so that’s who we have to help. That’s no small scope either! So that’s why we’re growing.

How is dotBE growing?

We’re proactively seeking out those who you might call millennials, although I’m right on the cusp of what could credibly be called a millennial myself, being 35, but it’s more about the principle of being digitally minded than the age. If you’re a digital native and you’re keen to change the built environment to support new entrants and innovation then you’re exactly who we’re looking for.

When we get new members on board they can then get involved with the activities of our work streams. The time commitments vary from a couple of hours a week to serious work. So on one end of the scale we have the digital book club, anyone can join, we read and discuss interesting books about innovation, for example, and then we meet online to discuss them. With our members being all over the world it really helps to be digital first.

So we have the digital book club which doesn’t take up a lot of people’s time, it’s fun and enjoyable, but has a serious intent behind it ensuring that people are getting the right skills and understanding of issues that will have a massive impact on their lives. Then on the other end of the scale there’s work like the BIM and digital innovation international benchmarking study which we completed for the Scottish Futures Trust.

I was lucky enough to be the lead author for that and a lot of work went into it, not just from me, but from the whole team as well who were involved. With that of course comes the recognition, but also the opportunity to really change things.

We’ve provided direct advice to a government body that is implementing BIM and digital innovation. That’s not the sort of opportunity that comes along every day and we’re very proud that such work comes to us in light of our fresh attitude and our digital angle.

How does dotBE differ from the BIM2050 group it evolved from (how is it the same)?

Functionally we’re much enhanced. We’re a network now and not a group which to us means being totally open and working in a flat structure. This network is totally digital, we do have physical meetings, but we’re in constant communication on Slack, our digital forum. Last month we had more than 500 conversations and that’s the difference, there’s activity and there’s a community.

So you mentioned work streams. What do they do?

We have the network which is about connecting people and supporting events, but we also have two other streams: innovate and policy. These are pulling the levers that we see as the most important in creating a sector that keeps improving and provides fulfilling career paths for early professionals.

Innovate is about developing the means for allowing built environment tech firms to penetrate our market and providing the fertile ground for innovative start ups to grow in. The innovate stream has been working with Hack_Construct, which has been running hackathons in Scotland and finding software tools that affect perhaps less design focused areas of our lives to test and implement.

So we have the network and innovation streams, but then we have the policy stream as well. The policy stream focuses upon ensuring that governments and organisations have policies in place to support innovation and new entrants into the built environment sector.

For governments we want to see world leading tech opportunities being realised making our sector better while making sure that there is a route into these developments for graduate and young professionals. We’ve already made great in roads on our objectives

How can people get involved with this new network? 

If people want to get involved all they have to do is reach out to us. Send an email to [email protected] or say hello on twitter.

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