BIM in 2021: BDP’s Alistair Kell

Alistair Kell, principal, chief information officer at BDP, commends the UK BIM Alliance for consolidation of standards around ISO 19650, but bemoans the rising costs incurred from suppliers’ ‘named user’ licencing, which is holding back adoption.

What in your view changed in terms of use of digital in construction and design in 2020?

I’m convinced that we’ve not seen change introduced that is solely due to the pandemic, but we have seen an acceleration of technology adoption that was already planned. IT infrastructure has had to be more resilient and flex to support the demands of working from home, but this investment will not be wasted.

Arguably the last 12 months has also seen BIM’s continued move from a more effective alternative to 2D drawing production to a tool to drive a more data-centric way of working. Clients are building an understanding of the value they can gain from this approach and their project teams are providing information that is being more widely exploited.

The UK BIM Alliance and the consolidation of standards around ISO 19650 is an important part of the focus on data development, and the group should be commended for maintaining progress and focus during the last 12 months.

The emergence of Windows Virtual Desktop (wVDI) as a viable solution for modelling is likely to change the IT landscape for many AEC firms. The pandemic has forced the hand of businesses to reassess flexible working policies and wVDI is likely to feature significantly in enabling this change more cost-effectively.

We’ve also trialled the majority of online collaboration tools, sitting in my BlueJeans with my Teams as we Zoom to the next Whiteboard session looking at a Mural of Miro… all valuable but we are missing the creative spark that face-to-face interaction can bring. (Alistair… your mic is muted!)

What technologies do you see coming into their own in 2021 – and why?

We will continue to develop capabilities around data production, visualisation and reuse. Those who manage ERP systems (business software) have skills that will become as valuable to project teams as BIM managers.

What are you looking forward to trialling/ bringing on board in the coming 12 months?

Possibly controversially, Autodesk Forge and their surrounding ecosystem is beginning to bring value within our business. We expect this to accelerate and for us to continue to build bespoke integrations that will add value to our business.

Aligned to Forge, I’m intrigued to see what Autodesk Tandem can offer.

What barriers do you see holding back new technologies and how might these be lifted?

The biggest challenges always sit as a balance between technology marketing and the reality of the products you’re being sold.

Over the last few years the software industry’s move from ‘concurrent’ to ‘named user’ licencing is also preventing adoption of products and services. Spiralling costs force a reassessment of your software portfolio, which supports neither your business nor ultimately the software companies themselves.

Must-have new app:

Between Zwift, Garmin and Wahoo supported by Trek and Technogym, I’m convinced I am now my own digital twin. I don’t need any fancy carbon-plated trainers this year!

One to watch:

Atvero, a really interesting product that leverages the most universal of all software, Microsoft.

Overall, the last 12 months has rightly been about strengthening the foundations of technology within businesses to enable them to sustain themselves as best they can during the pandemic. Roll on 2021!

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