Fresh from his stint on stage with Carlos Santana, House of Commons project BIM leader David Shepherd steps into the spotlight. He reveals his dislike of technology ‘gatekeepers’, and why a focus on SMEs is key to digital adoption.
What new built environment digital innovation that you have seen really excites you?
I spent 11 years working for Autodesk, implementing some of the most advanced BIM technology in the world. Yet, for me, the most exciting innovations are those that bring “the greatest good (or value) to the greatest number of people”. And, by that, I mean people globally, not just those in the West.
So, I’m especially excited by digital innovations, like Microsoft Power Apps and 3DBI, that enable SMEs to implement affordable digital tools that add value through quality assurance, safety inspections, and information management. It’s worth remembering that, in the UK, SMEs (companies with between 50 to 250 employees) comprise 99% of the 300,000 construction-related companies.
I’m far less excited by innovations that only the non-SME 1% can afford.
What single thing would help accelerate construction digital adoption?
In a nutshell, it would be for software vendors to price their offerings in line with typical SMEs’ budgets. The high price of digital innovation erodes the likelihood of all-important quick wins and has led to technology inertia.
Who do you follow on social media about BIM and digital construction and why?
For the past few years, I’ve followed Francesco Necciari. He posts fascinating articles on LinkedIn that reveal that the company he represents (Blogic srl) is farther ahead on its digital twin journey than many larger vendors.
What was the last app you downloaded and why?
The COBie Data Updater. It’s a Microsoft Power App that I developed for Microsoft AppSource. It collects comprehensive asset information for project handover. I use it because I can easily implement information management workflows that comply with ISO 19650, but without the price tag associated with major vendors.
What is the technology bane of your life?
Technology ‘gatekeepers’! So, by that, I mean, for example, anyone who promotes an elitist view of BIM or who launches into a social media rant whenever they discover that non-BIM colleagues have inadvertently violated some obscure sub-clause of ISO 19650.
Also, I have little interest in the recent spate of podcasts on the latest tech fads, especially if they are no more than a pretext for self-promotion. Posts that share quick wins and tricks of the trade that provide a positive ROI from technology are far more worthwhile and meaningful.
Mac or PC/IoS or Android?
My choices are (predictably) PC and IoS. I have the heart of a optimistic early adopter, but the mind of a hard-nosed pragmatist!
Do you have any smart home features or other digital gadgets?
I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a Luddite when it comes to the smart home. At 60 (which I turned this year), I decided that I would only resort to automation for tasks that I’m not willing or able to do myself. However, the list of those kinds of tasks is growing rapidly.
Also, as a home recording enthusiast, I still have my trusty PreSonus Studio One digital audio workstation. During the seven years that I’ve owned it, I haven’t had to pay for any upgrades, but, every time I use it, I discover more and more great features. I reckon that other technology vendors (who shall remain nameless) could learn a lot from that!
The responses in this article were prepared by David Shepherd in his personal capacity. The opinions expressed are his own and do not reflect the views of his employer.