Saturday, 2 April 2016

BIM. Australia and the UK and Digital Node.

Having worked and lived in the UK for the past ten years it is important to review and acknowledge how far we have come in regard to BIM in the UK and begin to draw some comparisons. We’ve all discussed national and international context and for the better part we can only guess the maturity of a nation in regard to BIM - yet it is fair to say we cannot accurately determine what this means for our industry globally.


I discussed global context in the class I taught at Autodesk University in 2015 - yet this discussion was purely based on research undertaken by several academics and organizations on the topic. This research, although thorough and relevant, still did not give a clear picture to how we review and understand regional differences.


I recently returned to Australia (for the Christmas) and in fact for a longer stay than usual and will divide my time and Digital Node between Australia and the UK. You have probably already discovered through the social media channels that Digital Node and Digital Node Australia are now in existence. The reason for this is not purely because my lifeline exists in Australia (as most of you are aware) but due to the fact we (as Digital Node) can start to utilize the UK processes and industry as well as guidance we have achieved over the space of the last two years of operation.  This will begin to affect not only how we offer services in different regions but also how we can use the UK BIM processes and knowledge acquired to adequately support projects and clients in this market.


As an Australian I can very firmly state that as a young and relatively modern society we are very agile and adapt to change.  For an Aussie, change is as easy as a walk in the park and we can move very quickly in differing areas of our lives and work to accommodate this. We don’t question as much as we could and generally utilize best practice when it comes to technology and process. This is very different however in countries like the UK where historical context poses a challenge when it comes to affecting change. This is something I am very clear about and something I have experienced over the course of my career.


The main problem existing here is consistency in process. There is no clear and set standard of delivering projects to achieve a BIM deliverable here in Oz. Terms such as ‘protocol’ ‘manager’ ‘standard’ are very different in this context and it is not until you work in the context of a project environment and see with your own eyes the way projects are run that you can accurately to compare. Digital Node remains firm on the belief that without working in context to projects, it’s impossible to assess and train an industry, one of our most important areas of the business.


For this reason, there are real opportunities for those with the experience from the UK to help drive change here in Australia. Not because we need to - but because as Aussies, we find it hard to say… ‘hey the UK have done a good job, let’s use what they’ve done and go for it’. We need to find our own way and acknowledge others before moving forward. For this reason, the approach toward change here is very different.


What I have realised in a short space of time however is that our abilities, through the supply chain are quite strong in regard to technical delivery of BIM. In the UK however we have a little further to go. Not saying that this is a negative for the UK, the market, value and size is not comparable so therefore it is natural there are many more people to upskill. The point I make here is that with the skills here in Australia we have huge potential (in all areas of building and construction) to be able to market our services to support projects in a global context. Not only does this enable global recognition of Australian capabilities but also allows us to adequately acknowledge the BIM Level 2 banner, state we can work in the context of it, and then also work in the context of our own environments too. Win-win situation.


In short, the potential is huge for a large country like Australia with huge opportunities moving forward. Where else are we going to be able to live and work (with population growth rising) and lifestyle choices changing in the future? J


The UK BIM Programme has been incredible and acknowledging this is important, and for me this has prompted an industry toward change and growth which is fantastic. However, without the skills to be able to deliver on this, the market in the UK will suffer and we will need to draw upon resources elsewhere…….


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