BIM: A Marketing Effort | Part I

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More and more organizations such as GSA, local government agencies and large developers are changing their pitch. A few years back it was common to see an RFP asking for “some BIM” scope as part of documenting design on projects. Today, shortly after, the same organizations are expecting much more in terms of demonstrated BIM expertise on real-time projects.

Currently a number of leading key-challenges are creating a large gap between BIM, as a technical implementation, and what an organization can offer through its marketing capabilities. Identifying those challenges will ultimately assist you in formulating a plan to tackle each issue individually and achieve a better orchestrated strategy, offering your clients the services/expertise they deserve.

 

COMPETITIVE MARKET
In a difficult environment, everyone in the industry is here to compete for both new and repeat business, where the stakes are rapidly changing. The expectations placed on our firms to grow and win projects are rising exponentially. In today’s marketplace, it is no longer about what you have done, rather, what you have done lately.

As organizations begin to recognize the substantial adoption of BIM and the competitive nature of the current marketplace, the very limited amount of clients that we’re willing to pay extra for BIM deliverables are simply gone. There is now a solid understanding among these organizations that the industry is moving towards BIM and integrated design leveraging sustainability and the tools that support an integrated project delivery approach. If you don’t offer these services at a competitive rate, someone else will.

Consider this – if in one or two years from today 50% of all RFPs in the AEC industry would require BIM and you have not yet established a BIM consultative expertise, you would have to win twice as many of none-BIM RFPs just to maintain the same level of business. Essentially, be twice as strong in a market half the size.

NEW BUSINESS PROCESSES
Given the varying stages of BIM understanding and adoption levels, it is difficult to gauge our current growth rate. We can review the McGraw-Hill data polled in 2010 in their publication “The Business Value of BIM”. This report reflects a growth of 49% in North America in 2009. The reported percentage reflects the fact that we are adopting BIM rapidly as a technology, the question is, are we looking at the new business processes this involves and how will it affect our ability to win work?

A lot of us are embracing the new BIM technology just fine under such rapid pressure. The issue becomes lack of time spent on the processes involved with this adoption. BIM is a new process, failure to study and document how it integrates in this business yields several challenges in key-areas relating directly to defining BIM scope and solicitation of services rendered:

Strategy & Vision – There is a significant lack of education on BIM leading to a deficiency in strategy, vision and direction. You must understand what you are selling in order to sell it effectively and attain clients/work. In general, organizations look to implementing BIM as a technology and this approach mainly transitions over to bidding work. Here the word “BIM” is viewed as a piece of software, which misses all together the new opportunities and/or potential liabilities of accepting the work as-is with lack of scope definition.

BIM Leadership – There is lack of BIM champions that can implement the technology while understanding the business side both internally within their organization and externally for clients. The new role of a BIM leader is not yet recognized or defined.

Communication is Redefined – Despite of the aggressive adoption of BIM, in most cases, design and contractor teams are still caught in the same vicious cycle of their relationship. They don’t realize that BIM redefines the communication between all players on a project by introducing a highly communicative environment to deliver a better product to the owner. This communication change calls for different business relationships and a paradigm shift in culture that is yet to be outlined:

  • Multi-Design team communication (same or multi-company)
  • Design and construction teams’ communication on projects.
  • AEC relationships with their owners and clients.

The Definition of BIM – It depends who you talk to, the definition of BIM varies. It is evident that most business developers and RFP responders view BIM as a method to create three-dimensional models with some intelligence involved. They are completely missing the ultimate point of delivering a full virtual design and construction (VDC) package to the client. A product they can leverage today or in the future.

Credentials and Experience – While some companies were able to complete multiple million S.F. projects in BIM, the vast majority are still trying to integrated a true BIM concept solution on projects in tandem with balancing billings, phases, submittals and so on. As we continue to become experts on sustainability and others types of services, we are lacking the consultant expert mentality on BIM to lead our clients and make sure they are getting the most out of the product they are asking for.

  • Lack of firms’ corporate BIM portfolios and credentials.
  • Inadequate internal BIM implementations, thus inability to supply clients with a solid strategy.
  • Industry is mainly focusing on gearing up the technology instead of looking at this as an opportunity to add another line of business to their arsenal of services.

Comments

One Response to “BIM: A Marketing Effort | Part I”
  1. It seems that many of the obstacles you mention in this article stem from the definition of what “BIM” is. When I speak to decision makers, I stress that BIM, VDC, IPD and other acronyms are simply buzzwords for what the manufacturing sector has been doing for decades: digital prototyping. This seems clarify the concept despite all of the hot air from various gas-bags that try to cloud the subject with their “expertise”. A like how you point-out that fewer decision makers are willing to pay extra for BIM. Anyone with experience can see that an architect’s or engineer’s client will be paying less to get more. I think is it great that you mentioned credentials & experience. The problem of “BIMwashing” has further clouded the definition of what one can expect from “BIM” as a service. So far, experience is the key to finding individuals and businesses who can adequately produce a digital prototype of a building project.