BIM in the UK: Digital is coming

UK BIM (BIM in the UK), digital transformation, built environment, game of thrones,

John Eynon on how Game of Thrones is like digital transformation in the built environment, change is inevitable – and why some in the UK construction industry need shaking by the lapels

If you’re a Game of Thrones fan then you’ll know about the recent Battle of Winterfell. If not, this metaphor is going to be totally lost on you. Apologies but please bear with me!

The White Walkers (living dead) surround the citadel of Winterfell, the last bastion of the humans led by the Starks against the Night King and the Undead.

It is a close-run thing.

And but for the last-minute knife thrust by little baby-faced assassin Arya that takes out the Night King, all would have been lost. But it wasn’t. I imagine everyone will live happily ever after, although we have yet to see. Tune in to Game of Thrones…Perhaps the dragons will have more babies…I’d like one!

We lost

Imagine Winterfell to be our industry for the built environment. Imagine the hordes of the undead surrounding the citadel to be the waves of digital transformation beating upon our industry from all directions, it seems. Some in the citadel resist, some don’t know or even care. But in this scenario, which won’t be close at all, the hordes will sweep through the walls and take the citadel, taking all before them, without mercy or exception. Nevertheless, this will be at some cost of life and limb to all – we are all involved. Resistance will indeed be futile, to mix my metaphors with the Borg and Star Trek.

Let’s get real and get down to it here.

Digital transformation of our UK BIM industry is absolutely inevitable. For all kinds of reasons: other industries want our data, the growing smart movement, rapidly developing tech, the urge to innovate, the innovators and early adopters, the need for efficiency, and the profits that go with that, as well as all the benefits of digital that catalyse other improvements.

It’s all on the table. Your only choice is to go with the flow now if you haven’t already done so, or to be forced to later when you may not have the time (or money) to catch up and then face an uncomfortable alternative reality.

Time to change up

I don’t think anyone can argue that our industry doesn’t need to improve on many fronts, not just digital. Skills, sustainability, diversity, inclusion, safety, payments, contracts, professionalism, work-life balance, mental health, sexuality, leadership and many more.

Is it just me or is change even on the smallest scale so very painful and slow?

Isn’t this really obvious? Why aren’t more people angry and vocal about the state of the nation, about how our industry needs to change and actually be prepared to get off their arses and do something about it?

Are we so desensitised and ignorant that we just think, “Oh well, UK BIM is just 3D, I’ll get the software later. It won’t make any difference to me”. Or perhaps deep down we just don’t give a ****.

Or is it that we don’t feel responsible, or perhaps that on our own we can’t make a difference in any small way? Perhaps we just want to shuffle through the years making as few waves as possible. Perhaps the “what’s in it for me?” syndrome is also at play, with people not seeing a benefit in putting their head above the parapet, because there is no short-term gain, more likely pain.

What’s wrong with us?!

I’d like to give our industry and some of our leadership a really good shaking! Why do the silent majority really not get the reality-changing, gobsmacking enormity of all this, of what we’re facing and the digital tsunami that will inevitably engulf us all? No one will be unscathed. There is no hiding place from this digital revolution and evolution. Just look at the way smartphones have changed the way we live in less than 10 years. Or EPOS for just that bit longer. Our digital footprints, fingerprints and data are everywhere. Society is becoming more and more data-driven – why not our industry?

And, of course, remember that evolution has consequences. Life and death. Success and failure. Survival or not. Businesses will fold. Careers will end. Some will succeed, but not all will or can. It doesn’t work like that! Everyone doesn’t get a badge here. And that was just the introduction!

Brymec – kudos!

So it was with some joy and a little anticipation that I attended Brymec’s recent innovation day at Gatwick. They are an SME, suppliers to the building services industry.

About half of their staff and team, 100 people-ish, were there on the day to hear myself and others talk about innovation, ideas, future trends and trying to work out what’s next for them, and their customers. Various tech was available for hands-on tryout – VR/AR, drones, robots, 3D printing – a veritable smorgasbord of tech!

The idea of the day was to drive the next wave of innovations for Brymec to continue to succeed, engage their team and drive innovation. This approach is already working for them.

Stunning. Amazing. Fabulous. Breathtaking.

For a company of this size to have this kind of vision and be willing to do something like this to drive their innovation and development is outstanding – and puts many of their larger peers to shame. And puts them in the leading pack of industry moving forward and into the digital future. Good for them! Brymec are understanding, responding, adapting and driving forward. Darwin in action!

All credit to managing director Luke Reiner and their team. First class! And thanks for having me.

It’s change, change, change, stupid!

As I’ve said before, this comes to all of us. The pace of change continues to accelerate and is affecting all aspects of society on many fronts – this isn’t just about our industry. This is about life and how it’s going to be. The waves of tech will continue to pound our beaches, demanding our attention and eventually sweeping us away with them. New tech, open data, big data, deep data, 3D, 4D, 5D, 6D, 7D, nD – it’s all coming. Wearables, over suits, implanted, chips, displays, plugins.

As I often I say, #wearealltechnologistsnow and #lifelonglearners, because if you want your business to survive or your career to progress, we all have to keep up now. Only in this case, it will not slow down for us. No quarter will be given.

These are challenging times, so we need to wake up, we need to see visionary leadership, nimble SMEs adapting to change and outgunning their larger rivals, and big organisations showing the way. I don’t see enough of it yet. The people at the cutting edge are getting carried away with the hubcaps and flashing lights. Meanwhile most of the industry can’t do Level 1, as it was known pre-ISO 19650. Maybe somebody could think about that?

And finally…

Nice to see that at long last the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has become a sponsor of the UK BIM Alliance, who are still leading the charge on Level 2, as us old timers call it. Great that after eight years finally some government money has found its way to the UK BIM movement.

It is a strange idea that our industry can be changed by volunteer efforts. Hundreds, if not thousands, have given their time, effort and money over the years to keep the BIM movement in the UK moving forward, the BIM Regions, the BIM4 specialist groups and the UK BIM Alliance continue to work on this, and need your support in anyway. You know what to do. There’s only all our futures at stake!

JOHNEYNON. Is an architect, design manager and BIM Champ with over 40 years’ experience in the built environment industry, across a variety of roles and projects. He has been involved in UK BIM since around 2012, predominantly through the BIM Regions/Regional Hubs and more recently the UK BIM Alliance. He writes, blogs, lectures, speaks, dances and paints. You can catch up with him at


UK BIM (BIM in the UK), digital transformation, built environment, game of thrones,John Eynon


Open Water Consulting

Twitter: @56jonts


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