BIMcrunch Editorial: Latest NBS Report BIMboozles industry?

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“This is our fifth annual BIM report and it has turned out to be one of the most intriguing yet.” – CEO of NBS and RIBA Enterprises, Richard Waterhouse certainly wasn’t wrong.

The fifth annual NBS BIM Report was released this past Friday and contained some rather unexpected statistics to say the least. Whilst some of the results indicate that positive steps are being taken towards the UK Government’s 2016 Level 2 BIM mandate, some findings are rather puzzling indeed. In today’s Editorial, I will take a look at how the NBS Report represents current industry trends – the good, the bad and the bizarre.

The unanticipated outcomes to some questions are at risk of devaluing the answers of others that suggest that the government are taking the UK down the right path. Whilst the survey was only answered by a portion of the industry, it is meant to be a true reflection of what is happening and what trends are currently visible, just on a smaller scale.

Let me first address the bewildering BIM findings that have came as a result of the report. Kicking off with results from Page 9, one of the percentages adds up to 101% in response to ‘BIM awareness and usage’. 5% also answered that they are unaware of what BIM is and are not using it. Whilst NBS clearly try hard to select and encourage relevant industry professionals to take part, if people are unaware of what BIM is, perhaps they shouldn’t be responding. They will not have knowledge of industry trends and practice meaning their opinions will simply be inaccuracies that potentially discredit the entirety of the report.

Inaccuracy elsewhere in the report was even addressed by NBS on the same page. When asked what software platform respondents use to complete their Building Information Modelling projects, Nemetschek Vectorworks topped the poll with 28%. Describing this surprising result, NBS state: “Analysis of the data suggests that this [user base] loyalty has translated into a significant increase of respondents to the BIM survey among Nemetschek Vectorworks customers.

“We suggest a little caution in taking this as a definitive description of the UK market.”

Obviously, NBS had to publish the true results of the report but again, it can be interpreted that this question throws the rest of the results into question. If these results may not showcase a “definitive description”, perhaps other responses do too?

A question that may raise proverbial eyebrows like the aforementioned point is “Where do you get the BIM objects your organisation uses?” On the surface, the results look fairly accurate. The National BIM Library houses more manufacturers than other UK object libraries and also, many organisations create content in-house. When comparing the responses here with those in the BIM4M2 report however, an interesting contrast is apparent.

In the NBS Report, NBL is found to be used by 46% of those who submitted their opinion whilst only 28% utilise “another BIM library” such as bimstore, BIMobject, etc. In the BIM4M2 report, bimstore is deemed the most popular source for BIM objects, with NBL only a few per cent behind. As with all surveys, each is only an indication of what may be true across the entire industry, yet an intriguing debate is raised here nonetheless.

NBS BIM Report Screenshot. Credit: NBS
NBS BIM Report Screenshot. Credit: NBS

Before addressing the many, many positives that the report found, let’s touch upon the worrying statistics regarding industry. The main focus should be to speculate why BIM adoption fell compared to 2014 results. 48% of respondents utilised BIM on a project in 2014, down 6% on 2013.

NBS address this fall, explaining: “Thus at first sight these findings are puzzling. Have we reached BIM’s peak? We would suggest not: it’s more of a plateau before the 2016 deadline for BIM adoption.”

Whilst we here at BIMcrunch believe that BIM implementation will increase come 2016, perhaps it will not escalate as much as the industry expects. NBS believe that the drop in adoption is “a plateau”; maybe the results are actually showcasing that the architecture sector are simply not as advanced as first thought? If 54% of professionals were using BIM in 2013, shouldn’t they have been getting more practice in last year? A disappointing glimpse into the reality of the industry, perhaps? With next year’s report addressing 2015 trends, I assume BIM adoption will rise to greater levels than 2013. At least I hope so.

Away from the perplexing and negative elements of the report, some very positive findings are to be found. If we overlook the discrepancies, some very valid results can be digested.

Over half of those who partook believe that the UK Government is taking the nation on the right path in relation to BIM. Although the majority of professionals questioned don’t see the UK as a world leader, we have definitely thrown our hat into the group with those close to the top.

More people are now aware of BIM than ever before also. Despite only 1% growth from last year, this small climb is great to see. You would think that anyone taking a BIM survey would know what it is was after all and not be wasting their time. It is clear that the excellent work done by the BIM Task Group and #UKBIMCrew is reaching industry and influencing changes in attitudes.

50% of those surveyed are also utilising BIM currently, which is definitely positive. BIM has gone from a niche and will soon be a norm. 83% said that they would be utilising BIM within a year, another fantastic statistic. It will be very revealing indeed if these figures are matched in next year’s trove of statistics.

Overall, the NBS BIM Report may have created more questions than it has answers, yet the findings are certainly more positive than they are negative. Professionals are engaged with the process and most are looking to get to grips with BIM within the next year. In the light of these results, I would urge anyone and everyone in the industry to share as much expertise as they can to ensure that the industry is richer with knowledge ready for 2016. Competition is healthy and if more people are locked into the right mind-set, then that ensures that the wider UK construction scene is thriving. We may not be world leaders yet, but who is to say that we can’t be one day?

To view the NBS BIM Report 2015, click here.

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