Saturday, June 13, 2015

BIM product launches – good indicators on how the AEC industry is doing in the region.

At least once a year I like to review the status of my career and reassess the direction it is headed for.
Should I stay as a ‘pretend Project/Design manager’ for another year or should I jump back onto the BIM bandwagon and continue my interrupted career of a ‘pretend strategic BIM manager’?

Both roles have advantages and disadvantages for me, but for the last 5 years neither had achieved a convincing victory over the other, rather they keep trying to entice me over to their side for good, by universal scare tactics and or the promise of nirvana.

‘The pro-BIM ‘side regularly finds me (mostly via recruiters) and encourages me to re-deploy the considerable subject related experience and skillset I have. They urge me to do this within the area of BIM-enablement of the masses involved in BIM mandated giga projects spread all over the world. This side of the pendulum preaches that the ‘Doomsday for the BIM illiterate’ is close and the future for real BIM expertise is bright.

‘The forget BIM’ (or any meaningful and positive progress to the way the industry is run) side on the other hand also grabs me at any chance given, with the reality of an industry that has no need for sophistication, innovation and BIM type of skills and where one’s biggest asset is still one’s ability to bluff. The pendulum here radiates with the darkness of a misplaced career.

This Strange Case of ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ of the AEC/BIM flavours is not an illness I suffer from on my own, there is a significant proportion of the industry that I see perpetually flung from one end to the other of the ‘love BIM/hate BIM’ dilemma.
Significant in numbers yet scarily un-influential these people can be identified by changing their professional role descriptions by dropping or re-embracing the BIM acronym.
The scarier side of this game is that it tends to reflect the way the industry is doing overall – it is (oddly) when things go well and construction is buzzing that BIM gains momentum, when it is spooked and sluggish it is back to basics – no frills CAD.

Over the years I stumbled on an event, that more than anything helps me in my struggles to decide what side should I be on when trying to predict  what  shade of the proverbial war of ‘good and evil’ is likely to dominate the AEC world for the near future, and that is the ‘Annual Autodesk Product launch’.

To justify their ongoing upgrade-subscription and support fees, almost all major ‘BIM tool providers’ seem to agree that an annual bash for the party faithful is a good idea, even if not a lot of good news is there to share.
New slogans get forget, banners printed, interactive games devised and invitations get sent out.

Autodesk, the self-proclaimed leader of the pack, does these events with the nonchalance of the ‘not need to try too hard’ predetermined winners.
No personal tags for the attendees, mints on the tables or classy black pencils embossed by the host hotel. The coffee machines run dry half way through the event and the queues for the dinner are slow and long. (the food was a notch better this year than some others before).

In spite of the predictable format of the event, the tone of it varies from year to year depending on what the audience is likely to be perceived to be there for.
In some years, there are large groups of people new to BIM lured in by the promise of a good niche-career, likely to rocket them ahead of their peers.
On others it is mostly ‘everyday’ users looking for an evening out and checking out if their ‘tip suggestion’ has finally made the cut and got implemented by the Developer Gods of the Ivory Towers of Autodesk.

The hosts, catering for one group or the other (sometimes for an unfortunate mix of both) design their presentation around ‘big-picture – no-need to know details revolutionary materials’ or ‘cram in as many as possible hands-on new features on live files –evolutionary content’.

This year’s launch of the Autodesk products was the latter, and while the technical presenters were very good in their areas of expertise (it takes balls to demonstrate live anything, anywhere) – I found my mind wondering, deliberately trying to drown out the monotonous tone of those on stage sounding not unlike car auctioneers.
Still, I stayed the length of the event – an achievement of its own, since over years I’ve gained an embarrassing recognition of the ‘one that likes to walk out prematurely’.

I left the occasion happy to have seen a handful of ex colleagues – people I’m always glad to catch up with.
I also gained a reasonably good idea on which side the pendulum of ‘BIM/no BIM’ is likely to swing to in the near future and consequently what side of my pretend SM-Expertise should I keep showing to the world I work in.
   





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