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[Posted in LinkedIn on January 21, 2017]

The question is how to get C Suite attention?

As simple as A B C! Perhaps not.

Before we start, chose A or B in your mind. Don’t go to the end to find the correct answer. Do write your choice down if you are likely to be interrupted. It is a relatively easy choice, a simple either or.

Back to the question, how do you get C Suite attention about BIM? There I have said the three letter acronym. I could make it four letters with CIMM, Collaborative Information Management and Modelling or two letters with DR, Digital revolution.

According to the NBS National BIM Report 2016 there is 54% BIM adoption in the UK, up from 48% the previous year. Allowing for a degree of over optimistic assessments from the contributors to the survey, and a degree of natural cynicism, we will for this discussion downgrade that to 50%. (The arithmetic is easier as well). If we are generous and make an assumption that as many as 50% of those are engaged in holistic BIM, and are therefore maximising the potential benefits. That quick, un-scientific and un-substantiated calculation suggests that 75% are not getting the most out of BIM. Given apparently a construction industry population of over 2 million people there is still a lot of awareness and engagement required to get full coverage.

Congratulations to the visionaries and innovators that have seen the light, and have the support required to get into the nominal 25% of high flyer adopters. Thanks also to the volunteers and others who put their time and expertise into the like of the BIM4 community, the BIM Task Group and all the other people and organisations who have helped, cajoled, and persuaded those early adopters who were prepared to put their toes into the water. There are several excellent examples of all disciplines within the construction industry. Too many to name here. However, I will pick out Waitrose as an excellent exemplar. The John Lewis ethos, especially the long term relationships they develop fits well with the collaboration element of BIM. They understand the value proposition of BIM and are able to explain the benefits to the decision makers in terms they understand. Their BIM models looks exactly like the finished product, so the end user gets exactly what they expected and what they require. The information is passed from construction into operation and maintenance and is used to improve efficiency in both. This translates to more profits for the shareholders, which happen to be the staff, it is the John Lewis Partnership after all is said, and less cost for the customers. Greater competitiveness and staff wellbeing.

The big challenge is how are we to get the other 1.5 million people up to speed with the industry transformation? Surely it is too large a group to be ignored or cast aside. It has taken a number of years to get to where we are. There are only 3years left to meet the ambition of BIM Level 2 as business as usual by 2020.

Ideally the change required to meet the challenge will come from the top. No, not the government but from the C-Suite of the companies and organisations in the industry. Still with the help of the BIM4 community and the UKBIM Alliance taking over from the BIM Task Group, together with the continued support of all the others that understand, and are happy to share their BIM ideas and experience.

Given that the C-Suite are already busy with lots to attend to, how do you get their attention?

You tell them about the savings and increased profitability, and you get the cynicism appropriate to the good thing that has dropped of the back of a lorry. The business case is not yet demonstrated. The investment does not provide the required return. Nothing can be that good. It is just a fad, and will not catch on. ‘The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty … ‘

Perhaps they do take enough notice to ask for information from their advisors. That is a big step forward, and should be recognised as such. However, the advisors don’t always have the knowledge, understanding, or expertise to be able to give the appropriate advice.

Will the C-Suite even open a pamphlet if one were produced specifically for them? If it were only two pages long it might fulfil the Executive Summary concept, but will have far too little information to enable constructive strategic decisions. In fact, when I write strategies I do not include an Executive Summary as such big decisions should not be made based just a small fraction of the information contained in the whole strategy.

Let us consider what else might influence the C-Suite, of CEO, CFO, CTO, COO, CIO, CCO, CLO etc. Perhaps the shareholders may have an impact. Perhaps the Fund Managers should take an interest. Given that the BIM adopters are already making some of the savings reported to be available and that they are most likely to outperform the construction industry both in terms of growth and dividends, it would make sense for Fund Managers and Investment Advisers know about BIM, the reported benefits. Then of course they would be better placed to assess if companies were managing that element of their business well, and were therefore worth investing in. Conversely, those companies that were ignoring BIM may become downgraded as an investment opportunity.

The Banking community may also be interested and start influencing the Construction Industry C-Suite. Again, with the greater success of the companies adopting holistic BIM there is of course the converse which could be construed as additional risk. Banks tend to take an adverse view about risk, especially if they stand to lose out if a company defaults.

BIM in the Health and Safety arena might save lives and avoid accidents. Failure to adopt known techniques of avoidance may be construed in such a way as to result in prosecutions which could possibly include some of the C-Suite as well as the organisation. Risk to liberty may provide sufficient influence.

The newspapers may provide some influence to the C-Suite, but I have been informed that the printed newspaper is in its death throws, or maybe put more sympathetically as being in decline. However, digital newspapers are on the rise. I wonder about the demographic of the digital newspaper in terms of influencing the C-Suite. Wider media may also be considered.

Why would wider media be interested in BIM? Let us consider BIM on a wider stage. BIM applied on infrastructure will reduce the costs of the intervention or project. It was once said that costs are 1:10:100 in respect of design, construction, and operation and maintenance. I suspect we should include demolition and decommissioning in the split, and acknowledge that the current figures are somewhat different. The idea however is still the same, the greatest saving is in the operation and maintenance phase. Hence the best of the savings are still to come. Infrastructure investment is generally public sector. The more we as an industry invest in BIM the greater the savings in construction costs, followed by a substantial reduction in ongoing costs. This could result in a reduction in taxes, but a more probable outcome would be just a reduction of the increase required.

Similarly building costs would be reduced. The less a building costs to design, construct, operate and maintain, the less those costs have to feed into the cost of living, either in the cost of the products we buy or the homes we live in.

If the cost of living and the cost of the public purse either reduce or do not increase as much as they may have otherwise done, it could make GB plc more competitive. A hypothetical example. A widget form the Far East costs £1.00, and £1.03 including transport costs. A similar widget costs £1.50 with a Union Flag and made in Britain on the packaging. It takes a high degree of philanthropy, social conscience, or economic awareness to ignore such a significance base price difference. However, there are cost pressures in the Far East including increased wages which will increase their costs faster that GB costs with the benefit of BIM downward pressures will make that difference much less, and taking the quality control differential, i.e. the percentage of non-merchantable product included in the shipment, the variance could become so slight that it is feasible to return to ‘Made in Britain’. Could this be the socioeconomic story that will get the media to become interested and to influence the C-Suite?

Back to the question at the top of the article. Did you chose A or B. There was no relevant information for you to make an informed decision. It was a totally random question without any meaning or true result. Accordingly it has no impact here either. That is not the case with the decisions the C-Suite have to make. BIM, implemented properly, and used properly, provides for informed decisions. Generally speaking informed decisions result in better outcomes than 50/50 bets. Information is a key element of BIM, and obviously an essential component of informed decisions. So the question should be restated as E or F. Expanding or Failing. That is the choice facing the C Suite now.

How do we get their attention?

Please answer in the comments.


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