COBie is Dead…! But is BIM Dying?

My friend John Grady wrote a few months back about the death of COBie and a lot of people that are tied to its success spoke up in defense. But, are we experiencing the same thing when it comes to BIM? I was planning to write an article about the similarly of the DOT COM era to follow up on my last post, but felt we needed to think about this first.

Here is why I bring it up. Most of us have seen the Gartner Hype Cycle chart and for those that haven’t it, it’s a chart that outlines expectations and time. It goes like this…

Technology Trigger – The introduction of a new technology that will change the way we do business. In this phase, you will see one major market player emerge, coining a specific term that the industry adopts as a reference. (Sound familiar?) You will see a lot of companies talk about prototypes and the introduction of start-ups. Mass media hype starts to kick in and practically-deployed, working products don’t exist.

Peak of Inflated Expectations – First-generation products hit the market that are high priced and need lots of customization or work-around. More and more start-ups are coming into the market spun from in house prototypes. Negative press begins at the highest peak.

Trough of Disillusionment – In the beginning stages of the slide you see consolidations and failures. Many start-up companies are going through additional rounds of funding. Towards the bottom and the beginning of the uptick second-generation products hit the street with services focused on product implementation and adoption.

Slope of Enlightenment – During the climbing slope, the adoption rate is longer and at a significant less trend upwards. Third generation products come out with the previous consolidated pieces and are closer aligned with ones workflow making them more out of the box.

Plateau of Productivity – This is an extremely high-growth phase, where the mass market has not only adopted the new way of doing business, but begins to embrace its success.

So is BIM dead…?

I don’t believe so! Is Building Information Modeling dying…? Definitely going through its lumps right now. But when we talk about BIM do we really mean modeling or do we mean Building Information Management? Information Management is more of a process made up of technology adoption trends like this. The curve of process adoption is different.

So what do all the “BIMster’s” do now…? Here is what one needs to think about; Is it time to throw in the towel and call it good? You could go that route and find yourself picking back up in adoption when the time is right for you and your organization. That one is for those that believe BIM stands for Building Information Modeling and is a technology trend. For those that have truly adopted BIM (Building Information Management) as a process you will have to hold on and manage your business accordingly. This is where understanding the strategy of one's company business model is important. Companies that don’t run on solid principals will find the ups and downs much more painful.


  1. I will agree that the Hype / BIM Wash driven BIM is going by the way side. However I also see that more clients are expecting BIM Deliverables and becoming more specific in what that means. Some do not even include it with their RFP but have used it as a distinguishing factor, the big difference is that the clients have learned to distinguish meaningful BIM with BIM Wash. I found many clients that have been disillusioned by BIM where sold by a GC who had hired an Architect to implement their BIM (not cradle to grave solution). The real trick is if a organization can make BIM effecient and cut out the bureaucracy and create new processes optimized to leverage the workflows. Enhanced deliverables that are effecienty created.

  2. Ksenia I would agree with you. Right now will moderate BIM use is starting to hit the satuaration point it still is not to the point where if you don't use it you won't survive. Once we hit that break point, which I do see aproaching in the next 12-18 months, I think we'll see a resergence of BIM use. My hope is the overhyped BIM proagated by software vendors at first then the AEC industry as a whole will not have created suck a set back that we take the 4-5 broad adoption can't live with-out it path. I am a BIM evangelist but I am also a realist. We need to focus on the core areas now with an eye to the future. We need to stop chasing the next best thing

  3. Tis interesting…. to me it seems sort of like "personal communication" – so you have those crazy brick phones in the 70s that are cumbersome, weird PDA things, nokia phones which are usable, and then apple come along and make something really easy to use which opens up the possibilities which phones have been promising for decades, they just didn't have the technology to make it real at that point. And now your smartphone is basically an irreplacable extension and people don't know how they ever lived without it!

    I think we're in the iphone 1.0 step now? so the software is finally just about delivering what was promised all those decades ago… it's fairly intuitive and nice, but as a culture we're not dependant on it yet. People who've tried BIM and succeeded probably wouldn't be able to go back to 2D CAD drawings because it's like going back in time. But people who've tried BIM and didn't really get on with it can still function without it because it's not the default yet

  4. I don't really think BIM is dying at present. This great tool is very helpful in buildings and constructions. BIM is absolutely a very important tool. This is a process of generating and managing a building’s information through three-dimensional design. It is a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility. Contractors really find this helpful since this enables them to build buildings much easier with fewer questions made after, thus, there's no reason for this to die these days.

  5. In the late 90s and early 00s, forward thinking Mechanical, Plumbing and Structural contractors were using 3D intelligent modeling for the improvement and efficiency it brought to their processes. (Aka BIM in a silo). In the mid-00s, the newly coined term “BIM” began to replace the functional but clumsy and only partially efficient light table coordination. This allowed trade contractors to now reserve their space so to speak and in conjunction with the adaptation of total station technology by the MEP trades, these same forward thinking trade contractors began to develop comprehensive strategies for installation and execution of their projects, centered around the model. The primary focus of these trade contractors was and still is saving money, reducing waste, increasing profits and improving safety by executing more efficiently. Marketing of these abilities by these trade contractors only came after these abilities were well established.
    The AEC community, who saw these early successes, soon realized opportunities existed to market these abilities to their clients and while some fully developed their skills and abilities in utilizing the BIM process, others did not. At times marketing became the primary driver and we began to see a bigger emphasis on the appearance of the model to wow and dazzle the client, than on its’ functionality or practicality. That required even mundane objects such as light switches to be modeled. Even worse, the claim that the client would be delivered a 100% interference free model was often made. In reality a 100% interference free model is neither achievable nor practical and an insistence on achieving such as lofty goal leads to additional costs and delays which bring little or no value to the project.
    The worst part however wasn’t what was promised with these building models but what was implied. Once the as-built models were turned over to the owners they began to find that they could not turn on and off the lights from the model, that valves could not be opened or closed from the model and that they could not query the model to find out the GPM, or operating temperature of a specific section of pipe, or the energy usage of a given mechanical room. Not that any of these claims were ever made, but the void left by not clearly defining the functionality and characteristics of the completed model was in turn filled with assumptions and expectations that simply could not be filled by the existing software. Owners expecting a fully functioning death star found themselves instead with an animated picture in time of what their building looks like internally and (if modeled correctly) what it is constructed of. Useful? Yes. Possibilities for facilities management? Yes, but hardly what was expected
    So is BIM dead? Certainly it hasn’t met the expectations many have attributed to it, but those forward thinking users who are primarily concerned with what it can do for them will continue to use it regardless of what happens in the bigger scheme of things, and will continue to find new ways to exploit the information rich content that it contains to develop strategies and methods to execute more efficiently and more productively. Hopefully the future will bring a more widely industry accepted litmus test to apply to all models, which is: Does it add value? Than model it, if it doesn’t than don’t

  6. I'm guessing from your post that you think BIM is in the "Trough of Disillusionment". (That wasn't made explicitly clear.)

    I agree with this assertion. Contractors have mostly been selling smoke and mirrors. The major return they have been getting is more work based on faking it. Owners have caught on to this and it is no longer producing results. Real BIM takes effort which a lot of people are not willing to put into it. So they are becoming jaded because it is no longer easy street to new work.

    On the flip side owners are becoming jaded from all of the crap they have been sold and are seeing no results on. Its creating a bit of a downward spiral.

    But I don't think BIM is dead. There are individuals out there with solid workflows and processes that will come out on top as they stick with them. It's based on hard work that may not be very sexy or sell new projects but it is strengthening fundamentals. If you want to see the future of BIM look to processes that are deeply rooted in solid fundamental workflows.

    • I did not make that clear for a reason… I was talking in both a Marco and Micro sense. But to be clear, I personally believe that "BIM" in a Macro sense is headed down the steep decline between the Peak of Inflated Expectations and the Trough of Disillusionment. We are not near the bottom, as the market place takes back up we should probably get to that point. Firms will find themselves having less time to deal with the implementation struggles and the standard way of doing business will come back more into play.

      By all means I don't want to give the indication that Contractors are selling "Smoke and Mirrors"… they are just selling what they know like everyone else. You actually always have to sell a concept before it can be sold as proof. Otherwise there would little in the way of innovation. At the end of the day like so many other things it boils down to revenue.

      Are owners becoming jaded…? Yes! That is the sign of negative press. But again, so is everyone and that is a good thing. It will push those aside that are not relevant, and drive the major players into more suitable deliverables.

      I could not agree with you more that there are a lot of good firms and vendors founded on solid principles, these will be the companies that have the most to gain by the world going through this cycle.

Leave a reply