With the public visibility of of VEO, the market for Cloud Sharing and Visualization BIM tools has grown by one. If you look at the market today there are really three main competitors in this space. Horizontal Systems (Autodesk), VEO (M-SIX) an another that’s not quite visible yet but also by a major player.
If you lump on the Rendering group like, Autodesk Cloud Rendering, Vimtrek, and others you end up with a smorgasbord of socialized BIM tools.
One of the questions that we have been struggling with internally is what is the cloud worth. I don’t think anyone can argue that visibility of information and access aren't good things, but is there a difference between daily web meetings with models and a cloud tool.
From a technology standpoint there is clearly a difference. We are also pretty certain that the cloud will provide instant benefits when it comes to having nearly immediate access to files and the other offerings each of these tools uniquely provides.
So what's missing?
I’ve been thinking about this one for a while and I really think its the model being the center of collaboration. More specifically its currently not.
The best example that comes to mind is the forever promised link between specifications and models. The technology to make the link exists, but I have yet to see and or hear this conversation…. Architect #1 “What glass did we spec for the South East Façade?” Architect 2# “I don’t know, lets go check the model/Model Database.” –
So why doesn’t this happen?
1. Model Ubiquity: Most, if not all, BIM Authoring software's are way to slow to deliver a simple and fast model viewing experience conversely the fast tools usually require you to manually export from the authoring tool before you have a fast experience. Cloud based tools that help automate this process should go a long way to solve this issue.
2. Model Data Connect:
Codes! Is that the best we can do? I’m standing on an island when I say it, but for the most part I think coding systems are a hold over from a time before computers. Of my opinions this is the one that will take the longest to explain and the longest to defend so I will leave it at this. Unique/Type ID’s are needed, and they could be human readable, but I don’t think people should interact with them.
Along with codes there are very few tools that care about connecting documents and data to objects in the model during the design. You often see it as a deliverable, but not part of the design process. This one is less cloud, more software and process design, but new thinking to the problem will hopefully bring some new ways of thinking about the issues.
3. getting sleepy…more to come
I’ll keep looking into this one, but I think the notion of the model being the center of collaboration is going to be the biggest challenge for the whole industry.