Monday, 24 September 2012

Gluing it all Together.

I spent a couple of days at the end of last week with Autodesk looking at new cloud based software and solutions. There is no doubt that he cloud is the platform all software firms are building their futures upon.
It is always great to get away from the coal face once in a while and look at some new software developments. I would never claim to be a true techie but I am keen to see the potential of new platforms. I remember seeing the first version of revit over 10 years and being totally blown away by the potential of the parametric capabilities of the software. This changed how we approached projects forever.
Last week we looked at the recently acquired Autodesk Glue. Whenever we at space/BIM technologies review software we are always considering how it will fit into our BIG BIM approach. We have moved beyond just looking at design solutions and BIG BIM encourages us to see the big picture considering complete project lifecycle to get maximum benefit.
As we work on projects on a daily basis we are aware of the challenges within the construction industry and the productivity challenges it faces in some areas.
Where Glue fits for me is in the area of design development. Currently models are developed in isolation and updated on a weekly or fortnightly basis to a central BIM. Clashes are identified, reported and resolved. What glue achieves very well in the cloud is real time model coordination. It uses you tube type links to share information making the process quick and reliable.
All communication is recorded allowing the team to watch development real time. During stages C, D and E I see this being very valuable to the design team. As a project moves to F and G the trade can get involved and benefit from real time coordination.
Beyond design Autodesk have also launched Field which will allow ongoing changes and reviews during construction in the cloud. I haven’t seen this yet but as it has been developed following the acquisition of Vela I am looking forward to seeing how it fits with the BIM360 suite.
Whilst I could see the benefit of the Glue approach the challenge as ever are people and they changing their entrenched thought processes. During the session there were other delegates who were trying to see how cloud software could respond to their current projects. As we all know BIM is far more than a new software solution for the industry and is more about process change and collaboration.
It was obvious there was some traditions construction thinking with a mentality of recording all actions formally as a Blame audit! In the future would it not be easier just to get it right in the first place.
Our industry currently suffers from the design element of a project being pushed later and later in the programme. This means large parts of the design become the responsibility of the trade well beyond contract. Designers end up using performance specification transferring risk onto the sub contractor and main contractor.
For BIM to achieve maximum benefits we need to design the building as early as possible and the design team need to take the responsibly they are paid to embrace. Products such as glue are excellent tools to help in the effective coordination of complex building and systems therefore reducing early risk.
In realty in the UK we have a preferred procurement method with minor differences. Designs are invariably developed to stage E by the design team and we then engage the trade to assist in the development of the detail. The project then moves to site.
Contracts can vary from stage D or stage E. What needs to change is that the designers complete their obligations at stage D and E to ensure the building is well coordinated, reducing risk for the contractor and client.
With BIM and Glue there is no excuse not to deliver this level of sophistication. For Glue succeed the software does not only have to perform well we need to find teams who can change their approach and think differently to achieve much improved results.
Glue is the first tool I have seen which will allow true Level three BIM.
_space architecture and BIM technologies will be trialling Glue on a few projects over the next month and hope to use it on a number of live projects where we will be able to maximise benefit.
We will report back with our findings. I’m confident any issues will not be down to the software but more likely the people!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Workplace 3.0


Over the past few months I have been working with Mitel assisting them in the development of their recently published White Paper on Workplace 3.0. I initially got involved by accident however the more time I have spent researching the subject the more interesting it has become.

At _space we have recently developed our headquarters building Spaceworks into a business hub with flexible working space. This move has made us review how people work now and how they are likely to work in the future.

Today I have been at a Mitel conference where they set out their strategy to address Workplace 3.0 and how their technology will adapt. I have had a fascinating day not least because the event has been hosted in a very nice Mayfair Hotel.

Mitel are clearly focussing on solutions for communications and business which are flexible and will adapt to the changing workplace

As I have become more involved and interested in this process a few things have become apparent.  Businesses are currently looking at their workforces and how they are going to deliver services in the future.  There are a couple of issues driving change.

In the past there has been lots of discussion about flexible working and home-working.  I believe that Workplace 3.0 will be subtly different with flexible working being more than someone working in their study at home.  Flexible working will include people working on the move, in a coffee shop or taking desk space in offices on a membership basis.

Such changes are driven by the environment created by the recession.  In the good times businesses expanded and could not see any alternative to growth.  Companies committed to  long binding leases  which have subsequently turned out to be a noose around many companies necks.  Many organisations have ended up going out of business due to the commitments they have made in relation to office space.  In the future businesses will be less keen to sign long term leases and are far more likely to commit to flexible arrangements which will suit the changing nature of their organisation.

At Spaceworks we have responded to this and have developed a wide range of spaces on flexible terms to suit what business needs.  We have seen the need for desk only space through to more permanent offices.  The IT infrastructure which is imperative to allow businesses to grow and adapt quickly. 

As well as building related issues there are also cultural issues with business at present.  The baby boomers and generation X have a far more stringent approach to work.  Their approach is generally 9-5 with a  focussed work ethic. 

What we are seeing now with generation Y is a flexible workforce who are keen to have more options within their terms and conditions.  For example within our own organisation we are now seeing fathers wanting to work shorter weeks to share childcare with their partners. 

In the future we will see an increasing amount of flexibility required for the generation Y workforce and millennium generation who will require a less rigid approach to employment.

The cultural changes and financial constraints of property driven by leases will undoubtedly drive new ways of working. 

In the years ahead we will see the office environment providing a varied provision supported by a robust IT infrastructure.  I anticipate that the use of private and public clouds will continue to develop with data and applications driven by off site hosted servers.

The devices used on a day to day basis will be varied and personal.  Organisations will have to be flexible with the selection of devices used by their people.  Some may prefer smartphones others may like their Apple iPad whist others may still use the office based PC.

In the future these decisions will be personal rather than corporate.  The organisations responsibility will be to ensure safe and consistent access.

The developing culture within society along with the global economic climate will undoubtedly impact on how we conduct business in the future as we move towards Workplace 3.0 and the human cloud.