Cover image for Driving innovation through Standardisation: An emerging future for AEC sectors
John Egan
John Egan

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Driving innovation through Standardisation: An emerging future for AEC sectors

We have seen it happen in industries before - Standardising operational mechanisms between all levels of organisations, and the software solutions employed, has empowered innovation, thus driving value for all stakeholders. This article discusses how we believe the patterns of evolution, consolidation and standardisation of technology components will have a similar impact for the AEC sectors.

Not unlike the construction sectors, there was a time where vendors created solutions in industries, such as telecommunications, in a non collaborative manner with one another. Like construction, operations companies in the telecommunications sector used many niche applications that targeted specific stakeholders and had different utilities: from GIS Mapping, to the systems used to manage customer engagement.

Technology products delivering the core capabilities required for telecommunications project success evolved due to supply and demand competition in their locale and regions and vendors that once had a firm foothold, were faced with pressure from other vendors with entering their market with global strategies. This lead to the diversification of the range of available solutions and in turn presented a real market need to integrate solutions that would work together.

The tipping point in the telecommunications industry was not unlike the one we predict for construction. Due to the expense of non integrating technology between vendors, innovation was stifled and opportunities to gain competitive advantage through the use of project analytics, decision support systems and other innovations were not possible without an integrated ecosystem. Enough was enough, and it was the customers that would force change on the industry.

The business benefits, proven through the use of a single technology ecosystem by market leaders, created a predicament for vendors by presenting them with an “either/ or” type decision with their competition. At a risk of losing customers, vendors had no choice but to comply with the interoperability wishes of their customers. The TmForum was the vehicle for this collaboration and the eTOM framework emerged.


Source: Google Image eTOM

The eTom framework focused on unifying the protocols and data models used widely across the telecommunications industry and lifecycle of service provision. This is not so different from the way that we think of the construction industry, as it is segregated by the stage of lifecycle and the supply chain responsibilities (as represented in the image below). With collaboration at its core, the existence of the framework helps to create consistency and order from a previously diverse and disconnected ecosystem like we see in the construction sectors today.


Source: Own Image Creation

Whilst working from home throughout this lockdown, those of you that have suffered with internet connectivity issues, through frustration, may not typically associate telecommunications industries with innovation. But, if you have ever tried to move providers, upon completion of the contract exit/negotiation process, it is a seamless process. This is testament to the eTOM framework and paints a picture of the outcome of interoperability that benefits everybody involved in telecommunications, right up to the end user.

Not unlike other industries that have followed suit before us, such as the telecoms industry, and mining industry to name a few, we expect that these patterns will repeat themselves. The AEC sector equivalent of the TmForum, [BuildingSMART] continues to develop projects that target interoperability, and we are proud contributors to the project that specifically targets interoperability between project management solutions through the OpenCDE-API working group. We at BIMLauncher look forward to delivering industry wide value as we connect solutions and workflows and provide a platform for unprecedented levels of efficiency as the technology vendor market continues to consolidate.

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