Beware the technology magpie

Technology Magpie

magpie shiny 600px transparent

I’ve touched on this topic in some of my other posts such as ‘BIM: Tech is the easy bit‘, ‘Less is More‘ and ‘BIM: A workhorse, not a show pony‘.

[Notwithstanding the unintentional excess of animal metaphors I think I can squeeze out one more post, before I start flogging a dead horse….]

With technology (and specifically BIM) the sparkle tends to overpower everything else.
So, like the magpie, many people gravitate towards the shiny, trashy bits and overlook the mundane but more valuable.
The focus tends to be on capabilities of the technology rather than the likelihood of being used properly, or the number of people who will understand and actually use it, or the real world practicality.

Furthermore, this can become a habit of chasing the latest & greatest technology, with only superficial use before jumping onto the next big thing.

The result is an assemblage of high-technology (but low value) trinkets and a mish-mash of incompatible systems with limited adoption and success.

How does this apply to BIM ?

I see quite a few new & expensive systems which are poorly planned, implemented or integrated. Many think of BIM as 3D visualisation, animations, modelling of everything in incredible geometric detail, complicated cloud based systems or something to do with laser scanners and 3D goggles.

The basics of training, libraries, templates and standards which are essential are overlooked in the rush for the latest upgrade or sophisticated system.

Buying and installing the software is just one step of about fifty- but unfortunately many people or organisations stop here on the assumption that technology alone will solve all problems.

As a result, many highly complex and sophisticated systems are only used to a fraction of their capabilities. Furthermore- just a small number of people understand the system and how to use it.

The reality is more simple and to be frank: pretty dull. A well modelled building or structure, where everything fits together and there are no discrepancies between drawings, schedules and models isn’t especially exciting. Likewise for a practical and simple system used in the field for managing and monitoring construction.

A basic but well managed collaboration system that allows data to be quickly and effectively shared doesn’t generate much fanfare.

But these things are engine room of production, profitability and therefore success with BIM.

Although I count myself as a firm believer in technology & BIM and the value it can bring, a common failing seems to be placing too much faith in technology alone, and not enough on realistic and practical solutions.


  • Technology alone can’t solve business issues.
  • Proper planning & implementation is more important than new technology
  • A simple, well managed system is much better than a sophisticated but poorly managed system.
  • Forget the shiny: go for the solid & dependable.
  • Usability and widespread acceptance is more important than capabilities & sophistication. In other words, a simple but effective system used by everyone is better than a complicated one used by a few.