It is an eminent truth that Building Information Modelling, popularly referred to as BIM, has taken the global construction industry by storm. A key driver can be attributed to the increasing demand by governments and private sector organizations in major economies across the globe to deliver increased efficiencies and productivity in the construction sector. This has led to the emergence of the role of the BIM Manager who is knowledgeable and skilled in the management and delivery of the BIM process. Therefore, the BIM Manager is currently one of the most promising career choices in the global construction industry.

According to the National Institute of Building Sciences, BIM is defined as “a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility” that serves as a “shared knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life cycle from inception onward.”

As population growth continues to expand rapidly in Africa, massive investments will be expected in order to meet the increasing demand for critical infrastructure that is needed to drive economic growth for its people by the year 2030. However, in the midst of dwindling resources, it is essential to embrace innovation and ensure sustainability in the way we develop and manage infrastructure in Africa.  The construction sector remains a major player in the African economy but struggles to deliver higher efficiency gains compared to the manufacturing sector due to the lack of integration between the design, construction and operation phases of built assets. However, BIM ensures greater integration through a centralized and digital process to avoid information loses for enhanced decision making throughout the construction delivery process. As such, investing in the BIM process surely remains the best bet for governments and private sector organizations to drive increased productivity and ensure maximum Return on Investment (RoI) in infrastructure projects in Africa. This will also provide new employment opportunities for Construction Professionals as BIM Managers in Africa, especially for its young and agile population.

The construction sector remains a major player in the African economy but struggles to deliver higher efficiency gains compared to the manufacturing sector due to the lack of integration between the design, construction and operation phases of built assets … BIM ensures greater integration through a centralized and digital process to avoid information loses for enhanced decision making throughout the construction delivery process.

Considering the current prospects of the role of the BIM Manager and its impacts on the African Construction Industry, it becomes equally pertinent to examine its future also. During the first video session of the BIM Africa Student Advocacy Program (SAP) titled BIM: Acronyms, Definitions, and Local Interpretations, Sa’id Kori (PhD) highlighted on the fact that although it is currently a great opportunity, the BIM Manager may not exist in the future. This assertion led to some conundrum amongst the participants seeking for further answers. Abigail Bernard, a Student Representative from Nigeria questioned the guarantee of job security for Construction Professionals in African countries if the role of the BIM Manager wouldn’t exist anymore. As such, it is best to examine the subject matter with a wider lens.

Image Source: International Business Times

To begin our exploration, we need examine the impacts of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on the Future of Work in the global economy.

What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)?

The World Economic Forum (WEF) describes the 4IR as the fourth major industrial era since the initial Industrial Revolution of the 18th century. It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres, collectively referred to as cyber-physical systems. Also referred to as Industry 4.0, It is marked by emerging technology breakthroughs in a number of fields, including Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Nanotechnology, Quantum Computing, Biotechnology, the Internet of Things (IoT), the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Decentralized Consensus (Blockchain), Fifth-Generation Wireless Technologies (5G), Additive Manufacturing/3D Printing and fully Autonomous Vehicles (AVs).

McKinsey defines Industry 4.0 as “the next phase in the digitization of the manufacturing sector”. Furthermore, Kluaus Schwab believes that the 4IR will impact all disciplines, economies and industries across the world.

The term was introduced in 2016 by Klaus Schwab, the Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, to describe current impacts of digitization and artificial intelligence on the global economy and its increasing disruption on every sector in every industry. The unprecedented pace of technological change means that our systems of health, transportation, communication, production, distribution, and energy – just to name a few – will be completely transformed.”

In fact, the 4IR is transforming our lifestyles and the way we experience reality through greater integration between the physical and digital world. No other area is this disruption going to be seen than the way we work. Digital Technologies are transforming the workplace through automation and making traditional workflows obsolete. Currently, robots and artificial intelligence are complimenting (or even worse replacing) human-oriented tasks to optimize business operations especially in the manufacturing and service sectors to deliver greater efficiencies in the bottom line.

What is Construction 4.0? – the Construction Industry’s version of Industry 4.0, a move towards greater digitizationOracle

As the construction Industry continues to embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution – also referred to as Construction 4.0 – we will begin to experience similar impacts in the entire workforce, especially for the unskilled and semi-skilled construction worker. Even the skilled construction worker (AKA the Professional) will not be spared as artificial intelligence continues to evolve to enhance the design, construction and operation process – it is important to note that a BIM Manager is categorized as a skilled construction worker.

Top 10 Disruptive Technologies in Construction

Image source: World Economic Forum, Boston Consulting Group

To understand the future role of the BIM Manager, we’ll need to explore the future of BIM as a whole.

What is the Future of BIM?

The Future of BIM Will Not Be BIM and It’s Coming Faster Than You Think –  with advancements in generative design, software algorithms, and robotic construction, our current processes are going to be changing quite a bit. We will see more and more done by computers and machines than we have ever seen. Rather than Building Information Modeling (BIM), we are going to see Building Information Optimization.” – Bill Allen, EvolveBIM.

Building Information Optimization seeks to replace manual and repetitive tasks in the construction delivery process such as drawing a wall, calculating loads, laying bricks etc. This implies that construction processes will be based on computerized instructions than the conventional business process providing unprecedented outputs far advanced from our current capabilities. In such a scenario, a construction site will look much like sci-fi Labs with an influx of artificial intelligence, drones, connected devices, autonomous vehicles, robots, Augmented Reality, modular assembly plants etc. Surely, this disruptive future may seem equally gloomy and exhilarating depending on which angle you are viewing from.

If BIM no longer exists in the future, what will happen to the BIM Manager?

It is important to note that the expertise of the BIM Manager will not suddenly disappear as we are still in the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Remember that basic computing skills became the global norm in the late 1990s and early 2000s after the Personal Computer (PC) and World Wide Web (WWW) were introduced to the public in the late 1980s and early 1990s respectively. Hopefully, we should expect to see these changes take full scale by the year 2030.

Rather than holding on to the fear of “losing our jobs to the machine” (which is a legitimate concern), instead, we can choose to explore the new skill requirements for the future of BIM.

As BIM evolves into Building Information Optimization, managing such advanced processes will require the future BIM Manager to merge roles with Information Technology and Data Science – hence the phrase “LEARN TO CODE” (just the basics though).

This is why intellectual flexibility and continuous learning should be the most valuable asset of every Construction Professional in order to remain competitive in this rapidly transforming world.

Looking towards the future of Africa!

It is highly significant to note that BIM is the major catalyst that will drive a digital revolution in the African Construction Industry. As the global order begins to shift towards a digital economy via Globalization 4.0, Africa will need to buckle-up, look forward to the inevitable, and adapt as soon as possible. This is why it is absolutely important for every Professional seeking a career as a BIM Manager in the African Construction Industry to equally begin to explore the prospects of digitization as a whole. Certainly, the lack of adequate institutional and technological capabilities in Africa remains the stumbling block towards full digital integration at the present. However, as Africans, we must remain resolute and drive the change we need to achieve the Africa we want.

Lot Kaduma

Lot Kaduma
Lot is an Architect with a specialization in the project delivery of public-procured facilities in the Nigerian Construction Industry. As a published Researcher and Advocate, his interest is centred on Sustainable Urbanization and Digital Innovation as catalysts for economic growth in developing countries. He advocates for Sustainable Urban Development at Urban Future Project and Digital Construction at BIM Africa.

At Blaze, we offer three major services:

  1. BIM Consultations
  2. Design Engineering Supports
  3. BIM Objects Creation

If You need any of the services,

Place your request here.

Sign up below to get our free guide for a Smart Building Delivery

* indicates required