Exhibitor BIM World MUNICH 2021: BIM Streamer (Sagiton)
As a manufacturer or a wholesaler, you want to make sure that designers and specifiers can very easily use your BIM libraries in their projects. In order to do that you need to:
- prepare your BIM content in a proper way
- share it with your target audience
In this article I won’t tell you how to create BIM objects properly, however if you are interested in finding out what are the strategies for content creation I recommend you to check one of our webinars.
Here I will focus on the ways of sharing your content with your target audience, because no matter how good your BIM content is, nobody will use it unless you share it.
There are several way to share your BIM files with specifier, designers and architects such us
- sending it over an email upon request
- publishing content to 3rd party BIM portal
- publishing content to your website
- publishing content to your BIM plugin
- BIM Omnichannel
I will explain each of these approach independently:
The workflow for email sharing is pretty much obvious. When someone requests for specific libraries they send an email to a dedicated address you specify for handling such inquiries (i.e. email@example.com). In the next step someone from your organization picks it up, looks for libraries somewhere in your organization local storage (i.e. shared drive) and sends it back to the requestor.
This is probably the easiest way to set up your BIM content distribution channel without the necessity of buying or creating any specific IT system/software nor external services. Here the advantages end.
What about the cons of such approach:
- it requires extra effort – designer needs to write an email, specifying which libraries he/she is interested in, which might be pretty inconvenient;
- it requires extra time – members of your staff need to look for specific libraries, and send it back to the designer. It takes some time and since nowadays everyone is used to the fact that everything can be downloaded from the Internet instantly, designers are more likely to use content from suppliers that are able to provide it immediately rather from those that can’t;
- pig in a poke issue – your content users might want to check what kind of content you are offering before they would like to use it. In this case they are not able to do that unless you send it over. As a result some of them might not be willing spend their precious time checking whether your content is worth a while;
- you are handling everything manually – some of your staff needs to take the latest libraries and send them over, it takes some time that you need to pay for and can cause lots of human related errors due to the lack of automation of such processes.
3rd party BIM portals
I’m sure you are familiar with different BIM portals available across the world. These portals are some sort of equivalent for Amazon and eBay but not for the products, but for BIM content. They work as a marketplace, where many manufacturers/wholesalers might upload their product portfolio into some common place.
The good thing about such portals is that you can go online with your content quickly and relatively easy. Moreover these portals usually offer not only a webspace, but also a range of users that manufacturers are trying to outreach. That’s why from many organization’s perspective they might be considered a very attractive marketing channel.
There are however several cons that you should keep in mind:
- placing your products alongside you competitors – there are many brands on such portals, including your competitors, so promoting yours product portfolio among the others might be more challenging;
- lack of data ownership – your content is being hosted on external party platforms, hence all the data both published and collected (i.e. user downloads) belongs to external party, in this case for BIM portal. You can of course buy access to these data from such marketplaces, however they never belong to you, but for the 3rd party and it’s up to them what they will do about it;
- who do you actually promote? – you need to ask yourself if placing the content on such platforms actually promotes you as a supplier, or rather BIM portal itself. Take for instance a situation when someone enters your website and you are redirecting such users to BIM portal or optionally embed such portal inside your own website using iframe (HTML mechanism that allows to place one page inside the another one). In reality what you are doing is that you are giving away your users data to such portals instead of keeping it only for yourself. Moreover, if the user switch from your site to BIM portal they can also try to check other suppliers as well, not mentioning the fact that from Google Search engine’s perspective this approach promotes only BIM portal’s website, not yours;
- customization limitation – if you would like to provide some features specific for your product portfolio, in order to make the life of the specifiers easier, you have really limited options, if any. The reason behind that is because you don’t own the portal. You just rent a space over there like many other manufacturers. Hence, BIM portal owners are not so keen on providing any specific features for i.e. piping / fittings systems since they also need to serve content for HVAC, building envelope, furniture or window/door systems.
- country/region specific portal popularity – the thing is that some of the portals might be more popular in one country/region while others in another. So in order to address different markets it might be a challenge to address them all, especially if you don’t have any content management solution that could help you in automatizing such process
- manual management – similar as with the previous approach, if you want to change something within your BIM content or make some updates, you always need to do that manually. This very often also requires assistance of external BIM portal staff, which might be pretty expensive and might cause delays. So, if you would like to have your BIM Content up to date constant, you will have to introduce more automation with the assistance of BIM Content management solutions
Publishing content on your website
This approach gives you lots of benefits like:
- promoting your own brands and channels instead of any 3rd party ones both among your webpage visitors and Google Search engine
- maintaining data ownership over the information you publish and collect, so no one knows who are your users and what they are interested in, except you
- user knows what they are downloading – if your website offers browsing capabilities like this one , where user can check how the content looks like and what kind of data it has, prior downloading something, it can definitely convince the user to use your content instead of other suppliers that gives no preview at all;
- full customization is possible, because you don’t share your BIM website with other manufacturers, hence you can customize it in the way that you and your users require, making it more attractive than a generic BIM portal sites that needs to serve any kind of product portfolio.
However you should also keep the fact in mind that it might require more time and budget to set it up, especially if you would like to create everything from scratch, instead of using out-of-the-box solutions.
Publishing content to your BIM plugin
It is very similar approach to having your own website but it gives some additional benefits like:
- collecting interesting information extracted from the BIM model that you wouldn’t normally be able to get via website, such use Bill of materials/quantities
- providing more sophisticated tools for the specifiers which can be easily implement within such BIM add-on and which might not be achievable for standard websites
However everything has its costs and the same goes with having your own plugin:
- it will take time and might be pretty expensive, unless you are basing your plugin on a ready-made solutions which can drastically reduce your Time-To-Market and help you effectively spend your budget.
- it needs to have some killer feature – you need to keep in mind that the plugin you are offering needs to give your users something more than the functionality they can usually get from a normal website. If the only thing you want to offer within your plugin is library access, don’t do it, stick to the website, because no one will install it anyway. On the other hand, if you would like to offer some useful tool for your users, they will repay you with more sophisticated data you can collect about them.
Before I mention the pros and cons of this approach, I will quickly explain what the omnichannel means, as it might not be so obvious for you. This is an approach known from marketing where an organization would like to communicate with its target group, or groups across different marketing channels having all of the channels interconnected with each and centrally managed.
So what does it give you when it comes to BIM content:
- you can outreach the largest possible user range because you can use your own websites, Revit addons, 3rd party sites like different BIM portals, wholesaler sites, e-commerce platforms, mobile apps etc.
- you can have a single-source-of-truth for your BIM content because you can control everything centrally and distribute it across various channels via content management solutions such as BIM Streamer
- you can take advantage of each and every channel you are using like user range from BIM portals or wholesalers sites and data ownership or customization of your own websites and BIM add-ons
To summarize, sharing your content via email might make some sense if you want to quickly make your BIM readiness, however if you want to take BIM seriously you should consider more mature approaches. Having content on external BIM portals is one step ahead, as you are already online and can also utilise the user range of such portals. However, if you are thinking about going online I believe it makes more sense to promote your own brand and keep data ownership thanks to your own websites especially since you can use a ready-made solution which helps you set up such a solution almost instantly. The BIM plugin is a cool approach only when you provide some extra tool for your users, it requires a bit more effort than setting up your own BIM website, however, thanks to out-of-the-box solution you can still very effectively go to market with such solution. And of course, the best would be to take advantage of all channels and it might be easier to do that thanks to BIM Content Management solution like BIMStreamer.
If you would like to find out more about BIM Omnichannel I definitely recommend you to read our ebook called “BIM Content Marketing Strategies for Manufacturers and Wholesalers”.