Is Retail Leading The Way With BIM?

April 2017 marked the first anniversary of The UK Government’s BIM Level 2 mandate that set out to change how the UK’s construction industry embraced the digitisation of Building Information Management, ensuring that a certain level of compliancy was followed across the whole public sector.

This mandate was formulated during tumultuous times in the UK. Facing a post-financial collapse economy, the construction industry had no option but to modernise methods of information management, with some sectors showing a damaging reluctance to follow contemporary methods of digitisation. Collaboration, accuracy and security are areas that are specifically targeted by the BIM Level 2 mandate, to ensure the industry adopts best-practice in terms of sharing and communicating crucial construction data.

The spotlight has been on the construction industry since the BIM mandate was put in place, but the retail sector in particular has been working well ahead of its time in terms of BIM compliancy thanks to revolutionary property information software like Elecosoft’s IconSystem. The IconSystem is a web-based building information management system which is used from concept design stage, through construction, fit-out and then for on-going property management. It enables users to save time and money by storing all specifications, design standards, surveys, registers and portfolios in one easy-to-use, easy-to-access and easy-to-share platform. The system is intelligently designed to ensure only the most accurate data is available to be viewed, shared and communicated with the correct people, in one secure environment. It doesn’t just help its users achieve BIM Level 2 - it goes above and beyond to provide a completely streamlined, efficient and pioneering solution at every level.

Where the BIM mandate only calls for a 3D model of a property, retailers are benefiting from the IconSystem’s ability to deliver 6D information where they can incorporate Time Management (4D) by linking the IconSystem with Elecosoft Powerproject) Cost Management (5D) by linking the IconSystem with Elecosoft Bidcon, and end-to-end Product Lifecycle Information Management, including ‘as built’ component information (6D) via the IconSystem.

The IconSystem has been used by top retailers for the past 20 years, with 7 of the top 10 retailers in the UK now relying on the system. Sainsbury’s, one of Elecosoft’s valued clients, first started using the IconSystem in 2004, well before any BIM mandate was put in place - but the key guiding principles that the IconSystem was originally built upon, remain integral to their service and delivery to this day. With the IconSystem Specs & Standards Solution, Sainsbury’s have successfully managed their new store specifications for over 12 years, with the system now holding over 10,000 live and 13,500 historical specifications. Speaking of the system’s benefits, Clive Proctor, Specifications Manager at Sainsbury’s commented “Before the introduction of the Specs & Standards application our information was spread around various contractors and internal databases with no clear ownership. Without the system, it would be impossible to accurately track changes and the associated costs which these can incur.

With retail far ahead of other sectors in the construction industry, pressure has been placed on the public sector to catch up. Studies such as ‘The Farmer Review of the UK Construction Labour Model’ (Farmer, 2016) show that currently there is a significant reality gap when it comes to the industry’s adoption strategies for BIM. The report states that: “...investment in and adoption of BIM is being stymied, with some notable exceptions, by all of the issues highlighted already around lack of willingness to invest, collaborate and the inability to see the bigger picture business case.” There is significant evidence that the potential of BIM is often underestimated, and misunderstood. However, Elecosoft’s IconSystem has already been leading the way to help sectors other than retail revolutionise how their data is managed and shared. 

As an example, leading retirement property builder, McCarthy & Stone recently became the first house builder in the UK to fully realise the potential of BIM following their partnership with Elecosoft. The IconSystem introduced both process and technical innovation to increase the consistency of information from product development through to management services. The system’s implementation has set McCarthy & Stone as a forerunner in its sector, further proving the potential of BIM for other house builders. McCarthy & Stone are already seeing a strong ROI from their partnership with Elecosoft and are looking forward to the system delivering further efficiencies within their business.

One year on from the BIM mandate, figures look promising, with more and more professionals applying best practice to improve data management. Commenting on the anniversary for Building.co.uk (2017), PCSG Chairman Mark Bew said “The mandated use of BIM Level 2 was central to starting this ball rolling, we are now the envy of the world and the UK has the biggest cohort of skilled data-aware engineers, designers and suppliers which places us at the front of the queue to capitalise on the next stage.

The IconSystem is specifically designed to increase efficiency across a number of different sectors, including education, healthcare, transport, leisure, hospitality and foodservice, not just for retail. Elecosoft are looking for more innovative companies to realise the full potential of BIM, and to continue the success of this turning point in the industry. With retail so technologically far ahead, there is much for others to learn about property and building information management, and Elecosoft are leading the way in making this possible for sectors across the construction industry.

 

OCTOBER 2016 – Rethinking Retail – Evolving Retail Spaces Across the Globe

This September, the Elecosoft team attended the BCSC Event in Manchester, where 2,500 retail professionals met to learn, connect and share ideas. Of the many fantastic and insightful seminars we attended during the event, we were particularly inspired by a talk by Wayne Hemmingway, member of the Design Council Trustee board and all-round design guru. He spoke about his ideas on how we think about retail spaces, and what they mean to us as social beings.

Hemmingway argues that life is not about shopping – it’s about interacting with each other and creating memories. So retail spaces should be about more than shopping too. The new generation is focusing on communities and creating spaces people want to be in, merging big brands with promising newcomers to create interesting new retail spaces.

Hemmingway went on to mention five up-and-coming retail spaces around the world that are leading the way in placemaking. Here is what we discovered:

New uses for space

Hackney

Hackney town centre has seen a complete overhaul: widened pavements, pedestrian crossings, and removal of guard railings. The result? Streets that are easier to walk down, and experience greater pedestrian traffic. These streets are now easier on the eye too: the 2014 Shopfront Scheme rejuvenated 30 stores on Narrow Road, Clarence Street and Mare street, financed by the London Regeneration fund.

The area has seen a 21% growth in business since 2004. Take Shoreditch, home to London’s greatest number of startups. No stone is being left unturned: Morning Lane houses 12 railway arches, previously unused, however this is now changing.  One is now home to family startup Square Root London, a small batch soda company. Fast forward to 2016, and a designer fashion hub, housing brands such as Nike and Joseph, can now be found beneath the railway. The new generation are finding innovative ways of using space in retail, and it’s working for both household names and up-and-coming brands.

hackney-london

Manhattan:

New York is a pioneer of the place making movement: and with good reason. In a concrete jungle that never sleeps, an urban oasis is a much needed area to catch up with friends and to relax. Take the infamous New York High Line: crowds flock every day to the 2.33 km long retreat. Situated in the cities infamous meatpacking district, the disused rail line faced threat of demolition in 1999. Fought for by Friends of the High Line, it now features planting, water features and seating, leading to its new identity as the “New Yorker’s back garden”. And this just so happens to coincide with 3.5 miles of prime shopping space. Create a space that the community can enjoy, and the businesses in the area are sure to flourish.

new-york-skyline

Rejuvenation and rebranding

Liverpool

Liverpool’s cultural quarter boasts an eclectic mix of galleries, digital agencies, bars and restaurants, juxtaposing the new with the old. Add in the recent development of the Liverpool One shopping centre and it seems to be working: the city centre is now a permeable space, with easy access to other districts and even the water front. 30 individual buildings make up the area, each with its own identity and unique character. A pedestrian “fast lane” is also being trialed, after slow walkers were identified as key annoyance to shoppers. Factor in Chavasse Park, an oasis of green with picnic areas and sheltered seating, and you’ve got a multi-functional space that the community can truly enjoy.  And clearly it’s working: in just 7 years Liverpool has moved from the 15th most visited UK city to the 5th.

Margate

Heading further south, Margate provides another excellent example of placemaking. The total rebranding of the UK’s oldest amusement park, Dreamland, by none other than Hemingway himself has seen a massive influx of tourism and new investment in the area. Since the £10 million refurb of Dreamland into a vintage themed park, the local community has embodied a somewhat “hipster” vibe, with old, unused buildings breathing new life as quirky coffee shops and galleries. Hemingway accredits the renewal of what was once a rundown sea side town to the growing local creative community, who are turning space into place by taking on boarded up buildings, molding the history and spirit of the town into new business.  The eclectic mix of established brands and independent businesses are part of the much wider community, one that will only continue to grow in the future.

Independent boutiques and big name brands

Mitte Distict- Berlin

Translating to “middle”, Mitte embodies the heart and soul of Berlin. Home to iconic landmarks, museums, shopping districts and much more, Mitte is a hub for locals and tourists alike. But it hasn’t always been that way. Following the fall of the Berlin wall in 1992, a complete refurbishment was needed to breathe life back into the area, and the result is a now eclectic mix of galleries, outlets, restaurants- the list goes on. Local designers and farmer’s markets are rife, particularly around Alte and Neue Schonhauser Strasse, making Mitte one of the hippest areas in town. Factor in big name brands including Lee and Pepe Jeans, and the result is a colourful mix of independent boutiques and big name brands. And it works!

The new generation are merging the old with the new, and the industrial with the green, and it’s creating interesting retail spaces that are only going to increase in popularity. Here at Elecosoft, we love to work with pioneering retailers and property professionals, and are always on the lookout for new trends in retail space. Our revolutionary systems have helped 8 of the top 10 retailers in the UK organise their property data, so they can focus on moving with the times in this fast-paced world of retail, where shopping is becoming so much more than just an exchange of money and services. The next thing on our list: visit all of these fantastic locations to keep that inspiration on a high.

For more information about our revolutionary IconSystem call 01858 468345, email us at hello@iconuk.net or visit our website http://iconsystem.co.uk

October 2015: How to implement BIM methodologies quickly and easily

Managers of property data who are looking for ways to implement building information modelling (BIM) methodologies in their working practices are likely to know there is an important deadline looming. Next year, the government mandate that all public sector building work will be using Level 2 BIM arrives.

In addition, in highly competitive industries such as retail and construction, the trend for advancement and fast-paced progress is an added pressure. These two reasons alone make it easy to see why it is so important to implement the next level BIM quickly and seamlessly.

Because Level 2 BIM involves collaborative working, mostly with how information is exchanged, it has been noticeable that developments in 3D software modelling have been slow to keep up with demand. From as few as four years ago, there has been a heightened awareness of the need to advance technology and process in the building and construction industries.

In May 2011, the UK Cabinet Office published a Construction Strategy that cemented the future of BIM compliance for good. In addition to stating plans to implement 3D BIM in all projects by 2016, the government’s report set a target of 20% reduction in capital cost and carbon burden from the construction and operation of built environments.

If this new public-sector requirement inadvertently highlighted a need for progress and technological development in a fast moving and growing industry, how can those behind in the commercial world catch up?

Given there is less than four months to meet with government standards, property managers in any industry need to move quickly.

A recent innovation can address implementation concerns. Developed as part of the Autodesk programme in San Francisco, Elecosoft launched a new online 3D model viewer that gives a complete view of over 50 different CAD file formats. In the final stages of beta testing, the innovation called IconOrbit allows users to fly around, explore and interrogate CAD files without fussing over new system or software implementation, and gives instant access.

The software innovation received praise from Autodesk’s Chief Software Architect, Jim Awe, “For far too long, designers have been forced to sync associated data back into the original 3D model where it doesn’t really belong. What Elecosoft has done is an awesome demonstration of the principle of Internet-enabled design data: the data can reside and be managed in the appropriate place, but is still visible and accessible in the context of the model.”

With IconOrbit, there is no need for plug-ins, add-ins or specific device-installed software. Designs of 3D models can be shared without sharing the original model, and users can view live data instead of old information. In short, Orbit means users can implement BIM and meet the government mandate easily, without interruption to existing systems or processes.

IconOrbit is available online now and can be trialled by visiting http://orbit.vision/

JULY 2015: 3 major trends in retail technology

At the start of this year, Google – under its ‘thinkwithGoogle’ banner – shared an article authored by Peter Fitzgerald that described seven key insights into digital trends for retail.

A recap of the trends highlighted by Fitzgerald:

1. Seamless touchpoints
Retailers that allow consumers to move seamlessly between devices such as mobile, tablet and laptop, will come out on top.

2. Retail is now borderless
More retailers will test and learn in new markets, so competition in the UK and abroad is crucial.

3. Delivery and the new WWW
WWW now stands for “what I want, when I want and where I want it”.

4. Personalisation
Retailers should make consumer information relevant and useful to the individual, and humanise it.

5. The new extras – service and experience
By going beyond what’s offered by others, retailers can become the “go-to solution”.

6. The store revolution
Retail space is being transformed into experiences (such as theatrical or digital), so it’s becoming about much more than visiting a store.

7. Social commerce
Some retailers, to increase access and popularity, are leveraging Vloggers.

Now, at the halfway point in the year, how far have these trends been realised?

While we agree all of these still have relevance and are continuing trends, there are three that stand out as more important to UK retailers. Arguably, the top three retail technology trends that are particularly relevant today are:

1. Seamless touchpoints
Back in January, Fitzgerald highlighted that the average British person was using 3.1 ‘connected devices’. In April, The Guardian reported that the average British household owns 7.4 internet devices – smartphones being the most commonly internet-enabled.

With these kinds of statistics, it’s hard to ignore the relevance and importance of this trend for retailers. Most users now expect a seamless approach across all devices.

Look at Net-a-Porter.com founder Natalie Massenet’s approach to making luxury fashion even more seamless and accessible. Now, with the launch of the new app Net Set, she takes online shopping one step further by making every item in an image uploaded on her social app instantly shopable on mobile and tablet. So when one user follows another, they can click on the clothes and accessories they are wearing and view a selection of products they can purchase.

2. The new extras
More and more retail experiences are reliant on technology in order to offer an extended scope – better and faster than the competition. As Fitzgerald pointed out, smart retailers see the value in offering beyond just the ‘basics’.

It could be argued that this trend includes another of Fitzgerald’s key insights: personalisation. Personalisation is often used to offer another extra in service and experience. From personalising products, to Next’s service example – where customers can find a store close by for collection, consumers expect retailers to offer a little more that suits them.

3. The store revolution
From retailers that use iPads in store to stock-check, order and fulfil payments, to John Lewis’ ‘At Home’ outlets that use touch screens to order for delivery to shop or home, service in-store has evolved. And it is technology that is delivering this ‘revolution’.

Another fine example of this in retail space comes from Audi, who introduced a Digital Car Showroom – where screens show cars instead of the real thing. Ideal for its Audi City dealership, space is no longer an issue. Customers are able to walk in, view and choose features for their new car without even needing to sit in a vehicle.

So what do these trends mean to our retail clients?
Seamless access is one of the main reasons (in addition to convenience) Elecosoft developed its app. With instant access and the same information available across computer, laptop, tablet and mobile, it allows a smooth view of data on all platforms.

Translating a difficult experience managing data into one that offers retail property data managers convenience, simplicity and service extras also supports this thinking. And as our strapline suggests, our system offers an evolved experience as it flexes and adapts with the client’s in-store revolution.

Read Fitzgerald’s article here: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/intl/en-gb/article/seven-must-know-digital-trends-for-retail-in-2015/

Find out how Elecosoft offers retailers more from its technology here: http://iconsystem.co.uk/case-studies/

JUNE 2015: 5 benefits to using a shared retail data system

Retail property systems need not be complicated or difficult. Discover five key benefits to a one-system approach.

In today’s digital world, considering your approach to managing retail property data is critical.

For some retailers, properties have been historically managed in a series of spreadsheets and systems. With the majority of top retailers now using one system for their project and property data, it’s worth reviewing the difference and how it could help your business.

5 benefits to a one-system approach

1. Users make one entry only
2. Conflicting information is removed
3. All data for one project is in one place
4. Portfolios can be built and scaled in one system
5. Users keep up-to-date with the latest developments

How they make a difference

1. Users make one entry only
With one entry, the user and, therefore, the business save time and resource (and a lot of it). This essentially means money saved. If you use different systems and spreadsheets, tally the staff time spent on data entry– the hours quickly add up.

2. Conflicting information is removed
For new staff members or project consultants in particular, it can be confusing and disconcerting to come across conflicts in data. Finding out which data item is correct can also be a time waster. A one-system approach means conflicts are managed and the most recent entry is replicated in every data location.

3. All data for one project is in one place
Taking in a complete view of a project with all data and specifications makes working life a lot less complicated. It also means an easier experience locating information for a project or property. Hunting down information for one project from a variety of sources can be time consuming.

4. Portfolios can be built and scaled in one system
From start up to multinational, every business is constantly evolving and changing. As a retailer, you’ll know how fast this change can happen. Building a portfolio of projects and properties that marries with the journey your business takes brings consistency, scalability and ensures all your information is current.

5. Users keep up-to-date with the latest developments
Keeping on trend with technology can be tricky, especially when it’s not your area of expertise. With a system designed to move with the technological times, your team and business will experience the benefits of new developments. Plus, you’ll keep ahead of the curve and your competitors.

Consolidate all of your systems with one solution. The IconSystem looks after all property information no matter how simple or complex.

Our revolutionary solution, IconBIM, is a ground-breaking development for Revit®. The IconSystem also features a free app that gives you instant access to your data on the go. For more information, email hello@iconuk.net

MAY 2015: 3 easy steps to leading retail technology

Keeping at the forefront of technology is no mean feat. We share how to invest in your future.

A well referenced spreadsheet or storage software like Dropbox might seem like enough to store your data, but as your property portfolio begins to grow it becomes almost impossible to track whether the right people are receiving the right information. An easy-to-use system is essential in ensuring everyone from project managers to merchandisers have the latest data to complete their projects correctly.

1. Consolidate your existing information by investing in a seamless, integrated property data solution.
Once you hold all your existing data in one place, you will discover ways of streamlining your processes and communication through system features.

2. Seek expert advice on technology influencing the property development cycle.
Experts advise that improvements in smartphones and tablets have hugely impacted the speed and efficiency of industries such as retail and construction. Those who failed to keep up saw their trade suffer.

3. With BIM playing such a huge part in retail property, keep investing in developments to stay ahead of this intensely competitive industry.
With a government mandate arriving in 2016 stating government building will be using Level 2 BIM, it seems even more relevant for retailers who rely so heavily on their property management.

As technology progresses and the pace of retail quickens, it is vital that retailers adopt a system with the capability of using BIM technology, to make sure they stay ahead in an increasingly competitive industry. For more information, call 01858 468345 or email helpdesk@iconuk.net.

MAY 2015: How to stay ahead of the curve in retail

Are you as progressive with managing data as you are with customer experience?

Customer demand for shopping experience has reached a new level. Apple set the benchmark with minimalistic stores to match their products, while John Lewis and Waitrose promote a pleasurable shopping experience where customer service is paramount. This shopper experience depends on progressive retail space and property development.

With this much focus on shopper experience and retail space, how forward thinking is the average retailer’s property data? For some retailers, where and how their information for shopping estates is kept, updated and distributed has traditionally been low on the priority list.

So why should every retailer have a system where this information can be found?

  • A great retail property information system can be aligned to your growth and business model.
  • It makes data management and referencing fast and easy.
  • It can keep everyone, from merchandisers to project managers, up-to-date with the latest information in real-time.
  • It is key to making sure new store builds and refurbishments are completed to the specification and on time.
  • It can link your systems to future technology. For instance, BIM has become a huge factor in retail and the property development cycle.

Each of these factors affects the timeliness of project delivery, the budget involved and how effectively your team works. In short, managing your property data with the right system saves time, money and resource. For more information, call 01858 468345 or email helpdesk@iconuk.net.