The Inaugural Building Content Summit, Europe: Genesis and Intent

RTC Events Management has been operating since the first ‘Revit National Congress’, back in 2005, and has as it’s vision:

“To be recognised as a trusted builder of communities dedicated to the built environment”

So when we are working on our own projects – or chatting with colleagues in the AECO community, or just reading about the experiences of others – and can see that there are problems that people are having upon which we can have an impact, we feel it is our obligation to act. We are driven by passion for what we do, whether related to technology, to process, or to people.

Content is a case in point. It is unlikely that there is anybody out there, regardless of discipline or software, who does not have a horror story of dealing with content. It might be poor construction, or a mess of parameters, or bloated sizes, or broken controls, or, or, or…. Regardless of the problem, someone in the community has been there. I am an architect, and all of the members of the various committees that make up the RTC community are architects, structural or services engineers, builders and others who are active in the industry and in the technology the industry leans on. We understand the pain!

So, when someone came to us (stand up and take a bow, Randall Stevens of ArchVision / AVAIL!) to talk about the problems inherent in family creation, and asked if we would consider putting together an event environment that might help people address these problems, naturally the answer was ‘Yes!’  We sat down and talked about content – how it’s made, who it’s made for, who it’s made by, how it’s used (and in what environments) – and came to the conclusion that the problems we could see aren’t going to be resolved by yet another group coming in to create yet another standard…


… but instead by providing a framework for each of the stakeholders (Steve Stafford’s favorite buzzword! ;-)) to begin to understand the others. Initially we looked at, and talked about, the tripod of three primary stakeholders – Manufacturers, service providers and designers – but now recognise that is more rightly defined as 5, and that we can define them as the 5 C’s: Software developers (code), manufacturers (commission), service providers (create), AEC professionals (custom), and FM (consume). OK, so one or two of those C’s are a bit of a stretch, :-), and there is a lot of overlap in actions and intent between creator, customer, and consumer, but the basic principal is fair…

Each stakeholder has a reason – generally a rational, well-considered and internally consistent reason – for how they create, distribute and consume content. The problem is that those reasons tend to be considered only from an internal viewpoint.

As an architect, my needs in relation to content are different from those of a manufacturer (and from those of a structural or MEP user, for that matter). The manufacturer is concerned with how to ensure that their content offerings lead to sales, how they show their products in the best light, how they carry all the possible permutations of information the manufacturer might desire. As an architect, I want content that is graphically representative, that is geometrically accurate, that has the information I require at the particular stage of development of my project, and yet that remains, above all, small enough and light enough not to cripple the performance of my models. These two expectations of what content is, and what it should do, are not naturally in sync, and it’s even worse for the content provider, caught in the middle, who needs to meet the expectations of their client, the commissioner, in sales and marketing terms, while also trying to ensure they provide content that the customers will actually want to use!

So BCS sets out, first and foremost, to simply be an opportunity to gather these stakeholders in one place and get them talking to each other. First step to fixing the problem is getting everyone to understand and relate to the competing needs of each, To this end, the inaugural BCS in Europe has two sets of activity during the day. The first half of the day is setup as a series of ‘perspectives and rebuttals’  (and boy can that be fun to watch!). A ‘Perspective session is given by one stakeholder, addressing the way their stakeholder group looks at content, and then each of the other stakeholder groups is given the opportunity to , ummm, respond…

Stakeholder group A: “This is why we do what we do…”
Stakeholder Group B (and C, and D): “… and this is why what you do is of no use or value to me, because what we really want from you is…”

This creates a healthy debate, a quite fun tension, and an immediate “Ah-hah!” reaction from many stakeholders. Simply hearing others respond to their assumptions, live, is often enough to start the thought processes churning.

lifecycle management

The second part of the day is spent in a workshop environment – table sized groups talking through their experiences, problems, and approaches to problem resolution. Finally the outcomes from these group discussions are reported back to the larger group and any other groups can comment on them. This information is also collated as a distributable information archive after the conclusion of the event.

Naturally, being an RTC event, the day concludes with a social event to help solidify the new contacts that have been made through the day, and just to have a bit of fun.

So, if you work with content, but don’t have any problems with any of it, then you really don’t need to come to the Building Content Summit. But if you’re not one of those imaginary people from my last sentence, then come join us in Porto on the 19th of October, for an exciting, enjoyable, and truly valuable day spent kicking off a change to the way we work with content throughout our industry.

I look forward to seeing you there!


PS. In a follow up post I will talk a bit about where we hope to see the BCS event series develop and the experience of the BCS events that have already run in North America.


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