The first few days of the new year always seem to invite reflection. 2019 was a year of intense focus for us, and we believe the whole UNIFI team would agree it was the most significant growth year in our company’s history.
When we started our journey several years back as a small spinoff of our CEO’s former consulting engineering firm, early adopters of the powerful new software called Revit were just beginning to run into the content challenge inherent to BIM migration. BIM presented a major paradigm shift with a new way of designing, virtual models of buildings and data integration at a level that was previously impossible. As early adopters quickly learned, under the new paradigm BIM content and associated data were major hurdles for virtually every project.
UNIFI was created to help solve the real world issues those in the trenches of execution were wrestling with – content creation, organization of content and the ability to search and find what was needed across the company’s existing BIM content libraries to ensure time wasn’t wasted recreating something that already exists. It was a problem we experienced and knew others would run into as well. Sure enough, our early customers like Stantec, HDR and IA felt the pain, gave UNIFI a chance and have been invaluable contributors to our product roadmap ever since.
Times have certainly changed, and for us 2019 was a year where the vast majority of AEC firms we engaged recognized the opportunity to drive value from structuring their BIM content and data. Owners too are looking to realize more efficiency and intelligence from their BIM models. Rather than sticking projects in folders never to be opened again, they’re working to create standardization across their portfolios and leverage their BIM content and data as an asset.
Moreover, the era of “We’re not so sure about the security of the cloud” seems to be waning. Today the global design firms we speak to are mandating cloud-based software solutions, so that projects, files, content and data can be accessed by anyone from anywhere.
Thankfully quality content has become more prevalent and easier to find. Many firms have built out their own solid library of generic content to drive efficiency across their projects. We have also seen a steady increase in desire for manufacturer-specific content and data, with thought leaders like bimstore and BIMsmith (full disclosure: both UNIFI partners!) working diligently to meet the need. Their contextual understanding of AECO’s requirements and education of manufacturers on how to build content that is not just accurate from a data perspective, but also practically useful has created a path to value and adoption.
The growth in both availability of quality content and solid partners who provide it in the market paired with increased demand for our BIM and data management platform led us to make the decision to fully focus on advancing our industry-leading software solutions. With this intentional focus on software, we’ve ceased offering content creation services in house and instead rely on our network of expert partners to meet customer content creation needs.
One constant in the industry is the diversity of workflows and delivery processes which leads to unique supporting technology stacks from company to company. Customization is often a necessity and we launched our Content Management and Project Analytics API packages to support it. We were delighted to see how excited our customers were to leverage the APIs to connect their BIM data to their project ecosystems. Our partnership with VIATechnik ensures customers have an expert partner to work with on applying the APIs to their unique integration needs.
As we look back on 2019, gratitude is the first thing that comes to mind. Gratitude for new customers who chose our team and platform to journey with them towards structuring their BIM data. Gratitude for our existing customers who have trusted us enough to continue journeying with us. We’re humbled by the vision and passion of the Design Technology teams we work with!
So, what’s next? Our last release of 2019 added Shared Parameter Management to enable our customers to advance beyond BIM content to management of BIM standards and schemas through the UNIFI platform. This laid the foundation for increased capabilities around data management and visualization in 2020. We’re intensely focused on increasing platform flexibility to support the infinite use cases and workflows across our customer base, whether that’s a need for unique permissions sets or API functionality.
In addition, in 2020 we will start to address what we have dubbed the ‘technological generation gap’, as we see it as a huge liability for the industry. With the migration to the technology-centric delivery paradigm of BIM, much of the design and engineering work being performed is defined by the technology platforms being used. The complexity and learning overhead associated with those platforms has pushed many of the senior subject matter experts out of workflows. We believe this is to the detriment of the industry on multiple fronts, and UNIFI wants to create a both/and approach via a bridge between the non-modeler/non-tech savvy industry expert and those working in the model. In early 2020 we’ll be releasing a beta of UNIFI Connect to select customers, which will reengage those senior stakeholders and improve collaboration between non-Revit stakeholders and modelers….more to follow!
It’s been an incredible year, and everything we achieved this year is thanks to you, our customers, and to our amazing team who have made it all possible. At the end of the day a company is the PEOPLE who comprise it, and the success of our technology and our customers is truly a reflection of our team.
We hope you had a wonderful Christmas and best wishes for a happy New Year! 2020 here we come!!
-Dwayne & Virginia