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Leif Granholm, BIM Ambassador

40 years of building digitalization

In March 2019, I will have served Tekla/Trimble for full 40 years. I have had the pleasure of working in diverse tasks within the software industry, including programming, product management, operating, sales, and business management. In terms of application areas, I have worked with both geographical data and BIM. This has provided a unique view to the fastest period of development of digitalization. 

I started with punched tape and punch cards, then remote terminals for mainframe computers, minicomputers, graphic terminals, workstations, personal computers, and finally cloud computing and mobility.

The trajectory of development in information technology has been pretty amazing. When I started at Tekla, the company had just acquired its first own computer, Perkin-Elmer (we called it “Pelle-Ellu”), which filled a whole room. My current phone is by any standard at least 1,000 times more efficient. This kind of development was unparalleled in any industry, and it has been truly thrilling to be part of this development.

My current title is BIM Ambassador and I work as a standardization specialist at global Trimble. My job is to represent Trimble in any standardization relating to data and to promote the use of open standards both internally at Trimble and generally within the market.

How do I see the future, what will happen next?

I strongly believe in digitalization. I have long since given up using paper almost entirely, I read books and newspapers in electronic form and I have used Spotify since day one. I have also used electronic banking services right from the beginning and I have even demonstrated the services in TV news using a computer I had built myself, long before the era of PCs.

How is BIM linked to digitalization?

The way I see it, BIM epitomizes the next phase of digitalization, the transition from human-readable documents to machine-readable data that can be consumed automatically. Then the software can use data from external sources without human intervention or interpretation.

One definition of BIM is that it automates the reception of data, just like CAD automates the production of data. This leads up to many things, for example, the content and representation of data will separate. In documents, the producer of the data also defines the representation, whereas in digital semantic data the consumer defines the representation because the data is consumed by using the software. The data can also be used directly to control machines and equipment, such as 3D printers and robots. Automation enables the necessary productivity leap in the construction industry.

The growing demand for software designed for consumption of data is naturally also good news for the developers of BIM software because the majority of current software is designed for producing data. Currently, the ratio is 80/20, whereas in the future it will be 20/80 and the software for producing data will keep on growing. This is easy to understand considering that BIM in its current form concerns a few percents of the project's personnel, whereas in the future it will concern everybody.

I believe one key factor in digitalization is device development. The signs are clear: the next device generation after tablets and phones will be so-called “wearables” whereupon information technology no longer consists of separate devices, but is integrated into clothes and other devices.

So far I have managed to quite accurately predict the future development and to be in the front line of the generational transition of information technology each time, this time being the eighth for me already. It is interesting to see how accurate this prediction will prove to be.


About the Author

Leif is the BIM Ambassador at Trimble. He is promoting and advocating the application of open standards both within Trimble and in the general market, and participating in developing open standards. Currently, Leif is Trimble's Best Practice Lead for partnerships with standards organizations and represents Trimble in buildingSMART, OGC, ISO, CEN, and others.

Profile Photo of Leif Granholm