In the business of surveying and scanning, few situations are as satisfying as having an engaging discussion with current or prospective clients and colleagues. The opportunity to gain an understanding of their needs and issues and share new ideas is invaluable.

This is one of the reasons I attended the Ecobuild America conference in Washington, D.C., along with other Langan staff during the first week in December. Although this year’s event drew a smaller crowd than in the past, the range of attendees was impressive. I met people from across the country as well as from India and Japan.

Through discussions with other attendees, key trends became apparent. For example, many of the conversations focused on reducing the cost of ownership and maintenance of a building or an asset. One way to do this is through mobile BIM solutions that put live data in the user’s hands at the point of interest. This approach offers a number of benefits, but the data must be accurate, reliable and easily coordinated and synched between desktop and mobile devices.

Additionally, cloud-based solutions for data access and storage are becoming commonplace. However, issues regarding data security, data ownership and data access have yet to be addressed.

By listening to concerns, I’m able to gain a greater understanding of the needs in the market. By sharing my perspective, I have the opportunity to influence key decision-makers to think differently and consider alternative solutions. For example, why do contractors only measure a space to the accuracy needed at a given moment, when scanning an entire building can provide high-accuracy data that can be accessible to anyone at any time? And if live data is being used on a project, how are architects, owners, contractors and other users making sure that it’s accurate? The data can never be made more accurate after it’s collected. These are issues that need to be considered at the start of a project.

Standards such as those being developed through the U.S. Institute of Building Documentation (USIBD) are imperative to achieving a widespread understanding of best practices. But professionals have an important role to play in raising these issues, and events that bring together the BIM decision-makers are a good place to have those conversations.

As a surveyor, I attend a number of regional and national conferences focused on my profession. But equally important are those events that help me learn about the broader challenges facing the industries I serve—events such as Ecobuild America, AIA conferences and events, and the BOMA conference and expo. They help me see the bigger picture and identify where my firm’s services can provide value. And they give me opportunities to engage in discussions that can have a far-reaching impact.

Not all events lead to a new client, and not every discussion yields a contract. But by learning from each other, we can help move BIM forward in a way that benefits everyone.