For AEC Industry, Is Trust the Killer Mobile App?

An online discussion asks: What is the mobile killer app for the AEC industry?

Mobile Apps for the field and jobsite appear to be where the industry is headed.

It’s only a question of which ones and when.

In the discussion, various technologies are proposed:


  • a Navisworks-like app with an ability to mark up the model
  • ruggedized iPads and Xooms
  • Artra, a FIELD-BIM & 3D CAD Facilities Management solution for AEC & BIM
  • virtual desktops to run 500MB models in the cloud

While others are rejected:

  • I don’t see people walking around on the site wearing goggles
  • There is nothing you can do to ruggedize iPad

The consensus is one of people walking around, viewing the model, taking pictures on site, adding notes and comments, setting attributes and syncing that with the model on the server in the trailer.

Or is the consensus doing what we’ve always done: scribble down notes and sketch?

There’s the commenter who has been working in the future for some time now and doesn’t see anything new.

Implying that the rest of us ostensibly have been living in the past with our heads under a rock.

Inevitably, one commenter accuses another of promoting an app they represent.

And it’s monkeys at a tea party.

There’s technology,

There’s just no trust

We’re all worried about how we’re going to build buildings when we ought to be focused on building trust.

In discussions about IPD we’re all for sharing risk and reward.

But when it comes to putting yourself on the line to support someone else

(the very definition of sharing risk and reward)

Where is everybody?

With BIM, you team with those with experience.

With IPD, you team with those you know and trust.


You don’t need IPD experience to do IPD,

You need trust

Yes, you need an owner who asks for IPD.

But you can’t deliver what they ask for, when they ask for it, without first building trust.

Trust is the real integrated project delivery method.

Trust is a prerequisite for IPD.

Others attest that trust in integrated design and teams is a result but not a prerequisite.

“It’s not about trust—it’s about process,” says Scott Simpson. “If the process is set up properly, trust will follow.”

With IPD, you do need to find others who:

  • Can work with you, and
  • Want to work with you

Selecting the right people to work on IPD teams.

And who are the right people?

Those who have trust in each other.

Trust is an achievement. Trust takes work.

To build trust requires an investment of time.

And not everyone will see this investment as worthwhile.

Who will take the first step?

Trust can be a difficult subject for those in the AEC industry to discuss.

Especially when there’s the implication that one party—or their work effort or product—cannot be trusted.

One thing is certain—trust speaks to the need for meaningful social relationships among people who work together.

So who will take the first step?

Some believe the owner has to set the stage for a trusting working environment and process:

However you define it, trust is one key to working collaboratively.

Without trust, there’s just coercion in one of its many forms.

Trust is the Killer Mobile App

In the book, Love is the killer app, Tim Sanders believes love is the crucial element in the search for personal and professional success.

Sanders sees “business love” in clear, behavioral terms: “the act of intelligently and sensibly sharing your intangibles with your business partners.”

And what are those intangibles? Sharing

  • knowledge, with as many people as possible
  • our network, our rich web of working relationships
  • compassion, to reach out to others authentically

Before you build the building model, build the trust model

Another book takes a different approach to building trust. Building the High-Trust Organization: Strategies for Supporting Five Key Dimensions of Trust, provides an easy-to-administer model and instrument for measuring and managing trust in organizations.

The five critical dimensions from the title are Competence, Openness and Honesty, Concern for Others, Reliability, and Identification.

Creating an environment of trust is at the very heart of team success.

High-trust teams have increased value, accelerated growth, enhanced innovation, improved collaboration, stronger partnering, better execution, and heightened loyalty.

This book answers the question: how do you create and build trust in your team?

Trust crash

As one commenter put it:

In a time of unprecedented mergers, government sponsored buy-outs, the collapse of financial institutions, organizational restructuring and layoffs has resulted in a “trust crash” among employees and stakeholders.

So, before investing in mobile Apps for the field and jobsite,

Invest in building trusting relationships.

Because trust appears to be where the industry is headed.



Filed under BIM, collaboration, Integrated Design, Integrated Project Delivery, IPD, modeling, people, process

8 responses to “For AEC Industry, Is Trust the Killer Mobile App?

  1. Great post. Over the years, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time/thought trying to figure out if a ‘trust metric’ could be developed for the building industry.

    Although still a work in process, I put together the following Slideshare, to illustrate how such a ‘trust metric’ might work.

    I’ve often asked myself if the A/E/C industry could develop their own Amazon-like ‘reputation system’. Similar to amazon’s system, such a reputation system would eliminate the overhead of building that initial trust with unknown third parties. Which as you post eludes to, is the biggest hurdle to building a truly open and integrated team.

    If such a ‘trust metric’ indeed existed, projects could truly eliminate many of the frictions that currently plague the building industry.

    • Thanks Ryan. I’m looking forward to checking out your Slideshare presentation.

      I like your idea of a ‘trust metric,’ especially when you talk about it in terms of reputation – which brings up so many other critical attributes such as integrity, credibility and authenticity.

      One of the books I mention in the post, Building the High-Trust Organization: Strategies for Supporting Five Key Dimensions of Trust, comes with a CD (not the Kindle version) that contains an Organizational Trust Index: questions that help you analyze your organization’s strengths and weaknesses when it comes to trust. Probably goes a long way to explaining the high cost of the book (I bought it for $30 used.)

      While not intended for the AEC industry – or more importantly, teams – such an assessment tool seems like a good way to get important conversations started. If your ‘trust metric’ led to similar ends, I could see it being of great value.

  2. see this?

    a kind of ‘Klout Score’ for Software Developers.

  3. Sunil Manjeri

    I follow your blogs from time to time and this one is especially good. I work in a Project site where 3 teams consisting of the contractor, the Project Manager and the Client form 3 tiers.

    Building trust has been a high priority for me. Seeking a collaborative solution to a problem on site is probably the right way forward.


    • Thanks Sunil for your kind words. Sounds like you’re onthe right track and well ahead of the pack when it comes to making trust a priority. I wish you continued success. Randy

  4. KCCarper

    It is refreshing to read such a thoughtful, on-target post! in order for trust to develop and flourish, a business must sincerely care more about solving the problems of their clients than they do about solving their own problems. If this approach is taken, problems transform into solutions and all parties benefit. – KCCarper

  5. Pingback: BIM and Integrated Design Top 10 Posts for 2011 | BIM + Integrated Design

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