Hi Maxime Arslijder! Welcome to GBuilder. Can you tell us more about yourself and your role at GBuilder Belgium?
I’m from Belgium, originally, so born and raised. My career started six years ago, in Wallonia, at a B2B company that sells screens and shutter systems. Later, I joined a small developer firm in Belgium, really local, where I sold the houses and the apartments for three years and seven months. Of course, with a lot of experience in development and sales, I got to know the struggles that come during the construction process and the struggles of some colleagues during their customer journey.
One day, I stumbled upon GBuilder, a BIM-compatible collaboration platform for property developers and construction companies to manage customer-related tasks, material choices, 3D & VR visualizations, change requests, documentation. I got in contact with Harri and Jarmo and realized the massive potential GBuilder offers in the Benelux. It was evident to me that GBuilder can make the construction process faster and smoother for the different players in the industry and how it offers solutions to the struggles and challenges that developers and clients go through. I am excited to be the business development director of GBuilder, and on September 2nd, I completed my one-month anniversary with GBuilder.
What is GBuilder’s unique selling point?
GBuilder is a one-stop-shop for property developers, construction companies, as well as, their clients. In addition, GBuilder facilitates communication between all the different parties and aims to reduce the risk of miss-communication and even the possibility of missing out on important information due to having 30 to 40 emails to go through each day.
So, I think it’s an all-in-one solution for the developer and their lines to make their clients happy, which is more and more the goal. Ten years ago, the business was just about building and making money; however, now, the focus is on customer satisfaction and customer-centricity. The fundamental idea is to streamline the interactions between the different parties with the other project teams from the developer and the construction site.
What makes us unique in the market and the world is that our technology is agile and BIM compatible. In other words, our unique selling point is that our software is used with different design files, which helps gather all that data that’s within the BIM system for the different stakeholders to use. What also makes GBuilder whole is that when used on construction sites, we can get all sorts of accurate data on mobile devices. That I believe is much more holistic compared to the competition in the BIM market.
So, you agree with the statement: aligning all the stakeholders on one digital platform helps facilitates communication, which would reduce cost, reduce waste and result in a more efficient process?
Absolutely! For example, three years back, Dubai’s construction model was to build 500 villas with less focus on customer customization. Whereas now, developers are providing more options to a customer-centric approach. So, the customer experience and customer-centric approach are also in the center of our whole world, how things should be and how the property development companies effectively enable that approach. I think developers must prepare themselves as futureproof and provide all the different choices to their clients.
What about mass customization in construction? How does GBuilder relate to that?
A big part of what we offer our users is customization choices and extras management. Our model can facilitate the customer journey by providing different options and choices, visualization, 3D configuration, and pricing.
How do you comment on designers and project managers who believe they do not need to migrate to BIM when using 3D CAD modeling?
We call ourselves BIM-based or BIM-compatible. In other words, we do not force our customers into BIM. Instead, we can convert their files into BIM files. It’s a common misconception among customers or prospects that they have not been BIM-ed yet. So, the vast majority of projects that we do are still 2D format files that we can convert into 3D because we need to have the 3D information, such as the position and measurements of doors and windows, the area of the walls, the heights of the apartments, all those kinds of third dimension information. After our customers’ files have been converted, they have user-friendly interfaces that they can work with.
How do you think BIM changed five years ago to today?
Well, BIM has been around for a very long time. However, the level of implementation has gone up. I can see it’s just that the level of implementation, acceptance, and attitudes have changed dramatically because BIM-enabled firms have the ability to speed up the construction and building process with more transparent communication, better waste management, and reduce cost.
Digital transformation in building and construction has ramped up the adoption of BIM in many companies. What are the benefits of using BIM for internal company use and the customers and clients outside the company?
BIM is an extensive topic and involves several stakeholders, different teams, and different companies throughout the project. Nevertheless, it is a single source of truth for everything, in one place and one version of it. So, everyone is always aware of the latest version. For example, GBuilder helps the customers visualize an off-plan house in 3D. They can then recreate different options offered by the developer, such as cabinets, floor tiles, kitchen taps, etc. Especially if there are cost implications, they can see the accurate price implication too. They get the precise pricing right there in real-time. That’s the customer experience.
On the other hand, for the project teams, it’s about creating the choices, the packages of materials, controlling the pricing, keeping a bird’s eye view on the status of the project in general, and how many customers have confirmed their choices and so on. Notwithstanding the cost, it’s the technical or commercial teams who then have to deal with that data. So, the purchase orders can create directly from GBuilder using that BIM information. So that’s all, of course, battling the problem of over-ordering or under ordering. Now they can order precise amounts of materials, and there would be no waste and no delays.
What are your views on the future of the BIM industry in General and Belgium, especially?
I believe that BIM will expand the involvement of different departments and customer segments in the industry. Think of, for example, standardizing private projects. Standardizing the implementation of BIM specifications will help property developers, architects, and construction companies grade tenders, control the project, and unify the design outcome. Right now, we’re at a stage that if you ask ten architects to design a simple apartment using BIM, you’ll get ten different results because there are no standards.
Has BIM reached the level of maturity? Or is there still room for growth in the future?
There’s still a lot of room to grow. I think, in general, we’ve just scratched the surface on the possibilities, and I’m sure there are opportunities, a few years down the line, that we can’t even imagine having now.
What is GBuilder’s vision for the next five years? Any product expansion? Or geographic expansions?
Right now, we have ongoing projects in 10 different countries. As for the next growth stage, it is already in motion. We’re exploring new markets for the next growth stage geographically. We began looking into penetrating the Benelux market in more detail while also focusing on the UK and the German-speaking regions. In addition to that, our Finnish customers introduced us to four different European countries on top of Finland. Those were countries that we have not considered at first, so also, we are on an ad-hoc basis. We would hope that in 10 years, we will have a global representation in all the major markets that we see fit. It is very, very exciting.
For the growth plan, it is two-fold. The first way is that a big part of our customers are multinationals, we start with them in one country and expand to their departments in other countries. The second way is by expanding into potential markets on our own, through marketing and customer acquisition.
On top of that, while we realize that we don’t do everything and we don’t want to do everything, we can integrate, and have already integrated, our software with our partnership networks to create an even better ecosystem with better solutions for our customers.
Ideally, we want to have a single ecosystem of different software that can manage everything. That has always been our strategy from day one, and we see that as key. This is why we call ourselves “built on top of an API,” easily integrable to other software.