Ever since the BIM wave struck the industry’s shores, there have been two intriguingly related discussions covering its drivers and its deliverables. The first discussion (or open question) is which industry stakeholder stands to benefit most from the wide deployment of object-based tools, procedures and protocols? Are facility owners the ones who will receive all the benefits? Or is it the contractors/builders who will be reaping most of the rewards? What about architects, engineers and other designers; aren’t they the ones to really benefit from BIM?
Updated Oct 14, 2015: This post is now available in Italian through the good efforts of Lorenzo Nissim of the Institute for BIM Italy (iBIMi). Article in English continues below:
The second discussion is which stakeholder is or should be leading  the industry-wide implementation drive? Should the architect lead by being the first to invest in relevant technologies and to develop collaboration workflows? Or, should the client drive construction innovation  through defined protocols or performance metrics? But isn’t it a fact that specialty sub-contractors (ducting specialists, steel detailers, etc…) were the first– for varied reasons – to jump onto the ‘elemental 3D’ train?
The jury is still out on both questions and there are a lot of facts mixed with an equal measure of theories (including conspiracy-flavoured ones) floating around. This post is not about analysing ‘who should benefit’, ‘how should the benefits be distributed’ or ‘who should lead’ but it is more about a set of personal observations over a period of many years .
These observations are NOT based on rigorous research and are thus exploratory until proven right or wrong through formal investigations . However, it may be beneficial to expose these observations hoping to encourage others to provide their own. To that end, I’ve compiled my readings, thoughts  and practical experiences into the below image:
The above image explores the relationship between two variables: industry BIM LEADERSHIP and expected BIM BENEFITS. Industry stakeholders are shown clustered around their respective Project Lifecycle Phase : Design [D], Construction [C] and Operation [O]. Until a more formal investigation is conducted to confirm (or refute) the above, it is intriguing to me how those who stand to benefit the most are not the same as those who are actually leading the pack.
 BIM leadership is a loose term describing actions taken (not words) including investment in BIM software, development of workflow protocols, engaging with others for the purposes of model-based collaboration, plus many other factors.
 For those concerned about context, the Visual Knowledge Model (VKM) provided above is based on informal yet informed ‘reflective learning’ (Derek, Svetlana, Janice, Frank, & Christophe, 2008) of the BIM domain within the Australian market from 2001-2010.
 The VKM may (or may not) be descriptive or predicative of other markets and durations.
 This VKM was first labelled BIM Innovation vs. BIM Benefits. Credit for some of the underlying concepts goes to Dr Guillermo Aranda-Mena (RMIT University) and from him to Jon Anderson (Hive Engineering).