The Unicorns Are Coming for You

Recently technology tools have been coming at us faster than a rider on one of the dockless scooters that now litter the streets of our cities.

We have been in their sights for years, and they have been trying to find a way onto our projects, into our organizations, and into our industry.

I’ve outlined the need for more technology in design and construction, celebrating the marching advance of design and construction information technology, or contech. I’ve bemoaned the lack of integration between systems. The silo’ing of information and data into closed systems, requiring rework to prepare design and construction rework to be integrated into disparate systems for design, construction, and facility management. It has confirmed that contech can be big business.

But are we ready?

I challenge that our wish; my wish, as an owner, for better and more accessible
information will leave us at the mercy of the unicorns.

Will it make our work lives better, or more miserable? Will designers and builders be empowered or commodified? As the other tools continue their march to unicorn status, how are we preparing ourselves and our projects to integrate these tools into our daily systems and processes?

I challenge that our wish; my wish, as an owner, for better and more accessible information will leave us at the mercy of the unicorns. As they come for our design and construction data files, our BIMs, our PDFs, our coordinated field sets, which up until this time have been tightly controlled by the BIM (building information modeling) and CAD (computer-aided design) managers, which I have railed against, I fear that these unicorns will not understand our processes, our requirements, our pain points, and the discernment that comes from emergence of actions that large complex adaptive projects create. And instead, will become a new burden to us, forcing us into chasing files through different interfaces, looking for files and responding to requests that will make our last interactions with problematic contech look tame in comparison.

Unless we build strong collaborative teams and governance around our purpose for project design and construction, our use of these new tools will force us into new silos of control, which will be harder if not impossible to work without.

We only have to look at Facebook, Google, and Amazon to remind us that tech is first a tool for control and power by the providers before it makes our lives better. Creating strong lean and agile responses for these tools will be the only way we can ensure that these tools will help and not hinder our roles in the industry.

Cliff Moser works with Stanford Healthcare helping build the New Stanford Hospital,, with BIM Services. He can be reached at