The NBS National BIM Survey has long served as an essential barometer for construction professionals, manufacturers and policy makers but, ahead of the 2016 deadline for the use of Level 2 BIM on public sector projects, this year's study is likely to provide unrivalled and timely insight into the industry's BIM-readiness.

Here we pick out five trends we'll be keeping a keen eye on as we interpret the data for this year's survey...

To what extent have BIM adoption rates increased as we approach 2016?

The 2014 results showed BIM adoption was accelerating. 54% of respondents said they had used BIM on at least one project in 2014, up 15% on the previous year. In 2010 only 13% of respondents were using BIM and 43% were entirely unaware. Furthermore, a majority of active BIM users told us they had already reached Level 2 BIM on a project.

We'd expect to see even greater adoption this time around as stakeholders embrace new ways of working to meet the requirements of Level 2 BIM.

Are the benefits of BIM starting to be realised?

Last year's results showed a wide appreciation of the perceived and real benefits that BIM can bring with those who had already adopted BIM being much more positive about it than those who are yet to.

A year on, are the benefits of cost efficiencies (appreciated by 61% of those who've used BIM) and increased co-ordination (77% of BIM users) starting to bear fruit as an increasing number of projects and stakeholders become BIM compliant? We'll be looking for clues in the data to find out.

BIM is collaborative – are BIM users collaborating?

Central to BIM is a range of collaborative standards and working practices, there to bring better ways of working between people, disciplines and organisations. Are these being adopted, or is it primarily being practised at the lower levels of the BIM hierarchy?

Last year's study showed that when it came to understanding BIM levels awareness wasn't universal – 73% of participants had some awareness of them, up 22% on 2012. With a looming deadline for use of Level 2 BIM on public projects we're interested to see whether there is now a greater knowledge and understanding of what's expected at Level 2 and Level 3 BIM.

Are smaller practices starting to catch up with larger firms in their use of BIM?

In previous years we've seen a clear divide between the awareness and adoption of BIM between small practices (defined as those with between one and five staff) and larger firms. In all measures, smaller practices were lagging behind their larger counterparts by around two years, with cost still being seen as a major barrier to adoption.

Will the 2016 deadline have done anything to spur BIM adoption for smaller practices or are there still significant challenges to overcome? Have larger practices increased their lead still further or are small practices starting to close the gap?

Is BIM just for architects?

BIM may have its roots in architecture but its principles apply to everything that is built. We'll be watching closely to see how others are taking on the BIM challenge. Is there evidence that manufacturers, specifiers, engineers (or any number of other construction industry professionals) are successfully adapting to the challenges and opportunities presented by working with BIM?

The 2015 National BIM report, distilling findings from the National BIM Survey, will be published on this Spring with a sneak preview at BIM Show Live 2015, being held in Manchester, on 8 and 9 April.

Useful links

NBS National BIM Report 2014

Government Construction Strategy – May 2011

NBS National BIM Library

NBS BIM Object Standard