SpecifiedBy vs Product Directories vs BIM Libraries


January 28, 2015  Darren Lester

It seems like there is a growing number of platforms that manufacturers are being asked to consider for promoting products to specifiers.

These include the traditional product directory and a growing number of BIM libraries.

Some people think SpecifiedBy is a building product directory. Some people think SpecifiedBy is a BIM library.

The truth is we are neither.

Building Product Directories

I completely understand why we get called a product directory.

The concept behind what we do and what product directories like RIBA Product Selector or Barbour Product Search try to do are the same – to get manufacturers products in front of as large an audience of specifiers as possible and provide specifiers with a single portal to find what they need.

Admittedly, the comparison annoys me.

We’re not a product directory. And we don’t want to be one.

A product directory is essentially nothing more than an organised (or categorised) list of company details and links to their websites. It’s not somewhere a specifier goes to do something, it’s somewhere they go to get directions to somewhere else – in most cases a building product manufacturers website.

Some would say Google has that covered…

And despite moving the printed catalogue online probably more than a decade ago, product directories still don’t offer any additional value. This is still their core functionality.

With the technology we now have available and the sheer amount of information a specifier has access to and needs to search and process and manage, this isn’t good enough.

Product directories generally put everything they have into two areas – driving as much anonymous traffic to the site as possible, regardless of relevance or quality, and then using these inflated numbers to hard sell subscriptions to manufacturers through a network of old fashioned sales reps.

The sole focus on this side of the equation (the side with the cheque) is why there is next to no functionality for users, and generally, a pretty poor user experience.

At SpecifiedBy, our focus is the complete opposite.

We are driven to provide specifiers with the best, most useful and pain free experience for discovering and researching building products possible. We’ve not completely nailed it yet by any means – but it’s why we come to work every day.

We provide actual detailed product information rather than a catalogue of links. We manually structure product data to make products searchable and filterable by specific properties through our unique Specification Search engine. We provide simple project management tools so specifiers can save and organise their research. And we’ve got whole range of new features from product comparisons to product reviews coming in the new version of the site to be released soon.

All of this provides a much richer and more valuable tool for specifiers, which as a result helps get manufacturers products in front of a large, and more importantly, highly relevant and highly engaged audience.

BIM Libraries

We host a range of manufacturer BIM content on SpecifiedBy. Some of our users come specifically for that, but most come for the overall product research experience we provide. There’s a bit of demand for BIM content, but nowhere near the fevre that some would have you believe.

Again, we’re not a ‘BIM library’, and we don’t want to be and we don’t create any BIM content.

BIM libraries are a funny one. They are generally much better in terms of functionality than most product directories, but we believe they fundamentally don’t work.

In the long-term, it makes no sense to take one piece of information about a product, in a particular format, and silo it away from all of the other information a specifiers needs. It is creating extra process, extra work for the specifier.

We believe it is a much better experience for the specifier to be able to find and access and manage ALL the information and files for a particular product in one place.

It also doesn’t make sense from a wider industry point of view – if we want to get BIM to the mass market, the mass market needs to be exposed to it. If you’re not specifically looking for BIM objects, you’re not going to go to a BIM library – never mind two or three with different content.

We’re all aware there is a gold rush within the industry at the minute when it comes to BIM.

Because of this, there are a lot of people and companies offering services they shouldn’t and/or aren’t really capable of delivering (either by resources or expertise or both). We’ve got media and web companies offering BIM services and BIM service providers posing as web companies and platforms.

Neither work particularly well. But nobody wants to leave a penny on the table – thankfully, it can’t and won’t last.

And I think the standalone ‘BIM Library’ will be one of the casualties of this.

So What is SpecifiedBy?

We see SpecifiedBy as a bit of both, but with features and functionality that neither directories or BIM libraries provide.

We’re a digital platform for manufacturers to market their products in a way that is suitable for the needs of modern specifiers and a digital tool for specifiers that is sorely needed to help improve the efficiency of the product research and specification process.

We’ve got lots of new features and exciting developments planned for this year as we drive things forward faster and further.

Get in touch if you’d like to join us!

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