Engineers are finally beginning to use building information modelling (BIM) and cloud technology to elevate their roles and become more commercially successful, senior software figures claimed last week.
Speaking at Autodesk’s annual convention in Las Vegas, chief executive and president Carl Bass said there was increasing evidence of a significant change in how designers work in the three years since the software giant started focusing on making its products available in the cloud.
“Three years ago, we started talking about cloud, social and mobile computing and how it was going to enhance what we did on our desktops,” Bass said. “Our customers are augmenting their tried and tested tools with new ones. By trying new and different things, and by embracing new technology, they are having greater creative control and better commercial success.”
He said that contractors had made great progress in adopting cloud products and were the “easiest” group to persuade of its benefits, even more readily than other parts of the industry including designers.
“In construction we’ve seen a huge change,” said Bass.
“Cloud is such a natural technology for contractors, because their people are not behind the same wall.
“Two years ago, it was crazy talk. Nobody was doing it. There were a lot of good reasons why it wouldn’t work.
“But we’re believers - it’s a better way for some segments of the industry.
“There’s nothing about the cloud that feels any different from any other technology transition.”
While contractors in general were easily persuaded, other obstacles remain before its take-up is firmly established.
“In the construction companies themselves it’s most often the IT departments that are slow to change,” Bass added. “They say: ‘The other way we know, we’ve done it for 25 years.’”
For Autodesk, client organisations remained a key focus for change. Autodesk IPG product group senior vice president Amar Hanspal said:
“Contractors are very pragmatic but they need our help persuading owners.”
The firm’s AEC strategy and marketing senior director Nicolas Mangon said he saw some progress being made at the highest level.
“We see a lot more governments mandating BIM,” he told NCE. “The UK is raising awareness of what BIM can be.” Japan and Brazil are also going the same way, he added, with Japan even looking to the UK with regard to transport planning methods.
Cloud products such as Autodesk’s BIM 360 allow all parties in the process to access project-based data from planning stage through to construction, and take up has been positive. “I think it’s going to go fast,” Bass said.
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