Jim Lynch, VP and General Manager of the Construction Business Unit, Autodesk, had much to say on stage at yesterday’s AEC Industry keynote. Autodesk’s AEC industry center is not Revit so much as it is BIM 360—the cloud-based common data environment (CDE) which the company says will be where all stakeholders in the design, build, and own process will come together and solve problems through a centralized access to data and collaboration.
Importantly—and this was noted in several moments by Autodesk CEO, Andrew Anagnost—Autodesk knows that it cannot be the solution for all problems and all data and so the company is committed to working with partners through its Forge APIs to enable customers to bring in best-of-breed tools for specific workflows into the BIM 360 ecosystem.
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At AU 2018 the company announced the introduction of a Cost Management module, adding to BIM 360’s existing project management features such as tracking and managing RFIs and Submittals and work packages. Related to that last note, we continue to hear no mention of the BS1992 standard for BIM Level 2 management in the UK market, something we here of high request from rival CDEs that are competing in the United Kingdom AEC industry.
BIM 360 has several signature strengths but its prime one is its Revit model in the cloud viewing, sharing and package curation to deliver collaboration process with less friction. BIM 360 also can deliver class detection in its model views and quality and safety reports and punch lists are all available and customizable. Naturally, a cloud system needs its mobile app tools for direct access while in the field. BIM 360 has native apps for Apple’s iOS platform—the largely preferred and most used platform in the United States AEC market—and the Google Android platform.
Since looking at this tool and its partners a year ago and back in the first half of 2018 at the AIA National Convention, we see that the list of partner apps and clouds are exploding. In the category of Construction Management software tools, Autodesk BIM 360 has gained key new partners in Nemetschek’s popular Bluebeam and cloud app Pype. In the Mixed Reality space, it is partnered with InsiteVR and Daqri the smart hardhat maker. In the Document Management space, it is partnered with all the major cloud storage companies and AEC darlings like Egnyte.
Earlier in the year, Autodesk acquired Assemble Systems, which serves the BIM 360 ecosystem with 4D and 5D estimating and scheduling.
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Autodesk’s BIM 360 is maturing at a rapid speed but will still face significant competitive pressure from the likes of Bentley’s more market-established ProjectWise and hot builder cloud darlings like Procore. The market space for common data environments (CDEs) cloud tools are also well established globally by significant companies such as Aconex (recently acquired by Oracle) and Viewpoint (recently acquired by Trimble.
Autodesk’s advantage in the CDE market for AEC is its native access to Revit and other AEC industry software leaders (Autodesk, Navisworks, et al). It will surely utilize its ability to integrate at a high-level and faster speed with these industry BIM and AEC toolchains. Another interesting angle is that many rival cloud systems have a construction-centric approach while BIM 360 feels substantially more neutral and useful to architects and engineers.