This Monday Vectorworks, Inc., kicked off their annual user conference called the Vectorworks Design Summit. The event is being held at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort just 30 minutes south of downtown Phoenix, Arizona. This is the fourth year in a row the company has held the “Design Summit” event and the turn-out seemed excellent, though no official attendance numbers were shared with the press at this time of this article.
Highlights—Keynote and Other Items
The two-day confab generally begins on Sunday evening with a networking cocktail event, where the company’s users make new connections and intermix with folks and tech at a third-party mini-expo. This year the list of third-party companies seemed less than in year’s past but the announcements during the keynote about third-party companies seemed up in number. Architosh will discuss more on this in another post.
Day 1 kicks off with the CEO keynote and this year was one of the better keynotes compared to prior years. What makes the keynote special is the brief discussion and demonstration of future-oriented technologies. Attendees get a peak in the future of Vectorworks that they simply won’t get anywhere else. This isn’t the primary reason to come to this event—that would be networking and learning—but it’s a very special value-add that attendees of this conference surely seem to enjoy. Think of it this way. For those readers who are longtime Mac users, everyone knows that a big enjoyment at an Apple Worldwide Developers Conference keynote is very much about seeing the future of the platform. In the same way, Dr. Biplab Sarkar utilizes his keynote to excite the base of their users.
The keynote format tends to go like this: broad update on the company, followed by demos of the latest big features in the newest release, followed by future-oriented demos or previews. And this year Dr. Biplab Sarkar, CEO, finished the talk by sharing his view of where the future of AEC is going.
Smart Cities and AR
Hot on that list was a discussion of Smart Cities and how the company is thinking about where Vectorworks can respond. Another area of interest to Dr. Sarkar is AR—augmented reality. This technology said Sarkar, was an area where Vectorworks could begin to address the C-professionals in AEC world. There was a quick sneak peek at AR technology aimed for field work that deals with surveying buildings and it very much got the attention of show attendees. The notion that the Vectorworks company may begin targeting construction professionals has interesting implications. A lot of contractors do need CAD technology. Subcontractors do produce shop drawings, and generals build both BIM models and drawings for their own purposes. Is this a market that hasn’t been appreciated before? Perhaps, and we will see.
Other highlights from the keynote included advanced machine learning being studied for the purposes of creating intelligent user-interfaces that learn what a user tends to do after they do function X. This anticipatory UI/UX will speed up workflows and smartly rebuild context-based user-interfaces based on prediction technology. AR looks to be a key area the company is focusing on and will likely find its best uses in the field or inside the context of existing or under construction structures.
Finally, the company is highly interested in creating new user-interfaces that still provide customization and user-preferences at their core. They introduced an upcoming “dark mode” for example, a much-requested feature by a segment of users, and many in the audience got excited about that.
While dark-mode is really cool—and hey look, Apple only introduced it too—many other CAD companies have begun going in that direction a few years earlier. What was really stunning about this keynote was the way in which they were thinking about AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning. The other impressive trend communicated was their recent three-year growth rate, customer retention rate (92% subscribe to Vectorworks Service Select) and how they are adding cloud-based tools and value-adds to make the Service Select package truly enticing.
Architosh will post a gallery of images from the event soon.