At AECnews.com, Randall Newton – en route to the Bentley BE conference – briefly mentions Bentley’s new product (see my 19 May post), adding:
My old buddy, Joe Croser, formerly a UK architectural consultant and now a Bentley employee, thinks it “bridges a very important gap in the market.” I’ll take a look and see if I agree.
As I wrote last week, the objective seems to be to give users from smaller organisations a simpler and cheaper way to start using Bentley collaboration tools. If the intention is simply to fill a gap, then StartPoint will doubtless find a market among SME organisations which want to collaborate better while remaining loyal to Bentley, but for whom ProjectWise was to expensive and/or complex. Will the experience then prompt them to upgrade to ProjectWise? I’m not sure. Bentley will probably earn some decent revenues from StartPoint, but once it is installed and used, will many SMEs want to invest again to install, configure, get trained in and familiarise themselves with a more complex and expensive solution? From a slightly different perspective, there may be organisations considering the full ProjectWise solution. StartPoint could appear simpler and cheaper. Bentley will get the StartPoint sale, but could miss out on the higher revenues associated with ProjectWise (I think this is called "cannibalisation of revenues" if I remember my marketing correctly).
It is interesting that both major CAD vendors, Autodesk and Bentley, now have two collaboration products of differing levels of complexity and cost. Bentley has ProjectWise and has added ProjectWise StartPoint, while Autodesk had Buzzsaw and has added Constructware. In both instances, the company has sought to extend their web functionality: Bentley’s partnership with Microsoft will see it use more .NET web services; Autodesk partly justified its Constructware acquisition earlier this year on the strength of the latter’s ASP credentials (see my Construction Consolidation (contd) post in February).