Autodesk University – little collaboration buzz

Amid the stream of blog articles discussing Autodesk University 2006, there has been very little about construction collaboration technologies. I had hoped that this major US event, which attracted 7,500 people this year, might have been the platform for Autodesk to make some major announcement, perhaps regarding its Constructware product (following the acquisition earlier this year), but there was very little noise about either this product or Buzzsaw. Lachmi Khemlani noted this too, in the latest AECbytes newsletter:

“… not much was said about Autodesk’s in-house design collaboration solution, Buzzsaw, or Constructware, the contractor-focused collaboration solution which it acquired earlier this year. In contrast to the late 1990s and early 2000s when the buzz in the AEC industry was all about project collaboration solutions, also know as the AEC dot-coms, the focus is now on BIM to such an extent that project collaboration seems to be falling on the wayside. The challenge before solutions such as Buzzsaw and Constructware—which were really designed on the basis of drawing-based design and construction processes—is how to integrate with BIM solutions and processes as they go forward. Even with the use of BIM, projects still have to managed and AEC professionals still have to come together to collaborate on design and construction, so we are definitely going to need BIM-based management and collaboration solutions. It will be interesting to see how Buzzsaw and Constructware—or perhaps an integrated version of the two in the future—shape up to the task.”

Indeed, Constructware hardly seems to have been mentioned at all since the acquisition was completed and Constructware was re-branded an Autodesk product. At the time, I (and other commentators) had assumed that Autodesk would look to offer both its collaboration products to slightly different markets (ie: Buzzsaw playing to its strengths among designers and small house-builders, and the more process-rich Constructware being delivered to contractors and project managers), but perhaps I was wrong. Maybe the intention is to take some of the powerful functionality in Constructware and add it to Buzzsaw – as Lachmi suggests in her final sentence? A brief remark when Autodesk made its financial statements last month (see my 24 November post) seemed to suggest this was the case, with Carl Bass talking about the “additional capabilities brought into the Buzzsaw as a result of Autodesk’s acquisition of Constructware”.

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