Having written about Newforma’s burgeoning operation in Australia in December, I talked with Ian Howell, CEO of Newforma, last week. The business, which provides both on-premise and cloud-based AEC information management services, is experiencing growth in Australasia, and continuing to invest in its mobile capabilities, he said.
Newforma in Australia
On the Australasia subject, Ian said Newforma was looking forward to a continued relationship with its former reseller, SmartSoftware, which would continue to provide support and training services to both existing and new enterprise customers. The newly incorporated company Newforma Australia is recruiting business development people to grow its regional footprint – to date, industry veteran (ex Autodesk and Bentley) Frank Sgammotta has been appointed country manager, while Omar Awny is targeting new ANZ business – and it will retain SmartSoftware for consultancy services. Ian also saw the Australian business as a springboard to support firms working on projects in neighbouring regions in south east Asia.
In Australia, Ian highlighted the company’s strong relationships in Australia, mentioning Hassell Architects, engineer Wood & Grieve, and Rice Daubney Architects as customers. The latter is using Newforma on the Sunshine Coast University Hospital PPP project in Queensland, as is Brisbane-based co-designer Architectus, and their joint use of the Newforma-to-Newforma connection had enabled collaboration and avoided expensive co-location strategies, he said. Other customers in the region include CGR AMW, dwp|suters, and Jasmax.
Hybrid offering, mobile and BIM
Reiterating points made when we met in October 2012, Ian is adamant that the AEC market will remain receptive to a hybrid set of requirements, where users want ready access to on-premise information – for internal design review, for example – while also needing the capability to distribute information to their external collaborators. In August 2012, Newforma acquired US-based Attolist, provider of the SaaS-based AEC-Sync platform, which they re-branded Newforma Project Cloud and – last September – made exclusively available via Amazon Web Services. This has also been increasingly tightly integrated with the core Newforma Project Center product, and a Newforma ID single login simplifies users’ access to all authorised Newforma spaces.
Work is also increasingly mobile; Newforma launched four mobile products in 2013, supporting Apple, Android and – interestingly – the intent to support Windows 8 users, having detected growing corporate IT enthusiasm for Ultrabook and Surface Pro devices. In late March or early April 2014, Newforma plans to launch new additions to its mobile suite.
With building information modelling (BIM) also growing in importance, Ian also stressed the version control capabilities created through integration of the Newforma platform with M-Six’s VEO BIM viewing tool. He ridiculed the proliferation of simple model viewers, insisting that it was more important to be able to relate non-geometric aspects of design development: “For example, you should be able to view ‘flags’ in the model that relate to RFIs [requests for information] and then have the whole email trail behind the RFI at your fingertips.” He also reminded me about VEO’s roll-back capability, giving a 4D view (time-related) of a shared model that allows users to ascertain the status of an issue at any point in time rather than capturing 1000s of model snapshots throughout the project.