Cost management is being added to Autodesk’s BIM 360 platform, the company announced at AU2018 in Las Vegas last week. The 5D BIM addition will help it compete with the growing cost management capabilities of rival CDE products.
The BIM 360 platform was launched at AU2017 following a revamp intended to connect workflows across all its BIM 360 products (which include the BIM 360 Docs document, drawing and model management toolset). The ecosystem, based on Autodesk Forge, is also intended as an environment in which partner companies can create accessory software applications, and around 100 partners have now provided software integrations.
At the AU2018 Connect and Construct Keynote, Jim Lynch, vice-president and general manager of Autodesk’s Construction Business Unit, announced it had added cost management capabilities to its BIM 360 platform, providing real-time visibility of the financial health of a project, and reducing decision-making risk. Lynch said: “Together, we’re delivering technology that supports key construction workflows by centralizing project information for all stakeholders and opening the door for innovation through greater access and analysis of project data.”
Little is currently known about the new application (reports Engineering.com); Autodesk said it will be offered as a limited availability pre-release in December 2018.
5D competition hots up
However, the addition of cost management to the BIM 360 portfolio is surely intended to help it compete with the growing cost management capabilities of rival common data environment products.
Oracle Aconex has a long history of incorporating cost control functionality into its platform. One of its acquisitions, Conject (previously BIW Technologies) developed a cost control module as part of its document management platform in the early 2000s, winning sales to major UK contractors who valued the immediacy of up-to-date reports of the financial consequences of project changes. More recently, Aconex’s July 2015 Worksite acquisition boosted the Australian collaboration vendor’s project cost functionality, expanded still further by the deal to acquire Anglo-German rival Conject in March 2016. Meanwhile, Oracle had acquired SaaS construction payment management platform Textura in April 2016, and, just seven months after Aconex had launched Connected Cost in April 2017, Oracle announced it was acquiring the Australian-based business for US$1.2bn.
Other businesses which will be watching Autodesk’s development with interest include:
- Bentley Systems – Bentley’s ProjectWise platform has been gradually extended to include more construction change management capabilities, following the 2015 acquisition of EADOC, ProcureWare in 2017, and Synchro in June 2018. At last month’s Year in Infrastructure conference, Bentley executive Steve Jolley told me the company aimed to expand its support for construction managers beyond BIM – “Their primary concerns are time, money, risk”.
- Trimble – As another US-based construction technology giant, Trimble has a long history of collaboration buys dating back to Meridian Systems in 2006, and since then including Sketchup in 2012, GTeam in 2014, and in 2018 the major buys of e-Builder and of Viewpoint. The latter deal, in particular, will focus Trimble on cost management; before it acquired the UK-based 4Projects SaaS collaboration business in 2013 and a mobile collaboration developer in December 2014, Viewpoint’s core US business related to ERP systems (and I have been hearing industry rumours that Viewpoint’s new masters want to build on this legacy rather than boosting SaaS collaboration functionality – which may explain some recent UK company staff departures).
- RIB – Stuttgart, Germany-based RIB Software has described itself as “the world’s leading provider of 5D BIM Big Data technology for the construction industry” though its pure SaaS capability, iTWOcx, was mainly based on acquisitions.