Bentley Systems’ Year In Infrastructure 2020 has started with news of an acquisition: PCSG, the UK-based consultancy chaired by former UK BIM Task Group head Mark Bew, has been bought by Bentley Systems.
Founded in 2000 by Katherine Bew, chaired by Mark Bew (who headed the UK Government-appointed BIM Task Group during the early 2010s), and headquartered in Croydon, PCSG has developed world-leading methodologies, talent, and experience in advising built-environment owners on going digital, and advancing BIM, GIS and infrastructure digital twins. As part of The Cohesive Companies, Bentley says the organization can dramatically grow its advisory scope (already at over 50 professionals), both in global scale and to reach all infrastructure sectors.
The Cohesive Companies
Bentley Acceleration Fund was founded in early 2020 to invest in new and incremental participants in open ecosystems to advance infrastructure digital twins. Headed by Santanu Das, it has backed several initiatives including: Virtuosity, The Cohesive Companies, CitiLabs, two UK businesses: Synchro (acquired in June 2018 – post) and GroupBC (acquired by Bentley in early 2020 – post), NoteVault (post), and most recently Norway’s offshire technology business FutureOn (Bentley news release).
Bentley Acceleration Fund launched The Cohesive Companies, a wholly owned subsidiary, anchored by the acquisition of Atlanta-based Cohesive Solutions, in July 2020 (news release). The venture included the services team from Bentley’s AssetWise business and the offerings of Bentley, Cohesive, and IBM’s Maximo to support the digital transformation of infrastructure owner-operators.
Cohesive Solutions was the largest North American reseller of IBM’s Maximo enterprise asset management (EAM) software. With a successful track record of delivering integrated EAM solutions for owner-operators in utilities, energy, and facilities sectors, Cohesive Solutions’ domain expertise and consulting capabilities are being extended to advance EAM to infrastructure digital twins.
As digital integrators for infrastructure asset performance, The Cohesive Companies’ focus is on the convergence, through digital twin cloud services, of digital engineering models (ET), with IT and OT, for infrastructure and facilities assets. In July, Noah Eckhouse, SVP Bentley Systems, and CEO, The Cohesive Companies, said:
“Infrastructure asset owners know their success in going digital is based on both technology as well as experienced and dedicated resources for change management. I’m excited to fully meet the opportunity for asset performance digital twins with Bentley Acceleration Fund’s substantial commitment to this digital integrator venture. Building on Cohesive Solutions’ 25-year history while launching Cohesive Asset Performance with a large team of seasoned Bentley AssetWise consultants, The Cohesive Companies have hit the ground running, ready to drive change and deliver positive outcomes!”
The deal has been announced at the start of Bentley Systems’ annual Year in Infrastructure event. In the news release, Greg Bentley, Bentley Systems’ CEO, right, said
“Mark Bew’s visionary thinking about the potential of BIM advancement through digital twins has spearheaded the UK’s world leadership in digital ambitions for infrastructure, and has also inspired us at Bentley Systems. We recognize that owner-operators need advisory services to guide their transformations to digital workflows – and that all of us in their ecosystem benefit from expert consultancy services propagating best practices in digital twin adoption.
“Accordingly, we’re determined to catalyze the market development of digital integrators through our Cohesive portfolio developments. As so many sector-leading infrastructure owners have strongly endorsed the PCSG team and their results, the opportunity for Cohesive to join forces with Mark and Katherine Bew to globalize their work is fortuitous.”
“We are pleased to welcome Mark and Katherine and the entire PCSG team into The Cohesive Companies. Our sole mission as an autonomous digital integrator consultancy is to support owner-operators and their supply chains in going digital, contributing to great outcomes for our clients independent of their investment choices among technology vendors. From iTwins to Maximo, from cloud to mobile, this leverages our uniquely cohesive digital twin expertise, beyond resourceful technology implementation, in change management, business process redesign, and – now expanded through PCSG’s leading advisory services – strategy consulting.”
Mark Bew MBE, chairman of PCSG, right, said:
“Katherine and I are delighted to be joining The Cohesive Companies. Deepening what we can offer to existing clients, while at the same time broadening our scope through this comprehensively global organization, is a very exciting opportunity for us, our clients and our partners.
“Our vision is one of infinitely smarter futures where a digitally engineered built environment supports the delivery of infinitely better social, environmental and financial outcomes. I particularly want to thank our world-class PCSG team and our farsighted clients for enabling and embracing this tremendous opportunity to accelerate the realization of this vision.”
The Extranet Evolution view
Update (4pm BST) – It has plainly been a busy year for Bentley Systems. Like just about every other business, it has had to adapt to the new realities of working during the COVID-19 pandemic. It expanded the availability of ProjectWise 365 to smaller businesses (announced at YII 2019 – post), and earlier this year it temporarily waived subscription fees so that infrastructure project participants working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic could continue to connect (post).
Simultaneously, it has been planning to become a publicly listed company, successfully floating on NASDAQ last month (post – CEO Greg Bentley was unable to comment further on financial issues due to reporting constraints following that IPO). Seemingly part of a financial and corporate reorganisation ahead of that flotation, the group has restructured to manage its acquisitions and investments through the Bentley Acceleration Fund.
And Bentley has also appointed some board-level heavy-hitters (news release). Nicholas Cumins, formerly general manager of SAP Marketing Cloud, succeeds the now-retired Bhupinder Singh as chief product officer. After two decades at Autodesk, Katriona Lord-Levins is now Bentley’s chief success officer. And another Autodesk veteran, Chris Bradshaw, after 26 years (1991-2017) with Bentley’s major competitor including a spell as chief marketing officer, has joined Bentley in the same role.
2020 has already seen a series of significant acquisitions, including that of the UK-based GroupBC in March. This latest deal will potentially strengthen Bentley’s UK base and also existing connections between PCSG and GroupBC which date back to Mark Bew’s leading roles with GroupBC customer organisations. Bew was business systems director with UK contractor Costain in the early 2000s, for example; Costain’s collaboration platform iCOSnet was built on Business Collaborator, and has helped the company win work with clients including Highways England. After GroupBC’s management successfully concluded a management buy-out from Unit4 in November 2014 (post), PCSG was one of the company’s strategic partners, helping develop – with Ordnance Survey – an innovative GIS-based platform called GeoConnect+. This was showcased at GroupBC’s 2017 user conference (post), at which Mark Bew’s long-standing PCSG colleague Adrian Burgess also presented.
Update (1 December 2020): Cohesive acquires UK’s SRO
Bentley’ Cohesive Companies has announced the acquisition of Manchester, UK-based SRO Solutions , a provider of IBM’s Maximo to marine and industrial infrastructure providers. Noah Eckhouse, CEO of The Cohesive Companies said:
“Our goal, as an autonomous digital integrator consultancy, is to support global owner-operators and their assets literally everywhere in going digital. Incorporating SRO’s comprehensive product and service offerings, and their uniquely deep experience in maintaining safety and regulatory compliance in challenging and low/no-bandwidth environments, will help our emerging digital twin offerings to reach the full extent of maritime and industrial assets.”
Update (31 March 2021): Cohesive acquires Canada-based IBM Maximo specialist Ontracks
Bentley’ Cohesive Companies has announced the acquisition of Ontracks Consulting, a leading implementer of IBM Maximo, headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Ontracks specialises in strategic asset management and operational performance improvement for asset-intensive organisations in energy, utilities, transportation, mining, manufacturing, and government. Bentley says the acquisition of IBM Platinum Business Partner Ontracks “adds strength and depth to The Cohesive Companies’ already significant Maximo business”.