How much importance does technology hold in today’s time in response to the growing demands of architecture?
The use of technology around the world in architecture and engineering, and through construction and operations, is increasing at an accelerating pace. Today’s architects and designers rely on technology to make designs, prepare documents, and communicate with the other members of the project team in ways that most of these infrastructure professionals could not imagine working without.
As technology advances, new possibilities in design and construction that weren’t even considered in the past are now routinely explored and employed – things like better energy analysis, new materials that are lighter and stronger as well as sustainable, new ways of connecting people, projects, and enterprises, more effective ways to plan construction, more efficient and accurate approaches to creating shapes, curves and cantilevers, and so much more. As a result, a central requirement for today’s successful architects and engineers is to be comfortable with and regularly take advantage of technology.
I think this is only going to increase as technology becomes an ever-greater part of the process for a broader scope of project participants. To be more competitive in the AECO marketplace, one needs to stay a step ahead of everyone else, and using technology is the way forward.
What differences do you observe in the working culture of India as against some of the developed countries across the globe? How do we bridge this gap?
My work profile allows me to travel all over the world and observe different customs and cultures. My many travels have made it clear to me that there’s a strong entrepreneurial spirit within the Indian people. Everyone I’ve encountered here seems steadfast in seeking opportunity and is working hard to make their mark in their respective space in the system – to make things better for the community at large and to be successful in their own right. That’s why there is a lot going on here, in terms of people, work, and the creation of infrastructure.
The working culture in India is characterized by industriousness, a high energy level, and the desire to achieve, and is moving in the direction of more highly managed work processes. There are quite a few big projects, including large oil refineries and process plants, huge manufacturing facilities, new transit systems like the metro systems, and so on that are being very successfully implemented, and this proves that the Indian culture can embrace this scale and the new ways of working in a more managed and structured system.
As far as bridging the gap goes, when I was working as an architect more than 20 years ago, we saw India as an excellent resource for outsourcing. Architects in the U.S. would contract with people in India to do CAD work for us at night, and they would send the completed assignments back to us in the morning.
It was a mutually advantageous association for all as it brought work to India, saved us some money and time, and made possible enduring connections between our two cultures. And the Indian companies that participated in that CAD work, as well as in the other types of work that U.S. and other countries outsourced to India, quickly expanded their knowledge about those businesses. So, for example, beginning with the CAD work they did overnight, these Indian organizations moved on to a little bit of engineering as their expertise continued to grow.
Today, in some cases the tables have turned, and people in America are now working for Indian companies, within the global economy. This application of entrepreneurial spirit will continue over time and contribute to India’s ever-stronger connection to the world economy.
How can the BIM concept be made more acclimatized in our country wherein change of mindset is not that easy?
For starters, a change in mindset isn’t any easier in the U.S., Europe, or the Middle East than it is in India. Around the world, people get locked into certain ideas or ways of doing things and it can be extremely difficult to help them to change.
In the case of BIM, the first step in accomplishing a change in mindset is to properly define what BIM is. BIM isn’t just another piece of software used to make 3D models; if it were, it wouldn’t be all that helpful and certainly not nearly as exciting as it is.
What makes BIM so advantageous is that it provides project teams with a new, highly effective, and intelligent way to connect all of the information, roles, and disciplines across the different phases of a project.
So, getting back to your question, the first step towards getting people acclimatized to BIM is to help them to think about the concept in the right way. They need to see BIM as a methodology that allows them to more readily access information generated by other project disciplines, and to use that information for better decision making leading to better project and asset performance. Once people realize the many benefits of BIM, their integration of BIM into their workflows will happen must faster.
What are the special features of the latest Bentley CONNECT Edition?
- The CONNECT Edition provides a connected environment to improve the performance of infrastructure projects and assets from design through construction and operations. Leveraging the reach and computing power of the Microsoft Azure cloud, and supporting a hybrid environment that includes on-premise servers, desktop applications, and mobile apps, the CONNECT Edition completes the reach of information mobility for advancing infrastructure, enabling:
- application users to benefit from a personalized experience with software, learning paths, and content tailored to their respective project roles and direct connections to other users and Bentley colleagues;
- project teams comprising different disciplines to leverage a collaborative framework to manage all project work and to unify participants across all stages of project delivery; and
- enterprises to gain visibility across their portfolio of projects (through analyses, dashboards of graphs, charts, and so on) and better manage the work of their connected project participants.
Since the CONNECT Edition provides a common modelling environment, the way the design and simulation analysis occurs is shared across all our tools and is open to work with common tools supplied by other software vendors.
The data is stored and managed in such a way that, when it moves from one person or software to another, it does not break the link to anyone in the process. An architect working on a project, for example, will not look at the aspects of the project that, say, a structural engineer will pay close attention to, and vice versa, despite it being the same building.
However, if one member of the project makes an alteration to the design, the others need to be in the loop because the decisions made by one person impact those that the others will make. This common data environment empowers:
- Users to access catalogs, standards, and other critical information needed to start and conduct modeling work;
- Project teams to bring discipline and consistency to the creation, distribution, and management of critical engineering content, while gaining visibility into the impact of change within a project; and
- Enterprises to ensure the application of consistent standards and processes across a diverse portfolio of projects involving distributed multi-discipline teams.
Could you elaborate on how the CONNECT Edition software helps in connecting the project teams innovatively?
Project wise, which is our project information management and collaboration software, is very widely used around the world on projects of all sizes and types. However, in order for it to work best, everyone has to be in the same ProjectWise system.
With the CONNECT Edition’s common performance environment for comprehensive project delivery, while there may be more than one project organization using ProjectWise, instead of picking which one to use on the project, the project team can simply connect the two ProjectWise systems. And if there are organizations working on the project that aren’t using ProjectWise, the CONNECT Edition allows them to enjoy the benefits all the same, because of its integrated model. It’s not just about connecting and managing the documents; rather, it now works at a data level as well. The biggest insight is in understanding and easily accessing the dashboard to know all about the progress of the project.
What are Bentley’s plan to further penetrate into the growing Indian market?
Bentley provides software and services, but what we really do is help our users solve problems. As we add a new capability to our portfolio, whether it’s a new discipline, a feature, or an entirely new product; it is always in response to what our users want or need. We’ve been responding to changes in codes, best practice guidelines, use of new materials, or simply a new and more effective way of working, for more than 30 years, and this has resulted in an enhanced and productive engagement with our users.
This approach has worked very well in the Indian market as we are selling software that empowers users to make a big difference in their individual work, as well as in their respective organizations’ workflows. Our commitment to establishing a collaborative user-vendor relationship has worked very well in India and is a constant theme in our plans for growth here.
Lastly, what’s next from Bentley as far as infrastructure is concerned? Could you elaborate on Bentley’s roadmap for today, tomorrow and future?
We make software for all types of infrastructure, be it for buildings, roads, bridges, utility networks, offshore platforms, wind turbines, railroads, and so on. However, we recognize that, even at that scale, all infrastructure works together and is part of a much bigger solution that provides the basic facilities, services, and installations required for a community or society to function. Going forward, we are going to continue our work to support all the disciplines and project stakeholders engaged in the design, construction, and operations of that infrastructure, along with all of the crucial information they share, to work together better.