As conference season wraps up for the year, looking back at some of the common themes across three recent user conference events brings insight into how technology solutions are thinking about positioning themselves for the future. In particular, the themes across three recent user conferences - Procore Groundbreak, Trimble Dimensions, and Autodesk University - showed a few common themes across the platforms:
No surprise, the implementation of AI into each platform solution dominated headlines. Procore announced its Copilot feature which it says will allow project teams to more efficiently find key data. Autodesk made a similar announcement with the introduction of it’s Autodesk AI feature for design & make industries. While Trimble did not talk up a full Copilot offering just yet, it did tout more specific automation applications, including it’s new automatic invoicing functionality. It is particularly noteworthy that both Procore and Trimble both credited Microsoft Azure in their efforts to implement these AI functionalities.
The need for one technology solution for contractor teams continued its upward trend at all three events again this year. Of course, it should be no surprise each of these three organizations would do so. Procore has been building its app marketplace for close to 8 years now, Autdesk introduced it’s construction cloud in 2019, and Trimble announced construction one back in 2021 - all in an effort to bring contractors a full suite of functionalities through which to manage their projects.
Evolutions in BIM
Autodesk University spent time showcasing its new Workshop XR which allows for a more immersive and collaborative design review. Procore Groundbreak held a whole panel on how to integrate project data between 2D and 3D models for more efficient updates and drawing reviews. Trimble Dimensions spent time taking attendees through updates to Tekla, its various surveying tools, and other more effective modeling tools that would benefit MEP contractors as well.
What They Didn't Cover
It is not so much that these topics weren’t covered, but that they are not key focus areas though the industry, and BuiltWorlds own research, reflect how critical these are to contractors.
Safety: Though things like productivity, project modeling, and payment processes are all addressed through the lens of new technology, safety continues to be a “culture issue.” Founders and solution providers are building all sorts of new technology to address the myriad of issues in the industry, but safety still seems to be a matter of culture and training. What will it take to address jobsite safety risks through the lens of proactive technology rather than near-miss documentation and daily standups?
Supply Chain: While the near-term problems caused by COVID-19, the Suez Canal blockage, and the line of hundreds of waiting ships in 2021 is no longer affecting the transit of goods across the globe, a larger issue of supply chain visibility remains. One of the key risk factors on any project is the timely delivery of goods, particularly those with increasingly long lead times (think generators, RTU’s, that nice italian floor tile). When it comes to understanding material releases, tracking, and delivery, emails and manual efforts still reign in this area.