Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »
Autodesk and Pitney Bowes pen new partnership
January 18th, 2012 by Susan Smith
For about three years, I have been watching Autodesk do interesting things with their GIS division, finally rolling some great mapping products into their Infrastructure Division. The sense was that Autodesk was primarily a provider of software for the built environment, with its GIS products designed with the architect or engineer in mind.
A new partnership between Autodesk and location intelligence provider Pitney Bowes Software may broaden Autodesk’s GIS direction, at least in terms of its ability to address infrastructure.
Richard Humphrey – Director, Civil Infrastructure Business Line, Autodesk and James Buckley – Sr. Vice President & General Manager, Customer Data & Location Intelligence, Pitney Bowes Software talked about the recent partnership penned between Autodesk and Pitney Bowes Software, designed to bring the two companies’ combined strengths to bear for infrastructure and AEC customers.
Building Information Modeling (BIM), GIS, business analytics and asset management are the areas that are addressed by this partnership, Autodesk focusing on delivering BIM to the infrastructure industry and Pitney Bowes aimed toward providing location intelligence and analytics across the same lifecycle that Autodesk addresses. The two companies are looking at leveraging data in the BIM space to provide end-to-end solutions across the plan-design-build-manage fabric.
The agreement is a “broad strategic alliance framework” according to Humphrey, allowing the two companies to do joint marketing and sales and potentially delivering solutions, product integration and product development jointly.
What does it mean to provide the end-to-end solutions?
“On the Autodesk side we’re focused on delivering BIM to the infrastructure space,,” explained Humphrey. “How do you leverage data in the BIM space across plan, design, build and manage? That’s the way we view what we’re trying to deliver. Autodesk’s core has always been heavy in the design and build side. Pitney Bowes software’s core is around location intelligence and analytics across that same lifecycle but really focused on the plan and manage. It does two things when you combine what the two companies do together – PBI expands on the definition of what the lifecycle is so on the planning side it’s more around master planning and to help governments do visioning, policy setting and strategy. On the manage side, capabilities like location intelligence really extend what infrastructure asset data is used for.”
By combining these two views, you can get a much broader view of the lifecycle, and a full plan-design-build-manage solution. “Where we have overlap on the plan and manage side, we really have a lot of compelling synergy,” said Humphrey. “On the plan side Autodesk products like the Map 3D and Infrastructure Modeler are great at aggregating existing conditions data – whether it’s existing CAD, indoor survey lidar, or bringing in any kind of GIS data through our FDO capabilities and then leverage that information through a friendly CAD or BIM environment.”
Humphrey said where Pitney Bowes’ is very strong is with MapInfo GIS and business analytics. Customers can make better business decisions based on the data they pull into our systems for plan-design-build-manage.
Humphrey said that on the manage side, Autodesk can deliver records management capabilities to Map 3D. Since the acqusiition Topobase and its integration into Map 3D customers can do some level of asset recording and management. “But really we don’t deliver true strategic asset management and that’s an area where Pitney Bowes is strong.” For example, the Pitney Bowes’ product called Confirm delivers full strategic asset management for roads and highways and other segments.
Buckley noted that Pitney Bowes has an extensive data catalog and large data busienses. “Autodesk customers are large generators of data, and we believe that this is an opportunity to bring our abilities to Autodesk customers and then to help drive the planning and some of the manage, where Autodesk hasn’t done. Our mapping products, parcel boundaries products, and geocoding offerings, are opportunities we think these customers can get a lot of value from. Also our data service offering Geosk that we launched a couple of months ago is something Autodesk customers can get a lot of value from very quickly.”
The relationship is focused on taking a vertical approach and looking at horizontal capabilities as well. “Customers are in a better position to deliver on the full active lifecycle because they will have the advantages of the traditional GIS space and Autodesk not being in the traditional GIS space,” said Buckley. “For example in our mining center where we have prospecting connections and the transportation sector and asset management as well as the analytics around making those big decisions. This is where Autodesk’s traditional offering and Pitney Bowes have been disconnected in the past.
In terms of integrating Pitney Bowes products with those of Autodesk, the companies are still exploring what those integration points are. In the short term, they can do some obvious things that will stem from their shared customers’ and channel partners requirements.
Another interesting area that I didn’t realize Pitney Bowes was so involved in is the civil and transportation industry. Autodesk has been pushing into that market space and delivers robust capabilities around planning, with Map 3D for transportation projects as well as the new Infrastrucutre Modeler for leveraging GIS data to do early conceptual scenarios for planning projects.
Autodesk can pull the data into Civil 3D for robust modeling for detailed design and construction. But according to Humphrey, they have not had a good delivery mechanism for getting that modeling data to the customers, “how do you take that modeling data once it’s been pulled through plan to constructon phase and push it back into the operations and asset management model for the transportation industry? With Pitney Bowes Confirm products we’re looking to round out that solution and deliver that to customers so they can roundtrip the data through the transportation lifecycle.”
Buckley ascertains that the Confirm products is a leading product in the UK and a market leader in local government, highway management and other public infrastructure assets it can handle for the highway authorities they use the product to transport but also other infrastructure like parks, gardens, and tree management. The product also has a strong following in Australia and New Zealand. It is used for water and wastewater asset management as well as other uses in the UK. “We have not taken that product Confirm outside traditional markets, but with Autodesk we see a big opportunity at leveraging that and bringing it to a much broader customer base around the world,” explained Buckley. “The product is focused on strategic asset management as well as the more traditional contract maintenance management elements so it has a lots of capabilities around planning, taking conditioned data and regulation data and really looking at what a infastructure should be doing over the long term.”
The marriage of Pitney Bowes GIS and analytical capabilities, their contract maintenance management and strategic asset management and traffic flow analysis coupled with Autodesk’s sales channels and strength around highway and transportation make this a very interesting match.
The more these two companies explore what assets they have to share, the more they will find ways of connecting their project teams, they will deliver more value and more infrastructure around different industry segments that they could not access independently. Ultimately, the ability for customers to make better decisions around design and strategic asset management will be industry changing for this new partnership.
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