Said Cambashi Principal Consultant Edwin Ecob, who served as a 2007 BE Awards of Excellence juror, "For me, the two key themes of the event were 'learning' and 'innovation.' Learning ranged from formal training classes to peer-to-peer sharing of project and process innovations among Bentley users. Innovation was captured in technology sessions and user projects. These two themes were also covered in the large number of projects that were submitted for BE Awards. As always, the winners received enthusiastic support at the awards dinner.
"One particularly successful Bentley innovation at BE Conference 2007 was the inaugural BE Executive Symposium, during which Bentley senior executives, industry leaders, and academics discussed sustaining both the physical and professional infrastructure - focusing on the shortage of skilled professionals.
"BE 2007 was a success. I'm looking forward to 2008."
On Monday at both conferences, attendees were introduced to a number of innovations, including:
-- The ProjectWise Passport - This versatile and global collaboration license for users of Bentley's ProjectWise scalable collaboration system is portable between projects. With just one ProjectWise Passport, a user is now licensed for any ProjectWise client, including ProjectWise StartPoint, ProjectWise Navigator, ProjectWise Explorer, and ProjectWise InterPlot Organizer. -- Managed Solutions from Bentley Professional Services - These include SELECT Server ONLINE and ProjectWise ONLINE, Resident Engineers, and Operational Resourcing. SELECT Server ONLINE and ProjectWise ONLINE will be delivered to organizations as a service in order to streamline the implementation and maintenance of a managed environment. These solutions are ideal for joint-venture projects and midsize firms that prefer to focus on their core competencies. Resident Engineers will provide special and regular professional services. The engineers will be stationed at a site as an integral team member and serve as an addition to the user's IT operations. Operational Resourcing will address the peaks and troughs of an organization's need for off-site or on-site professional services. This solution will supplement an organization's own server operations staff and technical applications management, or backfill other operational staff as required. -- Bentley's Applied Research group - This new group identifies and applies technologies sourced elsewhere to enrich the comprehensiveness of Bentley's solutions.
Attendees also were briefed on Bentley's April 2007 Annual Report. Highlights include:
-- 2006 revenues increased to $389 million, representing growth of more than 15 percent from 2005 -- Since 1995, the company has reinvested over $500 million into research and development and over $250 million into acquisitions -- Bentley's Enterprise License Subscription program now includes more than 100 of the largest infrastructure entities in the world -- Bentley colleagues worldwide now number nearly 2500
The Monday morning sessions in both Los Angeles and London began the learning process with inspiring and informative keynote presentations by Bentley executives. After brief welcome remarks by COO Malcolm Walter, CEO Greg Bentley took the dais to argue that increased economic productivity is the only way to meet the growing workload of infrastructure professionals.
Mr. Bentley said that the backlog of infrastructure work is growing. On top of "ordinary" improvement and retrofit work in developed countries and basic infrastructure needs in developing regions, infrastructure professionals face pressing "extraordinary" sustainability challenges, including natural resource self-sufficiency and natural disaster resilience.
Making these tasks all the more challenging, said Mr. Bentley, is today's shortage of engineering resources. Given the years of training required to become a productive infrastructure practitioner, there is no quick fix for the comparatively low rate of new entrants joining engineering professions.
Mr. Bentley said the solution to these challenges is to dramatically increase economic productivity for architectural and engineering services, which according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (USBLS) has substantially lagged behind the economy at large since the mid 1990s. He added that data from the most recent years reported by USBLS indicate an inflection upward, which he believes reflects some successful adoption of IT-enabled workflow innovations such as those represented by the BE Award nominations and others presented in BE Conference best practices sessions. He explained that further gains can best be achieved by prioritizing learning, extending collaboration, and fostering organic innovation.
He next presented a "tour" of BE Award nominations and other Bentley user projects that have benefited from five key strategies for economic productivity: software interoperation, accelerated delivery of assets, higher-quality deliverables that are reusable, the delivery of assets with better performance and better fit for purpose, and business model innovations.
Mr. Bentley concluded with a look at innovations in Bentley System's business model that are helping to support distributed enterprises and improve their economic productivity. In addition, he discussed some of Bentley's key performance metrics.
Bhupinder Singh, senior vice president, Bentley Software, then spoke on increasing productivity from a product perspective. He explained that Bentley's "one platform" consisting of MicroStation and ProjectWise allows the company's developers to achieve faster time to market for applications, intrinsic integration of Bentley products, a common user experience, and consistent application behavior.
As an example, he demonstrated the new ProjectWise Navigator, the first visual collaboration client for design review and analysis plus work packaging that fully supports iterative workflows and reuse of all content throughout the process. ProjectWise Navigator includes many innovations by MicroStation to provide support for a broad range of applications, industry standards, and file formats. Some of the 2D/3D file formats and supported applications include DGN, DWG, PDF, AutoPLANT, TriForma, PlantSpace, PDS, Google SketchUp, Google Earth(TM), IGES, STEP, JPEG, TIFF, and 3DS.
Singh also discussed the company's concentration on complete solutions for the civil, building, plant, and geospatial verticals. These solutions bundle relevant products, address data integration, and focus on the design, build, and operations workflows of infrastructure asset classes. Examples include solutions for road or rail networks, power plants and utilities, and water networks.
Next, Singh described technology added to Bentley's comprehensive portfolio through the acquisition of the following companies:
-- C.W. Beilfuss & Associates - provider of software for permit administration and safe routing of oversize and overweight vehicles called SUPERLOAD and the multi-state permitting Web site "gotpermits.com." -- Design Power - provider of Design++, a knowledge-based engineering solver on which PlantWise is based. PlantWise uses Design++ with a proven, versatile, and extensible rulebase to enable fully piped and lowest-cost 3D plant concept models to be easily created for contextual optimization. -- KIWI Software - provider of ProSteel 3D, a globally recognized solution for structural steel detailing and fabrication that supports multiple platforms.
Finally, Singh, accompanied by Bentley Software colleagues Rob Whitesell, vice president Building and Plant Products, Shaun Sewall, vice president Platform Products and Technology, and Styli Camateros, vice president Civil and Geospatial Products, looked ahead to the next edition of Bentley products, code-named "Athens." This edition will include innovations such as conceptual design (including GenerativeComponents), dynamic views, distributed projects, and geo-coordination. Singh stressed that, as it always has, Bentley would add innovations incrementally across all its applications, providing users with a road map of continuous improvement to more powerful technology and greater productivity.
Singh was followed by CTO Keith Bentley. Mr. Bentley began by explaining that Bentley's one-platform approach enables the company to expand its application reach in the marketplace, to better leverage its research and development and testing resources, and to facilitate product innovation among its developers. In addition, users benefit from:
-- The ability to reuse software training as they move from application to application -- A breadth of solutions -- Software intra-operability -- Continuity and predictability of applications -- File format/data longevity -- Software sustainability
Looking at future innovations in Bentley software, Mr. Bentley said the company is working on new techniques to expand the capability of DGN files, which today may contain a gigabyte of data. Another goal is to enable DGN files to hold thousands of models, which will enable remarkable new capabilities in MicroStation "Athens." Also, in an approach analogous to increasing processing power with parallel processing by CPUs, the company is working on distributed DGNs, which will increase the productivity of its users.