Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The double-edged sword of standardization

Momentous news from Bentley and Autodesk yesterday announced they would be “exchanging their software libraries and support each other's application programming interface tools to improve interoperability between their products.”

Two questions immediately come to mind: 1) What are Bentley and Autodesk afraid of? and 2) Will the A/E industry use the apparent efficiency improvement this could create to continue to cut its own throat?

First, these two giants are scared to death that their chronic interoperability issues in the face of increased pressure to implement BIM would allow a 3rd party to come out of nowhere and eat their collective lunches while they quibbled. My boss Frank Stasiowski says that if these were public entities, there would be an SEC investigation of a possible monopoly. It would appear, at least on the surface, if things progress as projected, there will be little room for other players to emerge.

Second, how will users’ working more effectively in distributed locations and bringing data together in collaboration affect A/E firms’ relationships with their clients? Will firms factor these efficiencies into lower pricing for design work in a panic move to keep people busy or will they actually charge more for their services because collaborating effectively across work sites is a differentiator that makes their services more valuable? If past behavior is a leading indicator of future behavior, look for more of the former.


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