Editor's Window30 Jun, 2007 By: Amy Stankiewicz
Where the Money Is
Last month, I discussed BIM (building information modeling) technology and whether those in the design–build–operate arena are ready to adopt it fully. In response, I received an e-mail from a draftsperson who outlined a variety of pros—and cons—to adoption of this solution.
"Recently, my firm's technology committee has taken up the notion of whether or not we should convert some of our seats (we have over 32) to Revit," wrote Mitchell Hirschklau, senior draftsperson at Parette Somjen Architects in New Jersey. "Will our clients pay for the additional time it may take to set up (if not to generate) a typical project under Revit?" he asked. "Ultimately, it has been my experience ... that the financials and cost–benefit analysis will be the most important."
I couldn't have said it better myself. Today's most intriguing technologies will mean very little if they're not accompanied by a thoughtful review of how they impact workflows, address changing global business practices, and ultimately, improve return on investment.
I'm wondering if the mechanical side of engineering hasn't made more progress in the effort to connect new technologies to the bottom line. Companies like PTC are introducing process-centric services to help manufacturers understand the link between product development processes and business value.
Recently, PTC unveiled a new process-centric service known as PTC Process Framework. According to the company, PTC Process Framework is an interactive flowchart that maps out relationships between product development strategies and PLM applications that support these development initiatives.
"Many manufacturers have realized that while the implementation of technology may improve your business incrementally, technology alone won't enable you to win the market," said Chad K. Jackson, Aberdeen Group's research director for product innovation and engineering. "Top-performing manufacturers are revisiting their development processes in order to achieve their business objectives. Once that's corrected, then technology can be brought to bear."
Apparently, manufacturing companies are listening. CIMdata recently reported that the overall PLM market grew 10.4% to reach $20.1 billion in 2006. And the segment is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of approxi-mately 8.5% for the next five years.
This small editorial space can only begin to touch on the myriad efforts that manufacturers are undertaking to achieve business goals. And it'll be interesting to watch as the AEC market continues to grapple with 3D technology and how it can impact that industry's bottom line.
"Personally, I've been through this sort of thing before, only I was younger, more enthusiastic, and frankly, more naïve," Hirschklau said. "No matter how wonderful the software, if the capabilities are not financially sustainable, it will not serve."