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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
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 »

Keith Bentley keynote at YII 2014: “Innovation happens in waves…”

November 25th, 2014 by Susan Smith

At Bentley’s Year in Infrastructure 2014 Conference in London in early November, Founder and CTO of Bentley Systems, Keith Bentley spoke on the topic of innovation.

"The ideas that start out to be the greatest start as small ideas." - Keith Bentley, Founder and CTO, Bentley Systems

“The ideas that start out to be the greatest start as small ideas.” – Keith Bentley, Founder and CTO, Bentley Systems

“What I observed over 30 years is that innovation happens in waves,” said Bentley. “We’re at the cusp of a new hardware revolution. The computing industry of 1954 – our phones are more capable than this computer ever was. 30 years later the PC was born, and with it, Bentley and Autodesk were born. That ability to make a small computer created opportunities. Lots more memory. The difference between the Personal workstation and PC was the ability to network. Then the Internet – Google and a lot of new ideas were spawned. The way we grow software has changed. Hardware changes have driven changes in software.”

Bentley also noted that often, the ideas that start out to be the greatest start as small ideas.

“Waves just happen and become apparent after the fact. Five years ago what we’re talking about today wouldn’t have been possible. There are overlapping waves.”


He also pointed out that software engineers have to make tradeoffs, which have to do with resources available. Those are incorporated into the design, created when the software is conceived. A couple of years after birth the software has to be redone.

In the beginning, he said, the PC mission was easy – automate the process of generating a piece of paper, which in turn, gave us CAD.

With the birth of the workstation, and design in 3D, we automated the process of design and stored additional information on graphics and other necessary documentation.

With the birth of the Internet, Building Information Modeling was born, and “most BIM products today are automating the design process,” said Bentley. “We figured out ways by giving models properties of certain behavior, to keep them synchronized. The idea of building something that would last 150 years (as was suggested by a previous speaker) that wasn’t in the view; it wasn’t designed for that purpose.”

Bentley showed a photo of a Google Datacenter today, which looked remarkably like the computer of 1954.

What goes into computing today:


A company like Microsoft can build a datacenter so large and can run a very small computer. Microsoft can rent them to you, so you don’t have to decide how many you want.

Radio waves are more radio transmitters, so we can now presume anywhere we are able to get a data connection.

Batteries are better. The iPad was invented in 2010 and has only been “mainstream” that long. The iPad wouldn’t have been possible without batteries.

Disk drives

Graphics processing

Sensors come in several varieties: GPS, camera, miniaturized and made accurate and affordable.


Microsoft Azure is for figuring out how to make a server for hire, and secure and scalable for cloud computers.

Big data requires a distributed data model and processing model, so we can have multiple processors working on a problem.

Social computing is about the way people interact with one another – through Twitter and Facebook. “If you can do this for personal use you can do it for business,” said Bentley.

Operating systems for phones

Internet of things “Every computer doesn’t haven’t to look like a computer,” said Bentley. “Many things can collect and distribute data.”

Business applications offer data models and create ways to query the model. Now there are ways to make the physical thing and the virtual thing look the same. “Fusing the modeled world and real world is a big challenge,” said Bentley.

iModels are good start to information mobility, said Bentley, and a way we can create interfaces.

“We need another data model – one centered around physical properties and around business properties, that will happen over time,” said Bentley.

He added that the cloud is about connecting and the The CONNECT Edition requires that you think differently in a more connected way.

The problems of change management, change merging, and synchronization have not gone away.

“There is a great need to use our products with competing products,” said Bentley. “We’re about one- third of the way into innovation. It’s going to change, everything we do has to be connect-aware.”

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Categories: 2D, 3D, 3D printing, Adobe, AEC, Apple, architecture, AutoCAD, Bentley Systems, Bentley Year In Infrastructure 2014, BIM, Cloud, collaboration, construction, consumerization, data archiving, engineering, field, field solutions, file sharing, IES, IFC, infrastructure, integrated project delivery, interactive display, MEP, mobile, plant design, point clouds, project management, reality capture, site planning, sustainable design, terrain, video

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