March 31, 2008
Applied Software Acquisition Brings in New Autodesk Sales and Support Division
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Applied Software Acquisition Brings in New Autodesk Sales and Support Division
by Susan Smith
AECWeekly interviewed Richard Burroughs, president of Applied Software, an Atlanta-based Autodesk reseller and AEC solutions provider for the Southeastern U.S., regarding the company’s acquisition of the Atlanta-based operations of the Software Solutions Group of Imaging Technologies, a division of American Reprographics Company. The acquisition further strengthens Applied Software’s leadership position in the A/E/C industry regionally, where it provides CAD software and services to more than 4,000 organizations in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Adding to Applied’s integration and practice management of design solutions, the acquisition of the Software Solutions Group of Imaging Technologies brings in a much needed qualified Autodesk sales and support division.
AW: What does the acquisition mean to Applied Software?
Richard Burroughs: It will increase our presence in the territory we cover and provide us with staff on the services and support side. The demand for services going up and it’s hard for us to find qualified folks for training and mentoring. It’s hard to find vertical trained people familiar with Autodesk’s current technology. This also expands the number of clients we have and our service offerings in terms of requests for services. Our high end services are on an upward curve.
AW: What types of functionality are your customers asking for?
RB: Our customers are finally at that point where they are looking to the use of products well beyond just the drafting tools, especially in the architectural field, and on the building solutions side. They are interested in using the web and the process model in collaboration. We’re seeing principals involved in business process rather than only CAD managers being involved in their decision cycle on the products and services to acquire.
AW: Are people interested in the Imaging Technologies from the standpoint of 3D imaging or perhaps in terms of incorporating information into Google Earth?
RB: On the civil side, there is a subset of folks who are interested in tools like Google Earth as a plug in. The majority of them are still looking at it from a business process standpoint on how to leverage that into their own firms’ offerings. In the architectural and building design, MEP marketspace, probably there are people interested in Google Earth. But there is more interest in BIM modeling and energy analysis, more in the collaboration and coordination of design, from design through construction. Eventually owners start to talk about what is the long term lifecycle utilization of the model deliverable. We just offered our best attended seminar about a month ago where we had about 80 managers of architectural firms, consultants, owner-operators, lawyers and insurance on a panel. The issues for the owners are contract law, intellectual property and liability issues. The BIM collaboration model and sharing between contractors and designers is the current contract structure and insurance structure. Some law has caught up with the paradigm that BIM makes possible. An example is one of the attorneys mentioned in large design build firms, one really evangelizes the use of BIM and the advantage they have in being able to do clash detection. This allows them to bring in the model from all the different sources to help make the construction process more
efficient and less costly. The attorney said that the designer has been able to catch all errors with clash detection even though that’s not in the designer’s contract. If I’m an owner and you say we need a change order in construction that the software didn’t catch, maybe I don’t want to pay for it because you implied that you’ll catch them all.
The real issue is where the liability is until it’s constructed. Typically contractors are covered by a different set of liability. When we mix up the process with BIM, the legal side is really just the process of being aware.
AW: Do you foresee attorneys and construction professionals using the BIM as proof on a regular basis?
RB: That’s one of the points brought up – if litigation occurs as a result of a failure, you’ll see people pulling in the BIM , which consultants are concerned with. Let’s say an architectural firm has the design contract and has a structural firm as subcontractors in the design phase. If there is a structural failure, the engineer did their drawings which went into the bid package and they say there’s a firewall here, I have exactly what my deliverable was. The BIM model goes out to the contractor and they have shop drawings produced off that. You must say where was the error was -- was it with the structural engineer when it went to the
architect, who made a change, or was it there when it went to the contractor? They are all working off the collaborative model base. We still produce CDs, we will produce the construction documents which are still the legal documents, but how do you maintain an audit trial of who made the change? There is a lot of evolution that will occur in next couple of years in this field.
AW: As an Autodesk reseller, do you sell other products?
Applied Software started in 1982, and are nearly at 25 years. Over the years we have sold other products such as Intergraph and Bentley when Intergraph marketed Bentley products, architectural products and SDRC. About 12 years ago, we found our focus in the market was predominantly on the Autodesk products and so now we focus our primary support around them. We have customers that are obviously using other products. In the AEC space in the metropolitan area around Atlanta we figure we’ve got 70-80 percent market share.
AW: How many employees do you have?
As of the acquisition, 45.
AW: What do you see going on with LEED certification?
A general comment is the customers will implement LEED. LEED, from an owner perspective, is only really a marketing tool and they’re only willing to pay for it if they feel there is a market benefit to marketing their building. We will see it have more importance in more projects.
In terms of design consultants, they only do what they’re paid for. The owner typically has to say, I want to own a project model of Revit, with this facilities data embedded in it, and have the contractor turn over the model to me when he turns the building over.’ We are 2-5 years from the point where the owners recognize the value of the digital construction data and maintenance data model from a lifecycle standpoint. GSA are taking a big lead on this. They themselves are the first to say we’re just trying to decide how this works and how we use this internally long term.
The owners on a project have to get a positive ROI, whether it be energy, sustainability or whatever the modification to what they would have traditionally received in the building deliverable process. When you look at energy analysis, if you have a set of home builders, do you put in the highest most efficient compressor for the A/C unit because at a certain point it costs a lot more? The higher end home may want it because of the load or justification or marketability. At the lower end, the builder may be concerned about costs and he knows the owner is not worried about long term maintenance costs. That’s where it will be driven, and it’s coming like a freight train.
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-- Susan Smith, AECCafe.com Managing Editor.
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