Bentley’s Pivot from a Product to a “Hybrid” Services Company

When most software companies, like Bentley Systems, started in the 1980's they began with launching a product. In the case of Bentley it was a computer aided drafting product called MicroStation. Today the company has a portfolio of products for design, construction and project management. It's that last element of project management that company's executives believe provides an opportunity to pivot from product to productivity and information services.

Specifically, Bentley has invested, both through its own product development and through acquisitions, in information management, interoperability support and project integration. It has found that its customers not only want better CAD software functionality but the ability to manage design files throughout a project's lifecycle. Moreover, they want the ability to share project data with stakeholders inside and outside of their firms. And they want to make sure that good data is available as a cloud service and not stuck somewhere that it cannot be accessed. 
During his keynote presentations at the BE Inspired Conference, an invitation-only event for key clients, CEO Greg Bentley spent a great deal time discussing how his company now offers software for managing large-scale engineering and construction projects that require capital expenditures (CAPEX) as well as post-construction operational management expenses (OPEX). He was particularly concerned about “information mobility” whereby data needs to be exposed on-demand and not sequestered in silos; a place where information dies and projects suffer. At this event, Bentley introduced Bentley CONNECT, a cloud SaaS service. The objective is that every Bentley user will have their Bentley CONNECT space for individual software and data storage services. Entire projects will maintain a Bentley CONNECT workspace. This provides a means to extend ProjectWise and/or AssetWise environments outside the firewall. [Bentley expects this service will be turned on early in 2013.] Users will connect to a Bentley CONNECT service which in turn can connect to other Bentley CONNECT services given the right security permission.
As a cloud environment, services can extend to mobile devices. “With all that consumer enablement, what does that mean for industrialization?” asked Bentley, referring to mobile devices and apps. He believes that this is an opportunity for his company to provide innovative solutions linking the consumer with the industrialized world. In particular, when dealing with large scale projects that include collaborators located around the world and materials and other resources that are globally sourced, supply chains need to be connected, even as far as to communicate with those firms doing fabrication. All of this, emphasized Bentley, impacts construction workflows and performance management.
To further support OPEX versus CAPEX management, projects often determine success based upon certain standard specifications. As such, Bentley acquired SpecWave, a company offering a solution to manage structured text and engineering specifications, especially those which are important contractually, so that documents can be accessed at any time. In a press release issued today by Bentley, SpecWave makes specifications an integral aspect of information modeling … delivering documents that are rigorous, controlled, and connected throughout the project asset lifecycle.”
Further, both Bentley CONNECT and SpecWave will be made available through Bentley Specification Services that will allow project information to be distributed and shared among project teams. So, Bentley is transforming itself to be not just a software company but a company offering information management services. It’s a logical progression as its customers create proprietary information that they want to continue to leverage throughout the project lifecycle and beyond.
Disclosure: Bentley Systems supported travel expenses to the BE Inspired Event

Published Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Written by Joe Francica

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