news headlinesA lot happened while I was walking around Yorkshire and we need to cover Bentley’s Year in Infrastructure Day 1, too, so let’s get right to it:

ESI Group announced that it has acquired 75% of the equity of CyDesign Labs, a Silicon Valley company that many of you may know for facilitating the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Fast, Adaptable, Next-Generation Ground (FANG) Challenge. FANG is a prize-based design competition (at vehicleforge.org) to crowd-source a military vehicle that used CyDesign’s cloud-based system modeling platform. This is a smart acquisition for ESI, since it will now be able to leverage its 1D and 3D capabilities in a way that lets customers who want to, as ESI puts it, “carry out product development in an open and collaborative mode that can be more easily adapted to the evolution of their multiple and interacting requirements”. The acquisition enables ESI tout the benefits of Modelica (the open modeling/simulation language) and cloud offerings, while it works to move more of its core solutions to the cloud. Terms of the deal were not announced, but it seems to be an earn-out since ESI will wait until 2017 to acquire the remaining 25% of the equity.

Dassault Systèmes announced that it has sold off Inceptra, probably its largest VAR in North America. This continues the company’s strategy of spinning off business partners (Keonys in 2008 and Transcat PLM in 2012). DS’ Bruno Latchague, EVP, Global Sales Strategy & Operations, says that “an independent partner only enhances the value we can bring to customers, among others. With Inceptra as an example, we will continue to develop our network.” DS estimates that the sale of Inceptra will lead decrease its Q4 revenue by about €4 million. (Lots more to come on the DS earnings announcement when I have a chance to go through it all. Hexagon, too.)

You may recall that SofTech announced back in September that it was selling the assets of its CADRA product line to Mentor Graphics. That’s done, though there is some legalese about escrow for 30 days in case it all falls apart. SofTech CEO Joe Mullaney said that, “for the first time since 1998, the Company’s cash position exceeds its outstanding bank debt. Our significantly improved financial position will allow us to pursue additional initiatives to increase shareholder value.” Those initiatives include repaying some or all of its outstanding debt, repurchasing the shares held by Greenleaf, and “general corporate purposes” — salaries, acquisitions, sales expansion and so on.

Today’s day 1 of Bentley‘s Year in Infrastructure 2013 was filled with jury deliberation and Bentley company presentations. It’s a lot to process but a couple of things have already become clear to me:

  1. Bentley has come very far from being “the MicroStation company” — in fact, MicroStation wasn’t mentioned once during CEO Greg Bentley’s/VP, Software, Bhupinder Singh’s keynote. Bentley wants to leverage the underlying data for construction, analysis, operations and maintenance; it’s not about the drawing at all, other than as a means of communication.
  2. Analysis is a huge part of its future direction and accounts for a number of recent acquisitions (MOSES and SACS for offshore, Microprotol for pressure vessels, to name 3 off the top of my head) — reflecting its intention to move towards providing higher value for its customers.
  3. They may not be big or world-beaters, but they’re innovations that make life a lot easier: QR codes. Bentley’s ProjectWise can put them on a drawing and manage them so that you can scan the code with an app on your phone and know if you’ve got the latest version. If you don’t and have the right permissions, you can get it. Brilliant.
  4. Construction efficiency is a major theme here. Building smarter work packages, tracking materials and equipment on the job site,  trying to figure out why mega-projects fail are all hugely important to EPCs and asset owners trying to remove as much waste as possible from their projects.
  5. There’s more, but it’ll have to wait until tomorrow! Clouds, point clouds, apps, collaboration, subscriptions, oh my.

Finally, some sad news. Long-time PLM industry analyst Don Brown died on October 23 following a prolonged illness. Mr. Brown was unique in that his firm, D.H. Brown/CPDA (acquired by CIMdata in 2011), advised user companies on implementation strategies as well as producing market research. His opinions were often controversial but were always well-reasoned and honest. CIMdata will forward messages for Mr. Brown’s family if you email them to info@CIMdata.com.

Thank you for all of the kind words about the Yorkshire trip write-up. You asked excellent questions, so here’s a bit more info:

  • Yes, you do need a vacation.
  • We hiked with daypacks while a service moved our main luggage each day. It was a tad wimpy to have the luggage moved, but honestly, what can  beat staying in a pub and having clean, dry clothes every night?
  • The Yorkshire Wolds Way is relatively new in the National Trails system and doesn’t have many facilities for camping — though one can, apparently, work with landowners to try to get their permission. Older, more established trails in England do have more camping options. But, again, pubs and dry clothes …
  • Walking in the UK is all about respecting the land and animals. If a gate is closed, walk through and close it behind you. If a farmer doesn’t want you in his field and has posted that, the trail curves around it. The Countryside Code is mostly common sense and works well to keep the trails clean and accessible.
  • We certainly intend to do more walking in England, in part because there are so many great walks to choose from. This, www.nationaltrail.co.uk, is a great place to start your research.
  • One of the best things about walking in England is the feeling of “alone” but not “isolated”. We didn’t see any other walkers most days yet never felt cut off. Except for one valley, there was cell service everywhere and we were probably never more than a mile or two from a village — but went hours without seeing a built structure. Marvelous!

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Keep the questions coming, and I’ll answer when I can.

Note: Bentley Systems graciously covered some of the expenses associated with my participation at The Year in Infrastructure 2013 but did not in any way influence the content of this post.