Nemetschek goes all in on dTwins

Nov 9, 2023 | Hot Topics

When I was with Graphisoft last month, I had the chance to speak with Graphisoft CEO Huw Roberts and Nemetschek’s César Rodriguez about Nemetschek’s vision of the future, one in which its brands are better integrated (while remaining open to outside third parties) and leverage common technologies to address new market opportunities — like digital twins.

First, about Nemetschek. It was originally the developer of the Allplan BIM solution but in the current organization scheme, Allplan is its own entity and Nemetschek is what we call the parent, holding company. It today

  • operates in 4 customer segments: Plan/Design, Build, Operate and Media, with 3600 employees
  • sells 13 brands, including Allplan, Graphisoft and Vectorworks
  • supports more than 7 million users globally 
  • reported revenue of €802 million in 2022 — so it’s likely a lot bigger than you thought

Mr. Roberts represents Graphisoft (obvs), while Mr. Rodriguez is Nemetschek’s Chief Division Officer of Planning & Design and Digital Twin.

This slide, from Mr. Rodriguez’s deck, sums up how Nemetschek sees digital twins:

I like that this vision is so comprehensive — it’s a continuum from a CAD or BIM model through to a self-healing building that can, for example, adjust its HVAC to take into account how many humans are in the building and the angle of the sum. (I’m not sure that a 3D model is a static twin, but let’s not quibble.)

Integral to this is what Mr. Rodriguez calls a “golden thread,” the “unbroken chain” of information related to the building, presenting all relevant data needed to make a decision. 

To get to this vision, Nemetschek is building a horizontal, open, cloud-based solution that starts with planning and design, goes through construction, and into operate and manage. Nemetschek calls this dTwin, a SaaS platform that will ultimately span all of its brands, products, and data sets — and make room for third parties to participate. As I understood this, dTwin is the software; this will be surrounded or augmented by an ecosystem of service providers, data capture devices/providers, integrators, and others whose services will be necessary to capture, sanitize, and serve all of this data via dashboards and reports so that humans can take action.

Mr. Rodriguez said the as-built digital twin becomes the “operating system” for the building. Once dTwin is populated, a user accesses real-time dashboards from a browser to monitor the sensor and other forms of data. Some or all of this data can be processed by dTwin to generate analyses and reports, which operators can use to take action if needed.

Mr. Rodriguez cited the case of a large hospital in Bergen, Norway. He told me that the owner worked with Nemetschek, the architect, and contractors, to establish a digital twin for the asset. They worked backward from what the facility managers, who would operate the hospital, would need to ensure they captured all (and only) what was required from the design and build parts of the project. This isn’t, he and Mr. Roberts agree, about adding more into BIM; it’s more about finding the correct and necessary data (which might be a laser scan or spreadsheet or operator manual) and making it accessible when needed — and in Nemetschek’s case, that mechanism is the dTwin.

Mr. Roberts, Mr. Rodriguez, and I talked about dTwin and digital twins in general, but while I had the chance, I also asked about the challenges of managing so many brands and why there aren’t already stronger connections between them. It’s the question I get most often about Nemetschek.

Connecting these brands, technically and in the markets, is a work in progress, Mr. Roberts and Mr. Rodriguez agreed, but worthwhile because the brands add up to a greater whole across the AEC project scope.

To take just one example of how things are changing, Graphisoft and Bluebeam a couple of years ago announced the Bluebeam Connection add-on for Archicad, which enables markups created in Bluebeam Revu to be imported as native Archicad Markup entries that appear on the design layouts, without the need for any manual interaction. Why did this matter? Because Bluebeam Revu is arguably the most used construction markup, measurement, and collaboration platform. And because Bluebeam is a solid, known brand in North America, where Graphisoft is relatively unknown. Finally, because Bluebeam is a Nemetschek sister company and it just makes sense to do that. It wasn’t until last August that the companies did a joint webinar attended by thousands of people who knew one brand or the other but didn’t seem to know that Nemetschek owned them both. Archicad users need to know how Bluebeam can help bring projects from the “drawing board” to life; Bluebeam users need to know that they can easily work with architects using Archicad — in both cases, it’s not to Nemetschek’s advantage to have buyers go outside the brand network.

I think this is less about commercial go-to-market considerations (through that is, of course, important) but initially about building awareness. Graphisoft is busy marketing its own brands, and that’s as it should be. But Nemetschek has the opportunity to do more, and Graphisoft’s Ron Close, VP, Marketing Success, told me that it is. He said that Nemetschek for the first time had a big booth at a German trade fair this summer that showcased all of the brands — leading to a lot of “I had no idea” from attendees.

“I had no idea” is an opportunity to create awareness. It sounds like Mr. Rodrigues has a plan. And that plan starts with dTwin, where many of the brands come together to contribute data. I really look forward to seeing dTwin in action.

Note: Graphisoft graciously covered some of the expenses associated with my participation in its Archicad 27 launch event but did not in any way influence the content of this post. The cover picture is of Nemetschek’s brands while the in-stream image is of Nemetschek’s digital twin vision. Both are from Mr. Rodgriguez’s slide deck. I’ve pasted the brand image below in case you can’t see the title — that happens on some browsers.