Tuesday the exhibits at the newly invigorated AEC Systems 2000 are open in Washington DC USA. Based on the pre-show press releases and meeting invitations I'd received, the theme will be "How can we dot.com you today?" Joe O'Halloran, editor of the British C3 Magazine (Concept Creation Context) for CAD/CADM/CAE users, suggests, "Maybe they should call it @EC."
Table of Contents:
I am hurrying through Concourse B of Chicago's O'Hara airport on my way home from Washington DC. A faux ad catches my eye, and I pull out my digital camera:
Your B2B Exchange for Outdated Foods.
It could've been the unofficial theme for this year's AEC
Systems show. The show had begun Tuesday under sunny skies
with an exuberance I hadn't felt since the 1986 show in Chicago.
That year, attendees crushed the Autodesk
booth for a look at AutoCAD, the affordable, open CAD system
for drafters keen enough to go it alone. The Computervision
and Intergraph hangers-on
glared their annoyance at our excitement because we were ushering
in a new era - unexpected by us; unwanted by them. That June,
14 years ago, my stay in Chicago was abbreviated by my wife expecting
our first child.
Fast forward to the year 2000, and my 14-year-old son is accompanying me to Washington DC. And it is us AutoCAD geezers who are glaring at those under-age dot.com-ers - there are so many of them! -- with their bravado paid for by multi-million dollar investments. Joel Orr counts 170 dot.com firms, and that's the number that everyone is using at this show; David Wiesburg adds up US$450 million in venture capital being invested in Internet-related construction dot.coms over the last 24 months - a hundred-million for Buzzsaw.com alone.
(Let me step back, and explain who these "dot.coms"
are. They have one thing in common: a Web browser interface, in
many cases beautiful works of art. They provide a variety of services,
primarily to the construction industry: hosting most aspects of
your project; centralizing the bidding process; being the middleman
for services, catalogs, and materials; checking for permits from
city hall, et cetera.
(Indeed, I noticed a trend. Established companies, such as American Reprographics and Bluebook, had -- well, let's be frank -- ugly user interfaces on their browser software. The new dot.com-ers had beautiful user interfaces on their browsers. Form over function?)
At the Tuesday morning keynote address in Room 40, Joel
Orr pronounces: The project extranet industry has been funded
on speculation; now they have to survive on profits. How many
will crash? And, he adds, these apps are sticky; you are not going
to want to switch your projects to another ASP. I find it's not
hard to image the nightmare scenario: your project drawings and
documents are inaccessible on a bankrupt dot.com's server.
In the 24 hours following AEC Systems' triumphant Tuesday morning opening (10:00 a.m., sharp!), a sort of deathwatch descends, though unnoticed by many. I am seeing the extravagant booth prizes -- a Ford F-150 pickup truck here, a Harley Davidson motorbike there, three VW Beetles at the end of this aisle, and a dozen Palm Vs and VIIs all about -- as a desert traveler sees water wasted. Flush with cash and feeling the impending crush of the herd of 169 competitors, these dot.com-ers are fated to running a desperate race: who can outspend the others in order to buy their way into market dominance? Boys: hang on to your cash; you're going to need it for the tough times coming this winter.
Not that CAD companies are immune. Five years ago, Numera blew through its venture funding while creating a Visual CADD that was wanted by too few people. But for awhile they had the money, and their booths were gorgeous, their offices were in the penthouse, their parties wonderful -- to my enjoyment.
By Wednesday afternoon, it's as official as it can get. Matthew
Phair is moderating a vendor panel entitled "B2B E-commerce
for Construction." He is an editor from Engineering
News Record, and is expressing publicly what we media
have been reporting privately to one other: Tell me in three minutes
why I should go with your dot.com.
Each of the eight vendor reps is shifting in his (and in one case, her) place, knowing this is the crux of the matter.
One after the other, each ceo, cto, or marketing manager trots out their prepared spin. One says he uses the most secure servers in the world, located on three continents (but anyone can rent space on that same server, I am thinking to myself). Another says he has been in business for two years (but next year, everyone else will have been in business for two years). And it keeps on going, one undifferentiated claim for uniqueness after another. Sitting next to me, Construction Business Computing editor Joe Stoddard is muttering, "BS!"
There is, in fact, no answer. But not all is doom and gloom. In my Palm III, I record the statement of one vendor rep: "New vendors are pushing established players." There's Autodesk with Buzzsaw.com; Bentley Systems with Viecon.com; Primavera Systems with PrimeContact.com; The Blue Book of Building and Construction with TheBlueBook.com.
Later in the evening, I am speaking with Yoav Etiel,
vp of marketing at Bentley Systems. His company is putting on
a bash for invited guests at the National Press Club. I'm not
eating any more; it's my fifth reception of the day. Yoav is asking
me, Which of the dot.coms do you think will survive? It's the
topic we in the CAD media have been discussing all day, and my
answer comes easily: "Buzzsaw, Cephren, and Viecon."
(My reasons come later in this page.)
Martyn Day is ambling by. He's editor of the British CADdesk magazine, and this is my first chance to catch up with him. He is telling me of one dot.com started by college students. He had asked them, Surely you are looking to be acquired? Not at all, they had earnestly assured him. "Develop name recognition, and get acquired -- that's what it's all about!" I crow.
Afterward, Randall Newton (editor of MicroStation Manager), Tony Zilles (publisher of CADinfo.net), and I forego the free busses lined up curbside, and are walking in the warm Washington night back to our hotels. I am telling the other two about Martyn's discussion with people who are pretty excited about this year's revitalization of AEC Systems; next year's show would be even bigger and better. Martyn felt they didn't understand that many of this year's exhibitors would not be around for next year. Most dot.coms will be acquired, or run out of money. Indeed, three or four acquisitions were announced during the show.
Joel Orr is hosting the keynote address on Tuesday morning,
if you can call six seven-minute speeches "a keynote."
Mr Orr introduces the ceo's of six AEC dot.com companies, saying
they were all funded on speculation; now, they need to survive
on profits. The ceo's represent companies that want to host your
design projects on their Web sites.
Mr Orr is asking, How many of these dot.coms will crash? This is a serious question for you, the customer, since these apps tend to be "sticky." You are not going to want to switch your project(s) to another ASP (application service provider).
In order of appearance, here are my notes of what each ceo said. (I notice that the word "objects" -- overused just 2 or 3 years ago -- is no longer mouthed. Instead, I was more likely to hear the term "intelligent components.")
Bentley: In just one year, we changed from "What are we going to do with the Internet?" to this: 170 dot.coms that serve the CAD and construction market. Either you are online -- or off. Bentley see three keys to the successful manipulation of data online: (1) granularity -- data is stored at the component level, rather than in files; (2) synchronization -- data is kept up to date everywhere; and (3) ubiquity -- using standards so that one computer can work with all others. Bentley's answer, naturally, is their Viecon.com ASP software, which they officially launched at this show.
Revit: First off, Revit announced they are not a dot.com. Next, they announced the Internet revolution is over. Is anyone still deciding whether to use the Internet? But we need to realize that the Internet is simply an enabler, like the telephone. Let's not simply automate old processes; don't use the Internet to collaborate on lines, blocks, and static files. Revit's answer, naturally, is their own collaborative, integrated, parametric building model. Revit was giving away truckloads of their Revit software on CD-ROM, which is free to use for one month. Revit announced they are partnering with the CMD Group and their parametric costing software.
Bricsnet: There are 170 dot.coms trying to make a profit. Bricsnet announced that it has purchased Viscomm for their project management software.
Cephren: This company is named after the master builder of the pyramids. There are several reasons why you might not be online yet; these reasons are usually sociological, not technological. (1) You cannot get technical resources to get online with your projects; (2) you don't understand the benefits -- or the hype; and (3) you have the fear of disintermediation - you might lose customers to competitors.
Bidcom: The important thing is to concentrate on customers and service. Bidcom announced it has acquired Cubis for its collaboration software. A free 45-day trial of the software is available from http://www.bidcom.com . Taking a dig at its competition, Bidcom had a flyer that headlined: "Trade in your old tools, hammer, nails, or Buzzsaw."
Buzzsaw: This year, the questions are the same; it is the answers that are different. "Disruptive technology" (such as the Personal Computer and the PalmPilot) is useful, because they provide solutions customers didn't know they needed. Buzzsaw is looking forward to the day when customers tell vendors that compatibility actually works, such as aecXML (eXtended Markup Language for AEC).
The question period was limited to a single question: "When
will aecXML become useful?" Bentley answered the question:
A year ago, aecXML did not exist; it is currently on its way to
becoming an official standard; products should be shipping by
year's end. Other questions, such as mine ("How many AEC
dot.coms will there be in a year's time?"), were promised
to be answered at Mr Orr's Web site in the next week or so.
Mr Orr says that the entire keynote is available in video form from www.designarchitecture.com/aecsystems. He is forming the Extranet Vendors Association.
At 10:00 a.m. the exhibition doors swung
open, and the crowds surged in. The official photographer was
on hand to record the masses -- it's always a good photo for next
I had predicted that with so many new companies, there would be lots and lots of "freebees" -- giveaways -- and I was correct. By day's end I was laden with dozens of pens, several mouse pads, 7 T-shirts, a half-dozen pads of paper, 6 rubber squeeze toys, and other knick knacks. My kids will be thrilled when I get home. But back to the reason we're in Washington DC this week:
At my 10:30 meeting with Bricsnet, ceo Erik de Keyser showed me the new capabilities of their integrated software for architects - all built on IntelliCAD, ACIS solids, and their Web site. One new feature is the ability to send faxes to your Web-based project management site. Another new feature in their architectural software is "styles," which are not unlike styles in Word: apply a style to an object to set its layer, lineweight, etc. VisualBasic plugin macros define parametric objects. Integrated structural analysis (an option) checks that the steel beams you select are adequate - and is a lot faster than when I did it by hand. Bricsnet was giving away Sony PlayStations, but I wasn't able to talk them into giving me one; I settled for a round mouse pad instead.
At 11:10 I hustled over to Room 39 to
take my place as an adjudicator for the Architectural CAD Shootout.
I happened to sit next to Kevin Matthews of Artifice.
He told me he last month launched (together with well-known writer
B.J. Novinski) a weekly Webzine for architects. You can
check it out at http://www.archweek.com.
The drawing competition featured seven CAD packages designing a new conference center for an alpine resort at Aspen CO USA. Teams were given a site plan in DXF/DWG format, some GIFs of elements (such as the front door), and some hand sketches to work from. They had three hours to get as much done as possible. During that time, organizer Geof Langdon continuously circulated among the groups to interview their progress. The results are to be displayed tomorrow. Participating products were Arris, VersaCAD, FormZ, ArchiCAD (last year's winner), MicroStation, ChiefArchitect, and VectorWorks. AutoCAD Architectural Desktop dropped out when the team member was unable to attend.
During the drawing competition, I met with Marc Goldman of Design Variations. You might recall that the company's founder, former Autodesk cto John Lynch, had visited more than a year ago to show his new software. I had wondered what became of it. Marc brought me up to date: the company had changed tactics. Rather than try to compete as Yet Another Architectural CAD Package, DV is now working behind the scenes to create enabling software for others, rather than sell direct to endusers. The Web browser demo Marc gave me was impressive. An ActiveX plugin provides the display function, while Java routines execute commands, and XML exports the costing data to a central site. He demo'ed designing a kitchen using parametric cabinets (even the surface finish can be changed), although the Varia Builder software is not limited to kitchens, Marc emphasized. The average component is just 20KB. I said the software reminds me of a 3D Visio; he agreed, saying they thought of it being like Lego - building block software. You can try it out at http://www.variabuilder.com
At 3pm I had a meeting scheduled with Cephren's ceo Robert Matiler, but he was unavailable. Instead, two demo jocks showed me their Web-based software. While the user interface is gorgeous, I found the feature set to be almost identical to that of Viecom, Buzzsaw, and any other Web-based project hosting software to be found at the show. Product differentiation is going to be tough. Cephren says they have monthly releases of software updates.
It's between meetings, and I am cruising the show floor, looking for software that is truly different. One that impresses me is Echive Series from Open Archive Systems, which archives project documents: raster scans and images, office docs, and CAD files. David Wilson showed me how his software can find text in any of these files. The special feature is "SurroundSearch," which finds all text that matches your input, then displays it in context. "Stemming" includes suffices, such as -s, -ing, and -ed. "Fuzzy Search" locates words that match closely, important for OCR text that might not be correctly read.
On the Show Floor, Day 2:
Wednesday, June 7
Up at 6:00 a.m. to get ready for the
e-idc.com breakfast press
conference. With too many invites to meet with too many dot.coms,
the smart marketing people are throwing in a free meal to attract
the media. Today, I've got five receptions lined up.
I miscalculate the walking time, and arrive in the Grand Hyatt hotel's third sub-terrarium floor a half-hour early. Even so, the room is filling, but the e-idc.com event starts late. A flashy abstract video tries to link the launch of the space shuttle with the launch of e-idc.com (idc is short for "international design and construction"). The official launch date is this Friday, 23 June, although the http://e-idc.com Web site is already operating.
How does e-idc.com plan to differentiate itself from other dot.coms? By being a "global international e-commerce site." Founder Joseph Boggs declares, "We want to be an international 365/24/7 provider that allows anyone anywhere in the world to order any material in six clicks." A big plan, and a plan questioned by the media enjoying its free breakfast: How well can an American start-up place itself in 191 countries? It doesn't help matters when one e-idc speaker refers to "the continent of the United States."
E-idc.com plans to make money from the "trillions of dollars" worth of transactions that place in the design and construction industry. They plan to take 3% from manufacturers, and charge a US$12.95/month subscription fee. E-idc.com could face stiff competition from identical sites offering lower transaction fees and no subscription cost.
Mr Boggs emphasizes that the user interface needs to be as intuitive as email and fax. I can agree with that; unfortunately, I find the design of their Web site on the confusing side. I do perk up when he speaks of their interface to a wireless Palm designed to order items direct from construction sites. Later, at the e-idc booth, Wayne Ciccolo, senior manager of Web production, shows me how the Palm interface is supposed to work -- once the Web site is up and running.
It's 8:40 am. Although Creamer Dickson
Basford, e-idc's pr firm, had promised to let us go in time
for this morning's keynote address, the answers to questions keep
on. As I and other media types slip out, we get handed the e-idc
press kit and a cool metal-encased notepad.
We race across the street to the Convention Center and into Room 40, but we're not late. The multimedia equipment is acting up. David Weisburg finally gets things going, hosting a panel of three ceo's. Their points are:
Graphisoft: The AEC industry is moving to integrated IT (information technology) for better control of information by more people. For example, online product catalogs are better than print catalogs because of broader product selection; structured searches; and qualified lead generation. Graphisoft is offering their own GDL format for the future of e-catalogs, because it is parametric; 150x smaller than an equivalent DWG file; and 50,000 products already available in GDL.
Primavera: The Internet is forcing integration across applications. Average useful life of a facility is about 30 years. Primvera is launching Primecontract.com.
Bentley: Predicts that this year some portion of every construction project will be procured electronically. He had a warning, though: some businesses see the Internet as tv. Take time to learn the new technology; find opportunity to place at least one project on an extranet site; and start to think of the implication of every aspect of your business (including human interaction) handled by a computer. A Bentley staffer sitting next to me whispers that the aecXML "barcode" logo contains a hidden message in its two sets of numbers. 09051984 is the date Bentley Systems was founded; 08121999 is the date that aecXML was announced.
Keynote over, it's time for me to meet vendors at their booths on the show floor. Here are the notes I took on my Palm:
Punch WebGroups: Web group software that mixes project hosting with collaborative document management. Previous versions of documents are stored on their server to save space on local computers. You get two free Web groups with 10MB storage space; pay US$10/month for 100MB storage. Can be customized for corporations, and installed on your site. I ask vp of marketing John Williams why their logo is a kangaroo. Their name used to be Kangaroo, but another company complained. They switched the name to Punch (what kangaroos do) and kept the logo to annoy the complainer. Their baseball cap is so cool that I wear it the rest of the day -- and I don't like to wear a hat. http://www.punchnetworks.com
Remote Engineering's PocketCAD: A simple CAD program written for the Microsoft PocketPC operating system (aka Windows CE v3). They licensed AutoCAD OEM to write a translator that uses Microsoft ActiveSync to allow drag'n drop of DWG files, which are converted to PocketCAD's own format. The software has 30 draw, edit, and view functions, plus full object snap. You can enter data manually or by pointing; runs on any Windows CD-based device, except some of the older monochrome versions. Demo available at http://www.pocketcad.com Web site. Price is US$189; includes PocketDWG file viewer.
ArcSecond's Vulcan: sharing the booth with PocketCAD was the Vulcan, an instrument that looks like a mean spike. It transmits x,y,z data five times a second, allowing you to peform 3D "scans" of construction sites. Two transmitters are set up to determine the baseline for an area sized 150'x150'x12'h to an accuracy of 1/4". The PocketPC can be attached to the Vulcan to collect and display the data. http://www.arcsecond.com/vulcan.html
ArrisCAD eZ: Perhaps the briefest product name, eZ is a TCP/IP-based conferencing program that allows team members to interact over the Internet. Unlike other conferencing software, this one lets all participants interact simultaneously. US$199. http://www.ezmeeting.com/
12:00 noon, and time for lunch at the
conference. Ceo Karim Khoury is unsually confident. This
comes from growing up in a construction family, then becoming
a chartered accountant. His site calls itself an "e-procurement
system," and features an invitation-to-bid system, as well
as lines of credit up to $100 million, e-payment, and centralized
credit approval. Claims to have 1,200 buyers and 90,000 sellers
today -- some 10 times more than the nearest competitor. They
will charge between 0.5% and 2% for each transaction.
In the middle of his presentation, Mr Khoury surprises the lunch-munching media by declaring that aecXML is developing too slowly to ever succeed. Instead, he is going with Netfish to provide XML translators.
After lunch, I take in the National CAD Standards meeting for a half-hour. This organization may well win the prize for the longest Web address: http://www.nationalCADstandard.org . Back in 1997, this organization managed to combine the AIA CAD Layer Guidelines, the CSI Uniform Drawing System, and the Tri-service CAD Standards into a single document. The standard is a system for classifying drawing-centric building design data, and for setting plotting standards. Version 2 is due to become available this August; price is US$250. The NCS does not attempt to solve drawing exchange problems; that's being left to the IAI and aecXML. Slipping out of that meeting, I'm off to the B2B E-commerce panel that I reported on above.
At 3:30pm, I take off for the next reception, a beer bash in Graphisoft's booth celebrating Flag Day. Don't ask why. I don't drink alcohol, so I make do with ice-cold glasses of Sprite, and help myself to the chicken wings. I sit for awhile with Graphisoft chairman Gabor Bojar. He tells me of his desire to find an organization to takeover his GDL format for describing intelligent CAD objects. He recommends I visit the http://www.graphisoft.com/gdl/ and http://www.o2c.de Web sites, then invites me to visit him in Budapest.
At 5:00 p.m. is the CAD Society reception. More food. The organization is working on a "bill of rights" for CAD users called the Interoperability Commitment Project. Specifically, they are looking at a way to ensure that users have full rights to the data they create with CAD software. One example is the ability to use any software necessary to access CAD file formats. That could include reverse engineering the format, or using out-of-license CAD software. To this end, the CAD Society is looking to expand its membership from 400 to 40,000 in the next year. http://www.wbh.com/cadsociety/Interoperability_commitment_project.htm
At 6:30, busses take invited guests to the Bentley Systems reception at the National Press Club. This is my fifth reception of the day, and I've stopped eating. (The evening is described above.)
On the Show Floor, Day 3:
Thursday, June 8
I had completely forgotten about my Wednesday 4 p.m. appointment with DataCAD. So first thing Thursday 10:00 a.m. as the show opened, I rushed over to booth #1427. Ceo Mark Madura had a few moments free to show me their new DataCAD Plus v9.5 software using Wacom's PL400 input device.
"Plus" (US$2,000) is perhaps too modest a suffix
for this version of DataCAD that employs ZAC -- zone-based architectural
construction. Now, I'm no expert on vertical CAD products, including
architecture, but I was impressed at how quickly walls, windows,
doors, and dimensions appeared as they were sketched on the PL400.
The ZAC system immediately generated 3D models, 2D plans, and
sections with user-defined levels of detail.
DataCAD bundles the Plus software with the PL400 hardware, calling it the DrawingBoard Edition -- isn't that the name of a CalComp digitizer? Anyhow, "PL400" is Wacom's boring name for an exciting new A-size digitizer with built-in LCD screen -- think of a color PalmPilot the size of a notebook computer. The pressure sensitive stylus draws lines wider the harder you press. Turn over to the "eraser end" of the style to delete lines. Not cheap, though: US$3,000.
My final appointment was with Revit. Let me tell you: don't have an interview during the last hours of a show; everyone is simply too bagged. Still Chris Rogers of Revit's pr firm introduced me to the rest of the four-member pr team. They told me of their future plans for Revit: Version 2 comes out in August. They demo'ed CostWorks, a costing module from RS Means, that provides cost estimating at the earliest stages of a project. Then, as project drawings change and update, CostWorks automatically revises the estimated price. If the price gets too high, portions of the project can be downgraded. Revit showed this as just the first example of the many ways they plan to expose their parametric building model.
Other than those two appointments, I kept Thursday free to give me time to walk by every booth in the Washington Convention Center. That allowed me to discover some fascinating new products, some of which have not covered by the other CAD media:
Dr. Software's Dr. Frame (US$379) allows direct manipulation of loads on beams, columns, and structural frames -- 2D and soon 3D -- in real-time. I had them show me a remarkable problem I recalled from my structural engineering classes: shoveling half the snow off a roof can cause it to collapse. The demo jock quickly created a typical roof beam for me, then applied the simulated snow load. As he dragged the snow back to the midpoint of the roof, I could see the shear envelope increase -- just as my old prof had said it would. I'd nominate Dr. Frame as the best new software at AEC Systems.
Elumens Corp's VisionStation is a 180-degree monitor. Sitting close to the screen, curved like the inside of a half ball, you see the image throughout your peripheral vision area. A projector beams the images from in front. Elumens' other VisionStations are big enough to walk into, up to 23 feet across (7 meters); the prototype they were demo'ing for the first time at AEC Systems was "small" enough to sit beside your desk. I estimate its size at about three feet (1 meter) in diameter. I'd nominate VisionStation is the best new hardware at AEC Systems.
While wandering through the aisles, I met up with John Powell
of The CAD Compass, a Web-based forum. Mr Powell is trying
to help create a global CAD standard for AEC (architecture, engineering,
construction). Articles are submitted, reviewed by a panel of
volunteer editors, then posted. To be launched in July, although
you can already visit www.cadcompass.com
The first BIG hardware I reviewed ever was a Vidar E-size scanner back in the fall of 1985. Back then, I was impressed that the scanner contained the guts of an IBM AT, and could complete the scan in 2 minutes. At this year's AEC Systems show, I found out that Vidar now has a software division called Bamboo Solutions. (Darn! I forgot to ask how the name came about!) In addition to typical document management software, with some gee-wiz features shown to me by Julia Martin, Bamboo offers several packages for documenting equipment and facilities, and safety training. The Total Equipment Documentation software, for example, ensures machines are properly set up before a production run.
Orbimage is making available what the US government always tried to keep secret: high resolution satellite photos. The company is launching its own satellites with 1m resolution in 1/4 quad areas. Orbimage is specializing in city photos (find your house!) but also provides other forms of mapping. Their Photo of the Week is tied to current events, such as the Los Alamos fire and the Mozambique flooding.
As my three days at AEC Systems 2000 came to an end, I reflected that it had shifted from AEC to contractors. There wasn't a lot there for us CAD guys. A show attendee I met at National Airport also expressed his disappointment at the lack of Intergraph and transportation info.
After listening to too many spiels, there are two prime issues that the industry has to focus on: reliability and security. Those are two things that only time and experience can validate.
When too many journalists get together, they trade stories you never (ever!) get to read about in their publications. We know where bodies are buried, and we don't want to join them! There are, however, some stories too juicy to bury. I present these rumors as heard from at least two sources:
Rumor: Autodesk was at the show. According to the rumor, Autodesk tried getting a booth at the last minute, but there was no room for them on the exhibition floor (that part can't be true). They instead took a room in the basement of the Washington Convention Center, showing AutoCAD LT and Land Development Desktop (that part's too weird to be true). Autodesk will return to AEC Systems in 2001.
Rumor: Microsoft was at the show. I first heard about it from a journalist who walked into the wrong meeting room, and recognized the Microsoft employee as a speaker on a panel discussing the progress of IFC (the IAI's Industry Foundation Classes). This rumor was later confirmed by a Microsoft spokesman, who apologized for not letting me know in time.
Rumor: Engineering News Record is unable to hire a junior editor at $50K/year. I first heard the rumor from an editor who had turned down the job because the pay was too low. The rumor was later confirmed by an ENR editor making the job announcement in the media room.
Rumor: Of the 170 dot.coms, only three will survive for next year's AEC Systems show, to be held in Chicago IL USA. Why three? That number comes from the survival rate of North American car manufacturers. The survivors are rumored to be:
My AEC Top 10
Within the first 15 minutes of the show opening, CADalyst
magazine staffers were busy taping large banners on certain booths:
"CADalyst Top Ten." Top ten what, I wondered? I asked
the marketing person at one of the lucky booths - she didn't know.
"Top ten something, I guess," she replied. "Maybe
we're one of the top ten software packages?"
This leads to my Top Ten, which took me considerably longer than 15 minutes to decide on. I spent close to 55 minutes coming up with this list:
10. Most puzzling banner: "CADalyst Top Ten."
9. Booth personnel with the hardest job: Bentley. Their people had to keep one hand in the air, making a V-shape with two fingers (for Viecon) when not otherwise busy. Runner up: husband-and-wife
companies being ignored in their small 10'x10' booths.
8. Most impressive booth: SupplyForce with their array of X-shaped steel beams. Runner up: Bentley Systems, with giant video screen and flying saucer ceiling.
7. Most common give-away: pen. Runner up: foam stress squeezer.
6. Best pen give-away: OnBedrock's pen that looks like a chrome bolt and nut. Runner up: Welcomhome.com's house squeeze toy.
5. Most annoying person: pr people who intercept us media in the aisles, asking us to visit their booth "over there," waving vaguely in some direction, not knowing their own booth number, and feeling pleased
that they did their job.
4. Best-looking media package: Buzzsaw.
3. Most obsolete technology: the CRT monitor. LCD flat panel monitors were de rigeur. The wider, the better.
2. Most straightforward dot.com: e-skylight.com - a Web-based skylight quoting and design service. One of the few dot.coms who: (1) were different; and (2) whose purpose I could understand.
1. Most noticeable absent vendor: Autodesk.
A/E/C Systems 2001 will be in McCormick Place - Lakeside Center, Chicago IL USA, June 18-21, 2001.
Other Show Reports
ENR: "Dotcoms Will Survive, Say E-business Panelists"
Architectural Record: "Editor's Journal"
Design-Build: "AEC 2000 Start with a Bang"
Construction.com: "A/E/C Systems Live!"
Return to My Travelogues
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