In regards to technology, the construction industry is going through a very exciting time. While maybe on a smaller scale, it’s my belief that we’re in the middle of our very own Microsoft vs Apple battle circa the 80s and 90s. Several leading software companies are vying for that top spot in our industry right now and it’s becoming more and more clear who will come out on top by the day.
Having just spent considerable time last week at Procore’s Groundbreak conference, it seems quite clear that they will remain in the spotlight for quite a while. At the same time, Autodesk was hosting their Autodesk University conference without a whole lot of breaking news to report. After releasing BIM 360, Autodesk has stayed relatively under the radar on the construction side, which is understandable, considering their stranglehold on the design side of the industry.
In what came as a surprise announcement – to me, at least – was the acquisition of mobile construction document platform PlanGrid, which was released Tuesday night, 11/20, and discussed on Autodesk’s 3rd Quarter Earnings Call. The news breathes immediate life into the Autodesk BIM 360 platform and helps supplant their spot near the top, as well.
The announced purchase price for PlanGrid was a cool $875 million, which speaks to the popularity and general success of the PlanGrid platform. The deal is expected to close in Autodesk’s fourth quarter, which ends on January 31, 2019, but the exact date will be determined at a later time.
In a press release, Jim Lynch, Construction General Manager at Autodesk, said, “This acquisition allows us to do more for general contractors, and we’ve got new growth opportunities with subcontractors and owners. We’ll integrate workflows between PlanGrid’s software and both Autodesk Revit software and the Autodesk BIM 360 construction management platform, for a seamless exchange of information between all project members.”
On the investors call, Autodesk CEO Andrew Anagnost explained how he expected the integration of PlanGrid to work: “We’re going to pull their (PlanGrid) document centric view up into BIM 360 and they’re going to pull our [3D] Model view into down into their application.”
The partnership will give Autodesk an extremely user friendly mobile field application and PlanGrid will have the backing a powerful BIM program. It will also combine both PlanGrid and Autodesk’s partner ecosystems, which will greatly reduce double data entry and increase productivity through more 3rd party application integrations.
I reached out to PlanGrid to get some clarification on how the acquisition will affect them and their customers:
Will PlanGrid remain a separate, but integrated software vs. Autodesk BIM360?
“PlanGrid will continue as a separate software solution; however, over time we will integrate workflows between PlanGrid's software, Autodesk Revit and BIM 360.”
Will PlanGrid keep its name?
“The PlanGrid name will live on.”
How will existing PlanGrid users be affected?
“We will continue to support PlanGrid customers in the same way. No change to contracts or the customer's support team. We will continue to enhance the product significantly in the months ahead and over time we expect to drive increased value for customers with tighter integration to Autodesk products. In addition, we remain committed to interoperability with other critical construction technologies.”
If all goes well, this could be a long and happy marriage for the two construction technology giants.