Martyn Day of X3DMedia joins the podcast for part 2 of our conversation. In this episode we talk about the disruptive impact of AI on architecture, Autodesk's response to the Open Letters, software licensing, open standards, pros and cons of AEC’s shift to the cloud, the importance of BIM 2.0, challenges with technology moving too fast, prefab construction, the future of 2D drafting, challenges faced by software developers in the AEC space, the importance of customers being included during the software development cycle, digital twins, the problems with hype cycles in AEC tech, the future of the NXT BLD and NXT DEV conferences, and other topics.
Catch Part 1 of the conversation
- Martyn Day on LinkedIn
- Martyn Day on Twitter
- AECMagazine on LinkedIn
- AECMagazine website
- AECMagazine on Twitter
- NXT BLD website
- NXT BLD 2023 livestream on-demand videos
- NXT DEV website
- NXT DEV 2023 livestream on-demand videos
- Future AEC Software Specification overview
Connect with Evan:
Watch this episode on YouTube:
TRXL 134 - ‘The (Chaotic) State of the AEC Tech Industry, Part 2’, with Martyn Day
Martyn Day: [00:00:00] Everyone in this industry, because of 20 years of indoctrination, doesn't really fully understand the impact of what's coming because it's so different.
Evan Troxel: Welcome to the TRXL podcast, I'm Evan Troxel, a bit of housekeeping before introducing this episode, the TRXL podcast and YouTube show are made possible by sponsorships, and I still have sponsorship slots open right now. If you'd like to get your product or service in front of this incredible industry changing and forward-thinking AEC tech audience, please visit trxl.co/sponsor to learn more. And get in touch with me.
And for you listeners, did you know that there's also an ad free version of this show? You can support me directly by becoming a member to learn more about membership, please visit TRXL dot [00:01:00] co. And click on one of the many subscribed buttons on the site, which will show you the details of what's included. There are a lot of things that I want to be able to do with TRXL and that can only happen with your support through sponsorships and memberships.
Okay. Picking up where we left off in the last episode, I'm pleased to release the second half of my marathon conversation with Martyn Day of X3DMedia, AEC magazine, and the annual NXT BLD and NXT DEV events. Martyn's a busy guy. So if you missed the last episode, you should pause here and go back to episode 133 before picking this one up. And like I said in the intro to the last episode, upon re-listening to this entire conversation, my belief was once again reinforced that podcasting is the perfect medium for this kind of long form conversation to be captured and shared with everyone in the industry, which is exactly why I do this.
In this part of the conversation we delve [00:02:00] into the disruptive impact of AI on architecture, autodesk's response to the open letters, software licensing, open standards, pros and cons of AEC's shift to the cloud, the importance of BIM 2.0, challenges with technology moving too fast, prefab construction, the future of 2d drafting, challenges faced by software developers in the AEC space, the importance of customers being included during the software development cycle, digital twins, the problem with hype cycles in AEC tech, the future of Martyn's NXT BLD and NXT DEV conferences, and other topics.
Similarly to part one, many more companies and products were mentioned in this episode, including: Autodesk Revit, Graphisoft Archicad, SWAPP, Katerra, KOPE.ai, Dassault Systems Catia, Autodesk Iinventor, Hypar, Autodesk Tandem, Autodesk Forge, Bentley MicroStation, [00:03:00] TwinView, Archibus, Trimble SketchUp, and BricsCAD. So fill out your bingo cards. I hope you enjoy the remainder of this conversation. And without further ado, I bring you Martyn Day.
Martyn Day: A VC lady contacted me before we ran DEV, had a conversation with her and it was pretty clear that maybe she didn't really know that much, um, about the industry and was kind of learning.
And so we had a half an hour call, not a lot came out of it. And then she contacted me after DEV and just said, okay, we've sorted, we're looking for firms that can remove architects. And I'm like, what? There isn't one piece of software that was demoed anywhere that could remove an architect. There is no such thing. You're still gonna need people who've got indemnity. You can still need people to check everything. There is no way you can remove [00:04:00] There might be fewer of them, but it's not necessarily, so this is, this is the kind of the, the next kind of set of conceptual problems that we're going to be facing is the VCs are going to be looking to knock out part of the industry because they think that it's possible with
Evan Troxel: Yeah.
Martyn Day: AI. So in that industry we can get rid of the lawyers, in that industry we can get rid of the doctors.
Evan Troxel: everybody wants to get rid of somebody. The architects want to get rid of the plan checkers, right? As an example.
Martyn Day: Yeah.
And then with AI, everyone's thinking, Oh my God, they're going to steal my designs. But at the same point, all the same companies are talking to me and saying, what we really want is an internal AI that learns from our designs. So that we can get rid of our people, we get rid of our people, not other people get rid of us.
And I'm like, oh wow. So everyone's, everyone's going to AI each other. It's just like these big huge whacking sticks at some point. [00:05:00] And I think at that point it becomes very difficult to predict the future. Because what, what it gets settled upon is nothing that we can possibly imagine at the moment. I, I've, I've always used these in presentations where someone, once the, the car engine came along and someone, or the steam engine, um, someone designed the next generation of, travel contraption and it was a wagon with a horse, with an engine in it. That whole kind of, I can't, I, I know the future is changing, but I can't change that much.
So I'm just going to use all my old reference points to predict the future. I, I, we're at that point where there's, there's so many things that could happen. Um, And I, it was interesting that Andrew Anagnost went from, uh, at AU, he'd be saying things like, uh, faster, faster, uh, less, less people, [00:06:00] yeah, three, three words, less, less with more, or something like that, which a lot of people took really badly, because they just thought that they were, he was doing them out of a job, and that wasn't what he intended at all.
Um, he was just talking about being able to do. More, more projects, but with the same people, whatever. Then the next year he started talking about AI and just said AI. Any new technology that's come along has always created more jobs than, uh, it hasn't. And then this year, uh, he was, not necessarily AU, but later through this year, he's kind of, he changed his pitch a little bit to say he's not, he's, this is on CNN or something, on the business.
He said something like, We're not saying it's not going to get rid of jobs, but we're just kind of saying that it's going to alter the way that you do your job, maybe more efficiently or whatever. And I think even, you know, Andrew's quite a big thinker, and I think that he, even [00:07:00] he's kind of changing his tone, um, because it's happening so much quicker than we thought.
And not in the way that we thought, uh, uh, it's painful in, in trying to keep up with it. And so when you see somebody like Tim Fu, um, so everybody's kind of like doing this stuff. And I saw Tim Fu's video of him doing stuff. I was like. Oh shit, this is like, he's completely symbiotically connected to this stuff where he can just model it at will and he's so good at what he does.
Um, you know, you're going to have these individuals who are symbiotic with, with, with the technology and it just acts as a perfect. Perfect input suggestion, you know, here's a menu, here's a serving suggestion and then he can model it and then he can make, make the changes to it. There are going to be people who can do that who are going to be augmented.
Um, cause they're so damn skillful basically. I always [00:08:00] kind of watch Andrew as a bellwether for what he thinks, and it's definitely got a little bit more pointy that this stuff is going to make some considerable changes. There's a brilliant documentary called Capital in the 21st Century.
If you've not watched it, um, it's available, you can rent it on Apple. Uh, it's a book, but it's, they've made it into a documentary, but it talks about, it starts off by saying, in the 18th century, if you were rich, uh, your parents owned land, and the chances of anyone getting rich and owning land were very slim, and so it was an inheritocracy.
Then we had the 50s, World War II, then we had, kind of, riches for the masses, for the, for the... for the, the, um, middle class, you know, middle class can afford houses and all these things for their houses and all the gadgets and stuff like that. And then suddenly [00:09:00] today we're in this weird world where it's turning into inheritocracy again, because kids can't afford to save money to buy a house.
And, uh, they're relying on their parents owning a house to help them buy a house, you know what I mean? So, uh, this has got very little to do with, with bit of the scenes. So that was, that was, that's the, the, the documentary start point. But sort of three quarters of the way through, they start talking about AI.
And this guy just says, In the Industrial Revolution, we had lots of horses. We had lots of horses. Horses, horses everywhere. Once we had the steam engine, we didn't have any horses. Horses became an expensive thing as a pleasure that you had. They weren't workhorses. And he said that, uh, he then went on to go AI.
This is the first time that we've invented something that actually replaces humans. In this scenario, humans are the horses. He said 50 percent of all jobs in the... I don't know if it was in the state he was in or if he was talking [00:10:00] about the states, are driving jobs. In 10 years time, all of those jobs are going to be massively under threat with automated driving.
Taxis, lorries, you name it. What are these people going to do? And that's going to happen worldwide. And that's gonna, well, in the West, where they can afford the, to the infrastructure and the, the, the costs and that's, that's very sobering when you sit there and think, yeah, there is some, we all try and think, Oh my God, they're going after lawyers and doctors, but if these menial tasks for these, these like driving jobs, it's, that's huge in itself, let alone, you know, uh, shops and all the other kinds of things that will happen.
And it's going to creep up. On our societies quicker than we've ever had to deal with anything like this before
Evan Troxel: I think one of the things that this, you've talked about this event really. like becoming a spark. And I think what I'm [00:11:00] interested in now is momentum, right? Because obviously there's people working in firms who this, their job is to figure out what's next. And that is a new job when it comes to technology, I think, especially, especially framing it this way, which is we want to dictate.
what we need the technology to do for us, rather than just be somebody that the technology provider will come tap every so often, right? It's kind of flipping the table there. And, and so now there's going to be more emphasis on this. And I guess I'm just interested, you're talking about the next year's conference, you're talking about Like what's going to, like, it is going to grow, it is going to change, but building on what was presented this year.
And I think such an important inflection point in the industry, right? It's this, the word is out. People are interested. You're talking about how many people are honing in on watching these videos. I wonder how many people are actually [00:12:00] reading this, the new standard that's being developed right in the open.
And, and I would imagine there's a lot of attention there, but how do we maintain that momentum? What are you doing at AEC MAG, you know, to, to really help because you're, you're the one who's kind of wrangled this whole thing together and created the platform for this to, to just happen. Not that, not that you own it or author it or anything, but, yeah, it's a, how do, how do we maintain that?
Martyn Day: So the bits were out there. All I did was, um, extend NXT BLD really, um, by an extra day and just invite a slightly different audience. And as you, as you said, kind of do it the other way around. I want to get the industry to tell the software developers where their pain points are and what they need.
At the moment, I'm fed up of seeing software companies make up an idea, um, maybe get it checked by a small number of, of their [00:13:00] customers, their pet customers, who might not necessarily be the best customers, go to people who... People who don't want your stuff, uh, people who don't, who feel they don't want to buy any more software.
And then, you know, if they actually, if you actually prove, prove those people right, that they want, they want this technology, then you've got a surefire winner. Um, and I kind of think with the, with the, with the event, um, as it was, it kind of came predominantly from an architectural, Side, but they were doing all the work.
People were taking the piss out of the open letter group, but I actually did do some stuff that Autodesk did make changes to its licensing. People did get access to more past versions of the software. Um, they did. delay the network, end of network licenses for a while. There was a, there was a bunch of things that were, that were beneficial to everybody.
But, um, we need to get construction and [00:14:00] other disciplines on board, and we need to have those conversations. Um, And they're happening. Um, it's not necessarily through me. It's, it's, it's the Open Letter Group and, uh, and Aaron and Andy having conversations with firms who, who really want to hear more. And then you've got Greg Schleusner with what he's doing with Magnetar and, and Strange Matter that he's working with his group.
So. that there's actual development going on there. So, so I think those, those are kind of the core elements of it at the moment, but to go to the next stage. I think we need to see software and, and proof of concepts that this stuff actually works. It is possible to get there.
And we need to see you work in open standards, and we need to see more, more people on board with open, openness and more software vendors, you know. I, yeah, part of me doesn't want to believe Autodesk, because I just, I [00:15:00] just, you know, I doubt, always doubt first, but I, I, I have had so many conversations with so many people at Autodesk, but I do fundamentally believe that there are people there who, who do think that they want to have a crack at being open, open APIs, open file formats.
We're seeing it with USD, though it's not necessarily the same thing. The unified, um, database that they're doing isn't going to be open, but, um, the APIs allegedly will be. I mean, , there was movement towards a little bit more than Voices, and we're going to see some software, um, but I think for, for the, for the event, I've got to keep finding new firms that are doing interesting things so that they're adding to it.
We've got to dig deeper into this AI question. Um, really, um, beyond, you know, I kind of see SWAPP but I just, it just seems so much [00:16:00] like, um, a parlor trick. I mean, it just is, it's like, how is this working? This just seems insane. And I know that there are some firms in London that are trialing it and piloting it.
And I know that there's a lot more work than, than, you know, Oh, we'll just look at all your drawings and the AI knows that is, there is a lot of standardization that you have to try and tell it before it goes. So, uh, I know major signature architects are reaching out to them, even though the buildings that they themselves admit that they're looking at are very, basically rectangles that are
Evan Troxel: Yep.
Martyn Day: boring, uh, boring architecture, but it's going to come.
Evan Troxel: somewhere.
Martyn Day: Yeah, it will grow, it's got to start somewhere and, you know, I'm expecting to see more of, more people do that kind of stuff the interesting thing is that historically what would have happened if we had a new group of software tools coming to the market, there'd be plugins for Revit.[00:17:00]
These things aren't plugins for Revit. Nearly all of them are standalone cloud apps that will plug into Revit through APIs or through BIM 360 or whatever. And this is kind of like a change. So suddenly we're not seeing In the tech stack world where you'd have kind of like the, the foundation product and all the things plugging into like a porcupine and all the crap happening inside the software on your desktop.
This is, this is a new world and all this stuff is in the cloud and you're going to start sending your data. Whether it be a model into the, into the cloud to get all your 2D drawings back. Um, it might happen seamlessly and you, you don't know what's going on. It's just this, you press a button and all the APIs are talking about themselves, to themselves, and then you get your, uh, it's ready.
Here's your, your document set. Um, we'll have to have AIs to check the AIs because the one thing that's setting out the drawings, you're always going [00:18:00] to need to have another set of eyeballs on something to bring them the weight of it. You want to have an AI that's programmed or trained, you want to have an AI that's got some slightly different training and some slightly different inputs to look at the output.
So you can't have the same piece of AI that created it checking it. So you're going to need that. I mean, data sets for AI are going to be incredibly painful because nobody, I don't think, has ever produced 100 percent free. Documentation, 100 percent correct documentation. Um, and that's why a lot of firms want to be in control of training their own AI, so that it's their own fault if it does that, but it's, it's also they're in control of retraining it when it goes wrong, you know, so as opposed to this global AI presence of what ISO drawings should, should look like.
And every architect. Has their own idea about what their documentation should or shouldn't look like. So, um, the good thing is that [00:19:00] people who come to the show typically have a pretty good grasp on, on the fact that change is constant, but we're, we're heading for something. this is why BIM 2.0 is so important in my discussion, even though, I mean, I got to this slide in my talk and I was like, Oh God, it's all letter words. It's, yeah, you can read it, but this is so important because we're not getting a next generation of the leading tool. And, you know, for all the reasons that Anagnost has stated, I completely agree with him.
He doesn't want to design a faster car. Yeah. But there are people developing faster cars. So there is, and there is going to be a group of people who will gravitate towards Revit as it is, but in a different form that's faster, that can handle stuff. There are going to be, in that bottom segment, that's, that's what they've [00:20:00] trained to do, that's what they know.
That's where they want to be, and I think you're going to, there is going to be some fracturing there where people will gravitate towards that, but I think that this, the capabilities that you're going to be able to lock into on a cloud based AI system are going to be so compelling because you're going to have Productivity benefits that you haven't dreamt of.
Um, but it doesn't mean that doing some projects in 2D or in BIM or traditional BIM isn't the right way to go about it. Maybe it's not a big amount of effort, but for big complex projects where you have lots of people working together and you need constant checking and there's lots of complication and there's analysis and there's All this stuff going on.
Um, then that's the way it's going to go. Um, but again, people are going to be tempted to go to a one size fits all shopping center [00:21:00] of fun as opposed to pick the best image. And I, and I think the whole database concept that Greg's come up with and, uh, is promoting is about having that ability where As I was saying to you before, we're having this, we're no longer writing apps to sit on top of the design system.
They're going to be sat in a cloud. Well, If we are now also taking an abstract of taking all of a project's data and putting that in a data lake, the applications can sit in the cloud and sit on top of that data. Well, and that's not really sat on top of the data, they're just like called in through APIs.
So suddenly you've kind of leveled the playing field, and you've eliminated this problem of this bottleneck, of this old bit of software that's quite slow, that has a kind of limited API. that has a limited capability of expressing the geometry that you want to do or containing the knowledge that you want to keep inside of it.
It's going to be, it's [00:22:00] mind expanding. The idea is this market is moving from a very constrained old space system to something which is going to be unlimited, unlimited capabilities, not just from more to less, but also just knows It can't produce everything. So you, I'm sure they don't mind all these startups having their cloud applications where, plugging into their APIs.
I mean, it's, it's as good for them as having it plugged into Revit. Because wherever the data goes, Autodesk wants to own it, or wants to contain it. That's their, that's, they want to own the network. This is, there's always the thing, is owning the network is better than owning one application in it. Uh, I'm sure Autodesk will buy other applications, other tools, and you'll be able to do whatever.
Maybe if, maybe, you know, Autodesk will start licensing its [00:23:00] cloud unit system. So, you know, you could be, you don't, Autodesk don't have to buy you, but they can actually... Take care of the transaction for you in their network, where you can, because that's always a pain in the backside, you know, that would be a danger, I would say, to also having, you know, um, having Autodesk be the dollar, if you will, for the industry, the standard, but, everyone in this industry, because of 20 years of indoctrination, doesn't really fully understand the impact of what's coming, because it's so, you know, different.
is the, this is the thing that I'm trying to get across in the magazine. Um, whenever I You know, hear people kind of like saying, Oh, is Revit dead? Or it just makes me laugh that that is even a consideration that needs needs to be discussed. Um, because I'm, I'm, I'm five to 10 years out in my head.
[00:24:00] Um, and I'm talking to these guys who also have a very, uh. Non product centric. They have products, but their products are more services than their products. It's a, uh, that's the other thing you've got to change your mindset around. But they all want to do subscription. You know, it's all, it's all going to be, how is all this stuff going to get costed out for projects?
Um, just simple things. I remember asking Graphisoft, so Graphisoft introduced this very, uh, internal, um, it was called, it was called Everest and it was, uh, that was the code name and it's kind of like a new pipeline for data. And it was, they used it to get data from ARCHICAD to their own in house Nemetzchek, um, structural engineering programs.
So it meant that the architect and the structural engineer pretty much always had, were in sync. And so you could say, Hey, I've just changed the model. Structural engineer [00:25:00] would go, Oh, I'll just have a look at it. Yeah, you can do that. That's fine. And it's. It's kind of simultaneous, uh, access. But the thing I was, all I was convinced was like, so, this is really great in terms of productivity because Architect can make every change and they can check it with the Structural Engineer.
But that isn't the way it works. It's, well, you expect the Structural Engineer to actually stop doing what he's doing on something else and come and check your one change, uh, on your model to say, yeah, that's okay, and then go back to something else. The transactions just don't work like that. And while you can introduce a technology that seemingly increases productivity and gets this kind of, almost like they're working under your own roof, that is, that isn't how things can work. Give me all your changes and in two weeks I'll have a look. I don't, I don't want to see the fact that you've altered the slab today
Evan Troxel: Well, not only that, but when [00:26:00] you're doing the process, you break stuff because you have to, and you don't need everybody to be commenting on the stuff, you know, you broke until you put it back together again. Right.
Martyn Day: There is a natural cycle, there is a natural time between changes and oversight that I just don't think, and this is, again, this is another thing I was talking to somebody, uh, so they were telling me that they, they really went, they went from being kind of like BIM, BIM users to let's do this sort of DP, what's the, uh, the Americans did it a lot,
Evan Troxel: yeah. It's integrated project delivery. I p D. Yeah.
Martyn Day: Yeah. Which was kind of like, yeah, that's interesting. And the, so the software requires us to change the way we work. That that's a bit of an issue. So, Um, I was talking to this guy and he said, well, we, we got everyone together, and we're going gangbusters on this project. And we were like, you know, we were [00:27:00] absolutely nailing it.
Uh, we, we put the design cycle down. We had the MEP, the structural, uh, the architect all in the same space. We got to it. We went to the, to the, to the client. The client went, love it, go with it. Off they go. They'd ordered the steel to be cut. Duh, duh, duh, duh, duh. Two months later, client comes back, I want an atrium.
Uh, so it's kind of like, it's kind of, are we going to get to a point where the, the AI designs a building so quickly that the client doesn't have time to even digest the design enough to dwell on it to want to actually not have other ideas. I mean, they're bad enough as it is.
Evan Troxel: It opens up a whole other set of problems because, I mean, clients don't speak the building vocabulary as it is. They don't speak plans, they don't speak elevations, they don't speak sections. And so therefore, you know, we always default back to renderings and now [00:28:00] real time rendering and sometimes VR and, you know, more visual ways to communicate.
But to your point about digesting... Like we speak fluent buildings. That's what we do. We're industry professionals. They don't do that. Maybe once a decade, you know, it's like, how often does that happen? And so, yeah, there, there's, there's other bottlenecks that this is going to just put on a pedestal.
Martyn Day: It's not that it's been unique to AI, so that was, that was BIM, let alone AI, with it designing it in 40 minutes or however long. Like let's say, let's say just be generous and have a week with all the drawings and the guy goes, yeah, go and find out we're going to order the metal. Um, because the next thing is that all the metal had been cut for this building.
So they have to trash it all. But it's, I remember going to, I went to Berlin. So the Reichstag building had been completely stripped back, and I had a fantastic opportunity to walk around the Reichstag with Foster and Partners to have a look at the, [00:29:00] you know, you could see the burn marks from Hitler, you could see all the, Bullet holes and all the, um, the Russian, um, graffiti that was, you know, well hidden up in the building.
And they said, so they've won this competition. Foster and Partners have won a competition to rebuild the Reichstag. The building went in, they won the competition, they then went off and did all the detail drawings, were progressing down towards, you know, obviously this is, we're going to be building this, and then the parliament, the German parliament, took a vote to see if they wanted to add a dome to the building, and they did.
So then... The entire design had to change, even the one that I'd won, and I, you know, clients change their mind and are fluid and I think even to this day, Foster and Partners always try and keep the projects in Rhino for as long as possible in case of any sudden changes that are [00:30:00] required before they go into drawings, but, um, Yeah.
I've come across this far too often for, for things, technology is definitely going to challenge our process, our capability to rationalize what this means. And, and for clients, it's going to be the same. They, they need time to digest whatever it is you're putting in front of them and they're going to want to dwell on it.
And compressed, uh, design and fabrication timelines doesn't really work if, you know, I think there's going to be a, a kind of a, a, the limitation is going to be in the decision making of the client as to the time, as to the timeline, as opposed to, Oh God, we're waiting for all of this stuff to get done.
Evan Troxel: But from a, from an architectural design standpoint, that can be backfilled with more projects. I mean, I, I feel like, yeah, you can still allow a client to sit with something for a while and you're doing a bunch of other stuff, [00:31:00] especially if it's been compressed down to 40 minutes, like you're talking about.
And, and what I would actually hope is, is that, and this is a theory that I've just kind of been bouncing around in my head, but Could this lead to architecture costing less to produce? And, and that doesn't need to spell the end for the architect. If the architect can do more for less and we can build more architecture, like real architecture, not, not just dumb rectangles, I think that there are potentially benefits there.
But is anybody ready for any of that? Because it is a total paradigm shift in the way that everybody works.
Martyn Day: I think there's a finite number of individuals who want those kind of jobs. And yes, there are too few architects at the moment, but architects plus AI will more than meet that need. The issue then will be why should someone pick you over [00:32:00] someone else? If architects are so to a penny, I mean, and how many buildings are you never going to get to build?
Because you never have, you know, it's going to be, you're going to have, most, most architectural practices will have, um, sort of like, uh, what, what this, um, it's going to be, you're going to be giving a pair of goggles to your client to see the buildings you've designed, but never built, um, the buildings that you've designed to one to one detail that are ready for fabrication that were never built, Because you could and that's what the technology allowed you to do.
I don't know. I think there's um, yes, there's The potential, always the potential for doing more work and the question is what you're into and what level you're doing. If that means you can do more garages and more house extensions, I don't know, I don't think that's, if you're a mid sized practice and it means that you can be doing more, [00:33:00] uh, office buildings, I don't think we're going to need office buildings.
Um. So maybe more hotels, more free time, but then you have to look at what rectangles I think, I think the biggest change is going to be in boring buildings that get reproduced time and time again. Um, I think if somebody, somebody at some point is going to come up with. The, the Volkswagen Beetle of houses and everyone's going to want one and, uh, that's when you get interesting because then you can have a factory.
You can't really have a factory for much else. If you're making rectangular boxes that ship, volumetric, that ship on the back of a lorry and get hoisted into, make a rectangular. Short term building or whatever. Okay, fine. Um, the thing that worries me is the quality of the materials and how long those buildings are going to last for.
Are they really greener if you're ripping down a building [00:34:00] after 20 years? So the thing that worried me the most, so when I was, I did a bit of one of my summer researches was looking at the prefabrication volumetric market in Japan. Most houses outside of Tokyo are prefabs, and in Japan, house prices go down over time.
The land stays the same value, but the value of the building... The Japanese people do not look after those buildings because they don't think there's any need to, because it's going to get ripped down. You go and you buy a house, you expect to rip that house down and put a new one up on it. This worries me about, um, modern construction or whatever you want to call it, is that we're going to end up building houses that Hopefully, they'll be green and maybe even if you rip them down after 25 years, the materials will just be in a carbon sink somewhere.
Um, everyone I've talked to who's got these kind of, [00:35:00] um, off site fabrication plants and building things, they'll give you a 10 year warranty on it, and that's it. I mean, this is not... This is, in the UK, um, modular has a bad name and prefab has a bad name, it kind of makes you think that it might be sort of like temporary.
Um, we have a, that's kind of a hangover from the war where we built a whole load of temporary houses which were still being used 20 years ago, up to 20 years ago. Um, so, you know, what, all it's going to take is for some of these houses to get sold and then in 10 years time, they'll get a bad name for themselves and then people aren't going to want them.
And, um, housing, housing decisions and housing, I think it's very. Quick to, to swap to volumetric, but then if, if it goes wrong and it goes wrong widely, then, you know, you're talking about a lot of people with a lot of mortgage pain on a house that, [00:36:00] so we don't really have many timber frame houses in the UK.
I'm always amazed in the States, timber frame houses, you build your houses from the inside out. In the UK and Europe, we build our houses from the outside in. We do the outside first, wait for it to dry off, then go in and do the finish.
In America, it's all stick frame. Timber frame in the UK, if you want a mortgage for timber frame, it's in the same section as Japanese knotweed, subsidence, and listed buildings. It's deemed to be a non standard
Evan Troxel: Mm-hmm.
Martyn Day: methodology. And so it's harder to get a mortgage for a timber frame building than one of a brick and block.
Um, so we've got, we've got some intriguing, uh, issues to deal with. Same in Germany, where most Germans want to have a house made of stone, they don't want to have a, a timber frame home. Uh, Switzerland are much more kind of wood centric, the Nordics are. [00:37:00] So it's a different kind of space. We had Grenfell catch fire, so we got very scared about wood.
So we had, you know, this wonderful material, compressed laminate, uh, which was banned from being used on the outside of buildings. So that suddenly changed, you know, what, what we could do with it. We can't, we couldn't run in the whole kind of like mass timber movement. Um, and I just think that there's, there's a...
You know, there's materials and off site construction and how we make, how we make changes and appetites for that and then long term, long term issues if, if these things don't work and if they're renowned. for failure, then, uh, I'm just looking at the Japanese context of it, that the Japanese buildings that are 2, 000 years old or whatever anything, oh my god, it's been out of wood, and it's stood the test of time, but their modern day [00:38:00] housing is, is deemed as disposable.
Uh, so I'm kind of, I'm, I'm the Japanese, a Japanese firm invested really heavily in, uh, one of the kind of pre fab startups here, which was, it was a really good modern architectural practice that did a lot of refurb work, but they set up a fab shop and, uh, they went out of business within 18 months.
Um, uh, a lot of people don't quite know how to do, how this works. And it's worth having that, looking at that debate in NXT DEV where you've got, um, Bruce from, Facet Homes. Bruce is brilliant. He's been making, uh, off site construction wood houses for 15 plus years. He knows what he's doing. Um, and then we had someone from, uh, um, we had Richard Harpham, he used to be at, um, Katera.
So, [00:39:00] we had Charlie from DPR, and then there was Oliver from, KOPE.ai. So, KOPE KOPE.ai, uh, got a very interesting software technology which kind of, You're designing something, they'll find you a fabricator to try and design, to try and build that in a modular way.
Um, but that conversation is, is gold dust. Because you've got, you've got people who know about failure and you've got... Someone who's, who's getting it done and then someone who's trying to sell a middle platform to the industry to try and connect customers with fabricators. Um, but it's, yeah, um, my excitement, I was massively into offsite construction.
Uh, then they all started failing. Uh, and it was every couple of months one would go bust. And then, uh, Barclay Homes was my one great hope, who'd set up a big, um, cause they, they were their own customer. They'd make their own [00:40:00] houses. And... Then I think, uh, again, huge losses and they didn't, they weren't really talking about what they were doing.
And when that whole thing goes dark, you just sat there going, this isn't looking good. Um, but it might be British thing. It might be American, um, Poland and Italy have some thriving offsite construction. Uh, market, maybe also, yeah, Italy, actually, um, uh, Israel, I know Israel are doing, the Israeli Defence Force are doing, uh, quite a lot in that as well, um, but yeah, there's a big market, someone's going to nail it with something, but it's, all these, all this money's being poured into it, that's the thing, there's been money in constructions being poured into the kind of like, Project planning, project maintenance, or construction, and off site construction.
And the off site construction seems to have been a very bad bet. Um,
Evan Troxel: Mm-hmm.
Martyn Day: thinking about all the money that could have [00:41:00] been spent on software development that went into, uh, uh, the toilet and that mark. I, this is, Katera was... 2 billion I think, wasn't it? It was pain, painful. Um, my favourite little story with that, I went over to Las Vegas for a, for an event where Katerra were, and um, I met Michael Marx, and they were showing me what they were building, and he was showing me around, and he goes, oh, see the light bulbs in this building?
Yeah, yeah, we own the company that does that. And I'm like, what? He wanted to own the entire... The entire chain of everything and it was that there's a special light bulb company that did the they weren't just light bulbs They were light bulbs plus Wi Fi. So They were using the the power grid of the building plus the light bulbs to somehow transmit Wi Fi The thing that just [00:42:00] floored, absolutely floored me, was they were shipping buildings from Utah, no, from Arizona to Utah, and when they arrived in Utah and were sort of like, uh, fabricated, put in place, the buildings code inspector would go around to the building and then rip the front of the interior wall off.
Because they needed to know that the electrical and the pipe work that was already built in the factory was built to code. To Utah's code, not to Arizona's code. So every place these things were shipped. It's the equivalent of you buying a Ford and driving from one state to the next one and saying, Stop, we've got to check the wiring loom on your car because it might not conform to our standards.
Evan Troxel: Welcome to California. Yeah. That's what they do with the smog equipment.
Martyn Day: really, oh right,
Evan Troxel: that, oh yeah.
Martyn Day: but they were doing it with buildings. And I just thought, this is just stupid. And, [00:43:00] um, talking to other people, oh, lo and behold, in Australia, it's exactly the same thing. Volumetric buildings were being built in China, they were being shipped to, um, Australia, and this company had to install video cameras on the assembly lines so that every single one could watch the, uh, wiring and the plumbing be installed, and they got some kind of special deal where as long as they could...
You know, see that that was matched, the barcode or whatever it is, then they would, wouldn't rip it apart. Um, but that, that, that kind of almost killed my love of, uh, offsite construction. Because you suddenly realize that, that it's just not geared up, we're not geared up for it. We have these stupid rules, or they were not stupid, they're not stupid for what they are.
But in a modern twist, they actually mean you actually cause destruction to the thing you've just built. [00:44:00] Um, and in the UK, we don't really, we don't really have that per se, but what we have is, British people like stone, and so if you're going to have, uh, uh, uh, uh, offsite construction, if it is timber, then you're probably going to have to clad it in something that looks like stone, or you're going to have to have some kind of like, metal, aluminium, facade, which is holding all the stuff, you know, thin as, uh, and, um, Eventually that stuff's going to wear off at some point.
Um, so I'm, yeah, um,
Evan Troxel: It's cheap. Yeah.
Martyn Day: it's cheap. And this is, I, I don't like the idea of people doing offsite construction to make cheap. And there is always going to be the, one of the targets is to do it faster with less expensive materials. And, um, so yeah, you won't be finding me buying a modular house. Uh,[00:45:00]
Evan Troxel: Not yet.
Martyn Day: not yet, no. We need to do some thinking about it.
Um, yeah, yeah. So, that was another, another key point.
Evan Troxel: Well, there's so, there's so, there's so many things pulling at this industry. I mean, it is, uh, it's a miracle that anything happens at all. That's come up quite a few times on the podcast. It's just, how do things actually get built? How do we actually get stuff built? And it's, uh, it is incredible. And yet here we are, um, the struggle is real.
Martyn Day: I don't, but the, sometimes, sometimes the technology helps, and sometimes it just gets in the way. And sometimes the methodology that we instill in, uh, in the company and our workflow, It just doesn't suit every single project, yet this is the one hammer that you've got that you go and do. And so, you [00:46:00] know, I'm starting to think that 2D wasn't so bad.
Evan Troxel: Yeah.
Martyn Day: in some, in some instances, that's good
Evan Troxel: back. Yeah. Go back to, yeah. I, I long for the days where it was that simple. Right? It's like thinking about the, the fifties and it's just like, man, they, they had great, they, they just had it so good. They didn't even know. And, and look what progress has brought us.
Martyn Day: Now you've got to think about every single wall, uh, wall, uh, element, uh, and have you modeled the walls correctly with enough elements in them. Um, and it's, it, I, I do believe that BIM As it's in, even as it's in the best way of, of, of implementing it and running it does produce some inefficiency to other workflows, other traditional workflows.
And sometimes you, I think you need to choose. Which [00:47:00] projects deserve, you know, so, so take Zaha's for instance. Zaha's has, um, uh, Catia so they have every bit of software under the sun, but they have Catia Catia is Dassault Systems software. It's used to design Boeings. Ferraris, Cars, Satellites. It can handle really large models.
It can also handle really large complex models and you can spin them around in real time. It's the, it's one of the top end systems and, the thought that even in manufacturing, that is sometimes not necessary, um, it's overkill, you can do it with a cheaper package or sometimes you can just.
Draw, Draw, Draw, Drawings haven't, Drawings have not disappeared from Automotive or Aerospace. For every single plane, they still [00:48:00] produce full sets of drawings. For every single car, there's a full set of drawings. Part of it is, is a legal requirement, um, which isn't going to escape AEC. I don't see 2D drawings.
Disappearing, um, but they could be better automated. Nobody in manufacturing spends time laboring over 2d drawings. They are automatic output. Um, and I, uh, so, uh, there's, there's a guy called Dale Sinclair. Dale, Dale was at AECOM and I think he's at WSP and, um. We were having a conversation about, uh, automation and AECOM, he was, he was literally throwing out Revit and using Inventor instead, because he wanted to do one to one.
He wanted to have extreme detail and he wanted to handle that, handle that. On to the people who are fabricating it. And [00:49:00] I think he's kind of taken that mentality with him when he went to do WSB as well. And so I think you're going to find more architects, or some architectural firms, more engineering based architects than architects with a big A, um, opting to use manufacturing CAD tools, because their output, as they intend it to be, is one to one fabrication.
Um... And he was telling me that on some projects already, so he's got one architect working on the project. They're handling facades and spaces. Everyone else on the project's an engineer. Because the prime directive is fabrication, and you're going to see some of that as well.
Um, and, you know, as I was saying before, with Hypar and DPR working on that system where they can conceptualize and literally go from concept, to one to one fabrication by replacing just like quickly drawn dumb [00:50:00] walls with, uh, whatever, real world objects they've got in their, in their, uh, library. That's, that's, these construction firms are going to compete on, on a number of projects that they won't have to hire architectural firms. They'll have a few in house architects to take care of the niceties to make sure that the building looks vaguely, uh, okay. Um, but it's really all about how quickly can they get it up, how cheaply can they fabricate it. How can they sequence it so it arrives on site? Um, how they can beat their contracts so that they don't get penalized.
Um, this is, this is another thing that's going to come to the market. And those buildings are as, as I was told with the bread and butter of most signature architects, signature architects are well known for the. [00:51:00] Uh, individual buildings that, you know, that have these people's names on it, but, um, they do a whole load of relatively uninteresting buildings, uh, for people who want to have a signature architect's name on it, but don't necessarily want to pay the full whack to have Sir Norman Foster's name on it or whatever.
Um, so that's, that's a challenge for the industry. Um, so yeah, I think every firm has to start thinking about it.
so what are you seeing in the States? What kind of changes are you seeing in people's attitudes towards their tool vendors and their tools? Do they feel the stagnation?
Evan Troxel: I think, you know, a lot of what I was seeing in the NXT DEV presentations is exactly what we're seeing here. And I think you stated it earlier where there's a hesitancy to say things out loud, but then in the meeting rooms that you're hearing exactly the same [00:52:00] things. And I think a lot of firms have always kind of approached this as like, this is just us. We're the only one seeing this. And then you get into these rooms where there are 50 other. Firms represented, and it's like everyone's raising their hand and saying the exact same things. They're building the same tools, they have the same complaints, they have the same aspirations.
They're, they're worried about the same problems. And, uh, I think that that it, it's, it's pretty much just industry-wide. It's not just lo location based, like what you're asking about. You know, it's, it really is a, kind of a global sense is, is the sense that I get from all of that.
Martyn Day: It's interesting because I think When, when Andrew Anagnost got the job, and I've known him for ages since he was in the mechanical CAD side of things, I knew Amar very well as well. So, I think I had an interview with him, probably within a month of him getting the job. And I just said to him, Andrew, you, you, There's a, there's a value problem [00:53:00] that, that needs addressing because all these architects are paying good money for this product that doesn't have any development velocity and they're deeply frustrated with it.
Um, and he said to me, he's on the call, he said, you can look it up on, on AEC magazine. He said something along the lines of give me a year. And, uh, I went, okay. So then I think I gave him three years. And then what it actually managed to do was totally denude development of architecture and stick all the money in construction and, uh, engine, the sort of MEP side of things.
Um. Which wasn't what I was expecting. Um, and obviously you saw all this big money in acquisitions for, uh, all the components, which became ACC and BIM 360 and all that, uh, um, all that kind of stuff. [00:54:00] And. Yeah, it just, it, uh, it compounded a problem that then ignited, um, with people who, you know, fanboys who were really, really pissed off.
That was the, that was the kind of bottom line of where it went. Um, and I think that, that all these firms were talking to firms in the States and were getting similar kind of feedback as to what they felt, but they were really unwilling to sign the letter and they were really unwilling to, uh, raise, raise the issue so much.
Um, uh, and when I, I raised it again with, uh, Anagnost, uh, AU, uh, I, I just talked to one of their largest customers and they kind of said their EBA agreement was really
Evan Troxel: hmm. Mm
Martyn Day: downstairs to the press conference and I said, Andrew, why are people complaining about [00:55:00] their EBA agreements being so expensive?
And it was the time of Trump had just got in and he turned to me and went, false news. And. But he was doing it in a joking way. I know he wasn't doing it, uh, for anything else. And I had a meeting with him afterwards. And I actually do believe, he said, he said, no one says that to me. When I go to any of these firms, and I said, I completely believe you because you are the head of Autodesk and these people want a good political relationship with you.
They want a good, they want to get their deals. They want to get their, and they're not going to, um, specifically, you know, torpedo that if they, if they've already got, you know, these people have had years of discounts, years and years of discounts, and they don't want to lose those and special deals and whatever for oh, yeah, you could you could run maybe that old version of software.
Don't tell anybody And, um, I kind of think that it really struck them [00:56:00] very hard that they didn't realize this was happening. And I spoke to the account manager of AECOM, the Autodesk account manager, and he had no clue that, uh, people were saying this, uh, but not to him. Um, absolutely, I, I honestly do believe that they were, were completely blindsided by it.
Which is strange,
and when you've got a hierarchical top, then you've got this kind of sales group internally, who then go through either distribution or direct to resellers, resellers go on to, uh, customers. It's kind of like, you can imagine if there is any kind of like people complaining, there's plenty of points for it to be filtered out before it gets to the top.
Um, but I know there... They're now particularly aware of the problems that they could have. I just don't know if it's ingrained in the company [00:57:00] to change that much in terms of, because you have, you have, you have shareholders. And, um, the one thing I have been very impressed with, uh, is the Tandem development.
And, and it's not just, it's not just Autodesk. Digital Twins, I get it. I think a lot of people get it. But. Digital Twins, I fear, is really just the CFM market, with a better name, and the CFM market is not very big, and I think all this stuff is being developed to an audience that is Yeah, it works in 2D.
What's the benefit of a BIM model over the way that we do CFM today? I, I, I have this nagging feeling, um, but the way that, that, that they set about developing it, I think is exemplary because they realized they needed to get Revit data in a thinner format [00:58:00] for post, post use. The first thing they realized is the database of Revit is, is ridiculously Too big for what they need.
So they came up with a new format that was lightweight, brilliant. Then every month they have, uh, engaged customers with this. If they've got a new feature, they want to show people, they don't just show it to people, but they have like polls. So people who've actually spent their time invested watching it can, can kind of give feedback on how features should work, the features, capabilities.
If they don't have any new features to show them, they'll have. Uh, a kind of a, a, a general conversation presentation piece talking about digital twins or an element of it. But everyone I've sat in on, you can see the progression of this piece of software, and you feel actually part of the development process because you're actually giving feedback.
If you could be asked to sit online and just have, you know, 30 [00:59:00] minutes, 40 minutes, and I kind of think this is, this is a brilliant way. It's a new way to develop software with this level of ongoing engagement in our cloud connected world. Other than that somebody's been sat in a room somewhere for 18 months and coming out and going, Look what I've done.
This, this, I think FORGE has enabled this, and I think the, uh, the attitude of development and being open about it and not fearing showing people too much. And I think that's been a, that's a thing that's probably changed for good now, is that software developers are being much more, using the tools of the cloud and the web and everything to get early engagement and to, Be, um, uh, open beforehand, none of these software, these software developers wouldn't show it to you until they were happy, uh, with, you know, phase one or whatever it is they've got, and we've, [01:00:00] we're in this new space where, uh, You can be part of the development and you can keep an eye on something you're interested in and if you are, you can, I'm sure they've got beta programs on top of this as well going, but it's, it's, um, it's a, it's a new way of software coming to the market and at the moment. Tandem, it was like really bare bones. I mean, the first time I saw it, I thought, is that it? Really? It's like a viewing, a view, a really good Revit viewing tool. It's, I don't know how long it's been going, two years. It really has notched up, um, a really good level of, uh, technology. And I think a lot of, there was a lot of other work that was being done, um, in, in Switzerland by one of the developers.
And they've finally taken that technology and they could fold it in so they could, they could make really big jumps because they had all this stuff, years of development [01:01:00] work. So I kind of think that, you know, the, the, Autodesk doesn't have to look too far. If he wants to try and find a new, a better way of software
Evan Troxel: It's right there.
Martyn Day: uh, in a, yeah, it's there.
And I, uh, Bob Bray has done a great job of, uh, of showing, of showing how software can be developed now with these kind of fundamental platforms that, um, that everybody's using. Um, but yeah, digital twin, that's kind of like the big, it's the thing that Bentley are trying to, um, you know, Bentley's biggest element is this market, but they, they play to these huge 500, Fortune 500 companies that You know, they, they do have oil people, they do have Army Corps of Engineers, they do have really big players.
And I think that it makes more sense to a Shell or whoever to [01:02:00] manage all these different facilities. I still just don't, I don't, I just don't know where that market is for that, that entry point. Um, if you were really into BIM and you understand BIM and you think this is fantastic, we can leverage it. Uh, there's, there's a brilliant, um, company in the UK called Space, which are an architects.
They have software developers. They developed something called Twinview, which is a really good Revit, uh, facilities management tool. And just listening to them, how they've. How to try and sell it and you, you think that, that, that you'd be, that it'd be a no brainer because that we believe we believe in digital twins and they had to go down to London and they had to find financial institutions who owned lots of
Evan Troxel: Yes.
Martyn Day: and they were very interested in it because they were commoditizing those buildings as shares.
Or stocks or an equity investment. [01:03:00] And they, for some FTC, uh, financial rule, they had to prove those buildings were being run incredibly well, super, um, efficient so that they could qualify for some kind of, uh, you know, green investment. That is a failure of digital twins. If it's come down to that, are the people who get it and want to buy it.
It shows you, there's a, there is a disconnect between the actual proposed users and the people selling it. And I, uh, had a, one of my speakers, Sarah Sergina, who's, um, who spoke on NXT BLD and NXT DEV the following day. She, she said she worked for a couple of IES, and she said they were finding exactly the same.
The people who get it are financial institutions. There's a huge market out there that is just not ready, doesn't understand [01:04:00] what on earth it's doing. I find that kind of disappointing. Um,
Evan Troxel: Well, and the people who are buying buildings and building buildings, you know, the owners aren't often it from an architectural standpoint, it's just what's the first cost that they don't, they don't even have a budget for maintenance a lot of times, let alone. a full on savvy, technically savvy, facilities maintenance group that is going to do the types of things that Digital Twin is going to enable somebody to do.
They're not going to be running tests. They're not going to be checking every sensor every day. They're not looking for ways to optimize. They're just trying to get along. They're just trying to do the best they can do, which is usually like one custodian for an entire campus, right? So it's, a solution looking for a problem still for, for a lot of people.
And to your point, it's only for serial builders who are really going to be able to take advantage of it.
Martyn Day: 2013, 2014, I remember [01:05:00] talking to Carl Bass and I said, I asked him, I said, so back in the day, um, with AutoCAD and architectural desktop and all that stuff, Autodesk went out and literally acquired the vertical market, best players for, you know, there was one for architecture, there was one for mechanical CAD, there was one for, you know, whatever, process plant, you went and bought them.
The one area you didn't buy in was CAFM, there was Archibus, and there were about two or three, and I said, why didn't you ever buy in CAFM? And he said, well, we could never really find the people who had the budget. And the budget they did have, if we found anyone, was very small and yeah, we were just, it was just, it was just too tough a market to actually, it was probably too small for them to bother with.
And I said, well, why are you developing, you know, BIM, digital twin, probably wasn't the term at the time. And he goes, someone in the company seems to think that [01:06:00] there's a market there and, you know, it's their funeral, they can go off and develop it and see if it, you know, they made a good enough case. Yeah.
that, okay, here's the money, go and develop it. Um, I don't think that was, I think this was way before Tandem. Uh, Tandem didn't really, well, could have been Tandem, but I don't know what it, I don't know how long it took to gestate. I think it was only, I think they're only working on it sort of from COVID onwards, so this might be something else.
But, um, and then that was just interesting to think that historically Autodesk didn't see the market, couldn't find the market. And now. There's a lot of people talking about it and they put the money into it. So, and they do have a lot of, you know, the people, there are loads and loads of questions, really good questions from people on these sessions.
Uh, you know, making requests for capabilities and stuff. So, I just don't know who they are. Are they... Facilities managers or are they architects hoping to have [01:07:00] another new business of hey, you know, we've built this building for you Well now we can manage your facility or help manage your facilities and you can pay us some money it seems to make perfect sense, but Yeah, it just hasn't really been I I get high on the hype and then I'll go and talk to somebody And just go, well, yeah, no, well, I'll, I'll, I'll, I'll stop promoting it.
I'll have to wait till, till there is a really good case for this. Um, but hype cycles are always a problem. Um, and, uh, it's, I was trying to talk to, um, Keith Bentley. So, uh, with, MicroStation is the foundation for everything, every single thing they do. And then they brought out MicroStationJ. which was Microstation with Java and I remember talking to him and just, um, and I said, so, you know, is this a really big thing?
It's like Java going to be huge. Because he's [01:08:00] the programmer, obviously he said, yeah, yeah, yeah, it's fantastic. And I said, well, what happens if the rest of the market doesn't really agree with you? And he goes, well, we'll just look back behind us after leaving the charge and find ourselves on our own. And, uh, and he was, because that whole thing didn't really, we always have to be aware that when you speak to people at technology firms who are involved in the technology, when they lead the charge, because they think it's a great idea, it doesn't necessarily mean it's the right direction to be charging in, you're going to leave your people behind, and especially, I think, sort of computer, you know, You know, uh, Java, you know, you're talking about, um, uh, Open, I mean, the whole industry talked about openness for adding from the item when none of them were open.
It was just really embarrassing. I mean, these things come and go and they don't, Autodesk Windows Objects Web. It was the biggest thing when they went from [01:09:00] DOS to Windows. And um, what they ended up doing was, with objects, was knackering the DWG file. You used to, I don't know if you remember, but you used to be able to give someone a DWG and they could always open it.
And then when ARX came about... The actual, uh, uh, intelligence could actually sit somewhere else. So you're handing someone a DWG where there would be either a blank hole where the object was, or if, after time, they kind of fixed it and they created a zombie object, so you had some kind of, uh, like, geometry you couldn't touch that was, oh yeah, that was created by something that you don't know.
Um, it just, the whole idea of, of having a file format that everyone could, could see just got absolutely... broken apart. So, um, you always have to be very aware that the technology that you're being shown might not necessarily survive impact with reality. so it's always remember, people always talk about successes and big software that [01:10:00] has dominated, but very few people remember the failures.
And I'm a massive history fan and I think it's always important to remember what didn't work. Uh, as well as the ones that did work, because, if you, history has a tendency to repeat and so do software errors and business decisions with software. Um, and I kind of, that's the one thing that I, I kind of, I guess I bring is a certain element of negativity, because I'm like, oh, why did that screw up last time?
Does that really work? Let's try and see, because, you know, I've... been in the market for too long, basically. and I'm always learning. We're always doing that. The Autodesk's license changes is a constant learning opportunity to learn and then to try and find out what customer, what does it mean to every customer?
Every customer with a license change, they've got different software. I think, I think Anagnost even said [01:11:00] to the, so he, he gives a talk every quarter to the Wall Street analysts and in one of them he said, Oh yeah, our customers are in license hell, license, license hell, or like nightmare license land or something like that.
Because they all had different software on different, they were managing software on different licenses internally. And so, how on earth were customers ever supposed to kind of work out what license goes where? And I think the one thing that Autodesk doesn't do very well is management software. I think they, they always had problems with document management.
Maybe they'd fix that now with BIM 360. But, um, the, so they, they created some management tools so you can buy software. For more than, you had to collect a premium license for software tools that help you manage the licenses. But they did such a poor job of it that they ended [01:12:00] up withdrawing them or giving them to everybody.
And I was talking to one of the letter writers guys who was just like, you know, the pro license, that was one of the big elements of this kind of pro license. But it didn't give them what they needed to try and... track and trace software licenses to make sure that they couldn't go into non compliance.
and then again, when you go into, this whole kind of like, single sign on and yeah, so every, you literally have to have a copy of every software for everybody you've got. That person must sign on on one machine and you can't have another person use that. machine to confuse it so you can fall foul of non compliance by having the wrong person on a machine with a sign in for the or a login for the wrong software license because that machine is named user license.
I mean these kind of things create an awful environment for the design IT directors to try and [01:13:00] manage and um they're spending more time managing those licenses because of the downside of The non compliance possibilities, and literally every design IT director I talk to, bar one, has to do billable hours on projects.
And so the more they get overloaded with management of licenses, because your licensing system's crap, but your non compliance isn't, it's fully on it. Um, yeah, you're not really going to be winning friends over when, when they've got that hanging over them. Um, I don't know, I don't, I don't really think that, uh, it was the one thing that in the original open letter that Anagnost didn't really address.
Um, it wasn't mentioned again, and it was brought, I know it was brought up. Um, uh, I think Aaron, again, was the guy who gave [01:14:00] the, the... Was the front to Autodesk's execs to have that discussion so you can imagine how, how that would have gone in terms of logic. Um, uh, so yeah, I think there's, um, so it's a complex world that we live in.
but I think my biggest worry is, is that a lot of people don't really realize what's coming. They, I don't blame them because they, they spend all their time just getting their job done, trying to do their job on their desktop machines, managing the licenses they've got. and change doesn't tend to happen that fast in our industry and it's accelerating.
Evan Troxel: I think one of the themes that, that I think of is that AEC is in chaos and there's a huge wave of chaos that's about to hit. And that it's like we can't even get our head above the current chaos water to see what's actually [01:15:00] coming. And, uh, and so I, I wonder how this is going to play out. I mean, being in the position that you're in kind of, on the sidelines, looking at all of it, all of the landscape. never a dull moment, right? Like you're saying, there's, there's going to be plenty of things to talk about, to write about, to invite, to speak to at the conference, to the issues of the day. It is, uh, there's a lot going on, so pop some popcorn. I mean, it's, it's interesting for sure.
Martyn Day: I, it's like I've never, uh, for the last couple of years, I've never been at a spare end thinking, what am I going to stick in the magazine this month? It's, uh, it's, it's the great thing is, is having, having the resource of being able to speak to these design IT directors. And hear directly from them what, they've got literally stuff coming out of them 24 7 and someone's going to change their business model or, you know, [01:16:00] implement.
At one point we had, uh, SketchUp and Trimble playing funny buggers with SketchUp licensing costs and changes. And that had massive implications for, you know, it's, it's a, you have a product that literally is on everybody's desktop. And then suddenly it immediately jumps up in price. And by the way, we're switching off your design server.
What? Um, and then I ring around and I find, yep, that's happening. Five or six people. This is a problem. So, um, I ring them up and then we have a conversation with the VP of AEC and we see if they know what they're doing, if, is this, is this what you intended? Because, you know, you've caused people to panic and the first thing they're thinking about is throwing out your product.
So, what do you want to do? And I just don't, this is this, this, this, this greed that comes, I mean, I guess I'm, I'm [01:17:00] a pretty bad... Capitalist is my bottom line. I, I, I don't believe everything should be free. I don't have that mentality. But, I don't believe the stock market or shareholders should be the sole beneficiaries of software development.
Um, and software companies overestimate the value of their software to their customers frequently. And, um, and this, this, it's still this thing of I watch one company, this leading company literally grope its way to squeeze the lemon harder, which seems like a great idea. And, you know, uh, I'm sure internally at the company, it goes down well, just really doesn't play.
I get to hear the people, but it doesn't play very well. I mean, I had a, I had a phone, I had a phone [01:18:00] conversation with a Head of like pricing, modeling, uh, rang me up from Autodesk and we were having a conversation. He goes, I've got, I've got some great news for the customers. I'm like, Oh, all right. Okay.
Get my notebook ready, because I'm going to absorb whatever is going to happen. And the great news was that. Network licenses were being taken away, and you had to move to, uh, from perpetual to subscription, and it was just like, Where, where, where's the good news in this? This just really seems like pain, pain, and more pain, and... There's no way of spinning, uh, we're going to take more money from our customers for something, for something else, you know, for no real benefit. and that's why there's a lot of people I think in this industry could give feedback on licensing models, but I [01:19:00] just don't know if the people on the other end want to
Evan Troxel: Well, and a lot of times they're talking to those middleman, you know, license managing companies, right? Not the creator of the software themselves. And even if they are, they're talking to somebody in that company who has no say in the whole process. Like you said, there's so many ways, so many places along the line of communications where things, They tend to fall off the story so that it, that message never makes it to where it needs to land.
Martyn Day: Well, I guess in large companies, you might have somebody who's handling that relationship. And I definitely have heard of stories where someone in the company is handling that liaison, they're coming into the next EBA agreement. Autodesk says it's 50 percent more this year. And then that person then goes to the board and says it's 50 percent more this year.
And then they decide, uh, how they're going to skewer this idiot they've hired. Um, and, you know, [01:20:00] which side they butter him on to roast him over the flames. Because that really isn't much of a negotiation. So, this, this kind of stuff happens in firms where, someone's being schmoozed.
Someone's being kept, you know, being made to make special. But the, the, the downturn effect is that you start sticking those numbers in a, in a spreadsheet for how many copies you've got. And you start realizing that, you know, that's, that's a lot of money. And, um, and I was, I was talking, I said at the start, there's a lot of firms telling me they spend 60 to 70 percent of their entire IT budget currently.
with one vendor and, that's only increased over the last 10, 15 years. And at some point it will absorb 100 percent of their IT budget, which means they couldn't even buy a workstation. So it's, there is a limit. , And there is this other thing that people are worried, that people I talk [01:21:00] to are worried about, which is when Autodesk they went from Perpetual to Subscription. As part of that, they gave you two copies at half price for the same as one copy of
Evan Troxel: Mm
Martyn Day: Which was a bloody good deal and it lasted eight years, which is kind of like In the future forget it. Don't worry about it. Um A lot of those companies still have people who signed up that deal and they're still in that company and they know That's not too far in the distance now.
I think it's like four years away, maybe some of them less. And so they know that they're expecting to see a tsunami of, uh, requests for payment for normal, because they've used the software and they've enjoyed the bargain that they had for eight years. But, um, How about increasing your payments [01:22:00] by 50 percent which I'm sure they'll come up with some deals or something at the time, but it's, that is a bomb that is, is in the system that a lot of large firms are very aware of.
Um, and they're trying to work out strategies to not be that, not be in that, that, that receiving end. Um, and some of that might be changing to cheaper 2D drafting tools. Maybe it's, it's taking the reliance, maybe having more, of the IT in house so not necessarily relying on their servers to store stuff and those kind of service y kind of things.
Revit, I think it's still way too early for anybody to, to think about. Uh, moving off. It's, it's, it's not, um, that's just not feasible. and I, I think there's, you know, these, these people know that they've got a problem that they're going to have to deal with and what can they [01:23:00] do about it? Um, and it was a genius move.
I mean, that, that, that, that was out of anything in terms of pricing. It definitely got a lot of people to move from perpetual into subscription. You definitely got a big benefit of it. You got, you know, I think if you, yeah. It's probably the first time that Autodesk customers spend has actually gone down in terms of what they've got for their money.
They've actually seen quite a significant increase. but yeah, this is, this is all, all built in and that you're going to see competitors trying to utilize that as a sales
Evan Troxel: Oh yeah,
Martyn Day: uh, over the next couple of years as well. Well, not, not immediately, but yeah. trying, is there any other kind of topic areas?
I think with the... The show itself, it really is starting, I'm, uh, starting to think about speakers, um, the structure of DEV I have to think about a little bit more. One of the things I I [01:24:00] kind of threw in as a nice idea, but, uh, I thought it worked. So, I love Eric Dikaiser, I love, um, uh, Moritz Luck, and the idea was that I wanted to have software developers that had succeeded.
So, these are people who... had been there, been through the mill, developed, had mission creeps, success, failure, success, sold out so that we could have people there who were inspirational... but also could share their knowledge of... of how they got bitten on the bum... uh, through their journey, and also the positives and negatives, how they worked with, uh, you know, money people and all that kind of stuff.
And the first one I had up was... was Eric and he did a brilliant job. I was actually in tears, because... It's a bit like the, uh, the story from Monty Python where he said, Oh, you know, this castle, I built the first castle, it caught fire. And then, so I built it out of stone, it caught fire, fell [01:25:00] over. So I built the third one, that caught fire, fell over, exploded.
You know, that, so Eric had this kind of story of, he created Triforma. He signed a deal with Bentley, Bentley sold it, Bentley were going to buy it. Then, he obviously didn't have a great, well written contract with Bentley they walked off with it, so then he started BricsCAD. Uh, he then went public, had an IPO.
He thought, I'm in the money, I'm brilliant. Then there was a market crash. Then he, the company crashed. he was in huge amounts of debt. He actually had to go into the bank and say, I can't afford to pay you this money back. The only way I can is if I start again, will you back me? And so they backed him.
And so he started again and he had all these people working for him who. You know, this crew in BricsCAD, they're like family to him and that came across in
Evan Troxel: hmm.[01:26:00]
Martyn Day: talk that these people were family and everybody took pay cuts, well, whenever, and they helped and they grew it and eventually, you know, they sold out to Hexagon and we have a happy ending, but Eric will never stop.
So he started again. He was never happy that he didn't do the architectural tool that he thinks he should have done. So, thus CONIX starts, and he's loaned his own money to the company. and he's not really necessarily in it for his personal gain. He says it's, it's, my team's, it's, this team's, it's their, it's their, this is their company this is their, their opportunity.
And what I've seen, they've done a bloody good job of it, but it's, it's still, uh, no, he's refusing to have any investment money, and he's totally bootstrapping it, and so they're going to come out. After two years of development with something they've completely paid for themselves, and then they can go and get maybe some VC money to, [01:27:00] to crack it up.
But that was just, it was just a beautiful story. And the kind of person that is attracted to be in this industry. Who, you know, every time they get knocked down, gets back up and just is, you know, passionate about what he does. And then you have Moritz at the other end of the scale, who, you know, he, he had to, he came out of college and, you know, wide eyed, bushy tailed and then he had to get some investment money and then they started this company and eventually, uh, yeah, there were ups and downs. And then eventually they sell out and so now Moritz is kind of an angel investor in our space. Um, and the only thing is the video is not online because he wasn't particularly kind to some of his investors and he thought that wasn't very, uh, polite.
So, uh, that's not available, but, um, on the day, I think I'm going to do that again is have, have people who've been in this industry, you can [01:28:00] share their knowledge and their story. And hopefully, you know, I think it's, it's interesting for me as a journalist, it's interesting for users. It's interesting for developers, VCs probably not so much, but, um, I love some of the people in this industry and they give, they, they are always up for giving and hearing and listening and, uh, especially to obviously customers.
And I think that it's, it's only fitting that we can, you know, be, be proud of some of the software developers that have come up, you Devitt as well as another one. Obviously probably one of the most famous VCs in the industry, but he kind of came up, sold his software, went into Autodesk. There's loads of these people that I'd love to, to have, um, to share their experiences and put some warning
Evan Troxel: yeah.
Martyn Day: Um, I, I, I've had people contact me who want to... [01:29:00] Talk to these people, not necessarily, they don't want money from them, they don't want that, they just want to get some, you know, some advice or they just want to, to, you know, um, have that connection because people worry so much about when you start a business and, um, It's just, that happened to me, you know, so I really wasn't too, I, I was working for this company.
I was, they wanted me to buy it. I kind of gone at staff editor and I was now, I was running it for some retirees, this publishing house and they said, Oh, you could, you now need to buy office for a million quid or whatever. And I was like, Oh, and then I went to see some of my friends in the city and they just went, you know what?
You know, there's no assets. It's like human beings. There's nothing. Don't even think about it. You're an idiot. And um, and then I was at an event in Arizona and I was talking [01:30:00] to Bob McNeel and Bob said, Oh, how much do you think you need to start out with? I said, Oh, I don't know. 300, 000 or something you got it.
I went, What? Um, he went, you know, you've got to, oh, you know, we believe in you, and you know, you have to pay, you only, you only have no interest, pay it back when you can. Um, I didn't take it, because it's Bob, and I thought, oh, he's a friend, but the actual thing that came out of it was that he gave me enough belief in myself, then, that if he thinks I can do it, maybe, maybe this can be done.
And so, you know, you know, stuff transpired at the other end of it, and we found out a different way of doing it. But it was really, these are the kind of people that are in our industry. There are absolute gold nuggets. Um, and if I could attract these people to come to this event, the people that I pre qualify and say, these people are good people, then, you know, it's, it makes the events worth so much more.
Um, I mean [01:31:00] like Jay Bleschauer. Jay, you know, Jay's, Jay's, I've known Jay for... And he is the Wall Street analyst who goes to nearly every single event. He's the only one who goes to every single event. He thoughtfully listens and knows what's going down. He's a wealth of information. And I couldn't believe that he was willing to come and like, give a, give a conversation, give a talk at my event.
Evan Troxel: Really interesting to
Martyn Day: he's super, so sharp. And then I had, I had some people from software firms saying, Uh, you know, you just don't want Jay. He's just going to talk about, um, you know, Autodesk and this and that. And I said, no, no, no. Jay, Jay's, I've asked Jay some very specific things. And he's, these are the kinds of things he's covered.
And they were, these people were some of the first people to run up to him after the event and ask him for copies of the slides. Because it was, it's like, yeah, it's idiots. So he's, he's, he's a, he's a great, great friend, [01:32:00] uh, to have on board and he, he's very, very closely linked to a lot of these software companies and.
He's got some soft power, um, to try and make them understand that you might need happy customers, if you know what I mean, so, um, Wall Street soft power is a nice thing to have, um, it turns out, but yeah,
Evan Troxel: Well, Martin, I, I feel like, uh, this has been a marathon conversation of, about the state of the industry from an AEC tech perspective, but, but beyond that. And so,
Martyn Day: yeah, yeah, I honestly, it's been, it's, it, these kind of things are great because I don't really have a very structured mind. I'm non linear and it's just point me in the right direction. And there's a constant sort of, there is, there are these ideas, but they're not necessarily in
Evan Troxel: Right. Oh yeah.
Martyn Day: And these things force me to, to create a story or to [01:33:00] actually connect these pieces together. And, um, it's pretty much what I do when I write an article, to be honest, but it's, um, Sometimes I'll just start a tape player going and just I'll talk about what it is that I want to say because sometimes you have to find
Evan Troxel: then you, then you'll take all that text and you put it into chat GPT and you have it write your article.
Martyn Day: I haven't got that done yet. I do put it into something called Otter AI which then converts it to text, um, and Revit always comes out as Rabbit. It hasn't really, it hasn't really, um, Yeah, but yeah, I, I, I did do one thing. I put a... And then I said, write an article in the style of Martyn Day from AEC magazine and I put in the URL on why customers aren't happy when license models change. And it did a 500 word article [01:34:00] that was pretty good. I found that it's normally too positive for my liking, but it
Evan Troxel: You can.
Martyn Day: It actually, it
Evan Troxel: Well, see, then you have to just change the tone. You just say tone a little more negative. Yeah.
Martyn Day: not one day. There was no positivity in it. I was like, oh, I was quite proud of it. But, uh, yeah,
Evan Troxel: Well, you're not worried about your job yet. So that's good.
Martyn Day: well, I'm very fortunate that I write about things that don't exist yet, or I write about things that aren't in the public domain yet. So yeah, a lot of that stuff that was shown at Dev wasn't available. So that's, unless I, AI needs stuff to get trained on it. Can't get trained on stuff that's not really written about yet. That's my hope.
Evan Troxel: Well, this has been a fun conversation. Like I said, we've, we've gone around the world a few times. So I, I look forward to, to doing it again though. I, I know you've got your hands full with these conferences and I think though that such [01:35:00] important content comes out of those.
And if I can help keep that momentum going, I think that's important. So, uh, I'm happy to do that.
Martyn Day: Yeah. Well, I'll, I'll definitely keep you up to date because I'm going to, I think I'm going to start a bit of a brains trust to get topic areas, uh, that need to be, have a light shone on them. And I, if I don't get them in a DEV or BLD then it's something that maybe I can write about. But, um, but maybe it could be something that, you know, through your medium, then.
I don't know how many people you can have on here, but I think it's always good to have. You know, you, we could do a, sort of like a club session, have a topic and have four, three or four people, you know, you want any more than that to drill down and, and make it a special thing and then go, go with that.
And it'd be great to have people from different continents because the, [01:36:00] the one thing that is aware, I mean, I'm aware of is that the. Different countries have different views and then you need to find someone in America who's willing to, you know, step on a rattlesnake, uh, and say, and say some stuff, um, and they're out there, there are, there are, but they might not necessarily have the blessing of the board, is, uh,
Evan Troxel: Well, I, I appreciate your time. This has been fun. And, uh, and I look forward to another time. Let's do it again.
Martyn Day: definitely, cheers, thanks, Evan.