Phil Windley says it's all about integration, with a point that's good to keep in mind:
Companies like the one I was talking to need to pay attention to just two things (at least on the technology side): (a) their core competency and (b) great integration points that are based on standards and easy to use. Otherwise, rather than selling your product's features, you'll constantly find yourself justifying its deficiencies.
Looking at building and construction ict, this point emphasises the need for integration possibilities. If your core competence is cost estimation, what is the integration point you can use? 2D drawings: no. Text-based specifications: no. In-company pricelists in some in-company database format: no. Ouch.
There are some efforts, though. The idea of a building information model for instance. Storing all/most/a_lot information for a building project in one big model/database. See the latest AECbytes newsletter for some more info. IFC is a standard that's getting pretty much all the attention in that area. However, I'm missing something there.
What I am missing is that it sounds so much like "big database" instead of "integration point". Let's say my core competence is, how can I get the data I need to work on out of that building information model? Probably by residing on the same computer as where that model is, calling an API. What if I'm a web-based costing application? Can I get at the data then? Why isn't there a great integration point I can access? Something like a web-based application I can query and that gives me back standard-based IFCxml files?
The other side of the coin: there are probably decent standard file formats for costing applications. So, I need to make my information available in that format in an easy-to-get-to manner. Did I mention the internet yet?
Personally, I'm experimenting with this at the moment. Tying together the object library at objects.bcxml.net and some client-oriented applications (acatalog, a simple specification, a project description, that sort of stuff). Back to programming.
My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.
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