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During the recent Viewpoint Collaborate 2018 User Conference, Construction Executive sat down with the tech company’s CEO Manolis Kotzabasakis and Chief Product Officer Matt Harris to learn what’s ahead for our industry.

What are the top takeaways you’d like all attendees to leave with after Viewpoint Collaborate 2018?

Kotzabasakis: The most important one is the transition to using technologies on the cloud. Second, having an integrated suite of products is much more important than best-of-breed solutions from different providers. 

Harris: There’s a major opportunity for digital transformation in our industry today. The cloud plays a significant role in that. We believe that Viewpoint’s products and portfolio enables this digital transformation and adoption of cloud, web and browser technologies. With Viewpoint, we are ready to support wherever the contractor may be in their spectrum of technology adoption. Immediately we can help with cloud adoption, and if they’re ready to take advantage of data analysis right away, we can help with that too.  

The other element is the convergence of geometries. What we build is real; it’s not just data. With Trimble technology, the geometries of what’s in the field converge with the cloud data. 

Which technologies will most benefit general contractor and subcontractor users? What is more important for small teams vs. large teams in terms of who will benefit?

Harris: First, the applicability of the different technologies across different verticals is generally pretty universal. For example, everyone has employees to manage. With new HR technology and apps, we have the ability to give employees access to their information and to make it easy for the employees to use. When you look at the need to hire people faster, that’s universal as well, particularly with the labor challenges in the trades. 

Across Viewpoint Team, which is a project management application, general contractors and civil contractors, and even specialty contractors, are adopting these technologies because they are looking for platforms to help them manage their own internal processes and their employees. 

It depends on the data you want to harvest and take advantage of. For example, if you are a contractor that is work order-intensive, you’ll want to track the data for all of the work orders. If you’re a heavy civil or equipment focused company, you will want to see your productivity. Data is a kind of universal common denominator of this all. 

Viewpoint acquired Keystyle earlier this year. What is it?

Harris: Keystyle solves a common problem with any ERP solution, which is giving users access to their information. ERPs in general capture all the critical information and resources within a business—people, equipment, materials, tools, contracts, costs and revenues.

That’s were Keystyle comes in. They’ve built super easy web and mobile portals where the average person, like me, can start to use Vista in way that is meaningful. So, if I’m an employee, and I want to record my time, I use Keystyle to get into the system. If I’m a field superintendent and I want to track jobsite productivity, we use Keystyle to update that jobsite productivity and have it entered into Vista. 

It’s API at a human level. It’s an easy browser interface for your phone. 

How has the merger with Trimble expanded your ability to serve contractors' needs and stay ahead of the game in technology? Can you cite a few examples?

Kotzabasakis: We have received extremely positive feedback from customers when we announced the acquisition at the end of April. People who currently use Trimble technologies have said they would like to see things integrated in a better way—such as estimating, telematics and machine control.  

We have spent time over the last few weeks and months to understand the different technologies that exist within Trimble, and with input from all of our customers, we are evaluating and prioritizing at least 30 technologies to help us understand the impact on our own innovation, and then we will put a road map in place to help us accelerate the delivery of office, team and field solutions. 

Technology is moving so so fast. With the shortage of skilled labor, there are so many mergers and acquisitions happening between our customers. The pressure of delivering tech faster is going to only increase. And we are ready for it. 

Harris: We are excited about the seamless continuity between the design and the field—the precision execution of designs by a machine or by a tool or by someone in the field. 

[Trimble integration allows for] the real manifestation of having a design of a road or bridge, and then that translates into controls on graders and other equipment that knows precisely how high to grade that road and where to go. This is also happening in concrete drillings for hangers for fire suppression. It’s all being automated for machines to know exactly where to lay out those drills; the drills themselves are getting controls from the model directly. It’s kind of incredible when you think about it. 

We are achieving seamless continuity with pure automation; owners and architects design, and the intent of that design is exactly how it’s built. Viewpoint captures the data around that, particularly with financial data that helps determine whether it’s a probable project or not. This technology is leading to less rework and fewer punch lists. 

How does business intelligence tie in with safety? Does the ability to see across the entire operation (office to field) benefit contractors from a safety perspective?

Harris: The ability to capture safety events in the field is something that we support in our products today. The Fieldview product is a great way to automate and capture safety events when they happen, and to trigger workflows around safety and communications. Contractors are using technology to create quality processes.   

There’s also a lot of interest for mining data to see and be predictive around when and where jobs are going to become less safe. For example, what are the types of the projects where there are more incidents or fewer? Who are subcontractors that are particularly unsafe?  And then doing qualification and prediction records.  

From a surety perspective, getting bonded is going to play a role in your safety record. So how you’re managing your safety data has fundamental financial impact on business, and that’s where there is a great deal of opportunity for technology to play a role there.

Kotzabasakis: The analytics will offer tremendous possibilities here.  You might discover that a specific crew is having problems on a specific day. Is there anything preventive you can do earlier? We are capturing interesting data to help prevent accidents and improve safety. Analytics show the world with different lenses. There are many things in construction that are unexplainable, and I think analytics will shed light on patterns and help the industry improve its safety.  


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