Omar Sheikh – The AEC Industry and Bluebeam Revu
- What is Bluebeam Revu and what can it do?
- How has the AEC industry adopted technology like Bluebeam Revu?
- What challenges has the AEC industry faced in terms of technology adoption?
- How do you see technology influencing the industry today and in the future?
- How has the GCI team adopted Revu and continued to evolve its use?
About The Everything Building Envelope Podcast: Everything Building Envelope℠ is a dedicated podcast and video forum for understanding the building envelope. Our podcast series discusses current trends and issues that contractors, developers and building owners have to deal with related to pre and post construction. Our series touches on various topics related to water infiltration, litigation and construction methods related to the building envelope.
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Paul: Hello, everyone. This is Paul Beers. Welcome back to the Everything Building Envelope Podcast. I’m really excited about today’s guest, Omar Sheikh with Bluebeam Software Company. Hello, Omar.
Omar: Hi, Paul. How are you?
Paul: Great. So thanks so much for doing this. I’m really excited to have you on today.
Omar: Yeah, me too. I’m excited to join you. Like we’ve been working on a…well, working together for over a year now, so I’m excited to participate in today’s podcast.
Paul: Yeah. And it’s been really great both personally and professionally. So I’m gonna let you tell everybody in more detail as we get into things, but Bluebeam Software Company produces a product called Bluebeam Revu and it’s really designed for the architecture, engineering, and construction industries, and I think that listeners are going to be very interested in those. Probably a lot of them use it already, but those that don’t, I think, are gonna be really interested in hearing about it. So, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself first, you know, kind of what your background is and what you’re doing with Bluebeam and whatnot?
Omar: Sure. Well, I actually come from the software side of things. I’ve been working for 10 years in the software industry and actually came out originally from the oil and gas sector, working for large EPC contractors all over in the UK and eventually had the opportunity to come out and work for Bluebeam 3 or so years ago now. And I really focused in on content management and collaboration. And Bluebeam really resonated with me is there was nothing else on the market that was really like that. And we saw huge success in the oil and gas industry in adopting Bluebeam for design review and for any kind of collaborative workflow. And when I joined Bluebeam, I really saw the AEC industry was going through the same technology challenges as the oil and gas industry was. So I really quickly adapted to the challenges that the industry was facing and was able to pull on my experience that I had in the oil and gas industry to really sort of make a success of the AEC industry adopting technology as well.
Paul: So you just said one of my favorite words, collaborating, and that’s really a big deal, you know, and I know it’s a big buzzword these days, but we do…you know, my firm does a lot of work with architects and contractors and whatnot and the collaboration is so important, you know, everybody being on the same page and whatnot. And then Bluebeam can really, really facilitate that. I like to talk about that a little bit more as we get into things, but can you just sort of give us the base or give the listeners the basics of what is Bluebeam Revu and what are some of the parts and pieces?
Omar: Yeah, definitely. Well, Bluebeam Revu is a PDF editing markup and collaboration technology, and it’s a desktop installed app for Windows, for Mac, and we also have an iPad app as well, but we really focus on those AEC customers and their workflows, trying to enable workflows from start to finish and across the entire lifecycle of a project.
We’ve actually got over a million users worldwide now, not just here in the U.S. and Canada. We have a large following in Scandinavia and the UK, Australia, and also in Asia as well, and we’re actually being utilized by 92% of the top 100 contractors according to ENR magazine’s 2016 list, which is really exciting for us.
But whether it’s workflow such as punch or back check or estimations, issue tracking, we can really sort of facilitate those workflows just using the simple but powerful UI that Bluebeam Revu has. And you can tailor that interface and the functionality there to your specific company and workflow needs just by using some of the features that are directly within the application.
Paul: We last saw each other, I think, was it September?
Omar: [Crosstalk 00:04:54]. It was at a conference.
Paul: August? Time flies.
Omar: Yeah, it certainly does.
Paul: But that was at the Bluebeam Extreme Conference in San Diego and Omar was talking about how widely adopted the program is in the architecture and construction industry. And I was really, really impressed with not only with the program but with the attendees. I mean, it was like a who’s who of architect, engineer, and contracting firms.
Omar: Yes, it certainly was. And we had close to a thousand people there this year which is an incredible achievement. We really are driven by what the customer wants and I like to refer to the Extreme Conference as my Christmas Day, except I get Christmas for three days a year because the conference is typically on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. So it’s a very exciting time for us and we get so much feedback from customers there. And it was a pleasure having pulled out there this year as well as all the rest of our customer base.
Paul: I thought it was great. And, you know, for you Bluebeam users that are listening, I would highly recommend that you give serious consideration to attending next year. Because not only can you brush up on your skills, but you learn about things…other uses that you haven’t really even considered and see how other people are using it from a strategic standpoint. It’s really a spectacular opportunity to learn more about how to use a program that’s basically made for our industry.
Omar: Yeah, definitely. The user-driven presentations there really help drive home how Revu can be adopted across the entire AEC industry. And that’s really where we get the most value. And we see customers getting the most value from those customers at presentations.
Paul: So when we first met, we had…I was so excited. We wanted to basically use Bluebeam to capture data electronically in the field and produce…you know, fairly automatically produce reports. And I was so excited when I was on the Bluebeam website and saw that they actually had a consulting division and that was how we got hooked up. And you and Matt came out and met with us.
And so, you know, with the stated objective, but before we even started that, you guys were showing us how to, you know, manage documents better and it blew our mind. We had the program, we’d never used it. So if you don’t mind, can we start with that? Just talking about some of the things, and I know it’s pretty basic, but it’s funny that many, many, many people who have Bluebeam installed don’t even know about stuff like this.
Omar: The document control functionality that we showed you guys, to begin with, is really, really powerful. But as you rightly said, it is very underutilized. And we’re trying to define some best practices right now that we can start sharing with customers or workflows like document control so everybody can know about them. But in terms of document control and document preparation, we have functions like AutoMark, which allows you to take content from all texts, from the PDF itself in a certain area and scan through every single page in that PDF and maybe pull out, say, the sheet name and sheet number and apply that as the name of the PDF file so you then no longer have to worry about managing that.
And then there’s functionality like Batch Link that allows you to use that same AutoMark technology, but you would use it on the sheet name and then every time that sheet name appears, you can hyperlink directly to that sheet. So very quickly, very easily, you’re actually able to create a fully navigable sheet set that you can utilize both from the desktop and out in the field when, you know, the guys around the field using the iPad app, they can very easily quickly navigate between files to get to the information they need.
And that’s one of the biggest challenges that we’ve had in the industry with adoption, is that speed of access. Nothing beats the speed of having a roll of papers under your arm until something like Batch Link, or being able to create a navigable sheet set really came about and that’s really where we’ve seen a huge amount of success over the last few years.
Paul: It’s really spectacular. You know, the bane of my existence before I met you guys was somebody will send a PDF file. It’s what I call the endless PDF stream, you know, could have 400-page documents and I’m looking for say the building elevations and you’ve just got to scroll and go page by page, by page, by page, by page.
And with this process, you can basically delve up the documents into separate files and then put them back together again. So you would see a name that would say, you know, page A30, south elevation. And then as you were talking about the hyperlinks, you know, if you see something that’s sending you to page A50, you click it and there you are and then you can go right back. I mean, it’s amazing that the return on investment and productivity gains that we got from that are staggering. I mean, it’s saving us hours and hours and hours and hours.
Omar: Well, that’s great to hear. Hopefully, prospective customers that aren’t currently using that feature set can definitely get some benefits as well out of it.
Paul: Yeah. Well, that was interesting because at the conference, you know, you talked to a lot of people and almost everybody had the same conversation with so many people. Of course, there’s some pros and experts there, but a lot of the people that were there, basically, the conversation would be framed as, “Oh my goodness, I didn’t know we could do this. This is gonna…” You know, they’re so excited, you know, not just with document control, but with, you know, punch list, and digital data, and all those sorts of things. And the other thing we haven’t talked about yet is the collaboration. So maybe you could tell us a little bit about how that works.
Omar: Definitely. So, collaboration is something we’ve been working on for a number of years and something that actually brought me across to the company as well, the chance to enhance our collaboration feature set. And we introduced Bluebeam Studio a number of years back, I think in 2010, and we started with something called Studio Sessions, and, well, in fact, let me back up. Studio is actually included in every seat of Bluebeam Revu.
You can sign up for free, you just create a quick account using an email and password and it gives you the ability to upload an unlimited number of files to the cloud and collaborate with other users around the world. Studio Sessions is our first sort of foray into that which allows you to upload a document, invite a number of participants into Revu and they can Revu in real time or in their own time.
So as markups surrounded to the drawing, everybody else can see those markups as they appear on the drawing. And those markups are also protected. So nobody can change another person’s markups. They can’t accidentally delete something or if they disagree with it, remove that from the drawing. It’s all there protected, giving you that CYA as we like to say in the industry.
Then the other side of that, the Studio Projects, which I believe is what you guys are utilizing or just create a folder structure. It’s a lightweight document management system where you can upload multiple file types, not just PDFs, but really use that to share your current constructions there or any project related files that you may have.
Paul: That’s right. So if you’ve got all the file, say it’s, you know, specifications and drawings and some middles and things like that. And then you have people out in the field with say an iPad, and the iPad app is downloaded [SP], is that right?
Omar: Yes, that’s correct.
Paul: Yeah. So it’s a pretty nifty little app and it’s not expensive and you’re out in the field and you’ve got Studio. You can basically pull in what you need on that given day if you’re going out to do an inspection or whatnot, and you’re not trying to tote around a bunch of blueprints or the default of that is actually not bringing them at all and just not having it because it’s such a pain to do that. So that really is powerful for giving you information right at the work site, right where you need it the most.
Omar: Yeah, that’s true. And one of the biggest challenges we’ve had in the industry is as tablets and mobile phones or cellphones become more accessible, everybody is wanting instant access to that data and that’s really enabled the industry to sort of take advantage of wireless connectivity, whether it’s Wi-Fi or 4G and make sure they have all the latest information with them at all times.
One of the features that we use quite regularly use is our offline mode. So they’ll go to the job trailer. They’ll be working on a specific flow or with a specific set of files. They’ll sync those files down offline to either the Windows tablet or the iPad that they’re using. Go out in the field, make whatever observations or markups they need to make, come back to the trailer where they have connectivity again and sync everything back up.
Paul: Yeah, it’s really great. So, you know, the other thing with this collaboration technology or application is, before we really got with the program with you guys’ help, we would review a set of drawings or set of shop drawings and there would say, three reviewers, somebody doing waterproofing, somebody doing glazing, somebody doing roofing. We would email the documents around everybody. They each, you know, separately do their markups and then the poor guy who got it last had to copy all the other ones onto the sheet, and as you can imagine, not very efficient. And now, you know, with the use of Studio, everybody is seeing what everybody else has done. They’re working on the same document. And once again, just shocking productivity gains for us measured in hours every day. Not having to…doing it the right way, I guess, is what I would call it.
Omar: Yeah, definitely. That really helps. Just making sure that everybody’s working with that current constructions, that they’re not working on an out of date version. It doesn’t matter where they are in the world, they can always see the latest construction set provided they’ve got an internet connection and you guys utilized this out in the Cayman Islands, if I remember rightly.
Paul: No, that’s right. The first project that we did with it was in Grand Cayman. I mean, it worked great. They have wireless Internet and it was on a hotel building, so we had everything that we need and it went really well. So that was just the beginning of a lot of really good stuff, but there doesn’t seem to be any real limitations as to where you can use it. Sometimes, you have to plan ahead and as you said, you know, upload things before you go onto the site. But that’s no different than any other inspection you would have done with trying to, you know, reference drawings and things like that.
Omar: I mean, even in the paper world, you still have to print out your paper set before you left the office. So it’s the same with the digital world. You just need to make sure you plan ahead, you know what you’re going to need. And if you sync the majority of the information down, then that’s really going to help you. If there’s additional information you need, you can get to a Wi-Fi hotspot or use 4G connectivity just to download that last little additional bit of information
Paul: And you just reminded me. So when we really got into adopting, is we actually have a guy that we hired full time who’s basically getting everything ready on Bluebeam with the vectors and whatnot. And again, that’s the efficiency that’s really helped because now the inspectors are inspecting, they’re not messing around with paperwork and reports and things like that. So it’s made them a lot more effective. And it’s really increased our level of customer service because once you’re out in the field and you do collect data… Let’s talk about that a little bit, if you don’t mind, about how you can use keynotes and photo capture and all that to collect data in the field or in a punch list and then quickly and efficiently produce a report.
Omar: Yes, definitely. We introduced a new feature at the beginning of this year as part of our Revu 2016 launch, which is all batch markup summary, and we’ll talk about that in a little bit more detail later on, but you were really utilizing the added benefits of having an iPad or a Windows tablet that has a camera device and you can place punch keys or symbology onto the plan and then associate a picture or a video with the audio directly to that markup. Very quickly, very easily, just while you’re out in the field, instantly capturing all that information that you need.
So if you’re pointing out a specific leak or a specific issue that’s going on with the building, you can actually photograph that issue in detail so you can see exactly what’s going on, or if you wanted to add some additional context to it, you can record a quick video and just do a nice bit of voice as well, just to really explain and point out that issue.
And then it lives in that PDF. It’s all there, it’s all visible for everybody to see. And then once the inspection is done, you can use a batch markup summary to be able to create customized reports specifically tailored to your needs. Whether it’d be including your company header on the reports, certain types of metadata information you’re capturing, and also those photos and videos can all be embedded into that report as well, simply and easily, so you can hand that over to the owner or the contractors or whoever needs that information at the end of the day. It’s in a nice digestible form.
Paul: And it can happen almost real time.
Omar: Oh, certainly. The report doesn’t take very long to create at all. And as you’re going through and capturing those photos, provided you’ve got connectivity or when you next gain connectivity, all that information is going upload into Studio and be available for everybody else to see.
Paul: How is the AEC industry doing with adopting this type of technology in your view?
Omar: Well, it really starts with the paper-driven world that was AEC 8 to 10 years ago and still today in some places, but we really found success early on in taking that paper process digital. Just giving you a way to quickly and easily create PDFs, and to the point you made earlier, everything we do at Bluebeam is to reduce clicks, to gain efficiencies, to allow you guys to really do what you’ve trained to do. Get out there and design, build and inspect buildings. That’s what we want you doing.
We don’t want you doing administrative paperwork. So we started off with PDF creation, being able to create high-quality vector content PDFs very quickly and easily throughout a number of CAD applications and that’s really where we found our success. And then, again, taking those paper processes digital, being able to mark those drawings up and that’s where Bluebeam Revu was traditionally born out of. That need to create or the need to comment on those documents or those PDFs that you’ve just created exactly like you would in the paper world.
And then with the market crash in 2008 and the rapid release of mobile and tablet computing, that really changed the industry as I mentioned earlier. Suddenly, everybody had the device in their pocket that they could use to access data and that really benefited the industry because it generated a larger acceptance of technology. People were more familiar with how to use a cellphone or a tablet device, they were more familiar with how to access the email and other things on a Windows computer. So they become more accepting of technology and some of the roadblocks that they had previously in adopting any kind of technology, not just Bluebeam Revu but the pressure of the downtime really put an incredible pressure on the AEC industry to increase efficiency and streamline workflows that they had out there.
And unfortunately, 82% of contractors reduced their headcount by half. So they really searched for those efficiencies and those gains that they could to still be able to complete projects on time, still be able to compete in the world of work. And writing companies actually saved over $250,000 by just going paperless on one project, just using Bluebeam Revu to create high-quality vector content PDFs rather than printing out paper. And that’s a massive saving just for one particular project.
We’ve also seen companies like Mortensen who adopted Bluebeam Revu. They’ve been able to see a 40% time reduction in the inspection and sign off processes. So there’s definitely massive efficiencies to be gained in the adoption of Bluebeam Revu.
Paul: It’s really staggering. I mean, I can tell you from our personal experience and we’re…you know, we’re doing well and I know there’s room for further growth with it, but it’s…I mean, it’s really, really, really a big savings, not only in a fit…not only in time and money, but in giving better service to the customers. Just turning things around a lot faster and, you know, eliminating issues where maybe we saw some intersection by the time you get a report a week later, they’ve already covered it up. And that’s basically eliminated all those issues. What are the challenges that the AEC industry has faced in terms of this kind of technology adoption as you say now that everybody’s got a device, what’s the rub now?
Omar: Well, now, everybody’s got that device, there’s so many apps out there that do so many different things. That’s the biggest challenge that we’re seeing in the industry today. Suddenly, apps for everything are readily available for every particular nuance or workflow that you might want to achieve. That’s led to some data proliferation problems across each app. Every app needs to have a copy of the documents and the data stored in their app for it to be able to work and that’s really led to some… The same issues that we saw in the paper world, suddenly, you have no idea what the current document is anymore. Is the one in Bluebeam Revu or Bluebeam Studio correct? And the one in another app correct or the one in your content management system correct? Which one is it?
We started to see a lot of companies struggle with app fatigue. There’s too many apps out there and they’re trying to now choose a best in class set of applications or technology stack so that they can actually narrow back down and gain further efficiencies from the few technologies that they are choosing. And we’re working with a number of customers to sort of help facilitate that flow of information between each of the systems that they have with Bluebeam Revu or Bluebeam Studio as part of that. They can leverage our technologies and our APIs that we have out there to facilitate that data flow between all the applications that they do use. Making sure that they do know where the current document is and have a true single source of truth of their data.
But we’re still struggling as well with the basics of PDF creation. There’s a new challenge in the industry now. Back when we started PDF creation, nobody was doing it. Very few folks were creating PDFs from CAD applications or from native applications generally, but now, there’s an abundance of these PDF creation technologies out there. The native CAD applications are now producing PDFs, there’s a number of plugins. Of course, you’ve got Adobe as well out there producing PDFs. The Office suite. You can now do a Save As straight to a PDF, but the problem is, even though there is an ISO standard for PDFs, not all those PDFs are created equal and our customer base has really struggled with that so much so that a number of our design users and construction users actually started a PDF coalition, the construction PDF coalition to set up some guidelines and best practices for creating PDFs for the construction set.
They’ve actually published a set of guidelines that are available online. They have regular meetings and for anybody out there that wants to gain some more information about that, they can actually check out their website, cpcoalition.com, and we facilitate the conversation and try and ensure that our software and the PDFs that we create are actually really adhering to those guidelines. Making it easier for you guys to be able to search those PDFs, to navigate those PDFs, and ensure that you’re able to get all the information that you need quickly and easily throughout your construction set.
Paul: You know, you don’t even realize what goes on behind the scenes and how complex everything is, but I know that, you know, if you don’t start with a quality document or one that’s not formatted correctly, it’s going to be a problem and you’re gonna be frustrated and maybe not happy with what it looks like or what functionality that doesn’t try to get through it.
Omar: Yes, certainly. I can speak to that from my oil and gas days. We would print documents out, we would hand them out, we would scan them back in, and then all of a sudden, you can’t read the text on the drawing because the scan wasn’t high quality, or they’re not text searchable anymore. And in fact, when we first adopted Bluebeam Revu, we would mark our documents up digitally, but then at the end of the process, we’d still print them out and sign them by hand. We hadn’t quite fully grasped the technology yet and we very quickly put a stop to that and were able to use digital signatures and electronic signatures to be able to replace that need to print out the drawing and sign it off. And that meant that the quality of information was always available. We didn’t have to go ahead and scan that information back in.
Paul: You know, they say old habits die hard. And there’s a lot of people that are not so excited about change, you know, they like the way things are now and they don’t really like change. I know that that’s…hearing people talking at the conference that that’s an issue with getting…like, there was a presentation where there was an engineer and they were gushing about how great the project was and then, you know, in the Q&A at the end, she was telling how her boss doesn’t use it, doesn’t want to, doesn’t use it. And for me, it was like, are you kidding me? Is what I was thinking. But those are some of the things I think that…one of the reasons that a lot of people are still playing catch up, is what I would call the fear factor. Fear of not liking change and, you know, being afraid to do things differently than they’re being done now.
Omar: Yes, certainly. A lot of people used to say that that was a generational thing, but we’re actually saying the complete opposite now. It’s actually the younger folks who are struggling to adopt to the new technology. The rest of the folks are actually fully on board with technology. Of course, you still have the old person standing out and saying, “No, I don’t even check my email,” but the majority of the folks out there now are actually wanting to adopt that technology. They’ve realized that for them to be able to increase efficiencies and to, you know, get better at their jobs, they have to adopt technology. And we’ve really see the industry as a whole sort of adopt that technology change. The young generation is catching up with us and are interested in technology and they are very much pushing the industry forward and helping us get a foothold and introduce technologies that we may not have considered before outside of the realms of your typical construction technology.
Paul: Yeah. You know, I mean, basically, technology is a big giant wave and you can either ride it or you can get pummeled and sent to the automation. Really, you know, it’s here, it’s with us, it’s great. And for those that embrace it, I think, are really going to benefit and, you know, the people that maybe are a little fearful and don’t want to do it are unfortunately going to get left behind.
Omar: Yeah, and that’s the danger nowadays, you know? It’s not just adopting technology, it’s adopting the right technologies for your use. What works for your company, the workflows that you are trying to do. And for some people, that’ll be Bluebeam Revu, for others, it will be other products that are out there on the market, you’ve just got to find the ones that are right for you and standardize on them across your company.
Paul: I don’t think I ever shared this with you, but we made a wrong turn before we got to Bluebeam and it basically delayed our getting things started and implementing. And you were also talking about the number of apps that are out there and our company, we’re making a bid to minimize as much as possible the apps that we’re using because there’s an app for everything and which is great, you know, and then some of us, I just got a new cellphone a few months ago and it was a good opportunity to lose a few hundred apps along the way that I don’t even miss anymore. But, you know, from a consistency standpoint in an organization, if you’ve got 200 different apps floating around, different people using different things, you’re just not going to have consistency and it’s really hard to standardize if everybody’s doing their own thing. So we’ve made that effort and I think it’s really helped a lot.
The other problem with that is if you throw a new app out there to do whatever, no matter how great it is, it’s just overload for the users and they’re not gonna use it. If they’ve got, you know, too much to do otherwise and just get more clutter. So one of the great things with Bluebeam is so much that’s really helped us take some other things out of the equation that we’re doing before and really kind of, even though technology is so great, it’s really kind of simplified and dummied some things down for us.
Omar: Yeah, definitely. One of the things that we’ve helped you guys adopt was that standardization and the look and feel of the application. Creating a standardized user profile based on their roles and also creating standardized symbology just to be used on the drawing and being able to share that across not just your organization but any of the other project partners that you have out there. You can very easily share that standardized symbology and look and feel of the application just to create that consistency and get people to really adopt the technology much simpler. If there’s too many buttons there, they’re going to get lost very quickly. If you can strip the application back down to just what they need and make it easily accessible to them, they’re much more willing to adopt that technology.
Paul: That’s one of the great things about the iPad app, is that it’s simple. It’s not cluttered up. So when you go out in the field, you know, it’s functional for what you need to do, but it’s not confusing with a lot of things that you don’t need to do. Our dream is to have all of our customers using Bluebeam as well so that we can really all be on the same page. You had mentioned that project in the Cayman Islands and when we produced the report, it was basically a lot of, you know, like I would call living PDF documents.
It was floor plan that had all the notes from the inspection right on the floor plan, the photos were captured within that, and it was really pretty nice as far as having a lot of information and being tied in specific locations. And I sent it to our customer who was like the building owner and he said, “Oh, I have Bluebeam.” And then as soon as we started going through the report, he was just dumbfounded at how many things we had done with it. You know, of course, he had it, he opened PDFs with it or whatever, but he didn’t have any real understanding of how powerful all the features were and he was really impressed with it. It made us look good, too.
Omar: Oh, that always helps. But the great thing about the PDF standard is it’s an open standard. You can use…if you’re producing a report output like that from Bluebeam Revu, your customers don’t necessarily have to have Bluebeam Revu to be able to consume that report, but if you’re wanting to get them on board and be able to collaborate with them more readily, they can actually utilize our free viewer Bluebeam view to be able to participate in Studio Sessions just like they have a regular seat of Bluebeam Revu. They’re able to add markups to that session, collaborate with you all for free. So there’s definitely some options out there, and if they haven’t tried it yet, you can also download a 30-day fully functional trial from our website as well.
Paul: Anybody, I would recommend checking it out because it’s really great. So where do you see things going from here in the industry?
Omar: Well, we’re seeing technology adoption in a different way across the industry now. As I mentioned before, companies are trying to standardize on this and these virtual design and construction BBEC teams are being created and they’re specifically looking into how technology can be utilized in the industry. With wireless connectivity and cloud computing, it’s really empowering those teams to collaborate more efficiently.
So, Studio is definitely gonna be a big push for us in the future improving that, making sure that everybody’s got access to the data that they need quickly, easily. That’s definitely something that we’re doing already today, but there’s always things that we can improve on, but it’s funny just looking at how the industry is adopting technology now, the future is really exciting for us. We’ve seen consumer technology being adopted by the construction industry in ways that we never imagined. From the hardware side, there’s been drones. They were meant to be a little hobbyist playthings, and now all of a sudden, the construction professionals, they’re using them for photographs and for takeoff.
I’ve actually seen people play a 10 foot plank of wood out onto the roof of a building because they can then fly the drone around and be able to actually scale the drawing off that known measurement and they can then do takeoff, they can do estimation, they can see progress over a set period of time, 360-degree cameras, a new emerging technology. They’d been around for a long, long time, but just over the last few months, I’ve had some customers come and talk to me about how they could be utilized into Bluebeam Revu or just generally in their construction processes. They’re using these to punch walls, even now not having to go in and find every issue, you just go in, take 360 photo and walk out again. You attach that to the document later on.
And now with the virtual reality and augmented reality, there’s a huge amount of potential out there with that. We’re seeing that in the gaming industry, we’re seeing that also being adopted in the construction industry. In fact, Martin Brothers, they’re a southern California drywall contractor. They actually created their own onsite, Beam Cave. Beam Cave is a computer-aided virtual environment that allows them to basically use a virtual reality environment to design and to build the prototype thing. Or built a proof of concept that involves building a bathroom frame without the use of construction plans, just using the Microsoft HoloLens that’s out there.
In fact, we were so excited about the work that they did that we published an article on our blog site or our media site, strxur.com, that’s S-T-R-X-U-R. That’s just an interesting place for us to publish general technology obstacles that are influencing and driving the industry, allowing us to have more of a voice of sharing that technology success that there is out in the industry. Not necessarily focused on Bluebeam Revu, but just general technology trends, highlight customers that have had massive success such as Martin Brothers and a number of others that are out there as well.
But then on the software side, they’re doing some incredible things with Google photos. We capture a lot of information, you’ve hinted at it already, all these issue photos or general sort of progress photos. People are uploading most to the Google photo engine and that’s automatically categorizing them and allowing them to be searched very quickly and easily. And that’s just something that we never ever considered as an option before, and now, people are really adopting those consumer technologies to sort of drive forward innovation and to search out that efficiency that they want for the next project.
Paul: It’s really exciting and it’s moving so, so fast. I was just on vacation in Europe and North Africa and I would take a picture and I’d be getting a notification from Google saying, “You know, do you want to post a photo on Google Maps of so and so restaurant?” It’s like, “Wow.” And it’s so precise and it’s not, you know, Anytown, USA either. This was like in Morocco and places like that. It’s really, really impressive.
Omar: Yeah, it certainly is. It’s that technology that’s really enabling the industry to move forward and to gain those efficiencies as you rightly said. It truly is a wave and there is the risk of being left behind if you don’t adopt those technologies to gain those efficiencies. Always want buildings built faster, quicker, and on a lower cost today and you really need to adopt technology, whether it’d be software and hardware or just all the general engineering developments, tools, or heavy equipment to gain those efficiencies.
Paul: Yup, that’s right. And I think the construction industry has been a little slow in that regard. It’s calming and, you know, in some cases, it’s there. I mean, we’re about to get our FAA license and fly drones, which in our business, inspecting roofs and facades and things like that, it’s gonna make a huge difference. I just inspected a hotel property for a prospective purchaser. It was like a 20 story building and had to do a swing stage drop and, you know, basically, it took a lot of time, a lot of money, a lot of logistical heartache. And we got it done, but it’s basically riding up and down for an hour, taking pictures and we were using Bluebeam, which helped us get the report out next day. We could have done that with a drone.
I mean, everything that we did with the swing stage, we could have done with the drone at much less cost and an equal ability and, you know, you can just see the efficiency gains that you get with things like that and be able to do things that really couldn’t do before, weren’t in the budget. You know, and inspection of a building can be a lot more comprehensive if you’re using a piece of technology equipment as opposed to trying to, you know, put guys out there going up and down and looking at everything.
Omar: Yeah, definitely.
Paul: Very exciting.
Paul: So, thank you so much for coming on. I guess I have to ask you, is there anything we didn’t cover that was worth mentioning?
Omar: No, I think we’ve covered pretty much everything, but I will leave you with one last plug. We’ve actually just started our Bluebeam Revu 2017 beta process. So that’s access to a software that hasn’t yet been released. We’d love for our customers, existing customers, new customers, to sign up for our beta and try things out. There’s a new feature to the upcoming app that I’m very excited about. Actually, Revu 2017 is…I’m probably more excited about this release than I have been for any other release that we’ve had in my seven years of knowing Bluebeam as a customer and as an employee as well.
So if you’re interested in that, go to bluebeam.com/revubeta and you can sign up for our beta process there. But again, definitely checkout Bluebeam Revu, it’s worth trying. Also check out Strxur at strxur.com just for some of those influential articles and just really trying to inspire you guys by sharing some exciting things that are going on in the industry.
Paul: The Bluebeam website, just for listeners that aren’t familiar with it, and if you’re not familiar with the company or with the program, it has a wealth of information, videos and case studies and, you know, industry applications, things like that. So I would jump onto what you were saying and highly recommend that if anybody’s interested to take a look at it.
And I’m saying this…you know, it sounds like I’m very enthusiastic and promoting Bluebeam, but only because it’s so great. We really, really had a great experience with it and, you know, it’s helped our bottom line, it’s helped our customer service, and it’s really, really been a good thing for us. So with that being said, Omar, again, thank you so much for coming on. I really appreciate it. It’s really interesting. I know the listeners are probably…are definitely going to enjoy this and thanks so much for your time.
Omar: Thank you, Paul. Thank you very much.