Top Takeaways from Autodesk Connected Construction Forum 

recap takeaways autodesk construction cloud forum

The Autodesk Connected Construction Forum was a smashing success. Thousands of you tuned in and heard from Autodesk’s team and various thought leaders in the construction industry. 

If you missed the event (or can’t wait to relive it), don’t worry. You can rewatch the sessions on-demand. Just login here. If you didn’t register for the event, subscribe to our blog to receive content updates! 

And to give you a better idea of what went down at the Autodesk Construction Forum, below is a recap of the event’s keynote session, fireside chat, and master classes. 

Highlights from the Keynote

Sameer Merchant, Vice President and Head of Product Development at Autodesk, kicked things off by mentioning the major changes that took place in the past year, and the role that digital transformation played in helping firms adapt. 

The Construction Industry Stepped Up to the Challenges of the Past Year

Sameer applauded construction companies that stepped up during the pandemic and used technology to adapt and evolve with the changing landscape. 

“We’ve seen so many of our customers take big leaps in their digital transformation journey this past year. Some of you invented totally new ways of working. When teams couldn’t gather in the same room for a coordination meeting, you created a hybrid approach. Some of you gathered on site while others were in home offices, but all of you collaborated in the cloud,” said Sameer.

He added that while digital transformation looks different for every firm, the best companies have one thing in common: they’re not waiting for progress, they’re making it.

It’s All About Construction Outcomes

Following Sameer, Krystal Herrington, Manager, Construction Partner Specialists, EMEA, at Autodesk highlighted the critical nature outcomes play in the industry.  

Krystal explained that outcomes are “our goal line,” and the ultimate destination of a firm’s digital transformation journey. According to Krystal, desired outcomes can ultimately drive technology decisions. She gave the example of one Autodesk customer, Norconsult. The firm wanted more sustainable outcomes for their firm so they harnessed the power of the cloud to bring all their data, documents, and models together. “Norconsult reduced time and costs, improved collaboration, and achieved their desired outcome of reducing carbon emissions by 20%.”

“Outcomes make digital transformation easier to achieve, no matter the size of your company or scope of your project,” said Krystal. “If you know where you want to be, then it’s all about customizing your roadmap to get there. And the only way you’ll know when you will get there is by having the right data at your fingertips.” 

Going Beyond Modernizing Paper Process

Speaking of data, next, Cara Wilczynski, Customer Outcome Executive at Autodesk, spoke next and discussed the importance of having connected data, workflows, and teams. Cara was also joined by Kim Arrant, VP of Technology at Aptim Holdings, to discuss the importance of connected construction and the practical ways to use it on the job. 

According to Cara, digital transformation isn’t just about modernizing the paper process. True digital transformation happens when you use platforms such as Autodesk Construction Cloud to centralize project data, workflows, and teams so people are empowered to work better and make smarter decisions. 

To highlight the importance of connected construction, Kim jumped in to talk about how the teams at Aptim use Autodesk Construction Cloud. 

At Aptim, they believe that their strongest asset is their people, and digital solutions have been instrumental in helping teams stay connected so they can deliver their best work.  

“By building toolkits containing the right technology, the field teams can capture critical project information on the jobsite as it’s generated and project teams can stay connected.”

Kim continued, “That same information that’s connected in the field is instantly available to other project team members, creating transparency across the field office, back office, and oftentimes even our client.”

Highlights from the Fireside Chat

Matt Keen, Sr. Construction Industry Strategist at Autodesk Construction Cloud Solutions had a conversation with Salla Eckhardt, Director of Transformation Services at Microsoft Global Real Estate and Security. They chatted about Microsoft’s approach to innovation and platforms in the construction space.

The Digital Initiatives at Microsoft Real Estate Division

Salla, who’s part of the Microsoft Global Real Estate Division, said that she’s currently building the company’s flagship program for the Digital Building Lifecycle — an approach of using data and digital tools to build, simulate, and analyze projects during design and preconstruction to avoid costs and mistakes down the line. 

Accomplishing that requires three main things: creating BIM guidelines and process, ironing out the scope of the program, and implementing Microsoft’s Digital Twins program.

The Impact and Importance of Platforms

Platforms have been instrumental in helping Microsoft teams function and innovate. According to Salla, platforms enable Microsoft’s team members to collaborate seamlessly while minimizing wasted time, data loss, and fragmentation. 

“Platforms have truly enabled us to digitally transform the communications across project teams that have different stakeholders — from the architects to engineers, to subcontractors, trial contractors, construction management companies, and owners representatives,” said Salla.

Highlights from the Master Classes

The Autodesk Connected Construction Forum also offered four master classes, each focusing on the following core processes: Coordination, Quantification, Project & Cost Management, and Quality & Field Management. Each master class is only about 20 minutes long, but they are filled with powerful and actionable insights that construction professionals can start applying to their projects today. 

Quantification Master Class 

The two most important things for estimators are accuracy and efficiency, said Nate Coombs, Product Specialist at Autodesk. In order to be competitive as an estimator, you need to have confidence that your quantities are precise and you’re maximizing the time you spend on your work. 

Achieving both can be challenging, particular when workflows are fraught with incorrect quantities or mistakes during takeoffs and estimates. 

In his master class, Nate shared how connected tools can help alleviate these challenges. Whether you’re working with 2D models or going the 3D route, Autodesk Takeoff can close the gap between the two workflows. “By combining the necessary 2D processes with the advanced 3D processes, we can provide one comprehensive takeoff solution that can create a very repeatable process in the world where all of your projects are different,” added Nate.

There’s also Autodesk Docs, which provides a centralized place for all project documentation, including models, files, spreadsheets, and specifications. With Autodesk Docs, you can spend less time digging for information, and devote more energy towards coming up with the right quantities and estimates. 

Coordination Master Class 

Autodesk’s Technical Program Manager, Lee Mullin, discussed the challenges of BIM/VDC managers, and how people in these roles are responsible for a host of tasks, including managing and coordinating various moving parts in a project. 

If you’re in this role, you don’t have to take on everything yourself. Instead, you can empower other stakeholders to collaborate and start checking their own work. As Lee put it, “continuous collaboration can change the way in which you work. It can activate the entire coordination team to allow them to fix smaller issues during the week.”

Autodesk BIM Collaborate helps teams do just that with features like automated clash detection and meeting management capabilities — all of which live on top of a common data environment (CDE).

To illustrate this, Lee Ramsey, BIM Director at Morgan Sindall, talked about how Autodesk Construction Cloud helped him and his team improve the design management processes and model coordination 

“We’ve seen the design teams take on more ownership of the information that has been produced. Each member automatically clash detects the work before issue. It’s a bit like spell check. We’ve seen the time to review information reduce. For example, we’ve seen a 20% reduction in our preconstruction phase.”

Project & Cost Management Master Class

According to Esteban Corrales, Manager of Technical Sales at Autodesk, project managers are typically plagued by five key issues: siloed data, information barriers, inefficient processes, lack of accountability, and lack of visibility.

“If you don’t have the information in the right location, if you can’t communicate efficiently, if the processes are taking too long and you don’t know who’s supposed to do what, you will not be able to visualize the risk that is coming to make sure that you’re hitting your margin,” he explained in the class.  

Esteban highlighted how a platform solution can solve these problems. For starters, Autodesk Construction Cloud provides a common data environment (CDE) that keeps all important data and documents in a single location. With a CDE, stakeholders can access the info they need easily. This eliminates data silos and barriers, while improving visibility, accountability, and efficiency. 

There’s also the Cost Management tool in Autodesk Build, which streamlines budget tracking and makes it easy to connect financial data to contracts. 

Quality & Field Management Master Class

Construction quality managers, project managers, and superintendents need to stay on top of multiple project components across the entire project life cycle. And too often, individuals in these roles have to deal with a mountain of data — from documents and specs to photos and reports.

Problems arise when there’s poor data hygiene and lack of standardization in place, said Luke Hester, Technical Solutions Executive at Autodesk while delivering his master class.

To solve this, teams need to use technology tools such as Autodesk Build that can standardize data inputs. “You may have already digitized your forms, but we want to take it to the next level and actually standardize the input, so that it can flow into the system.”

Construction professionals can also make their lives easier by enabling self-service access to information. By storing all documents and data into an accessible, integrated, and interoperate platform, teams can better execute on what they need to do, freeing up time for managers to focus on high-level tasks.

You can still catch these sessions and gain deeper construction insights! Watch them on demand here. But hurry, content will only be available for a couple of weeks.

Grace Ellis

As Manager of Content Marketing Strategy at Autodesk and Editor in Chief of the Digital Builder Blog, Grace has nearly 15 years of experience creating world-class content for technology firms. She has been working within the construction technology space for the last 6+ years and is passionate about empowering industry professionals with cutting-edge tools and leading strategies that improve the quality of their jobs and lives.