The annual BE (Bentley Empowered) conference by the Bentley Systems, Inc was held amid great fanfare and grim technical deliberations at the Baltimore Convention Center. It started from Sunday, May 8 and continued till Thursday, May 12. The magnitude of the conference was exorbitant. Some 1,600 participants attended it leaving aside the 400 Bentley employees for the event.
The five days of the conference were packed with about 300 sessions to choose from, in the forms of keynotes, seminars, workshops, best practice sessions, training sessions, and technical sessions. The enormity of the programme called for pre-planning by the attendees in terms of what to attend and whom to meet.
The event was hugely successful and, like last year in Orlando and reinstated the faith of the Bentley community in its products, services and offerings. The event also provided hundreds of prospective users coverage about the company’s vision, new products, and training initiatives.
The conference had keynote presentations by most of top executives of Bentley including Keith Bentley, CEO, Greg Bentley, Co-Chief Technology Officer, Alton B. “Buddy” Cleveland, Jr., Senior Vice President and General Manager, Bentley Software, and Bhupinder Singh, Senior Vice President for international software development. Tom Peters, a best-selling management author was a guest keynote speaker on the first day. The leaders of each of the four verticals – building, civil, geospatial, and plant – gave keynotes. Most of these were followed by end user presentations. The conference also included continuing education seminars; technical panels, an exhibit hall, and the BE Awards of Excellence banquet.
The significance of understanding the AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) concept was emphasized throughout the days. Greg Bentley, in his keynote pointed out that, while supporting its own open and documented format, DGN, Bentley also supports DWG, DXF, PDF, and now U3D. He stressed on the interoperability aspects of Bentley products’ with other software and formats widely used. He mentioned about the growth of Bentley over the last 20 years from its six member staff to more than 1,700, with 75 offices in 38 countries.
Keynote speakers also detailed about Bentley’s close cooperation with Microsoft and Adobe. These two organisations were two of the conference’s sponsors, together with HP, Oracle, McGraw-Hill Construction, and Océ. Greg Bentley cited that Microsoft’s operating system has been the foundation on which Bentley’s MicroStation and ProjectWise platforms are built.
The keynotes also threw light on how it acquired subject-matter expertise for developing relevant products that can address all aspects of a project life cycle. The edge of Bentley, i.e., in 3D products and analysis was also earmarked clearly through demonstrations and presentations. Last year Bentley bought C.I.S., a U.S. provider of cable television design tools; ISIS, a Dutch company with expertise in mapping, public works, and municipal information systems, and Haestad Methods, creator of civil engineering software servicing the hydrology industry. The positive implications of these acquisitions were elaborated upon. During the meet Bentley also announced that it has acquired Moss Italia Srl, a civil engineering solution provider in Sri Lanka.
There were about 65 presentations on the geospatial track. Most of these highlighted the advantages and potential of Bentley products like MicroStation GeoGraphics, CivilStorm, PowerMap, and ProjectWise. The interoperability aspects of Bentley products with various other players were also demonstrated and discussed.
Keynote Day at BE Conference 2005 started with a keynote by well-known speaker and author Tom Peters, author of ‘Thriving on Chaos’ and ‘Passion for Excellence’, among other titles. Peters talked about how to be part of a “Wow” project,
Tom Peters talked about how to be part of a “Wow” project. “Wow” is when a project is radically different than what it was conceptualized at start. Peters gave a captivating speech with adages and examples from all walks of life. His emphasis was on the necessity for change. Change brings in creativity and that was his thrust. “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less,” he quoted from General Eric Shineski, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, who incidentally was fired by Donald Rumsfeld for not having done enough.
In short, the event was a very well knit and worthwhile conflux of experts, demonstrators and end users, who deliberated over the days on the challenges of the geospatial industry and it future. Perhaps the cornerstone of the event was the announcement of the new ventures of Bentley in the Asia region. Bentley now has an office in Beijing, China, called Bentley Asia. This office is headed by Vice President, Bentley Asia.
This operating unit is supposed to be in the fastest growing part of the world, and is divided into four units: Greater China, comprising Hong Kong, China and Taiwan; Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, the Philippines and other islands; North Asia, Japan and Korea; South Asia including India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.