This post is part of Demystifying AEC Tech: A Series Profiling AEC Next Expo Presenters. For more on the cutting edge of AEC tech, see the other parts here.
Civil engineer Mike Boyle has spent more than 15 years working in construction, running the gamut of jobs from laborer to engineer to everything in-between. He’s worked in heavy highway construction, infrastructure, offshore oil rigs and much more. It was when he was working for Kiewit that he first started working with 3D modeling, and things really changed. As his knowledge grew, his bosses noticed, and that is part of the reason he’s ended up in his current role.
As a product manager for construction software firm InEight, Inc., Boyle uses all of these varied experiences to help clients meet their goals while also helping develop new software, like InEight Model Suite, which expands BIM workflows. The insights and experiences that Boyle and his colleagues are able to provide is what sets InEight apart from the others. It helps the organization provide software tools that are not just different, but fulfills critical needs.
“Some technology out there is not helping, because it’s not being productive. We try to focus on the productive aspect. We fully believe in open collaboration in our system. The reason we came to this conclusion is that we came from the field,” Boyle said.
At the upcoming AEC Next Expo & Conference, Boyle will be speaking about Accommodating Environments and Linking to the Best Source of Truth. It’s a subject that is near to his heart and mind since it’s what he finds particularly compelling about construction. The ability to move the ball forward through efficiencies and savings created by utilizing the right software is something that really inspires him.
“When you look at the news these days, you realize data runs the world. Understanding that data is key to so much of what we do, and construction is a part of that. But this world of unstructured data is catching up with construction. Our goal is to help companies harness, control and use that information better,” he said.
Unlike some software companies that are rolling out updates all the time, InEight provides just four releases per year; one per quarter. InEight’s approach provides a stark contrast with companies that seem to prefer frequent releases, many of which are dictated in part by customer-provided reviews of the software. Too much can be too much though.
“There are things a customer won’t tell you. We don’t want to change things too often,” Boyle said.
Tweaking software is one matter, but the reality of what data means to the industry is beyond individual preferences. Using incorrect or incomplete data on a project can hurt or erase profits. Slow transmission of data—such as a slow response or lack of response to RFIs—can damage and sometimes even kill a project. Incorrect accounting of work hours or materials costs can also hobble a project or erase a contractor’s profits. These are just some of the scenarios in which data plays a crucial role in a construction company’s success or failure, and underscore the importance of it.
“You need to organize information in a reasonable format. We want to be an open collaborator for all construction systems,” Boyle said. “We want to connect to the best source of information, while not stepping on the toes of the tools that are working well.”
That’s why he and the team at InEight make an effort to be very aware of customers’ needs and concerns. They know that doing so helps both parties. That kind of proactive approach has led to some pleasant surprises, as customers have surprised Boyle with their insights. It’s something that can provide actionable information for other firms.
“I’ve had the unique opportunity to have been in different industries, and I still go out to these job sites and talk with people. You get so many perspectives on their problems and on the future of the construction industry. It’s that genius at the job site level—they have the genius to tackle a problem on their own, and it surprises you,” Boyle said. “People are really trying to get things worked out, and you can spread the word about their job innovations.”
Unfortunately, some of the disconnect between the various technologies used by a company comes from people choosing the different solutions. Specialized employees look for solutions that are good for their own structural specialty, or electrical specialty, etc., without considering other employees and how that tool will work for them. Additionally, not all AEC software companies are as happy to embrace collaboration as InEight, even with open source trending upward.
Thankfully, these are the sorts of challenges that InEight and Boyle are specifically working to solve. Companies like InEight are there to help such firms connect all those tools together, and Boyle is very happy to be doing exactly that for companies of all sizes and types. In fact, he gets a kick out of providing this kind of help.
“This work is just a passion for me,” Boyle concluded. “I didn’t expect to be in this position, and I just feel lucky to be here. We have a great team that’s truly changing the world of construction. It’s incredibly enjoyable helping others achieve their goals.”