Digital COM

About the Author: Sasha Reed has over 12 years of experience working directly in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) market. As VP of Strategic Alliances at Bluebeam Software, Sasha interacts directly with AEC leaders to better understand the long-range goals of the industry and help align Bluebeam’s technology partnerships. In addition, Sasha is acting Chair of the Construction PDF Coalition.  The purpose of the Coalition is to establish Guidelines to provide Architects, Engineers, Constructors and Owners (AECO) with a common framework in which to create and maintain Construction PDF Documents. Sasha has been featured as the keynote speaker at the 2014 Bentley Florida User Group and spoken at numerous industry events including the American Institute of Architects’ DesignDC Conference, NTI Danish BIM Conference, the International Highway Engineering Exchange Program and the International Facilities Management Association Conference. Sasha has also contributed articles to numerous national publications and authors the Digital Com blog for Building Design + Construction magazine. Before Bluebeam, Sasha was a Project Manager for M3, a Herman Miller dealer, where she learned firsthand the challenges faced by the AEC industry from project conception to completion. 

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It’s all about the customer, or is it? What I learned at Launch Tech Conference and SXSW

March 21, 2013

Over the last week and a half I’ve been on the road attending two technology conferences: Launch Festival and South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW). Both of these conferences are platforms for startups and established companies to launch their new products. At Launch SF, I was able to speak with some of these startups about their new products. As they talked about their ideas, each had a certain sparkle in their eye, hoping to be the next big thing. Everyone was asking who would be the next Twitter, Facebook, or Mint.

There were some pretty interesting companies launching new products, like Instabridge, which improves Internet connectivity by allowing you to remember friends' WiFi passwords and benefit from a community of subscribers, and CubeSensors, which measures air quality throughout your office or home, adjusting your surroundings accordingly. 

I attended with the goal of getting a better sense for the direction innovation in technology is taking. Collaboration was a pretty hot topic and the focus of more than a couple startups. Many spoke enthusiastically about the moment of inspiration behind their startup idea and how they planned to change the world with an easier, more integrated way to interact with modern technology. Sounds good to me. I find myself now more than ever bouncing between apps and devices to navigate, communicate, create and collaborate with others. Anything they can design to simplify my life, I’ll buy!

However, after speaking with a handful of startups, I failed to find anything that really innovated beyond existing technology. What I did find, however, were companies that created more “noise” than value in the marketplace. Without clearly identifying a need and creating a solution that innovates beyond what exists today, can they be successful? Or is the “build it and they will come” mentality enough to sustain a startup?  
All of this made me think back to my beginnings with Bluebeam. Coming directly from the AEC industry, it was clear that Revu was created specifically for me and the work that I do. In fact, I found so many uses for the software, the first task I gave myself was to go back to my old firm and make sure they started using it. 

As a solution provider, our philosophy is to partner with the customer, understand what their world looks like and tackle their challenges together. Our role is to understand their need and create a solution that innovates beyond their expectations. At the end of the day, we work to give them back one of the most valuable commodities they possess—time. 

My question to you is: As a consumer and professional, what do you value most in a technology solution? What do you wish most technology companies did better? I’m all ears!


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