NXT DEV 2024 – defining AEC software

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NXT DEV is where designers, developers, financiers and design IT directors discuss the software needs of our industry, to better shape next gen tools. Your insights and expertise are invaluable. We can’t wait to hear your voice

NXT DEV is a unique experence. For one day we bring together the design IT managers and experts of leading practices with venture capitalists, enterprise investors and emerging and established software developers.

The idea is to explore current tech stacks, pain points and industry needs and better understand where the development opportunities lie. Last year NXT DEV was the launchpad for the Open Letter Group’s Future AEC specification, a guide for all software developers, which has had significant impact across the BIM software world.

The design side of the AEC software industry has felt like a desert for the last ten years, with little new blood taking on the incumbent 800 pound gorillas, with scant focus from venture capitalists on the architecture side of the equation, opting instead to spend substantial sums on construction software – and even then, mainly on construction management. This has all changed, as the BIM industry has matured and leading customers are looking for next generation tools to provide increases in productivity and more choice.

BIM 2.0 has produced a number of viable alternative modelling tools, including Snaptrude, Qonic and Arcol, with many still to come out of stealth. They will need a few years of ‘hard baking’ to catch up with today’s all-encompassing BIM tools, but we have seen some early signs of AI letting its presence be known.

This year, we’ve seen a trend in the development of automation tools, which are just as applicable to BIM 1.0, as they will be to BIM 2.0.

Conceptual tools which enable easy massing, and site analysis, enabling detailed model creation at the touch of a button, saving huge amounts of time and minimising errors.

Complex auto routing utilities and auto-drawings offer the possibility of further productivity gains, crushing the current workflows from months to weeks or days. Even if the early versions of auto-drawings applications automate 50% of all drawings, this will be a significant boon to the industry.


Elsewhere, ‘Openness’, open file formats and Open Access are all important themes within the AEC industry today. There is undoubtedly a lot of lip service being paid to meet the needs and expectations of mature customers. Even firms like Autodesk are preaching from the same hymn book. There are industry initiatives to create new standards, augment existing standards like USD, and agreements between firms to share and open API access.

Please join us for a full day of presentations, debates, software demos and frank discussions on how the AEC industry digitises.

See some of the key themes below.

Future Design Software Specification

At NXT DEV last year, Aaron Perry of AHMM Architects, talking on behalf of a collective of medium-to-large AEC firms, gave a masterful presentation on the ‘Future Design Software Specification’.

The specification document lays out what the AEC industry wants from its future design tools, covering everything from data framework, context and scale, responsible design, and modular construction, to user experience, modelling capabilities, automation, intelligence, deliverables and more. It was such big news for the AEC software industry that it made the cover of AEC Magazine. You can watch Perry’s presentation below.

At NXT DEV this year, Andy Watts, director of design technology at Grimshaw, will give an update on the specification and then hand over to Allister Lewis, ADDD, to talk about benchmarking software against the specification. We can’t wait.

Automation in AEC – from drawings to design

Traditional design BIM workflows start with conceptual massing and end with PDF drawings. With monolithic BIM tools this is a long, drawn out, manual process.

Several software developers are now targeting specific pain points in the workflow, to offer one click results, possibly delivering huge productivity benefits – accelerating massing to detail model and detail model to drawings. In the next two years expect drawings to take-up less labour and time.

Read more about the important topic of auto drawings in this AEC Magazine article


Startup demos

NXT DEV will showcase several new talented firms with innovative early-stage technologies. It’s a great opportunity to get feedback from experts at advanced firms and possibly get the attention of VCs or enterprise investors. There will be no shortage of advice, with plenty of hallway conversations.

Courtesy of Swapp


Openness in AEC

Proprietary file formats have encumbered the AEC industry for too long. As we move from desktop to cloud, we don’t want a new generation of tools speaking a new generation of languages.

There seems to be a general consensus that openness is beneficial to the whole AEC industry. We will discuss the routes available, their applicability and how they might change workflows in the coming years.


Pricing / licensing and business models

While many users have been unimpressed with the speed of historic software development, the rate at which software firms have evolved their licensing and business models has left customers breathless and exacerbated at the consequences.

As each software developer learns off each other to increase revenue per user, business model metastasis has frustrated the industry.

What licence strategies, pricing and business models do customers hate and what can be done about it?


VC panel

For software start-ups and industry experts with an entrepreneurial outlook, we will have a number of experienced venture capitalists and enterprise investors who can be quizzed on the details of today’s market. VCs can express their views on trends and give advice to better use any time in an engagement when seeking funding.

Tuesday 25 June 2024
Queen Elizabeth II Centre
Westminster, London

8:30am – Conference starts
5:30pm – Networking drinks reception
7:00pm – Conference ends

Ticket includes full access to the dual stream conference and exhibition, plus coffee, pastries, quality lunch, and drinks at the networking reception.

Wednesday 26 June 2024
Queen Elizabeth II Centre
Westminster, London

8:30am – Conference starts
5:30pm – Conference ends

Ticket includes full access to the dual stream conference and exhibition, plus coffee, pastries, and quality lunch.