IFS World Conference 2019 – summary

by Alan Griffiths


This year’s IFS World conference was held in Boston and, with nearly 2,000 attendees, was significantly bigger than last year’s in Atlanta. It had a more corporate feel compared with the slightly quirky but endearing characteristic of previous years.  This reflects the intent – announced by CEO Darren Roos – to become a $1billion company by 2021. 

IFS Strategy

IFS proposes to achieve this ambitious aim by focussing on the ‘Challengers’ – the theme of this conference, by developing the channel (ecosystem) and several other key activities.

Figure 1 – Darren Roos explains IFS’ industry focus

IFS’ growth has been running at 20% and it claims leadership in field service management (FSM); its FSM business shows H1 2019 license revenues increasing by 119% compared to H1 2018, and this growth is organic (i.e. without acquisitions).

Observations and Analysis – Digital Transformation, OT, ET and IT

The keynote panel on Digital Transformation included Jim Heppleman of PTC – a pioneer of the ‘Smart Connected Product’.  Jim made three important points about Digital Transformation project or applications:

  1. Must be core to the business – not ‘technology-led’.
  2. Must be achievable, in a realistic timeframe.
  3. Must be scaleable; ‘start small and scale’.

Jim also warned against pilot projects that are ‘too interesting to kill but not important enough to scale’.

Figure 2 – Jim Heppleman on the Digital Transformation panel

Observations and Analysis – BIM and AEC

IFS noted the trend towards the off-site/modular manufacturing of buildings, referencing several sales in this area this year.

Off-site manufacturing will require the construction industry to introduce ‘modern manufacturing’ techniques such as ‘interchangeable parts’, ‘right first time’ quality and ‘just in time’ supply chain integration; this has major implications for efficiency and cost-saving as, coupled with modern manufacturing methods, offsite production companies can utilise tried and tested IT technologies ranging from CADCAM and PLM at the design stage, through ERP for project management, cost control and materials management planning and BIM (Building Information Modelling) at the construction stage.

Cambashi estimates that the current TAM (Total Available Market) for BIM software is $10 billion and that it will double in the next five years – see graphic below:

Cambashi's BIM market dashboard
Figure 3 – Cambashi’s BIM dashboard shows some of the key market trends

As well as applying these tried and tested ‘manufacturing’ techniques, the construction industry is also ripe for the application of 3D printing, IoT (Internet of Things) and blockchain which can assist in connecting up buildings, cities and supply chains.

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