Construction people walking on a ladder facing the sky: meaning of opennes

Why “Open” is the Way


Why Catenda is all about being open, and why we think this approach is the most efficient way to make the AECOO industry 100% sustainable.

Although I am a shy person, and as such, not necessarily very good at sharing, I have always known, deep in my soul, that it is important to share. One of my mentors told me early on in my career: “Share as much as you can. Always.”. I have heeded that advice ever since.


When I started on my PhD at Tokyo University in 1997 it was obvious for me that the most efficient computer setup for writing C++ code was a Linux environment with all the open source based tools that so easily came with it. It was significantly better for me than anything else available at the time. And it was great fun to use.


The quality, the speed of development and the power these open source software tools provided was amazing. After contributing to open source projects, reading about it, engaging in the community and learning more, it was clear that this approach had in it something very powerful. The open environment of the Internet made this possible. The data communication infrastructure called the Internet, is built on open protocols and open standards so that anyone can connect and expand this incredible environment. And what wealth it is still producing! It is cheap and easy to connect to and knowledge is available to everyone. Anyone can learn and build on top of cool stuff others have built. We have had an explosion of innovation and progress. Just because knowledge is so easily accessible. Just because it is open.


Catenda sees no need in reinventing the wheel. Openness has in it a power to transform an entire industry and improve our world. Catenda is on a mission to apply this power to the AECOO industry. The open way will unleash tremendous wealth for all stakeholders in all value chains. But most importantly, it will make our AECOO industry 100% sustainable.


It is not about making everything accessible for everyone. There are important business reasons why something should only be available to certain people. Just like there are laws regulating what you are allowed to share online and how to use what you have access to. Even on top of an open infrastructure like the Internet, data should be shared, but only in the right way. Opening up, while at the same time protecting the right data, is where the power lays.


For example, giving everyone in a project designing a school building easy access to the 3D visualization of the entire complex building, including all the trades, have only shown benefits to the entire project. More expert eyeballs leads to better quality and less design mistakes. This is proven over and over again in all kinds of contexts. However, giving everyone access to the dialogue between the general contractor and one of their subcontractors may reveal business sensitive information that could damage the business, and the project.


Designing, building and running any built asset demands a complex process. When water, electricity, heating and other intricate systems need to blend seamlessly into an architectural design that has the strength to withstand the next earthquake, we all understand that this requires significant brainpower. We do not think that limiting access to information,  limiting the dialogue or limiting the software systems you can use to achieve your task, is the best way forward.


We need to nourish creativity, establish the freedom to choose your tool of choice and ensure the longevity of all the data produced, in order to optimize for the best outcome.


Creativity blossoms in an open environment. A good brainstorming session always welcomes any idea. Even if you come up with something that cannot be used, it may have triggered someone else to come up with something that really helps. Creativity needs openness to flourish.


With open international data standards we can all choose our own favorite tools. For example, thanks to the international standards for phones, we can all choose the one we like the best, but still talk to any of your friends, or someone on the other side of the planet. Without these standards, your choice of phone would be very limited.


Data we produce during design and construction, is needed during the operation phase of any built asset. We need to know the contact details of the supplier of the baggage handling system at the airport in order to ensure minimum disruption for the passengers. Keeping those data locked inside software on proprietary standards will limit your freedom to access such data several years later. However, if you keep your data on open standards, you can always access them later, even 100 years later. You stay in control and start to actually own your data.


One of the more fundamental activities inside the AECOO industry is communication. Any project, any process, small or large, depends on clear, rich and efficient communication. That is why Catenda is so focused on this aspect of our industry. We were the first to add a 3D visual component online to the real time structured communication that needs to take place in any phase of any built asset. We are also obsessed with adding more relevant data to any part of the communication. Data that will be useful later in the process. With our visual component in the communication we make everything more clear. Easier to understand. With our structured data, we make the communication richer and of higher value. Since this is built on open standards, all this clear and relevant communication with its connected data, can live forever. To great benefit to asset owners.


We believe that connecting people and data efficiently translates to high value in the AECOO industry. If you strive for openness the number of connections increases and efficiency will go up. On the other hand, closing things down will lead to fewer connections and more hurdles.


Along the same lines, when you connect with more people from different walks of life you learn more. This gives you higher value for the next project. Fueled with more knowledge, you can improve your next endeavor.


When you close down and reduce the flow of data, the flow of communication slows down, the amount of perspectives input to your project becomes less, efficiency gains are less, quality becomes worse and time goes up. Reducing the overall value of the project.


When you open up and improve the flow of data, the flow of communication speeds up, the amount of perspectives input to your project increases, efficiency goes up, quality improves and you use less time. This brings higher overall value to your project. In effect, you are making the pie to share much bigger, so everyone is winning. This is obviously in everyone’s interest.


The world depends on us all to improve the level of sustainability in the entire AECOO industry. And all of us together have the capacity to get there within a relatively short time. A key ingredient to make this come true is to open up. To share more data. To reduce friction in communication. To improve longevity of data we collect. To improve efficiency. To increase creativity. To democratize data. To reduce risk. To unleash more freedom.


In Catenda we really believe that the solution lies in the open approach and we are walking our talk. We encourage dialogue outside teams and across typical corporate boundaries. All financial information is shared with everyone monthly. So are all our KPIs. Feedback is honest and fair. Our product development builds on open international standards. We share data with competition if our customers need it. Our platform, technology allowing anyone to build new innovative applications, or enhance existing applications with powerful openBIM technology, is shared in the market to help other software vendors, competitors or not, move our industry towards a sustainable future. Everyone interviewing for jobs in Catenda is screened for a true open attitude.


In fact, we even spend some of our own resources to contribute back to our industry. On a continuous basis, we take part in standards development groups inside buildingSMART International and ISO, to improve existing standards or help build new ones. More companies like us should do this.


For us, being open is the only way.