Swedish software company Configura’s biannual Partner Meeting and Developer Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan, earlier this month brought “the doers and the decision-makers” together to chart the ongoing course for the CET Designer software platform.
Configura – creator of the space-planning solution used by the world’s largest office furniture manufacturers – has been holding these events for a number of years now. This recent gathering of manufacturers and software developers was the company’s largest yet. One of the reasons is because Configura has actively grown its implementation partners program in the past year.
“Our model is working: The CET platform is helping independent technology companies – our implementation partners – do business around our solution. This is really important for us – it’s been in our thinking for many years and is a key part of our strategy,” Configura CEO Johan Lyreborn said.
Configura has two types of business partners: manufacturer partners such as Steelcase, Haworth, Herman Miller and others that have invested in their own CET Designer Extensions; and implementation partners that are typically software development firms. In recent months, tech companies CHI, RSC, ofcdesk and OST have all become implementation partners, joining such companies as ProjectMatrix, KiSP and Yulio as part of the Configura community. They’re each helping to create new technologies and Extensions for CET Designer.
“Our implementation partners bring incredible creativity – they help us to improve and deliver great things for CET Designer users,” Lyreborn said.
At the meeting, Configura Chief Product Officer Nicklas Dagersten shared updates on the CET Developer platform (the programming environment used by partners to create CET Designer technologies) and what’s down the pike for users in the CET Designer space-planning solution.
“I often get the question: ‘How do you decide what you should do with CET Designer?’ A lot of the answers come from you, our partners,” Dagersten said. “What you think is important, what our users think is important, and where Configura wants to go is important – we try to take all of this in, and we decide what to do together.”
In the coming months, CET Designer users can expect to see enhancements to Configura’s Virtual Viewer VR Extension. Oculus Rift is already supported by the solution. In December, Configura announced a collaboration with Yulio that “democratizes” VR with use of inexpensive 3D headsets.
Support for HTC Vive launches in the first quarter of this year, and Hololens is expected to be supported in CET Designer starting in 2018.
“Virtual reality is a rapidly changing industry and technology; we’re continually reviewing the latest, and we encourage our partners to let us know of technologies that they think we should be supporting,” Dagersten said.
Configura also has begun researching how augmented reality (AR) would work with CET Designer.
“It’s interesting to look at the possibilities – should AR be for a salesperson who is showing a customer some ideas in a space, or for an installer so he knows where to place a desk, or for something else entirely? There are a lot of ideas to consider – but most of all, we need to be driven by what problems AR will help to solve,” Dagersten said.
Although AR in CET Designer is just in the early stages, users only have to wait a few more months for the ability to create 360-degree movies in the software. Configura is also working on making it easier for users to produce photorealistic renderings. Plus, the company is enhancing collaboration possibilities for large drawings where different users can work on separate parts of the same drawing and see each other’s work.
Available now is a new CET Designer Extension that supports IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) export. The IFC open-format data model is a Building Information Modeling (BIM) standard intended to describe building and construction industry data.
“With IFC being the international standard for BIM, we offer this Extension to equip CET Designer with an option to export drawings to IFC 2x3. The IFC file format can be used with Revit as well as with other BIM software applications,” Dagersten said.
Configura Training and Support Specialist Kelsey DeBruin gave an update on the company’s latest education initiatives, including getting CET Designer and CET Developer into more colleges and universities where the technology can be taught to interior design and programming students.
DeBruin also shared Configura’s plan for improving the training experience for those already in the industry.
“We’ve dubbed it ‘Fika,’ which is a Swedish word that generally means ‘to have coffee.’ Our idea is for all users to attend the same core beginner and advanced training using the Fika CET Designer Extension, instead of a specific manufacturer’s Extension,” DeBruin said.
Fika, which will be launching soon, is an Extension created specifically for training. The Extension has generic products, instead of manufacturer-specific products, to build a foundation of knowledge about CET Designer before introducing a specific partner’s Extension.
Manufacturer-specific information will be attached to training in video module form.
In 2016, Configura had a banner year training people in CET Designer and CET Developer – more than 1,200 people trained on the platforms via two-day in-person training sessions, five-day virtual training sessions, free webinars, customized experiences and even Facebook Livestreaming.
“We’re growing fast, and as more people adopt our solution, we need to find ways to efficiently train a lot of people,” DeBruin said.
Upcoming user conference
In-person training will always be at the heart of the Configura experience. The company’s 10th annual CET Designer User Conference this Nov. 8-9 is expected to bring 500 people from North America and around the world to The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. The fall Partner Meeting and Developer Conference will be held in conjunction with the user conference.
“It will be two incredible days of learning, networking and fun,” Configura Vice President of Global Customer Experience Tracy Lanning said.
A number of CET Designer “power peer” users have already signed on to be presenters.
“We’re still shaping the breakout sessions, and we encourage people to let us know what they’re most interested in,” Lanning said.
Configura will announce the user conference keynote speaker at NeoCon.
“Our user conference is a great way to look to the future, to share experiences and ideas of how to do things,” Lyreborn said. “And it’s also so we as a company can listen – so we can hear directly from our users and partners how we can improve together. We have destiny in our own hands as a community. It’s not just because Configura wants it to happen; it’s because all of us want it to happen. We’re on this journey together.”