Bentley Systems' Year in Infrastructure Conference & Going Digital Awards

Event Summary 

Bentley Systems' 18th annual Year in Infrastructure Conference and Going Digital Awards took place November 14-15, 2022, in London. The awards program recognizes Bentley software users’ successful projects in infrastructure design, construction, and operations. Over the past six months, 11 independent jury panels selected the 36 finalists from over 300 nominations submitted by more than 180 organizations from 47 countries in 12 categories. The finalists presented their projects (most in person while others presented via live stream) during the Year in Infrastructure (YII 2022) Conference sessions, and the winners were revealed on the evening of November 15 during the 2022 Going Digital Awards in Infrastructure ceremony. 

Outside of Bentley leadership, staff, and customers, the attendees at this event were primarily industry analysts and media who cover the industrial software, engineering, and infrastructure sectors. Therefore, in addition to exposing the media and analysts to the successful projects represented in the 36 Going Digital Awards finalists, the event was also an opportunity for Bentley Systems to present its vision of the future and key corporate initiatives. Woven into the agenda were sessions with CEO Greg Bentley and members of the leadership team, including Chief Product Officer Mike Campbell who our LNS Research advisory clients will know from our coverage of PTC where Mike held many executive roles over 27 years. The agenda also included briefings on new product releases, as well as a very intriguing session on Bentley’s Acceleration initiative of investment funds to advance “high growth” opportunities (M&A, new business and product investments, startup incubation).Bentley, Year in Infrastructure Conference and Going Digital Awards 2022

YII 2022 Takeaways:

      • New product announcements and open data strategy further their leadership position in engineering software.

      • Infrastructure focus insulates business from economic uncertainty and puts Bentley Systems in a strong position to go completely for the estimated USD $15 trillion expected infrastructure spending over the next several years.

      • With the Cohesive Companies, Bentley Systems has effectively consolidated and rebranded its services and implementation business into an agnostic digital integrator and consultancy.

New Product Releases: 

At the YII 2022 press briefing, Bentley Systems announced the release of Bentley Infrastructure Cloud, powered by iTwin, and three new products – iTwin Experience, iTwin Capture, and iTwin IoT. Greg Bentley emphasized, “our platform will be open and extendable.” The product announcement was part of what Bentley described as “the next phase of our essential vision is to help infrastructure companies evolve from using workflows built on documents and files to a more nimble, actionable, and precise data-centric approach.”

The new capabilities of the iTwin Platform are designed to extend the scope and interoperability of infrastructure data that engineering firms and owner-operators use to create and leverage digital twins in design, construction, and operations workflows. The new apps operating in the Bentley Infrastructure Cloud can provide an end-to-end infrastructure lifecycle approach that brings together Bentley’s ProjectWise for project delivery; SYNCHRO to manage the construction phase and AssetWise for operations and maintenance into a unified environment and made interoperable by Bentley’s infrastructure data schemas. 

In the spirit of LNS Research’s “trust but verify” methodology, I visited the Bentley experts and customers in the demo area and throughout the conference sessions to validate what was being presented. As much as I cringe at the buzz words “single pane of glass” it was easy to see the Bentley user’s excitement at how the new iTwin Experience can overlay engineering technology (ET), operations technology (OT), and information technology (IT) data to visualize, query, and analyze Digital Twins at any level of granularity, at scale, and geo-coordinated. My conversations with Bentley users reflected the “real world” application of this technology and they could easily see how it will benefit them in the execution of projects moving forward.  

Another interesting note about the new products was revealed by Julien Moutte, Vice President of Technology, as he discussed the improved interoperability of the iTwin Platform with 3D environments. Moutte announced that Adobe has licensed Bentley’s iTwin Capture for its Substance 3D Sampler application, which allows designers to easily transform real images into photorealistic surfaces and/or environments. According to Moutte, this can save Adobe 3D artists many hours, and in some cases, days of 3D modeling time. If one of the world’s leaders in software for graphic design, photography, illustration, animation, multimedia/video, and motion pictures licenses Bentley technology for its suite of products, that is worth noting. 

These product announcements tied in directly to the 2022 Going Digital Awards as 42% of the finalists credited the iTwin Platform as a key enabler of their success. That’s an impressive stat given it has been just four years since Bentley Systems launched the iTwin Platform in 2018. In the world of infrastructure project timelines, four years is a remarkably short runway for the advances documented in both software and data management at YII 2022 and further demonstrates that at Bentley “Digital Twins” is not just marketing hype. It’s real and delivers results. 

Bentley iTwin PlatformFigure A: Bentley iTwin Platform
Bentley Systems, Infrastructure Cloud InfographicFigure B: Bentley Product Alignment 

What we learned

The topic of open systems and easy (but secure) device connectivity, as opposed to the old paradigm of supplier “proprietary technology” that attempted to gain single supplier lock-in, was a recurring theme for LNS Research in 2022. Thus, it was encouraging to hear Greg Bentley so passionately declaring that Bentley’s data schemas are, and will remain, both open and extensible. “Our infrastructure schemas offer the ability to share data seamlessly and enrich it throughout the lifecycle. The result is that all that data is retained and not lost along the way as an asset moves from one phase to the next in the asset lifecycle,” said Greg Bentley. 

While technically announced a week prior to the YII 2022 conference, another notable product addition was Bentley Systems' integration of the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3) into the iTwin Platform. The new integration enables carbon assessment in infrastructure Digital Twin solutions. Developed by the nonprofit Building Transparency organization, EC3 is a no-cost, open-access tool that allows benchmarking assessment of the upfront supply chain emissions of construction materials. Bentley users can leverage EC3 to help achieve Sustainability goals for new projects. The addition also demonstrates that Bentley Systems is listening to its users who are seeking ways to improve on Sustainability initiatives today, not in 2035. Not surprisingly, when asked what the top industry trends affecting business are, our latest LNS Research survey data captured “Improving Sustainability/ESG Performance” as the number one issue. 


 Excavator with solid fill The Answer Is USD $15 Trillion

LNS Research has previously written about the transition of Bentley Systems over the past six years to increase its focus on government infrastructure engineering projects, either directly or in partnership with the EPCs. This laser focus is smart for business. While other industrial software and engineering technology companies have been very selective in their approach in Asia Pacific (specifically China), Bentley is all in. And why? The forecast is positive. During the YII 2022 press briefing, Greg Bentley said “So I think that’s something significant where the value of infrastructure can’t wait in many parts of the world and 50% of all infrastructure spending occurs in Asia.”  

Like you, I was asking myself just how much spending are we talking about? Here’s what I found: The global infrastructure market totaled USD $3.1 trillion in 2017, and is expected to reach USD $4.4 trillion by 2022, growing (in nominal USD terms) by 7.0% on an annual average basis, according to the Infrastructure Intelligence Center (InfraIC). Asia-Pacific will continue to account for the largest share of the global infrastructure construction industry, given that it includes the large markets of China and India. InfraIC is currently tracking over 13,700 large-scale infrastructure projects worldwide in both the public and private sectors, at all stages from announcement to execution; collectively, these projects are worth USD $15 trillion. With a total of 3,277 projects valued at USD $3.3 trillion, South and Southeast Asia have the highest number of infrastructure projects in the pipeline.

Greg Bentley, CEO of Bentley SystemsGreg Bentley, CEO of Bentley Systems, at YII 2022 Press Conference

undefined-4 Can “wholly owned” also be agnostic and independent?

co·he·sive – an adjective  

      1. two or more people or things that stick together

      2. a group of people working toward a common goal

Cohesive CEO Mark Bew, MBE described The Cohesive Companies, created through the investment of the Bentley Systems’ Acceleration Fund, as a digital integrator. The business model brings together traditional software professional services, business consulting/advisory, implementation, content, and SMEs in artificial intelligence, machine learning, Digital Twins, predictive technologies, as well as risk management. 

“We are wholly owned by Bentley, yet we work with lots of other suppliers as well to have a level of independence around the systems that we provide. But we’ve got good partnerships with IBM, particularly in the Maximo space, as well as leaders such as Microsoft and Siemens,” said Bew.

This is not the first time a solution provider has consolidated and rebranded their services and implementation business. But the approach of Cohesive, being birthed through the Bentley investment and incubator initiative, with an ongoing M&A vision to add skillsets and broaden the offering, is rather unique and largely successful thus far. I came to that conclusion after discussions with Cohesive customers at YII 2022 and at the International Maintenance Conference (IMC) in December. Both Mark Bew and Cohesive Director David Armstrong emphasized that 75-80% of the world’s infrastructure is already built, thus it requires them to be agnostic, independent, and demonstrate they have the ability to work with data and the legacy systems already in place. The most obvious example is Cohesive’s position as a premier reseller and implementer of IBM Maximo Enterprise Asset Management Software and Watson IoT solutions. 

undefined-4 Caution, hedge or accelerate? 

Bentley Systems’ Acceleration Initiative (founded in 2020) is investing in tech startups and consultancy/implementers that align with Bentley’s vision for open ecosystems to advance infrastructure Digital Twins. Chief Acceleration Officer Santanu Das told the attendees at YII 2022 that the Bentley Systems Acceleration Initiatives is chartered to “accelerate the creation and curation of Digital Twins and to foster technologies and innovations so enabled, by nurturing new ventures, making minority investments, and acquiring and expanding digital integrators.” 

While some industrial technology suppliers are weary of a slowdown or even possible recession in 2023 as the energy crisis impacts are growing larger by the day (especially in Europe), it’s clear that Bentley sees infrastructure project spending as somewhat insulated and is full-speed ahead on “accelerating” their growth plan.  

undefined-4 Other players in Architectural, Engineering and Construction (AEC) 

It’s important to note that other players in the space have also been busy with product development and leveraging partnerships to expand capabilities. A few months ago, my LNS Research colleague Tom Comstock attended HxGN LIVE Global 2022 where he was briefed on the progress of the partnership between AspenTech and Hexagon Asset Lifecycle Intelligence (ALI formerly PPM), noting that the “products are still early in their lifecycles but moving to productized integration can offer significant cost savings over time.” You can read Tom’s full report here. LNS Research also attended AVEVA PI World in Amsterdam where Alison Kuhn and I participated in several briefings and demos on AVEVA’s engineering solutions, specifically their digital twin capabilities which, like Bentley, are built on an “open and vendor agnostic” platform. Read Alison’s report on AVEVA PI World here


LNS Research came to London to test a few hypotheses: 

      1. Is the transition to focus almost exclusively on infrastructure projects a winning strategy for Bentley Systems? 

        Answer: Hard to say no with expected future infrastructure spending of $15 trillion. Their strength was also emphasized by the impressive 36 projects showcased at the YII 2022 and Going Digital Awards.

      2. Is the Cohesive business model positioning as an agnostic professional service and consultancy credible with customers and prospective customers?

        Answer: We have limited data points in the short life of Cohesive, but after many interviews and briefings the indicators are that current customers are happy and Cohesive is aggressively hiring to meet new customer demand. 

For some additional insight to evaluate the broader, long-term outlook of Bentley Systems, we leveraged the “LNS Research 3P Evaluation Model” that examines the Product, Presence, and Potential of technology vendors. Specifically, two categories from the Potential domain, Management Team, and Financial Resources rank very strongly: 

      • The YII 2022 event provided an opportunity to introduce several new members of the leadership team, including Chief Product Officer Mike Campbell whom our LNS Research advisory clients know from our coverage of PTC where Mike held several executive roles over 27 years. 

      • The Bentley Systems Acceleration Initiative is well-funded and executing its mission to find, incubate, and acquire technology and talent. A key pillar of the Acceleration Initiative is Bentley iTwin Ventures, a specific $100 million corporate venture capital fund that invests in companies that are leveraging and expanding the infrastructure Digital Twins ecosystem.

Upon review of all these inputs, I see Bentley Systems as further solidifying its position as one of the leading engineering software vendors in the Architectural, Engineering and Construction (AEC) market segment. The Bentley Systems 18th annual Year in Infrastructure Conference and Going Digital Awards provided the opportunity for direct and unfiltered inquiry with leadership, product owners, as well as customers. Rarely do analysts get access to this many end users presenting case studies where the ROI numbers have such scrutiny and validation as a result of the Going Digital Awards program.

However, there is another layer to this analysis that will make some people uncomfortable. Bad energy policies, specifically the rush to shut down fossil fuel energy generation without a proven, reliable replacement and transition strategy are resulting in manufacturing in Europe being scaled down, and in some cases halted due to high energy prices. Compounded by the war in Ukraine and over-dependence on Russian oil and gas, EU leaders are also warning of the threat of blackouts this winter. The Austrian Defense Minister warns, “The question is not whether it (the blackout) will come, but when it will come…” The outlook for North America is also troubling. The Electric Power Research Institute's (EPRI) September 2022 report, “Net-Zero 2050: US Economy-Wide Deep Decarbonization Scenario Analysis,” essentially concludes that the utility industry can’t reach net zero by 2050. North American Electricity Reliability Corp (NERC) also released its, “2022 Long Term Reliability Assessment,” in December 2022, concluding that fossil fuel plants are being removed from the grid too fast to meet continuing electricity demand, putting most of the country at risk of grid failures and blackouts during strong storms.

The result will be a push by the EU and governments/grid operators around the world to revisit energy infrastructure planning and accelerate projects for generation, transmission, and distribution – adding significantly more to the $15 trillion in infrastructure spending that the Infrastructure Intelligence Center (InfraIC) is tracking today. Companies in the AEC market, like Bentley, that have proven energy infrastructure (design/engineering, construction, and maintenance) solutions will see demand increase as governments and utilities realize just how unprepared the critical energy infrastructure is to handle accelerated electrification and net-zero 2050 commitments.

Related Bentley Systems Announcements:

🔗 Bentley Systems Launches iTwin Experience, iTwin Capture, and iTwin IoT to Extend iTwin Platform 

🔗 Bentley Systems Announces Bentley Infrastructure Cloud, Powered by iTwin 

Advanced Industrial Analytics, Four Proven Strategies to Scale Transformation During Uncertain Times

All entries in this Industrial Transformation blog represent the opinions of the authors based on their industry experience and their view of the information collected using the methods described in our Research Integrity. All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

All entries in this Industrial Transformation blog represent the opinions of the authors based on their industry experience and their view of the information collected using the methods described in our Research Integrity. All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.

Subscribe Now

Become an LNS Research Member!

As a member-level partner of LNS Research, you will receive our expert and proven Advisory Services. These exclusive benefits give your team:

  • Regular advisory sessions with our highly experienced LNS Research Analysts
  • Access to the complete LNS Research Library
  • Participation in members-only executive Roundtable events
  • Important, continuous knowledge of Industrial Transformation (IX)

Let us help you with key decisions based on our solid research methodology and vast industrial experience. 


Similar posts


Stay on top of the latest industrial transformation insights from our expert analysts

The Industrial Transformation and Operational Excellence Blog is an informal environment for our analysts to share thoughts and insights on a range of technology and business topics.