Trimble hosted its annual convention, Trimble Dimensions, on Nov. 5-7 in Las Vegas. The purpose of Dimensions is to give people an opportunity to learn more about the array of Trimble products available and interact with the product divisions. Since their acquisition of SketchUp, users have been curious to learn more about Trimble as a company and have been looking for clues into how they might integrate SketchUp into other products. Dimensions offered some chances to do just that.
During the three days, a multitude of sessions were offered. As a third party developer for SketchUp, we focused on the SketchUp sessions. Many of the SketchUp team members were in attendance, including Product Manager John Bacus and guru Aidan Chopra, and presented overview and introductory sessions. Well known SketchUp users also presented sessions, such as Daniel Tal on terrain modeling. The majority of attendees in the SketchUp sessions were new to the program (well over 50%) and learning about its capabilities for the first time. The sessions were primarily introductory, likely because it is a new product for Trimble and many people are still becoming familiar with it. The acquisition is helping SketchUp in that it is being introduced to new groups of people and is being viewed as capable of professional work. The overall feeling was that the sessions were extremely valuable. On a side note, it would have been interesting to attend the Gatewing session (a mapping UAV), but it was full. However, it was available to view on the conference floor in the exhibit area. It is designed to be discarded in case it crashes (e.g. wings, fuselage, and it comes with extra wings) and parts are easily interchangeable. The core components for mapping are well protected.
The keynotes were quite interesting and the running theme was leadership and company culture. They also focused on the importance of a good manager with one example that stood out from a large corporation. The company did an experiment in which they swapped the managers from high performing groups with those from under-performing teams. Soon the teams that were under-performing became high performance while the opposite happened for the formerly high-performing teams as their level of productivity fell.
The exhibits in the Partner Pavillion included many Trimble products, people from those divisions, and Trimble partners. Everyone was excited to interact with the heavy civil equipment on display. There was even an a simulator so you could simulate driving (it was actually designed for training so you don’t have to risk real people and equipment). There was an off-site location where Trimble products were set up on a mock job site. It was in the real-world and not on a conference room floor.
Dimensions had ample opportunity for social interaction. One of the highlights was the Partner Pavilion reception with a James Bond theme. The concluding gala dinner included a mini Cirque de Soleil performance. In the meantime, breakfast and lunch were also provided and were excellent (more than just a cold danish and coffee) and had real hot food options.
Dimensions was essentially a 3,500 person SketchUp Basecamp (recap here and here) in that it attracted enthusiastic users and many of the people who were responsible for products were available. I know that many continue to wonder what is the future of SketchUp within Trimble? The featuring of SketchUp and investment in it by Trimble speaks well to its future, especially in terms of a targeted tool. Based on what was seen at Dimensions, it would probably be fair to say that SketchUp will begin targeting various industry sectors.
Overall, Dimensions was a very high quality conference that was fun to attend. Hopefully next year more SketchUp users will be in attendance and the number of sessions will continue to increase in number and complexity.