Mar 29 2018

iSite updates branding and software

iSite logoFollowing the change of ownership of parent company, fit-out contractor Styles and Wood, in December 2017, Nottingham, UK-based SaaS property technology provider iSite has updated its branding and website.

A first blog post from managing executive Graham Perry suggests that the company’s software has also been updated and made more durable. Perry says:

“Two years ago iSite took the bold step to build an entirely new generation of their award winning property software platform. This time we embarked on a process with 15 years of market and software development, learning and an absolute desire to ‘future proof’ our product for many years to come….”

Development considerations included ease of use and flexibility, security, and a practical user interface. The result, Perry says, is:

“… one of the most feature rich intelligent property, asset and project management systems available on the market. Having tried and tested the software through many client interactions, we are now launching iSite to the industry as a future proof option for intelligent estate management.”

However, the new website (maybe still work in progress?) is currently very light on detail about the company, its people, its ” feature-rich” technology and its customers.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/03/isite-updates-branding-and-software/

Mar 21 2018

Asite’s aMessage in Adoddle

Asite logo 2012London-based SaaS construction collaboration technology provider Asite has once again used St Patrick’s Day partying as an excuse to launch a new version of its Adoddle platform.

Adoddle 17 was released on 17 March 2014 at a user group conference and ‘Hooley’ held at London’s Shoreditch Town Hall; four years later in 2018, the company has released what it has branded “Adoddle: The New Dawn” at a series of dawn events held in Australia, India, Dubai, London* and New York last Saturday (read Asite’s somewhat ebullient news release and CEO Tony Ryan’s blog post and watch the new video – all big on hype but sadly low on practical details of the new platform).

The occasion was also marked by a change in corporate livery, with Asite’s website and application now carrying more bright blue. The cartoon robot used since 2012 appears to have disappeared, although the company logo remains the familiar red, black and white box.

Common Data Everywhere

While competitors are content to offer common data environments (CDEs)  to help customers meet their building information modelling (BIM) requirements, Asite  decided to aim higher and create ‘Common Data Everywhere’. The company says Adoddle: The New Dawn is “a great new user experience … absolutely fully loaded with new features that help you move faster, achieve more and collaborate better.”

Nathan Doughty, Group COO for Asite says: “Our initial focus was to deliver Common Data Everywhere to drive new levels of efficiency, complete with analytics and AI-driven workflows that support project delivery.”

Collaborative chat

Ryan resurrects his 2014 slant on corporate-strength social media: “Cocial networking”, and describes the New Dawn as a “game-changer”.

Alongside a revamped dashboard, the centrepiece is said to be ‘aMessage’, a collaborative chat app which enables real-time conversations. Asite says teams in the field can access their ‘Common Data Everywhere’, open a model file, instantly chat about it in real-time and assign each other tasks.

(* Unfortunately, I could not join the London Champagne Breakfast as I am currently somewhat incapacitated with a broken right arm.)

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/03/asites-amessage-in-adoddle/

Mar 19 2018

QA Teambinder acquired by InEight

Another Melbourne, Australia-based construction software business has been acquired by an American corporation. Less than a week after the final formalities of Oracle’s purchase of Aconex, QA Software , developer of Teambinder, has been snapped up (for an unspecified amount) by Scottsdale, Arizona-based US construction project management provider InEight (read new release).

QA Teambinder logoInEight (a subsidiary of the US Kiewit contracting group) will add QA’s mature flagship document management and collaboration solution, TeamBinder (first launched in 2000 – see TeamBinder builds well-integrated SaaS solution, July 2013), to its own project management solutions. Teambinder predated Aconex as an Australia-developed collaboration platform but never really challenged its Melbourne rival; Aconex still dominates its domestic market despite recent incursions by Procore and others.

InEight CEO Jake Macholtz says TeamBinder will be a major weapon in its arsenal:

Jake Macholtz“We founded InEight on a vision of developing innovative, proven software solutions that help all capital project stakeholders consistently deliver predictable project outcomes,. Today, we reached a significant milestone in achieving this vision with the acquisition of QA Software and its flagship product – TeamBinder. This acquisition reinforces our unique ability to support customers at every stage of the project life cycle, giving them full project visibility, control, accountability and certainty.”

InEight’s COO Dan Hicks said:

“Document management is a rapidly growing market opportunity around the world. The TeamBinder team built a best-in-class solution that specifically meets these market needs. By integrating those capabilities with InEight’s unrivaled ability to provide customers with project efficiencies and visibility to project controls, field operations and collaborative BIM, we will provide a solution unlike anything else in the market.”

The deal will help InEight expand in the Asia Pacific region, while growing TeamBinder’s reach, especially in North America; Teambinder also has links to London’s Createmaster (October 2016 post).  TeamBinder is the only product InEight is buying from QA, with the rest of its product lines continuing to operate under the umbrella of QDMS Solutions and its CEO Russell Mortimer.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/03/qa-teambinder-acquired-by-ineight/

Mar 16 2018

Zutec raises $5m via Nordic IPO

Shares in the Dublin-based mobile commissioning and handover technology specialist Zutec are now being traded on the Nasdaq First North stock exchange.

Zutec logoIreland-based cloud construction technology provider Zutec has successfully launched its shares on Sweden’s Nasdaq First North stock exchange, raising SEK42.1m (c £3.68m, €4.17m or US$5.14m). Dealings in Zutec Holding AB started yesterday (15 March 2018) – coincidentally the same date that Aconex’s shares ceased trading on the ASX.

A division of Nasdaq Nordic, the Stockholm-based Nasdaq First North is an alternative stock exchange for smaller companies in Europe. It is designed for small and growing companies, with certified advisers to help companies comply with all requirements and rules. Many companies now listed on the Nasdaq regulated main market started on First North.

Zutec background

As previously described (Zutec: desktop, mobile and even the “internet of things”, December 2015), Zutec was founded in 1999 and initially specialised in compiling O&M manuals on disk. It then switched to software development to enable its customers to undertake the same task, and grew steadily, driven by organic growth and not reliant on VC investment, during the early 2000s. It weathered the global financial crisis in the late 2000s, and as the UK construction market emerged from the recession, grew its UK presence, building on its long relationships with Brookfield Multiplex and other customers.

IPO

Zutec’s directors decided an initial public offering (IPO) would help the business shift from being a 31-strong development-driven company to focus on selling and market expansion. While profitable, it could not achieve its expansion ambitions from internally generated funds. The board also felt that an injection of growth and working capital would allow Zutec to become a global market leader within its  segment, enhancing the company’s international profile and providing legitimacy in the eyes of potential clients.

(Update [21 March 2018] – Zutec CEO Brendan O’Riordan gives more background to the rationale behind the IPO in this Irish newspaper interview.)

A prospectus was published on 19 February 2018, detailing the Zutec’s aim to issue 2,083,334 new shares (at a subscription price of SEK 24 per share – c £2.10, €2.38 or US$2.93) in the company, with a total value of SEK 50 million (c £4.38m, €4.96m or US$6.11m) before transaction costs. Proceeds would be used to:

  • Finance an expansion in sales and marketing with new local offices in strategically selected regions, and working capital for the extensive tender processes in the building and construction industry (approximately 70% of the proceeds)
  • Finance further investments in Zutec’s technology and products (approximately 30% of the proceeds).

On 6 March, Zutec announced the offering had been oversubscribed, with 2,083,334 new shares issued, yielding Zutec proceeds, after transaction costs, of approximately SEK42.1m (c £3.68m, €4.17m or US$5.14m).

CEO Brendan O’Riordan said:

We would like to thank and welcome all of our new shareholders, large and small, for becoming an integral part of our company. The IPO process has been both intense and exciting. With added fuel in the form of IPO proceeds, we now turn our focus back to accelerating the expansion of our growing and profitable business.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/03/zutec-raises-5m-via-nordic-ipo/

Mar 15 2018

GenieBelt signs housebuilder deal

GenieBelt logoA leading home provider in northern Europe is using Copenhagen-based Geniebelt‘s real-time workforce management and reporting SaaS application to deliver a 10-15% efficiency gain in its supply chain. Following a 2017 pilot of GenieBelt, HusCompagniet has elected to connect its construction suppliers digitally, and says it will use GenieBelt on 2,000 house building projects. The partnership covers all of HusCompagniet’s activities in Denmark, Sweden and Germany.

HusCompagniet collaborates with numerous trades including masons, carpenters,
electricians, plumbers, painters etc. GenieBelt will be used to help teams identify delays in preceding work packages and avoid needless trips to sites, says Morten Chrone, group COO at HusCompagniet:

HusCompagniet and GenieBelt“Unfortunately, building contractors often drive to sites in vain because they depend on another trade to finish before them. The slightest delay in one activity results in a chain reaction of delays that can now be avoided. GenieBelt will form the digital backbone of our construction processes and will be integrated with our existing digital tools. We will be able to benefit from further efficiency gains and secure the data we generate on approx. 2,000 projects in 2018. In the short term, we build faster and better, but we also have a platform for analysing and learning – all in all, a huge benefit to our customers.”

Ulrik Branner - Geniebelt CEOGenieBelt’s CEO Ulrik Branner says:

“HusCompagniet has outsourced the actual construction phase to trusted long-term contractors but by engaging in this partnership with GenieBelt, they can now manage the construction phase as seamlessly as their front-end activities. In HusCompagniet, we have found a customer that fully shares our belief that this industry holds enormous potential for those who are ready to change the way they collaborate, communicate and build.”

GenieBelt says its software is now used on more than 20,000 projects in over 100 countries.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/03/geniebelt-signs-housebuilder-deal/

Mar 14 2018

Aconex shareholders agree US$1.2bn Oracle deal

Aconex logo 2014Melbourne, Australia-based SaaS construction collaboration technology vendor Aconex today (14 March 2018) announced that shareholders have voted in favour of the proposed acquisition of Aconex by Oracle Corporation (through its wholly owned subsidiary Vantive Australia Pty Ltd). The December 2017 bid, which was recommended by directors, was for Au$7.80 (Au$5.96) per share in cash, a deal valuing Aconex at approximately US$1.2 billion (c. Au$1.6bn, £0.9bn or €1.0bn).

At a meeting in Melbourne, the company announced over 96% of votes had favoured the bid, leading (according to AFR‘s Yolanda Redrup) emotional scenes involving co-founders Leigh Jasper and Rob Phillpot, who walk away with approximately Au$94 million and Au$88 million respectively. Not only is it the largest takeover deal ever achieved by a listed Australian tech company, it is by some distance the biggest deal in the construction SaaS space (over twice the value of Trimble’s acquisition of US-based vendor e-Builder for US$500 million, announced last month).

Deal formalities include approval by the Supreme Court of Victoria (a hearing is scheduled for Thursday, 15 March 2018), and the end of trading in Aconex’s shares on the Australian Securities Exchange (likely on the same date).

Update (15 March 2018) – Approval by the Supreme Court and suspension of trading in Aconex’s shares on the ASX both completed.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/03/aconex-shareholders-agree-us1-2m-oracle-deal/

Mar 06 2018

Visualising lean BIM: VisiLean

Finland-based Visilean integrates BIM with collaborative planning approaches championed by lean construction advocates.

Visilean logoBased in Finland with a development office in India, VisiLean is a start-up business which is building upon doctoral research undertaken by CEO Bhargav Dave when, supervised by Prof. Lauri Koskela, he was a research fellow at the UK’s Salford University. (I met Dave a couple of times at events run by the Salford Centre for Research and Innovation, SCRI, in the late 2000s – SCRI produced a research report, Future Generation of IT, in June 2009; Koskela is now at the University of Huddersfield, and an adviser to Visilean.)

Bhargav Dave, Visilean CEOVisiLean was conceptualised during Dave’s work at Salford and then commercialised in Finland; he told me “VisiLean has gone through two major development iterations and since 2015 has become a fully cloud-based system.” Early pilot projects included schemes for Balfour Beatty and Costain (see this 2013 Highways England case study), while the company now has paying customers in Scandinavia (it is being used on the Nykvarn project by BOX Bygg AB, for example), and Dave is planning to start marketing in the UK later this year.

As the name implies VisiLean is a software application that supports lean construction processes, exemplified by collaborative planning tools such as the Last Planner System (LPS), which break activities down into detailed sequences of site-based tasks while also identifying constraints and dependencies between activities. The platform provides direct integration with Primavera and MS Project and with building information modelling (BIM) applications (Vico also got mentioned), supporting project teams with detailed visualisation and production level 4D planning and control. 

The software interface includes a split-screen mode that allows the user to see, say, a Gantt chart view of the programme adjacent to a view of the model. The user can select model elements to review details of the programme (or vice versa), and can run sequences to see the anticipated processes of construction delivery, with coloured bars indicating finished works or percentages completed. And as users populate the system with progress updates, reporting tools can be used to identify the constraints affecting delays, with options to output reports as PDFs, etc. Visilean offers filters that allow users to, for example, select all completed work, activities relevant to a particular subcontractor, work completed on a particular day, or unassigned work. ‘Look ahead’ views also help teams plan future activities.

Visilean split-screen view

Originally conceived as a PC-based tool, VisiLean is also available via native mobile apps (Apple iOS and Android); these are particularly relevant to site-based teams, with staff able to annotate notifications with images taken via their smartphones. Visilean is licensed per-project, an approach that encourages take-up by subcontractor teams, Dave says.

We talked briefly about other LPS-type solutions including Newforma’s LeanPlanner (October 2015 post; though this no longer features on the Newforma website)* and GamePlan (May 2016 post – now defunct, founded by Vishal Porwal, a one-time collaborator with Bhargav Dave now at Builderbox). But Dave does not want to bloat the platform with unrelated features – “our core strength is site-based task-management,” he says –  using APIs to connect Visilean to complementary solutions.

(* Newforma went through a series of personnel changes in mid-2017 after private equity company Battery Ventures took a majority stake in the business – see news release. Its software priorities may therefore also have changed.)

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/03/visualising-lean-bim-visilean/

Mar 02 2018

Holobuilder expands in Europe

HoloBuilder LogoSan Francisco, US-based 360-degree reality capture technology developer HoloBuilder has released a European version of its construction reality capturing solution.

I talked to Holobuilder in July 2017 and they exhibited at Digital Construction Week in London in October. Like several other US cloud vendors, HoloBuilder recognised that US-based hosting is unattractive to European customers. Its new EU Server Option enables construction clients to store HoloBuilder data on trusted Cloud servers located in Frankfurt, Germany. The Microsoft Azure Cloud Server Infrastructure is compliant with the Cloud Computing Compliance Controls Catalog (C5).

German construction business Max Bögl Group is using the Holobuilder toolset, and technical BIM manager, Denise Gürteler, sees the advantages of HoloBuilder being available for data sensitive projects in Europe as follows:

“For example, HoloBuilder is currently being used on a confidential project in Europe, in which over 2,000 rooms have to be documented. When we have to capture only one 360° image instead of dozens of regular photos for every room in a project of this size, this saves us a lot of time. Besides, the structured approach to data storage, accompanied by the Offline HoloViewer for archiving and the TimeTravel feature are a tremendous help in later project stages.”

With all project data being hosted on C5, ISO27001 and ISO27018 certified infrastructure in the European Union, the HoloBuilder EU Server Option goes beyond the EU-US privacy shield. Customer data on German Azure servers can only be accessed by third parties if required by German law.  Harald März, data protection officer at Max Bögl Group says:

“When it comes to certificates, we are always looking for the internationally accredited ISO 27001 with the ‘Statement of Applicability’ documents or ISO/IEC 27018, which we always have to require when we are looking cloud solution at Max Bögl. With the HoloBuilder E.U. Server Option, we have been assured that all project data is stored on a trusted European Microsoft Azure Cloud Environment and no data is being transmitted to insecure third-party countries. Together with a jurisdictional assurance, this was sufficient for us to use HoloBuilder with their E.U. Server Option for project documentation in our highly data sensitive projects in Europe.”

The full HoloBuilder Construction Solution can also be deployed on servers that are owned by individual companies. The company has also established a software development and support facility in Aachen, Germany , so that data access and processing for support, maintenance and, development tasks also only happens within the European Union. Holobuilder sees this as an important step to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force in Europe in May.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/03/holobuilder-expands-in-europe/

Feb 22 2018

Talking BIM and digital transformation

Last week, I was interviewed by Jim McHale of Stockholm, Sweden-based smart building research consultancy Memoori about collaboration, vendor M&A activity, building information modelling, digital transformation, smart buildings and related areas. Jim has posted the video online – it’s just over 20 minutes long:

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/02/talking-bim-and-digital-transformation/

Feb 20 2018

Aconex delivers ‘solid’ first half growth

Aconex logo 2014Melbourne, Australia-based SaaS construction collaboration technology provider Aconex has had what it describes as a ‘solid’ half-year performance. The company has announced its results for the six months to 31 December 2017, showing revenues growing 13% to A$86.9m – c. £49.1m or US$68.6m or €55.6m – compared to A$77m for the corresponding period in 2016.

Aconex CEO Leigh Jasper said the result reflected a strong international performance:

Leigh Jasper“During the half year there was again a strong revenue performance in our international markets, especially the high-growth Americas and Asia regions. This highlights the success of our targeted strategic initiatives and ability to leverage the Aconex brand and global scale to expand our user network, increase customer value and further extend our leadership position.”

New business wins and the ongoing conversion of project customers to enterprise agreements drove a 10% uplift in Australia and New Zealand revenues. Revenues generated outside of the ANZ region increased 16%, and now constitute 68% of total revenue.  Revenue growth was highest in the Americas region which delivered a 31% uplift on the prior corresponding period, while revenue in Asia increased 22%.

EBITDA from core operations, excluding acquisition and integration costs, increased 23% to $9.1 million, compared with $7.4 million in the prior corresponding period.

The company said transition of customers to enterprise agreements had increased revenue from such arrangements from 44% to 47% of total revenues; in the ANZ region, 69% of revenue derives from enterprise agreements.

Aconex also said customer feedback has been positive towards the proposed Oracle acquisition. The scheme is subject to a shareholders meeting in Melbourne on 14 March 2018.

My view

The 13% revenue growth is a marked slowdown from the 38% growth reported in February 2017 (post), which followed an earlier trading update in which Jasper had been downbeat about growth prospects, revised down earlier operating profit forecasts from between 62% and 84% growth to between 10% and 32% growth. While these latest figures are disappointing, the impact will be negligible given that most shareholders are likely to be cashing in their shares soon.

With the Aconex board strongly recommending shareholders accept the Oracle offer, these results are likely to be the last financial reports issued by the firm. Assuming the deal is nodded through, Aconex will become the dominant product set in Oracle’s Construction and Engineering Global Business Unit (alongside the Primavera and Textura offerings), giving it combined revenues of around A$320m (c. £180m or US$252m or €204m) – figures only rivalled by the leading construction software houses such as Autodesk and Trimble (though both have interests outside AEC, substantial non-SaaS portfolios, and in Trimble’s case, substantial technology hardware products), with most of the pure-SaaS AEC rivals some distance behind.

The ongoing push to close enterprise deals may also reflect some competitive pressures. In Aconex’s domestic ANZ region, for example, US SaaS provider Procore set up an Australasian operation in early 2017, and claims 150% client growth over a ten-month period while bolstering the local team to over forty employees (see news story). Procore has just appointed former Salesforce executive Tom Karemacher to oversee its sales, marketing and operational strategies across the Asia Pacific region, and lead the team operating out of the Sydney office. In the US, Oracle/Aconex may also face stronger competition from Trimble following its recent US$500m acquisition of e-Builder, and that competition may extend more widely if Trimble successfully rolls out Trimble Connect internationally.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/02/aconex-delivers-solid-first-half-growth/

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