Feb 20 2015

A rosy Aconex financial update

Aconex logo 2014Aconex, which listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in December, has just reported results for the half-year to 30 December 2014. The Melbourne-based SaaS collaboration software business saw total revenues climb 19%, ahead of forecasts, to Au$38.1m (£19.4m or US$29.8m). The company was also ahead of break-even, reporting a Au$0.5m EBITDA, again ahead of its forecasts. Growth varied across regions: 14% in Australasia, 29% in the Americas, 37% in Asia, with EMEA the most sluggish at a, still encouraging, 13%.

CEO Leigh Jasper said:

Leigh Jasper“First half results showed how the Aconex unlimited collaboration model is driving the growth of our global user network. Owners and contractors delivering the world’s largest projects are increasingly trusting Aconex to provide project-wide information and process control for their project teams. Our key financial metrics of revenue and EBITDA for 1H FY15 exceeded our IPO prospectus forecast and confirmed our outlook for FY and CY 15. We saw continued strong growth and profitability in Australia, while further increasing our international revenues and rapidly improving our regional operating contribution. We’re successfully replicating our Australian operating model on a global scale, and we’ve launched new products to continue expanding market penetration worldwide. ”

Aconex shares closed at Au$1.92 on Friday, having spent all of February to date above Au$1.90, and the company’s cash position looks rosy after the IPO, with a balance of Au$25.8m. Updates (23, 24 February 2015) – Not surprisingly, its performance is pleasing analysts: in Aconex puts early runs on the boardFNArena‘s Eva Brocklehurst describes the positive response of Macquarie, for example, while the Herald Sun‘s John Beveridge rates Aconex a “buy”.

The numbers will make sobering reading for some of Aconex’s rivals, particularly those like McLaren Software whose revenues have hardly grown at all, while Aconex’s growth pushes it further ahead of others also claiming double-digit revenue growth. Still, it’s a big market, and even Aconex as the biggest specialist provider reckons overall market penetration for collaboration solutions is still only around 4%, so there’s still plenty of growth to come.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2015/02/a-rosy-aconex-financial-update/

Feb 18 2015

CodeBook getting a little SaaS-y

Surrey, UK-based software developer CodeBook International has started to offer cloud-based data hosting for its solutions, which complement most well-known BIM authoring applications.

A little CodeBook background

CodeBook logoCodeBook was founded in 1993 by architect Peter Mann who developed an application to help those involved in brief preparation, design, construction, fitting-out and operation of large, complex buildings to work with coordinated graphical and textual information. While CAD and BIM authoring tools are adept at managing graphical data, they are less efficient at managing non-graphical information and metadata, and CodeBook was devised to help project teams efficiently produce schedules, themed graphical views and room data sheets.

The company’s core database application has been widely used by UK, Australian and north American design firms engaged in healthcare and education projects, where the data management challenge requires client teams to coordinate vast quantities of information about the building and its fixtures, furnishings and equipment (CodeBook CEO Andy Hamer cites the example of a large hospital project comprising six buildings, 14,000 rooms, 500,000 items of equipment, 27,000 doors and 100,000 power outlets – over 50 million pieces of data!).

Room data collation and management

Codebook RDCAt Autodesk University 2014 in Las Vegas, CodeBook launched a new product, Room Data Collector, which is aimed at clients wanting to specify their needs at the level of individual rooms. CodeBook has long been used to manage room-level data (room data sheets), but RDC provides an initial tool to capture and collate that information (from existing documents, spreadsheets, photos, CAD images, sketches, etc) and store it in a centralised database rather than in, say, an Excel spreadsheet. (The RDC tool is currently a download but I am told a web-based edition is in development.)

The original core CodeBook Pro application, now named Project Room Data Manager, can then be used by teams to produce schedules, graphical views, room data sheets and BIM outputs. As an information repository and gateway, CodeBook RDM complements all the leading architectural and engineering design authoring tools. A change in one system can then be reflected across all systems relevant to a project, with information fully related, analysed for consistency, and synchronised, helping validate and maintain a ‘single version of the truth’.

And to complete the CodeBook toolset, Asset Data Collector allows users in the post-construction and pre handover phase to complete conformance and compliance programmes, do snagging, collect warranty, serial and asset numbers, and then synchronised this data with that already stored in the CodeBook Project Database for reuse in facilities management.

CodeBook ecosystem

CodeBook Cloud

CodeBook product linePreviously, CodeBook was a locally-hosted application sitting on a user’s computer, perhaps with a database behind the firewall of a designer’s IT system. With BIM placing increased emphasis on multi-company information sharing and collaboration, this was less than optimal, so the company now offers its own hosted instances of CodeBook Project Databases, freeing customers from having to procure, manage and maintain their own hardware and software

CodeBook offers a wide area network option for those still wishing to host the system in-house, and an option for customers wanting to use their own third-party hosting. But for those content to outsource the service to Codebook, the company offers Microsoft Azure hosted facilities. In each case, CodeBook Project Databases run on enterprise-strength SQL servers, helping customers achieve high levels of data security and multi-user access (particularly important when sharing federated models), and reducing database/BIM authoring integration issues. CodeBook also takes on responsibility for support and for maintaining adequate back-ups.

CEO Andy Hamer told me:

Andy Hamer“We believe our hybrid offering of Cloud-hosted data and desktop clients means users won’t sacrifice functionality. Hosting allows customers to take advantage of SQL’s superior performance (up to 75% faster than Access) but without the costs and hassles of buying servers, etc. The managed option is useful to clients working on federated workflows with multiple collaborators, and we have projects where teams are spread across different continents – all connected to the same CodeBook Project Databases.”

(Disclosure: CodeBook International was a pwcom.co.uk client between from mid-2011 to early 2013.)

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2015/02/codebook-getting-a-little-saas-y/

Feb 17 2015

No post-recession bounce for Idox EIM

McLaren SoftwareMcLaren-logo, the engineering information management (EIM) division of Berkshire, UK-based Idox plc, had a fairly flat financial performance in the year to 31 October 2014, according to Idox’s annual report and accounts published last month. McLaren’s EIM division is best-known in this blog as the provider of FusionLive (formerly CTSpace and, before that, BuildOnline – among several other brands), acquired from Sword by Idox in November 2011 (post).

Idox chairman Martin Brooks’s statement  notes EIM “only saw marginal growth in a challenging year in its global markets,” and “we have been challenged again by a fall in activity in the Oil & Gas sector”. CEO Richard Kellett-Clarke said the EIM division’s focus in 2014 had been on customer care and delivery of solutions, while the sales focus had shifted more towards the USA and an attempt to expand in infrastructure and utilities. EIM revenues grew 1% to £19.5m (2013: £19.2m), with 52% generated in the US (2013: 46%). The level of recurring revenues in the EIM business from maintenance and Software-as-a-Service (“SaaS”) were 49% (2013: 51%; no further information was given on the breakdown between maintenance and SaaS). Nonetheless, it remains profitable; EBITDA for the EIM division was flat at £4.4m (2013: £4.4m), with margins held at 23%.

The financial year also saw CEO Paul Muir exiting the business amid various personnel changes at McLaren (see my May 2014 blog post). It has sought to become more responsive to customers and focus on three key markets: on-premise engineering document management, Software-as-a-Service construction project collaboration, and facilities management (it acquired CAFM vendor, FMx, in October 2012).

But while other businesses in the SaaS construction sector have been enjoying post-recession double-digit growth – Conject UK reported 16% growth (September 2014); 4Projects reported 12% growth (October 2014) – it seems McLaren’s mixed portfolio of on-premise and SaaS solutions covering a more disparate range of markets has led to it falling even further behind. The energy also appears to have disappeared from McLaren’s BIM push: barely a mention of its BIM capabilities since October 2013.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2015/02/no-post-recession-bounce-for-idox-eim/

Feb 16 2015

think project! thinking BIM

Delivering BIM in the browser is now part of think project!‘s technology roadmap and it is on track to start its first BIM project in early 2015.

Thinkproject-logoLate last year, I had a long conversation with two executives from Munich, Germany’s think project! about its plans to augment its existing Software-as-a-Service collaboration capabilities with building information modelling (BIM) functions.

No German BIM mandate

For a business mainly supporting customers in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Benelux countries, there isn’t the same push to deliver BIM functionality arising from a central government mandate like that in the UK (indeed, given the federal structure of government in Germany, imposing a central mandate across 16 separate administrations would be difficult, I was told).

Nonetheless, at the BAU exhibition in January 2015 (read BIM+ article), Germany’s federal minister of transport and digital infrastructure Alexander Dobrindt announced the creation of a “Digital Building Platform” [Platform Digitales Bauen], a group of industry-led organisations aiming to standardise process and device descriptions, develop guidelines for digital planning methods and provide sample contracts (similar to the UK’s BIM Task Group, it seems) – Update (23 February 2015) – “planen-bauen 4.0 GmbH” was launched last week, reports BuildingSmart, with Arup’s Ilka May (briefly a fellow member with me of the ICE’s Information Systems Panel, and knowledgeable about the UK BIM movement) appointed as CEO.

Thomas BachmaierMeanwhile, CEO Thomas Bachmaier (right) said the company planned to extend its collaborative capacity by adding a BIM solution to its “collaboration cloud”. The think project! strategy remains focused on a single core back-end system, but with multiple front-ends to suit different customer or end-user requirements, and BIM will be delivered through two new front-ends, he said.

Some customers are increasingly sharing 3D, 4D and 5D models on think project! for design coordination and construction control among disparate corporate divisions and project partners, Sven-Eric Schapke told me (he joined the company in early 2013 and had been leading its BIM development work since January 2014, having previously been involved with BIM research projects for 12 years).

Sven-Eric SchapkeThese customers were working on six out of eight pilot projects where BIM was being deployed to support new road or rail infrastructure work. Sven-Eric told me organisations (mainly contractors and trade associations) in these sectors had been voluntarily associating together to develop the industry’s understanding of BIM. It seems likely German businesses will adopt BIM once they have a detailed and thorough set of processes and a mature and reliable BIM “ecosystem” of technologies to support them and the people involved in delivering better whole-life built assets, he said, highlighting healthcare as a particularly progressive sector.

BIM in the collaboration cloud in 2015

BIM ImageThink project! will be incorporating BIM functionality into its technology stack in early 2015, and expects its first BIM project to start in Q2. We talked at some length about 4D (time) and 5D (cost) elements of project delivery, recognising the potential of BIM to enable time and cost-critical decisions to be made earlier in the design process and for these impacts to continue to be felt throughout the operational life-cycle of the built asset. The role of the “Collaboration Cloud” platform was therefore to support cross-enterprise collaboration, recognising that – particularly in the early days of a BIM project – there are likely to be multiple systems (including local file-based applications), partial models, and large numbers of unstructured text and graphic documents. Accordingly, the BIM tools in this “Cloud” will span and link all project data, and support all BIM-related processes from design coordination, through tendering and construction, to operation and maintenance.

In common with rival collaboration providers (eg: 4Projects, Asite, Business Collaborator, Aconex), the think project! ambition is to provide an environment in which discipline-specific models (and related drawings, specifications, and distribution and approval workflows) can be brought together and coordinated, where the coordinated model can be marked-up and commented as required, and where all resulting and related project document revisions and workflows are carefully captured and controlled.

How this common data environment might look in a browser will clearly differ accordingly to the design approach of the vendor. The 4Projects BIM viewer, for example, allows users to review elements of a federated model alongside its work breakdown structure and a view of the underlying model database. In think project! Sven-Eric showed me an interface presenting four different areas: the partial models, the coordinated model, related 3D viewpoints, and related process outputs (eg: RFIs, drawing management). But as with other systems, the think project! intention is to make BIM accessible in any web browser, without additional software downloads or plugins.

Analysis

With Conject, think project! is one of mainland Europe’s leading providers of online construction collaboration software services, generating revenues of €17.2m  [£14.4m] in 2013, though it may also face competition from the acquisitive RIB Software, based in Stuttgart, Germany, which has been building a portfolio of built asset life-cycle management applications – its iTWO Collaboration Exchange (iTWOcx) covers pre-contract and design through to construction cost control and progress reporting, plus some ERP-type functionality. The Nemetschek group has also been building its BIM and collaboration capabilities, adding US-based Bluebeam in October 2014 to a portfolio that included Allplan, Vectorworks and Graphisoft (home of BIMx Docs - February 2014 post), plus its own BIM+ offering.

Unlike Conject – with less than a year to go still yet to publicly showcase its BIM common data environment (4Projects, Asite, BC and Aconex have all shown off their BIM interfaces) – think project! is not being pressed to provide BIM capability by the 2016 Level 2 mandate of the UK government, but with BIM now on the German government’s horizon, it now has a clear strategy.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2015/02/think-project-thinking-bim/

Feb 12 2015

Think Project! gets webApp-y

Thinkproject-logothink pro­ject!, the Munich, Germany-based Software-as-a-Service construction collaboration technology provider has announced the release of a new ‘WebApp’ in­ter­face, optimised – using HTML5 – for smart­phones.

According to the company, the new in­ter­face sup­ports fin­ger­tip nav­i­ga­tion by users on their smart­phones. For exam­ple, plan­ning, doc­u­men­ta­tion and de­fect man­age­ment processes can be ini­ti­ated, edited and tracked via a smart­phone. Ad­di­tion­ally, all pro­ject sta­tus re­ports and ‘to-dos’ re­lat­ing to reviews and ap­provals can now be called up and edited via a smart­phone.

Jochen Mau­rer, head of prod­uct man­age­ment at think pro­ject! says:

Jochen Maurer

think project! has operated on mobile devices such as tablets and smart­phones as an integrated, web-based application. ​In the past, however, smart­phone operations were not optimal when using the older inter­ace intended for desktop usage together with a keyboard and mouse. It is for this reason that we developed a new mobile interface. This interface is optimised for usage with ‘small’ devices such as smart­phones. The interface enables remote and on-site users to conveniently access think project! for reading messages and documents, participating in workflows and issuing approvals. From now on, smart­phones access­ng think project! will be automatically directed to this new interface.

It is a “WebApp” based on HTML5, which will be loaded automatically when you use a smartphone accessing our sites. It is not just a mobile representation.

think project! has previously (August 2013) released Apple iOS and Android apps for site-based inspection and data gathering processes on smartphones.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2015/02/think-project-gets-webapp-y/

Feb 11 2015

GenieBelt announces €700k funding round

GenieBelt logo

GenieBelt, the Copenhagen, Denmark-based provider of a free SaaS construction collaboration platform (launched in November 2014), today announced a new angel round led by European angel investor and former CEO of Just Eat, Klaus Nyengaard. Ditlev Bredahl, CEO of OnApp, also contributed to the €700,000 funding round.

GenieBelt says it will use the angel funding round to enhance the functionality of its Software-as-a-Service platform and intensify its marketing activities. Co-founder and CEO of the 15-strong business, Gari Nickson says:

Gari Nickson, GenieBelt CEOThis funding round will help us make GenieBelt accessible to construction projects globally. With a strong team already in place, the additional resources will be used to improve existing modules, scale to all platforms, develop additional features and to take on more of the value chain.

 

Klaus Nyengaard (also a co-founder of GenieBelt and chairman) specialises in digital marketplaces and workflow solutions for verticals. He says:

Klaus NyengaardConstruction is one of the last remaining ‘old’ industries waiting to be disrupted. It’s one of those industries never touched by the desktop revolution and now with the increasing penetration of mobile and tablets we are seeing the construction site being connected like never before. I am really excited to be a part of this journey. We have a strong team at GenieBelt, with a unique mix of industry and startup experience. We also have a very international team and a will to build a great company.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2015/02/geniebelt-announces-e700k-funding-round/

Feb 03 2015

SaaS social support

Using social media for customer support is commonplace in many global corporations but old-school construction SaaS vendors lag behind new start-ups in its adoption.

Use of social media for customer service has been on my mind a bit recently. Last week, I provided some Twitter training to CIOB branch administrators and one of the questions related to people sharing their customer complaints on social media. I shared the 2005 pre-Twitter example of Jeff Jarvis and his ‘Dell Hell‘ with a malfunctioning laptop:

I decided to turn this into a test: Was Dell reading blogs? Would Dell respond to me in our public forum? Would it recognise the PR crisisette that was brewing? Simple answer: No. Dell was silent. Dell failed the test. I emailed its marketing department: Anybody home? Anybody blogging? Nothing.

DellcaresDell’s eventually reacted to this well-publicised customer service disaster (and others) by investing in strong customer service social media listening and reacting capabilities. It added customer support to its Facebook page, and as consumers began to vent on Twitter, it centralised its customer support functions at @DellCares in May 2010, and in the first two months directly supported 1,800 customers via Twitter. I benefited. In July 2011, my new Dell laptop failed, and I tweeted to a friend about my #Dellfail. Within an hour, @Dellcares had been in touch to start arranging a pick-up and repair.

Dell were not alone in this; Carphone Warehouse’s Guy Stephens was also testing the channel, and I had another positive experience with ‘Andy’ at @OrangeHelpers when my mobile phone SIM card failed in February 2011. More recently, @VirginMedia noticed a tweet I posted about local cable service interruptions, and I get helpful advice via Twitter about that. Of course, you would rather not have a problem in the first place, but, in my view, a prompt and proactive response can mitigate the impact and even make you feel better about the brand (at least, eventually, as I learned with East Midlands Trains), and 1000s of corporates now pay serious attention to customer service on social media – keen to avoid PR disasters such as United Breaks Guitars.

SaaS Social support

Why I am I sharing this on Extranet Evolution? Well, for a long time, I have watched how the leading collaboration technology vendors have managed customer issues, and it has taken years for some of them to wake up to end-users venting dissatisfaction online. I noticed Tweeted complaints about vendors’ systems go unanswered for days at a time, and competitors would sometimes quietly approach the end-user to learn more about the issue. As a social media advocate, when I was at BIW (now Conject) I suggested it might be useful for the helpdesk to set up a dedicated Twitter account so that they could respond direct to queries and also provide hints and tips and timely warnings of upgrades, etc, but it was never taken up – like most vendors in the sector, they mainly respond through the @Conject corporate account (1032 followers).

4Projects statusOne exception is 4Projects which, in addition to the main @4ProjectsNews Twitter handle (961 followers), created @4PSupport (currently 58 followers) in November 2014. This proved useful during a recent issue affecting users in the UK and Europe when the company could at least respond direct to end-user complaints about the service being slow or unavailable. Tweets about the issue, and links to the service status page, therefore didn’t have to be routed through the company’s corporate account.

Recently under new (but existing) management, Business Collaborator has also been looking at its support function. Previously only offering support by email and phone, it’s changing its support desk software (BC blog post)  and adopting Freshdesk. This will retain the email and phone support functions, but a customer portal can also be used to raise issues, while a ‘Knowledge Base’ will provide answers to some frequently asked BC questions. No mention of Twitter in the BC blog, though it has recently started to tweet from @SemanticBIM (204 followers). Update (18 February 2014) – The new BC support portal is now live and Twitter support is “coming soon“.

@Geniebelt (Den) 4246
@Plangrid (US) 4056
@FieldLens (US) 1419
@Newforma (US) 1264
@e-builder (US) 1164
@TrimbleBuilding (US) 1161
@GoBridgit (Can) 1122
@Aconex (Aus) 1080
@Conject (UK/Ger) 1032
@Asite (UK) 989
@4ProjectsNews (US/UK) 961
@woobius (UK - dead!) 684
@Procoretech (US) 612
@basestone (UK) 420
@Corecon (US) 395
@cloudsUK (UK) 390
@collabor8online (UK) 402
@AutodeskBuzzsaw (US) 341
@Cadweb_net (UK - dead!) 323
@MaclarenSoftware (US/UK) 259
@SemanticBIM (Business Collaborator, UK) 204
@RIB_Global (Ger) 160
@Projectwise (US) 120

Social media has been a slow burner in this market sector. Back in June 2009, Asite created its own community site and started to exploit social media, but it’s taken time to build up momentum; when it launched Adoddle17 last March, Asite CEO Tony Ryan was talking about being “cocial”, but – measured by Twitter followers (989) – its main @Asite corporate Twitter account still lags behind some competitors.

While number of followers is a fairly crude and unscientific measure of Twitter engagement, it’s instructive to see how many followers the corporate accounts of various vendors (discussed at different times on this blog) have. It’s not always a reflection of the size of the company, the user base, how long the vendor has been in existence (or even if it still is), or how long the vendor has been on Twitter, as the table – right – suggests.

As I was compiling the numbers, I was struck by how the ‘old school’ providers seemed to figure towards the bottom of the list, while the three table-toppers are all relatively recently-founded startups with youthful management which are targeting the tech-savvy mobile construction collaboration market.

Of course, Twitter is only one channel (and engagement means more than counting followers); several of these vendors also have pages or groups on Facebook, they may also have company followers on Linkedin, and blogs and YouTube video channels (among others) also feature among vendor communications. I will be taking a closer look at vendors social endeavours in a future post.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2015/02/saas-social-support/

Jan 22 2015

Aconex developing BIM plugins

Aconex logo 2014According to the BIMcrunch blog, Australian construction collaboration company Aconex intends to create more building information modelling (BIM) software plug-ins. The full interview with CEO Leigh Jasper will feature on BIMcrunch soon.

Having previously released an Autodesk Revit plugin in early 2013, and then launched its Connected BIM capability in October 2014 (made available free in December 2014), the Melbourne-based SaaS vendor is now working on plugins for other BIM authoring tools and will be releasing them “in the coming year or so”.

Meanwhile, just over a month after its launch on the Australian Stock Exchange, Aconex shares have been changing hands at prices close to its initial offer price of Au$1.90. According to TheInstoReport, shareholders now include several institutional investors, including AustralianSuper (5.82% shareholding) and National Australia Bank (NAB), which participated through its subsidiaries MLC Investments, NabInvest Managed Investment and Antares Capital Partners (in total, NAB now owns 6% of Aconex, worth $18.3 million) .

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2015/01/aconex-developing-bim-plugins/

Jan 22 2015

Panzura pitching to UK BIM users

Panzura is seeking to raise its UK construction profile, but needs to understand the BIM opportunity. Meanwhile, Google lurks … .

panzura - logoUntil a few months ago, I was unaware of Panzura, a US-based hardware technology provider, but it is now promoting its file server hardware vigorously to UK construction firms involved with building information modelling (BIM). Its AEC customer lists bears strong similarities with that of Newforma insofar as it is heavily dominated by design organisations (including BDP, Gensler, WSP, Allies & Morrison, Wilkinson Eyre, Cartwright Pickard and Woods Bagot – among others).

Panzura targeting BIM

Now around eight years old, Panzura has partnerships with a Bromsgrove, UK-based hosting provider Prestige and, perhaps more importantly, with Google, and it held a half-day seminar at Google’s London Victoria offices today. The event attracted around 60 BIM and IT managers, many of them – on a show of hands – vexed by Revit file management issues (we were reminded, more than once, that Autodesk President and CEO Carl Bass is an advisor to Panzura) and attracted by talk of a BIM-friendly file management system.

Panzura’s people (Andy McGlashan and Steve Winfield) painted a strong case for its secure management of BIM files, including file lock-in and – with Google support – cloud-based back-up, archive and disaster recovery. But some doubts began to emerge with its peoples’ grandiose claims that it already – from a technology point of view - delivered Level 3 BIM! I could sense irritation rising in the audience, and, sure enough, they were challenged by BIM practitioners citing PAS1192 requirements (remember: the final building blocks of Level 2 BIM are still yet to fall into place), and the need to support BIM-related workflows through a common data environment (CDE).

Panzura helps AEC design organisations with respect to internal file management, using file metadata to help reduce latency in file synchronisation. A case study, focused on US-based CNS and Syracuse Airport, suggested that, by jointly using its hardware in conjunction with Google Cloud storage, Panzura could reduce latency from around 22 minutes to eight seconds, and remove the need for branch office file servers, tape back-ups, archives and disaster recovery precautions. Panzura controller hardware installed at each office location (entry-level solutions cost from US$17,500) could help firms manage their internal collaboration on files, we were told.

However, in a detailed discussion (Bentley Projectwise, 4Projects and “other EDMSs” were mentioned), it became apparent that Panzura’s focus on Revit and similar model files largely overlooked PAS1192 process management requirements. Under intense questioning (well done, Ian Bush), it was clear that Panzura is largely focused on the internal corporate management of files, less on collaboration with other (external) members of the design team. Only slowly did it emerge that Panzura felt application programming interfaces (APIs) might need to be developed to support Level 2 workflow needs delivered through third party CDE platforms. I think Panzura’s people might need to work harder at understanding imminent UK BIM workflow requirements and how its technology fits alongside process and policy issues (Bilal Succar‘s three circles diagram – a long-time favourite of mine – was shown and discussed more than once).

Google for Work

Google cloud platformSeparate to issues about how Panzura might (or might not) support Level 2, today’s event was also aimed at raising industry awareness of Google for Work (formerly Google infrastructure for business). Brad Gilshaw outlined how Google is competing with (“the bookstore”) Amazon Web Services (used by 4Projects, for example), Microsoft Azure (used by Bentley), Cisco, HP, and the like (all Panzura cloud storage partners) – in providing enterprise-strength hosting solutions (at just £0.026p per GB – less than 3p), with high resilience (a recent review found Google had delivered 99.9996 uptime: around 14 minutes annual downtime – versus 2.69 hours of AWS downtime). Google’s environmental control Nest acquisition was also quietly mentioned. There was no mention of Genie, Flux or related built environment initiatives, but, surely, if Google decided to invest hard in this vertical it would quickly knock several incumbents out of the market.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2015/01/panzura-pitching-to-uk-bim-users/

Jan 21 2015

More SaaS and mobile AEC apps

Recent Twitter follows have led me to look at a few new – to me – names in the SaaS and mobile construction applications world:

  • BIMcollab – Netherlands-based Graphisoft (ArchiCAD) and Solibri reseller Kubus specialises in building information modelling solutions in Europe’s Benelux region, promoting OpenBIM and IFC workflow solutions, including BCF Manager – BIM Collaboration Format (BCF) plug-ins for Revit and ArchiCAD – and BIMcollab – a cloud-based issue tracking system for BIM.

  • elogger - logoeLogger.co.uk – Not to be confused with other eLogger products, this Sevenoaks, Kent, UK-based business specialises in an Android mobile solution for construction health and safety and facilities management. The core product is Pad2Print, which helps H&S/FM professionals centralise their management tasks, compiling documents and risk assessments, capturing site information in situ, and managing routine monitoring or maintenance schedules. The product is priced at £99/user/month.
  • safesite logoSafesite – Also supporting health and safety needs, Brisbane, Australia-based Safesite has developed a mobile tool (available for Apple devices and possibly other platforms – like Aecore, its website lacks information about the product, company, its track record, etc). Current features include site inspections, a personnel register, management reporting tools, and a plant/equipment register. In development (“coming soon”) are: pre-start meetings, toolbox talk coordination, work permit registry, incident reports, non-conformance reports, and site induction.
  • ProtrakrProtrakr – Also lacking useful background information, the website of Washington DC, US-based Protrakr says it is a construction management app linking office and site. APP linking the office to the job-site, allowing the user to log a timesheet, submit a field report and input daily quantity production.
  • SmartPM - logoSmartPM by Construx Solutions – Atlanta, GA, US-based Construx provides schedule, data and cost management solutions. Launched in May 2014, SmartPM combines online and mobile technology with CPM scheduling and digital daily reporting, real time performance metrics and schedule updates. Two levels of functionality are provided: “Daily Schedule Manager” (excluding the free single user option, pricing starts from $15/user/month) and the more fully-featured “Lean Project Manager (with data analysis)” (priced from $59/user/month – both prices based on up to four users).

A new ‘bubble’

Fifteen years ago, during the first dot.com boom, dozens of cloud-based collaboration providers were launched into the construction industry but not all of them survived when the bubble burst. Today we are perhaps seeing a similar bubble growing, buoyed by the ease with which a start-up can quickly develop a basic app and create some cloud-based computing and storage capabilities. Not all of these new entrants will survive. Some offer nothing that isn’t already delivered by more established vendors, demonstrate little or no track record, and provide no detail on their management, financing, hosting, reliability, security, etc – all factors that customers should be considering when looking to support project-critical processes.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2015/01/more-saas-and-mobile-aec-apps/

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