Henry Blodget‘s Guardian article The Crash Test talks about Google’s continued growth in the aftermath of the dot.com bubble bursting in 2000 and includes an interesting overview of the evolution of e-businesses.
He describes the life-cycle of new industries as: “boom, bust, long boom, and decay”, and goes on: “After the bust, if an opportunity is real, the survivors (or later entrants) find themselves in a position to dominate the most profitable phase of the industry’s development: the long boom. … the fortunes made in these periods dwarf those made and lost in the initial frenzy.”
If we recall the e-experience of the UK construction industry in 2000, several e-marketplaces emerged in quick succession: Mercadium, AECVenture and Arrideo were among the most notable ones formed by industry consortia, but there were also attempts by BuildOnline and Causeway’s Buildingwork.com to claim a foothold. The first three all folded before 18 months was out, while BO recast itself as a construction collaboration technology business and Buildingwork.com disappeared as Causeway stuck to its core AEC software, including collaboration.
Among the pure construction collaboration technology providers there were proportionately fewer casualties (iScraper was the most notable, and I believe Architec was a more recent casualty) – probably because they didn’t generally think of themselves as internet businesses; they were simply software vendors delivering their applications via the web. Nonetheless, they suffered a bit during the post-2000 slump (Blodget’s ‘bust’ period), but they have gradually emerged into what we hope will be a ‘long boom’.
That is not to say that they will all be successful. Clearly, some will be more successful than others (as previously reported in this blog, Asite’s financial performance continues to worry its investors; and BuildOnline’s once massive cash-pile must be dwindling away), and much will depend on how each survivor adapts to changing market conditions and new technological advances. As Microsoft and Adobe, for example, embed more and more collaborative functionality into their applications, and as always-on broadband expands its reach, some aspects of the vendors’ competing solutions may become redundant for many users. Construction collaboration technologies must continue to evolve if their providers are to “dominate the most profitable phase of the industry’s development”.