I have written so much over the past year or so that I sometimes forget what’s been published. While browsing the legal sector blog, Knowledgeline, I found a post about how extranets can help legal firms differentiate themselves from their competitors.
This reminded that I wrote an article (September 2004) on a similar topic for the Construction Marketing Community (a great resource for construction industry marketeers). Entitled What Construction Marketing Professionals Need to Know about Collaboration Technology, my article outlined several potential opportunities for AEC firms to differentiate themselves. For example:
- Meet customers’ demands that their supply chain partners are ‘internet-literate’
- Build new service offers by, for example, combining their traditional strengths with expertise in implementing and supporting collaboration technology (eg: IT audits, consultancy, training)
- Achieve market positioning as innovators – championing the Latham and Egan principles of partnering, lean construction and integration
- Build better processes – collaboration technology can help improve the business’s internal processes, and improve their control and management of projects and supply chains
- Make pricing more competitive – by knowing the cost savings that can arise from using the technology, consultants or contractors can also price their services more competitively.
I also argued that increased use of collaboration technology may also lead supply chain SMEs to rethink how they respond to customer opportunities. They might, for example, form temporary consortia – Egan described them as ‘virtual companies’ in Rethinking Construction – pooling resources so that they can collectively respond more effectively to their customers’ demands.
On their own, many small contractors, subcontractors and consultants may be unable to provide required levels of service. But by combining with other enterprises with complementary skills and resources, and using collaboration technology to share data, they could become valuable members of the client’s team.