The print version of UK trade magazine Contract Journal has a monthly feature called ‘Company’ life in which CJ offers insights into working life within well-known construction groups. This uses a standard set of questions and includes one on whether the company makes use of project collaboration tools. The company under the spotlight in the 18 January edition is contractor Rok, whose IT director Richard Gifford responded:
"On larger schemes, we use project collaboration tools both internally, within Rok, and externally, for information flow to and from our architects and legal team, for example. Currently, we use Buzzsaw and BuildOnline, but we want to take this part of the sequence inside Rok rather than use an ASP such as these. We could then deploy this collaboration technology to our smaller sites and it would also help build up a knowledge base within Rok, rather than on someone else’s interent site."
Such comments suggest that the collaboration technology vendors still have a long way to go to convince conventional IT people that ASP solutions offer a viable alternative to locally-hosted, inside-the-firewall solutions (Gifford’s response also suggests that BO and Autodesk have perhaps (a) failed to show Rok that their solutions could be used on smaller projects, and (b) not shown Rok that an organisation can build a secure knowledge base on an ASP platform).
Rok’s conservative view is probably shared by many UK construction organisations, yet businesses in other sectors are increasingly willing to embrace web-based services (a move recently endorsed by Microsoft’s Bill Gates no less – see my post Microsoft to go ‘on demand’). If this trend finally takes hold within the AEC sector, perhaps Gifford, and others like him, will relax their opposition to ASPs.