AECCafe.com features an interview by Susan Smith with Jon Antevy, CEO of US collaboration provider e-Builder.com, partly hooked by e-Builder’s recent moves to support Blackberry users (see 10 April post). It’s an interesting article in three ways:
- it gives a different ‘spin’ on the traditional ‘who are your competitors’ question;
- it looks at one way in which e-Builder builds its user relationships; and
- it also shows that e-Builder – like Constructware – is moving beyond the core area of collaboration on project documents and drawings.
Smith starts out by asking why many software companies fall short of providing something for the contractor and construction professional. According to Antevy, it’s because most contractors are still wedded to old ways of doing business. When asked who e-Builder’s competitors were, Antevy said:
"It’s not Buzzsaw, Primavera or Meridian; it’s Microsoft Excel, and email that are our competitors. Those same people who aren’t connected are certainly not getting press releases over email. e-Builder clients, CIOs of large construction or architectural firms, for example, don’t know about various goings on in the software business as they are focused on their day-to-day work. We know who to target, and we’re also going to fill in the gaps as well."
Smith describes e-Builder’s Enterprise offering, and points out that recent enhancements were all focused on email notifications (reducing their number, making them easier to read, etc). "Blending old with the new," is the way Antevy looks at the direction e-Builder is headed, says Smith.
I was struck by a note about e-Builder’s annual user conference, due to take place this November. e-Builder apparenly plans to implement 50 % of the top 15 features requested by users.
"Within one month of leaving the conference, users will see about 7 or 8 features show up in the enhancements," explained Antevy. "The top features were the ones that everybody agreed on. Obviously we had all our resources on this, it wasn’t easy to do, but it showed them that year after year, when they come to our conference that’s what they get back."
That’s good marketing to existing users (and good PR), helping reinforce the bond by showing that the firm not only listens to their ideas, but puts those ideas into action. Antevy continues:
"Another major release of e-Builder comes out this June or July. We started with document management and project management as the foundation, and now we’ve added schedule management and cost management. … Those terms mean a lot of different things to different people. We’re selling cost management to a hospital and that’s different than selling it to a condominium developer. Each of those modules have a lot of depth with each of those verticals. We spend a lot of time making sure we address each of their issues."
These moves can hardly be surprising, particularly in the context of the recent Autodesk acquisition of US competitor Constructware (see 2 April post). Part of the rationale for this deal was that Constructware had functionality (including cost management) that Autodesk Buzzsaw lacked. Despite Antevy’s claims that his competitors are "Excel and email", e-Builder clearly sees itself in competition with the new enhanced Autodesk Constructware solution.