Nov 09 2006

Adobe ignores extranets?

An Adobe survey of 657 US-based AEC professionals undertaken by Harris Interactive (reported by has found that, despite the advent of electronic means of exchanging project information, paper still remains the most popular form in which to review CAD information. Indeed, paper is even more popular in 2006 than it was when a similar survey was undertaken in 2004, with electronic review even less popular! (see CAD question results). The article continues:

“Top collaboration tools are e-mail (92%), fax (69%) and audio conference (67%), each cited by 67% or more respondents. Newer tools such as Web conferencing (15%), instant messaging (14%) and video conferencing (14%) are also in use, but less commonly.”

What I found astonishing about this latest article was that there was no mention at all of web-based construction collaboration tools (aka project extranets)! Surely, at least some of the sample used such tools to exchange information? In 2004, it was used by 17% of the sample (see here), and Cadalyst’s Michael Dakan quoted (3 March 2005) the survey’s findings:

“an electronic solution that allows customers to combine all key file formats and send them electronically to team members in a secure fashion, would improve efficiency”

This oversight becomes even more crucial when you consider some of the dissatisfaction with existing methods cited by respondents:

“lack of clarity in changes and comments (56%); incompatible platforms, software or data formats (35%); and difficulties communicating across time zones (10%)”

and the “top pain points encountered in file exchange”:

“the lack of accurate and timely project information (44%), the many different types/formats of documents (41%), the amount of time it takes to search for documents (41%) and the inability of team members to electronically review and comment on a document (36%)”

The same survey is also discussed by Patrick Aragon, an Adobe employee, in an AECbytes article. Perhaps understandably, as an Adobe staffer, he ends up talking a lot about the PDF format and makes only passing reference to the use of web-based systems, but I am surprised that the latter were apparently not regarded as important in the Adobe/Harris survey (or at least in the Cadalyst coverage of it).

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