Latest collaboration news from the USA concerns the acquisition in an all-cash deal (terms not disclosed) of leading project management software business Meridian Project Systems by GPS and mobile IT systems specialist Trimble – the latter’s seventh acquisition of 2006 (says AECnews.com).
Trimble has been assembling a suite of software, hardware and services with the aim of providing a one-stop shop for efficiency improvements through a tighter integration of construction process information. Bryn Fosburgh, VP of Trimble’s Engineering and Construction segment says: “The Meridian Systems acquisition provides Trimble an information platform for growth in the enterprise project management market and is a significant step forward in realizing our Connected Construction Site initiatives.”
Meridian CEO James Olsen says: “the acquisition provides us with solid financial backing and the organizational infrastructure to further penetrate key vertical markets and expand globally. For Trimble, we believe the acquisition enhances its Connected Construction Site strategy by adding a core enterprise business software competency to facilitate the delivery of information throughout the entire plan, build and operate life cycle.”
Meridian’s solutions include the Infrastructure Lifecycle Management platform Proliance, the Prolog construction project management solution and the Prolog-powered on-demand online version, ProjectTalk. These solutions are extensively used in the US, but currently have little footprint in the UK AEC market, though I understand there is a substantial user community in the Middle East and a growing one in China.
This deal is not another rationalisation in the construction collaboration space of the kind we saw earlier this year when Autodesk acquired Constructware. However, it is, I believe, a potentially significant move in other ways.
Based on what I have quickly learned about Trimble (I am sure US readers may have greater insight), its strengths lie in GPS and mobile IT systems, so the logic might be for Meridian to provide a business platform that allows these various mobile tools to interconnect and share data in real-time rather than in the ‘asynchronous’ (ie: time-delayed) manner traditionally employed. (By pure coincidence, I recently submitted an article to a UK AEC trade magazine about integrating online collaboration platforms – aka: ‘extranets’ – with applications on mobile devices to provide a seamless link between key on-site processes, such as quality inspections, and the relevant package subcontractors).