Just last week, I was discussing the state of the Australian AEC collaboration market. Following that conversation, I decided to have a look at what other domestic players in that market had to offer. Putting Aconex into context, I have already mentioned QA Software in the past (see 4 July 2006 post), so I examined what used to be called Optus InCITE, only to discover that the collaboration solution’s origins are distinctly European.
INCITE is today marketed in Australia and across Asia and the Middle East (it has offices in Singapore and Dubai) by Nexus Point Solutions, who acquired the business in May 2006 from Australian telecoms business Optus.
As an aside, Nexus is an interesting company itself, having been established as a dot.com venture, AAECVenture, by Australian construction giant Leighton Holdings in 2000; it changed its name to Nexus in April 2006. To industry watchers like myself, the name immediately rings a bell: AECventure.com was one of several construction industry internet initiatives that crashed during the early 2000s (despite the backing of leading companies Amec, Bovis Lend Lease, Hochtief, Turner and Skanska).
INCITE incorporates an abbreviation for “Construction Industry Trading Exchange”, and reflects the origins of the business; it was to be a portal focussed at delivering document management, tender management and e-procurement solutions to the construction industry. Optus inCITE was launched in Australia in June 2003, with several major construction businesses said to be committed to using the platform, including Barclay Mowlem, John Holland, Leighton Contractors, Thiess and Walter Construction. Technology partners included EU-Supply (tendering software), Berlin-based AEC/communication (who provided ThinkProject! document management software) and Conexa (purchasing software). However – and similar to the UK market 2-3 years earlier – the Australian AEC market was not ready for online trading exchanges and the focus shifted more towards document collaboration – just as it did for the “Australian Construction Exchange”: or Aconex.
Today, Nexus Point Solutions is a joint venture between Leighton Holdings (now part-owned by Hochtief, of course) and Baulogis GmbH, the current owners of AEC/communication – renamed in October 2007 as ThinkProject! Solutions. Martin Boelter, one-time MD of AEC/communications, was appointed to lead Nexus Point in 2006. Baulogis created a few ripples in the AEC design and collaboration markets a year ago (February 2007) when it entered into a “far-reaching agreement” with Nemetschek to jointly develop and market collaborative solutions for construction projects, initially connecting Nemetschek applications to Baulogis’ ThinkProject! platform.
ThinkProject! was also deployed by UK collaboration provider Asite and initially branded as Asite Enterprise Workflow following a June 2004 agreement (the Asite website still lists AEC/communication as an Asite partner, although the Enterprise product seems to have disappeared; I also recall there being an Asite Enterprise Content Management solution, but that too is no longer visible).
Update (22 April 2008): See update post incorporating an email from Nexus’s MD here.