The construction collaboration business formerly known as Citadon has featured on this blog a few times recently (mainly in my excursions into the early history of CTSpace – here). I recently talked to someone who used to re-sell Citadon’s ProjectNet solution while at west London-based Rock Consulting subsidiary E-Box and he told me that there had been a number of changes, so I’ve been following up on that.
From Rock to E-Box
As I’ve never really talked about E-Box or Rock in this blog before, perhaps it’s worth going over a bit of history. E-Box Ltd was essentially an e-commerce off-shoot of Rock Consulting, a construction consultancy whose expertise included process management for UK private finance initiative (PFI) projects. E-Box was previously (April 2002 to February 2004) known as PFI Net Ltd (reflecting its offering of internet-based services to support PFI schemes). In October 2002, Rock was appointed by Citadon as a reseller of its ProjectNet application, and set about delivering two services based on the same solution: collaboration support for conventional construction projects via ProjectNet, and collaboration support for PFI schemes – branded as PFInet.
Given Rock’s existing expertise in facilitating PFI procurement projects it was able to create a persuasive niche proposition of PFI-related services around the PFInet software solution. PFINet was used, for example, by teams involved in Building Schools for the Future (BSF) and National Health Service LIFT schemes.
However, Rock was less successful at convincing buyers to choose ProjectNet for standard collaboration projects. There was much more competition from other vendors in this field; many experienced industry clients, contractors and consultants had already identified alternative vendors (4Projects, BIW, Business Collaborator, etc); and these other systems were proving more sophisticated than ProjectNet. This is hardly surprising. ProjectNet, after all, was already becoming dated; it was originally launched by BluelineOnline in 1998; it had already been superceded within Citadon’s product portfolio by Citadon CW, an enterprise-class solution launched in January 2002; and it was further challenged in October 2004 when Citadon released a new, lower-cost version of ProjectNet for small teams (ProjectNet STE) which it positioned as an introduction to online collaboration and allowed users to migrate eventually to Citadon CW (not ProjectNet) (see September 2005 post ProjectNet: old technology?).
The main recent change saw Rock Consulting acquired by Willmott Dixon Public Private Investments on 2 March 2007 and renamed three months later Rock Project Investments Ltd (registered at Willmott Dixon’s head office in Letchworth), leaving E-Box Ltd as a stand-alone operation run by former Rock stalwart and majority shareholder Nicholas Hughes.
Old technology, old website
However, you wouldn’t detect this change from the E-Box website. It still retains references to Rock Consulting (whose website also hasn’t been updated – or redirected to Willmott Dixon – in months) and to Citadon, despite the latter merging with BuildOnline to form CTSpace almost 15 months ago.