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Jun 05 2009

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Gloomy times for SaaS collaboration vendors

Today I have been hearing about redundancies among staff at one of the UK’s leading construction collaboration vendors. This news comes as no surprise. The writing has been on the wall for all the collaboration vendors since the credit crunch hit last year. Widespread project postponements and cancellations have led to corresponding reductions across the many firms of consultants, contractors and subcontractors reliant upon a steady throughput of new project opportunities, and businesses like 4Projects, Asite, Aconex and my former employer BIW will not survive unscathed. Only last month, discussing StoreData, I wondered if its sliding turnover indicated the impact the recession was having on collaboration vendors – even those targeting supposedly more buoyant segments of the construction market. And in the wider AEC computing market, Autodesk has so far announced over 1000 lay-offs worldwide this year (ignoring the alarming reports that it was no longer investing in its Constructware collaboration product – see Constructware conundrum continues). It will be some months before we will be able to glean from their annual reports and accounts exactly what the impact of the recession has been on the main collaboration vendors, but the steady upward curve of the sector’s turnover will certainly be interrupted. Hopefully some of the people affected by any redundancy programmes will quickly find new opportunities – but I suspect some will be lost to the construction/property industry altogether.

(I know from my own experience that the general AEC market downturn has prompted belt-tightening across many areas of business expenditure. With less funds being devoted to marketing, PR and industry liaison, the attraction of being BIW’s in-house corporate communications professional was dwindling. However, I was also being asked to provide strategic advice to other AEC firms on collaboration technologies and on social media for construction PR and marketing, so I worked with BIW to negotiate a mutually-beneficial exit from the company and re-establish my previous consultancy business, pwcom2.0 – see A new blog, a new direction.)

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2009/06/gloomy-times-for-saas-collaboration-vendors/

3 comments

3 pings

  1. John Leet

    Here at Skire (www.skire.com), demand for our SaaS-delivered capital project management and facility lifecycle solutions continues to be extremely strong and we are hiring. Inquiries can be sent to jleet@skire.com.

  2. PaulWilkinson

    Clearly businesses will experience booms and busts in different ways, and one company’s difficulties may present opportunities for others, including the chance to recruit some experienced staff. If Skire are active in the UK, maybe some candidates may look to them for a lifeline.

  3. Frank Carron, Aconex

    The impact of the downturn has varied by region and – as you suggest, Paul – it has even created opportunity. The clearest example in some markets has been in the Government & Infrastructure space, where stimulus packages have generated budgets and complexity, with a need for urgency and transparency. Collaboration providers with a track record in G&I in markets like the US, Australia and parts of Asia are likely to do well. Plus, emerging markets in general are definitely less affected than others. A look at where we are hiring (www.aconex.com) seems to confirm both points.

  1. Storedata revenues down again | Extranet Evolution

    […] StoreData is one of the smaller UK-based vendors of online construction collaboration technology services, and now one of the only companies which is still publishing financial performance figures. I expect most, if not all, of its UK competitors will have seen similar pressure on revenues over the past year; certainly, there has been industry gossip about some SaaS vendors making staff redundancies to limit losses (see June 2009 post). […]

  2. How ICT policies can hamper PR and marketing | The pwcom blog

    […] investment in marketing communications, and are also being hit badly by the current recession (I blogged about this last week on ExtranetEvolution.com); faced with making staff cutbacks and/or cutting […]

  3. Recession hits Aconex order book, it sheds staff, but still grows | Extranet Evolution

    […] on the financial performances of the various UK-based collaboration technology vendors (see Gloomy times for SaaS collaboration vendors), and this mood was, to some extent, justified by the the June trading update released by Asite […]

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