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.)