According to a news release issued today, Australia-based construction collaboration technology vendor Aconex has released a fully-featured set of Web Services APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to enable integration between its Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) system and other software products used by its clients. The APIs also allow Aconex or third parties to build additional applications for desktops or mobile devices such as Apple iPhones.
Rob Phillpot, Aconex co-founder and Product Director, said:
“Life is much easier when the tools we use can talk to one another. Opening up our system so that it can connect with other products is a significant step for our business as we increasingly become the hub for connecting people and information on construction projects. Our clients will benefit by leveraging the industry-leading Aconex platform to manage project information across multiple applications.”
The Aconex release explains the need to help clients avoid double-handling data, by seamlessly connecting the Aconex SaaS platform with their other applications (eg: internal document management systems).
Aconex is not the first collaboration provider to offer APIs. Back in June, for example, I talked about another Australia-based vendor, Incite, offering an API allowing customers and developers to build their own applications, integrate enterprise systems and access project data within its Keystone system, and UK-based vendor Asite also announced its own AppBuilder (post). I expect other vendors to be following suit in due course.
Update (09 November 2009): I forgot to include Business Collaborator among the vendors already with an API. According to its website: “Applications that have already been developed and integrated include programme management, cost and tender management, communities of practice, and a news ticker.”
Another vendor going mobile
Phillpot says Aconex is already developing an application for the Apple iPhone “which will enable Aconex users, whether online or offline, to manage documents, mails and tasks”.
Putting construction collaboration applications on mobile devices has been a recurring theme this year, of course. I have written before about Woobius, which has an iPhone application for its core file-sharing platform, and an innovative – and award-winning – prototype tool for real-time mobile collaboration: Woobius Eye. Incite’s Keystone already has a mobile application, and an iPhone application is promised for its new Toolbox platform (post). And the results of an Asite online survey of its user community indicated strong demand for a mobile Asite application (post). Again, these are important developments that I’m sure other collaboration providers will also be looking to emulate for their own platforms.
Update (09 November 2009): I was contacted by Chris Brandt of Munich, Germany-based vendor conject AG who told me: “We feel, that we are the first in the market to already offer an iPhone App for construction collaboration – http://www.conject.com/en/project-management/iphone-app.html.” However, this appears to have been released last month, October 2009, sometime after I saw both the Woobius and Incite Keystone apps.
(I spoke with three Aconex executives in a conference call earlier this week and am hoping also to speak to Rob Phillpot about Aconex’s product strategy for another post shortly).