Yesterday UK collaboration technology vendor BIW Technologies* announced that it had created a hosting infrastructure to support its clients in North America – a network that it expects to grow through a partnership with Sage Construction and Real Estate (Sage CRE).
This BIW announcement has been forthcoming for a while, since it is exactly two months (30 September) since business management software vendor Sage North America (regional arm of the UK-based Sage group plc), announced the launch of Sage Project Lifecycle Management (not to be confused with another PLM: product lifecycle management). According to the news release, Sage PLM is:
“a web-based collaborative project management service platform that simplifies an organization’s workflow by making all project-related information and documentation available online in a secure, centralized location. Sage Project Lifecycle Management was developed through a partnership with BIW® Technologies, a global leader in web-based business applications.”
Sage North America says it delivers software and services to over 2.9 million small and midsize businesses in Canada and the United States, and the Sage Timberline Office finance and accounting application is widely used by many construction and real estate companies.
Sage’s partnership with BIW therefore potentially provides a powerful marketing platform for the web-based BIW project control platform in north America. Sage CRE products are sold exclusively through Sage Business partners focused on the needs of small and mid-sized construction and real estate management companies. Thus BIW now has a network of industry salespeople looking to offer its platform as an integrated offering alongside Timberline. The prospect of linking project-based metrics with key business performance measures, with reporting and audit trail tools to help ensure compliance with financial, legal and regulatory requirements, could be attractive to many existing Sage Timberline users who have yet to embrace project collaboration or who have been looking for a more integrated service.
This is not BIW’s first venture into the north American market; its SaaS platform has already been deployed to support the team working on the new headquarters of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, WA, for example (see post). However, it marks a new and interesting phase in the expansion of non-US collaboration vendors into this market, following news last year that BIW competitor 4Projects was opening US and Canada offices in Houston and Calgary, and the establishment of Aconex outposts across the region (Germany-based conject also has a US office). The Sage/BIW alliance, though, means BIW doesn’t have to recruit new salespeople or open new offices; it can extend its reach widely across the continent with relatively little investment on the ground.
[* Disclosure: I worked for BIW Technologies Ltd from 2000 to early 2009, and still undertake occasional paid PR consultancy projects for the company.]