Does “industry leadership” matter?

I was reading comments on LinkedIn about a Pauley Creative blog post by Pritesh Patel (5 reasons why construction companies should be blogging); in the comments, Pritesh argues too many firms make unsubstantiated claims about being market leading, etc, without proving their leadership. A quick look at the websites of several of the longest-established UK-based vendors of construction collaboration technologies, for instance, reveals various similar claims:

  • “market leading online collaboration software for project, programme and organisational management” (4Projects)
  • “rapid industry-wide take-up of our products and services has yielded industry awards and made us the UK market leader”, with “global leader in web-based business applications” in the page title (BIW Technologies)
  • “a world leader in the development of SAAS (Software As A Service) systems used for construction document management and control” (Cadweb)
  • “A global leader in Engineering Content Management and Project Content Management” (Sword CTSpace)
  • “providing class leading project collaboration and document management for over a decade” (Unit4 Collaboration)

Pritesh’s says businesses should prove their industry leadership: they should say what makes them leaders and provide the evidence to back up their claims. I worked at BIW from 2000 to 2009 and tried to substantiate the company’s leadership status by quoting statistics on numbers of users/projects/ companies, by highlighting company revenues, by citing third party research, by mentioning industry awards, by talking about innovations, etc, but it was a constant battle to keep one step ahead of competitors.

What matters most, of course, is how much do customers believe or are influenced by these claims. Do the claims made reflect an understanding of customers’ particular needs or interests? Do they want to work with companies that have strong balance sheets, reputations for innovation, extensive world or UK user bases, strong environmental credentials, 24/7 reliability, excellent customer service and so on? And which of these (if any?) matters most? Or are they, these days, simply more concerned about the product and its price? At a recent Constructing Excellence meeting, for instance, I heard talk of industry customers kicking back against paying for “the best”, preferring instead solutions which were fit for purpose or “good enough”.

(Just found another leader…. Over the weekend, a news release popped up in a Google Alert telling me about a “leading provider of web-based construction collaboration software”, Spitfire Management – a company which I confess I had never heard of before in five years blogging about the sector. This New York, USA-based business has just announced its latest release, v4.1, of Spitfire Project Management System, its “comprehensive, browser-based construction project management software”. Welcome to the leadership battle!)

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    • Dave Ault on 27 September 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Yes and please add the silliness of studies that show 49% faster, 231% faster than whoever, 10 to 100x increase in whatever compared to whoever. It bothers me that marketing is allowed free reign here to say just anything they think you will buy into. Even with software I personally have chosen to buy [a choice never based on dumb productivity claims however] I see some missleading statements that are not neccesary.
    Perhaps this type of deception works because people who are not actual users are allowed to make choices based not on what they have to use but are instead sold on and then make others make it work as best as they can.

  1. […] By revenues and (notwithstanding recent restructuring) by manpower, Aconex is the biggest player in the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) based construction collaboration market, but its prominence has been achieved on relatively modest revenues and, in recent, years, continued losses. The Melbourne, Australia-based company was one of several that launched during the boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s, all hoping to ride an architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) e-business wave generated by faster internet speeds, increased use of IT, and growing enthusiasm for collaborative working. Of course, the bubble soon burst, puncturing plans for rapid growth and stock market flotations; vendors instead had to settle into longer campaigns to achieve market dominance (which, in my view, is different to ‘leadership’ which is prone to all sorts of definitions depending upon how a vendor justifies its leadership claims – see September 201o post: Does “industry leadership” matter?). […]

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