A couple of tweets over the weekend alerted me to the launch of a new website by Australia-based SaaS construction collaboration technology vendor Aconex.
The updated website draws together some recent Aconex initiatives, including its Blog Central (post) and the Spring 2011 launch of its iPhone application, Aconex Mobile (post), while the site’s main navigation also focuses a little more on the product set (solution -12 ‘project solutions’ are listed – how we help, our difference, etc) than on the company. Overall, I think, the update makes it easier to find information; knowing the importance of industry track record, I also like the arrangement of the projects, case studies and clients in the Aconex in Action section. Pricing is now a main navigation item, but – as with most of the leading vendors – it remains vague; it talks about unlimited users, unlimited storage and unlimited support (I think only in this respect is Aconex “unique”), but you still need to contact Aconex to get indicative costs (unlike UK-based rival Asite, for instance, which tells you how much per user its different solutions will cost).
A new Australian Construction Exchange
I did notice something interesting in the footer: a link to something called BidContender. With some locally based launch partners, Aconex is aiming to create what it describes as “the first online bidding network developed specifically by the Construction Industry for the Construction Industry.” In other words, it appears to be developing an e-tendering portal that will allow contractors to distribute tender documentation and subcontractors to have easy access to that data, plus “Every part of the industry will be able to proactively find and connect with suppliers and new business contacts”.
Of course, we have seen e-tendering functionality delivered by several of the main UK industry collaboration vendors (4Projects, Asite, BIW, Sarcophagus, etc), as well as some stand-alone applications (eg: from RICS – post; AskTobi – post), but these have tended to help tender managers issue information and then manage communications with existing supply chains. BidContender seems to be about creating an online marketplace – something that was repeatedly attempted at the peak of the dot.com boom more than a decade ago, only for initiatives (eg: AECVenture, Arrideo, Mercadium) to founder when the dot.com bubble burst (see recent post) amid widespread construction industry scepticism about the wisdom of online marketplaces, while other ventures quickly focused on providing collaboration technology. Times have, of course, changed, and it seems the company founded 11 years ago as “Australian Construction Exchange” thinks this is something worth trying, and a beta test site is now available to potential users.