Relatively unknown in the UK, Think Project! is one of mainland Europe’s leading SaaS construction collaboration vendors with an impressive client list.
In London last Friday Thomas Bachmaier, CEO of Munich, Germany-based think project!, told me about the company, its architecture, engineering and construction collaboration platform and take-up of its Software-as-a-Service.
This was long overdue, particularly as I blogged about think project! back in 2008, when the company’s solution first featured in my coverage of the changing technologies at Australia-based Leighton Holdings subsidiary Incite, aka Nexus Point Solutions. In 2009, Incite launched its own Keystone platform with the intention of gradually replacing think project! and was set to grow a market outside of Leighton’s projects – until the “St Valentine’s Day Massacre of 2011.”
Thomas and I did talk about these events briefly, and he told me that the transition from think project! to Incite Keystone was still ongoing. think project! Solutions (the company’s Australian distributor) still has many active users in Australia and some projects managed by Incite are still on the think project! platform.
I was more interested, however, in think project!’s operations across other markets. Like several other players in the sector, the company was founded (formerly Baulogis GmbH and AEC/communications GmbH) at the turn of the century as interest in providing construction-related services online blossomed during the dot.com boom. And similarly, the business was ambitious about creating an e-marketplace to serve the European construction industry, but soon discovered there was little appetite for such a venture so focused initially on document collaboration (gradually augmented by other, more complex management workflows).
While rival German vendor conject (post) successfully targeted building owners, think project! found it achieved more take-up among contractors (mentions of Hochtief, Strabag and Vinci, among others), and then among major infrastructure operators (including energy businesses RWE and E-on, and Germany’s national rail operator Deutsche Bahn and its Austrian equivalent, OBB). The platform is also the corporate standard for building projects undertaken by several major manufacturers including BMW, Audi, Volkwagen, Toyota, Bosch, Bayer and Roche.
Thomas (right) said the company currently has around 90,000 active users on projects in some 40 countries, generating a turnover of around €15m (£12.6m). Most of the company’s projects are across mainland central Europe; the company has offices in Munich, Berlin, Utrecht, Warsaw, Moscow and Madrid, plus a Middle East office in Dubai. But its clients have implemented think project! on schemes in China, Brazil, Russia, USA and the UK, among other locations, as well as Australia. The platform had recently also been translated into Chinese so that it could be used to support customer projects in that region, such as BMW’s new Shenyang plant.
The majority of revenues (95%) are derived from providing think project! on a SaaS basis, but the company has occasionally provided an ‘enterprise solution’ for internal hosting where there are security concerns – Thomas highlighted the system’s deployment to support design and construction of a German government office and the new NATO headquarters in Brussels, for example. Like most of the UK vendors in this sector, it also tends to license its software on a per-project subscription basis, which Thomas feels is more likely to promote supply chain take-up of the system than if it was sold per-seat.
The core SaaS platform modules can be augmented by a variety of ‘plug-in’ services that allow users to interface with other software tools, from individuals’ Outlook email accounts or CAD tools through corporate intranets or document management systems to back-office ERP systems. Thomas described how Audi has used the think project! public API to integrate the collaboration system with its SAP platform (echoes of last week’s UNIT4 conference). We also, of course, talked about how building information modelling (BIM) was likely to add new customer and supply chain requirements to the platform.
The meeting gave me a useful insight into the scale and scope of think project! operations (and helped me position the company in relation to conject); I will be looking at the collaboration platform in more detail in a future post.