Conject did lose ground to 4Projects in the UK in a “flat” 2011, Conject group CEO Colin Smith admitted to me on Friday, but the firm is now more competitive, he said, having just enjoyed a “monster December” to round off 2012. This admission followed my blog posts about its UK performance and that of its Sunderland-based UK rival (4Projects growing again).
Merging the UK-based business with its Germany-based sister operations took longer than expected to complete, Colin said, before continuing:
“… 2012 was a very different story. New UK orders alone amounted to £8.21m (a massive increase over the prior year) and Conject UK won the majority of competitive bids against 4Projects – so we are the ‘movers’ in the market today.”
Looking at order intake over recent months (SaaS businesses, of course, don’t normally report the impact of new orders immediately, but their impact on future revenues is very predictable), he was optimistic about the future performance of its SaaS operations across Europe, predicting robust growth of 15-20% for 2013.
In particular, he was excited about Conject’s new SaaS-based facilities management application.
“The ‘flatness’ in Group revenue was largely caused by poor sales in the German FM business (€1.5m lower than last year) due to lack of competitiveness of the old on-premise FM product – an issue comprehensively addressed by the launch of our new SaaS FM product this quarter.”
Intended to replace an on-premise solution, this is currently being beta-tested by customers in Germany. The online FM toolset will be launched initially in Germany in March 2012, with wider market availability towards the end of the year.
To support its growth, Conject was investing in product development and marketing across its operations (product development is centred in Munich and Duisburg in Germany, and Nottingham in the UK), with staff numbers set to grow from 143 to 160 by the end of 2012. CTO Andrew Wainwright had delivered a consolidated group product strategy that was now being implemented, and the delivery of the FM application was the first tangible sign of the group’s renewed commitment to providing ‘infrastructure lifecycle management’ (ILM) solutions through the cloud.
The group was also growing its international sales team, Colin said, with new appointments in New Zealand and Singapore as well as mainland Europe (Russia and Austria were strong markets for Conject, he claimed). In the UK, the company would be exhibiting at EcoBuild in London, 5-7 March, highlighting its building information modelling (BIM) plans. Looking at the group’s overall BIM strategy, he was very bullish:
“BIM is not (currently) a hot topic in Germany, but our commitment to BIM is both immediate and very significant. Given our relative resources, I am confident that Conject will out-perform all others in this space.”