A first quarter trading update from Viewpoint suggests 4Projects is thriving rapidly under its new owners, with north American interest in its SaaS AEC collaboration and BIM services growing.
A trading update news release from Sunderland, UK-based SaaS construction collaboration vendor 4Projects (now proudly “a Viewpoint Construction Software® company”; see also my March 2013 post) says it enjoyed significant revenue growth during the first quarter of 2013. The release is a little ‘light’ on details (audited results for the year to 31 March will, as usual, be filed at Companies House towards the year end – here’s last year’s), apart from highlighting a new win to support Canada’s Ottawa Light Rail Transit project.
With my usual UK company contacts apparently busy drumming up yet more business, I spoke to Matt Harris Sr, 4Projects VP and general manager and Viewpoint SVP Strategy & Corporate Development (below right), about the release earlier today. He told me:
“We finished Q1 with record recurring revenues and customer growth, and we believe 4Projects is now among the fastest growing construction software businesses in the UK. It is benefiting from growth in the overall project collaboration market, particularly outside the UK. While the UK retains our largest customer base, we are winning work in north America, in continental Europe, in the Middle East and Africa, and in Australia.* We have been enjoying double-digit growth – admittedly from a lower starting point – in these markets.
“We were seeing around 40,000 unique users of the 4Projects platform each calendar month, and the figure reached 50,000 in April. … As a result of this growth and as part of our continued investment in the business, we are currently recruiting for several key positions – in product development, technical support, professional services, and sales – for the UK business alone (and we have scores of posts to fill at Viewpoint worldwide).”
I asked if 4Projects was being marketed more aggressively in the US. Matt said 4Projects’ SVP Jason Warde was “busier than he’d ever been,” and that there were currently over 20 US-based employees focused on 4Projects efforts. “We are adopting a very deliberate approach,” he continued, “and have signed up four significant main contractor businesses, which we hope to talk more about soon.” A US hosting facility for 4Projects will be up and running later this year, he added.
4Projects’ BIM tools are also proving very attractive in the US, Matt said:
“The UK is leading the world in customer-facing BIM, but BIM is also top of the minds of many of our more technology-aware contractors in the US. Viewpoint is now seen as having a very BIM-aware platform.
“We hold a major customer event annually in Portland, attracting nearly 1000 attendees, and this September we will be holding sessions on BIM and project collaboration to showcase our overall construction software solutions.”
(* I hope to be getting an update on 4Projects’ Australian operations shortly.)
After the lean years of the global financial crisis and resulting recession, several bullish SaaS collaboration vendors are each claiming growing interest in their platforms. While 4Projects has been making inroads in mainland Europe, Conject and think project! have been vying for European supremacy (post), and Aconex has recently been trumpeting a series of major project wins in the Middle East (Qatar rail project), Africa (Afren oil and gas production platforms off the coast of Nigeria), London (Trocadero hotel), South Africa/Saint Helena (airport), Singapore (Asia Square) and Spain (€136.74m biofiltration plant).
Others are more quiet: McLaren Software, for example, has been acquisitive and developing new products or services (its latest is an outsourced document control service for capital projects); Unit4’s Business Collaborator team, similarly, seems quietly focused on product development; while Asite has been cementing long-term customer partnerships (with Synergy in India, and Quintain in London, for example).
If the recession is truly behind us, then we may have eradicated one of my 16 reasons why nobody yet dominates the construction SaaS collaboration sector, but there is still much to play for in this market. The revenue growth claims of the leading players seem to arise from extending the market to new customers rather than from taking market share away from competitors, and this may mean no single dominant player may emerge for some years. Simultaneously, BIM is also likely to change market requirements quite dramatically, and, in my view, those firms with demonstrable BIM data management capability, deep SaaS experience and extensive international reach are likely to become increasingly attractive to both industry customers and to investors.