Swansea-based mobile construction solutions developer Priority1 is working increasingly closely with SaaS vendor 4Projects.
I spoke at Mobile Computing Solutions’ Priority1 user conference, held at BRE near Watford, last week, which was useful as my fellow speakers included Steve Spark of SaaS construction collaboration vendor 4Projects – and another Paul Wilkinson (quality manager at Carillion)!
It was clear from the comments of both Priority1’s founder and MD Richard Scott and Steve Spark that the two companies are developing a closer working relationship whereby 4Projects can take advantage of the Swansea-based developer’s expertise in applications for mobile platforms.
Priority1 has been providing mobile solutions for task management, forms and process control to the UK construction market for over a decade. For most of this time, its solutions were mainly accessed via PDAs, first Palm later Windows Mobile, but in January 2013, after nine months of detailed development and testing, the company launched an Android app allowing users to access Priority1 on tablet devices. Technical manager Gareth Cottrell also told the conference the company had been investing in its Software-as-a-Service capabilities, implementing a private cloud hosting facility in July 2013. And next week (9 December 2013), the company will be launching its business intelligence platform, he said.
Despite the impacts of the global financial crisis and the resulting recession in the UK, Priority1 has seen continued growth in its user base, and the company forecasts a turnover in excess of £1m in its current financial year. The extension of device support from PDA to tablet has clearly been a factor in its expansion, but it doesn’t just develop its own solutions – we heard from BRE how its Building Futures group’s Calibre and SMARTWaste services were also supported on Priority1.
4Projects is clearly seeking to capitalise on Priority1’s experience of working with third parties. Steve Spark (still waiting to learn if he will be leading the Newcastle-based business in 2014 – post) described the company’s investment in its development team since the company’s acquisition by Viewpoint (post) and said that building information modelling (BIM) and mobile functionality were going to be big themes for functionality over the next two years, supported by investment in application programming interfaces (APIs). 4Projects has already released both Apple and Android versions of its 4Mobile applications during 2013 (post), and some of its existing customers – such as Carillion – are increasingly extensive users of Priority1 (the other Paul Wilkinson said that compatibility with 4Projects was a factor in its choice of Priority1 as a mobile quality solution).
MD Richard Scott (right) led an interesting conversation about operating system choices, and it was clear that many Priority1 customers are keen to have Windows 8 mobile support, though their provision might vary depending on whether users were site-based personnel needing smaller but less expensive devices or company executives using tablets mainly in the office.
Aside from the alliance between Priority1 and 4Projects, I also learned more about Priority1’s gradual extension of social approaches into its software platforms. Its users can share discussions and vote on the enhancements and bug fixes they would like to see (“User voice”); further user support is provided via a (MediaWiki-powered) wiki; it is using YouTube videos and other social tools to support customer service roles; and the updated website now features a blog and Twitter (echoes here of Asite‘s community efforts four years ago), plus a link to its Google+ profile. Priority1’s forthcoming Business Intelligence integration (powered via Yellowfin) will also incorporate sharing, timeline-based conversations and online polling tools.