The Australasian market for construction collaboration technologies is becoming ever more competitive. As well as home-grown providers such as Aconex, QA’s Teambinder, ProjectCentre (now part of RIB) and Incite (seemingly mainly used on Leighton Holdings projects now), the region has also been targeted by UK-founded firms including Asite (it tripled its Australasian revenues last year), Conject, McLaren and 4Projects (reseller ProjectCollaboration.com.au started promoting 4Projects in 2012; the product was likely to be renamed ‘Viewpoint for Project Collaboration’ to match its post-acquisition US branding – post).
Reviewing the collaboration battleground last month, Australian BIM blogger Matt Rumbelow also included Autodesk (home to Buzzsaw, of course, plus a growing portfolio of cloud-based and mobile BIM tools), Bentley (ProjectWise), Gehry Technologies’ G-Team, DropBox for Business (not really a collaboration product,but the cloud-based file-sharing may meet some team’s needs) and the US-based Newforma.
Newforma to sell direct to ANZ region
Matt says Newforma is apparently now dispensing with its current local ANZ reseller (SmartSoftware) and will move to a direct sales model managed by its Singapore office in 2014, looking to compete with Aconex et al on their home turf along with the various international Software-as-a-Service providers. In the UK, Matt says they also evolved from a local reseller (NFS, appointed in 2010) to a direct model – resellers clearly help Newforma ‘test the water’ in new regions before putting its own people on the ground. Six vacancies in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane are currently open.
Of course, Newforma is not strictly a SaaS vendor – its core platform is more of a peer-to-peer file synchronisation system, not unlike an intranet in some respects. It initially rejected the relevance of the SaaS approach for construction collaboration but in 2012 it acquired a SaaS business, Attolist, and in October 2012 its CEO Ian Howell told me the business was embracing BIM, SaaS and mobile as it sought to expand both its platform and its international operations.
In September 2013, it announced (news release) that the former Attolist (now Newforma Project Cloud) can automatically share data with Newforma Project Center enterprise software and selected Newforma Mobile Apps, making project information available in the office, from the cloud, and on the go. A month earlier it closed a US$5.1 million Series D venture capital round to drive faster growth, develop new products, and expand into new geographic markets; it has since (in November) appointed resellers in Hong Kong and Thailand.
Update (14 January 2014) – The establishment of Newforma Australia was announced in a letter to Australian customers on 7 January from Newforma’s CEO Ian Howell and Mark Hansen of Smartsoftware. It said: “Newforma Australia will manage sales, marketing and account management for the Australia and New Zealand territory…. Smartsoftware… will continue to be our support and services partner….” (though I wouldn’t expect this arrangement to continue beyond 2014).