Asite‘s London launch yesterday of its new SaaS corporate collaboration platform for the capital asset industry (aka architecture, engineering and construction and owner/occupiers, AECO) was a busy and ultimately, for some, boozy day in Shoreditch Town Hall. After attending the user conference, I stayed for the start of the launch party, but first attended a typically bullish press briefing by Asite CEO Tony Ryan. I jotted down a few points….
- Asite is on a journey to simplify its product interface, to make it as user-friendly and intuitive to use as possible. Tony explained that the Adoddle cartoon character was introduced in July 2012 as part of a marketing strategy to position the product as simple (“easier than Facebook”) and friendly. He used the phrase ‘”cocial” networking’ – amalgamating ‘corporate’ and ‘social’ – a few times.
- The company believes it has the right pricing strategy, opting for per-user charging while most of its UK rivals have adopted per-project approaches. For basic collaboration, the service starts at £15/user/month, rising to £65 for the full platform capabilities, but there is a lot of room for negotiation if companies want to become enterprise customers, he said. Asite adoption ranges from “five-man bands doing loft conversions” to multinationals like Laing O’Rourke with a claimed 6,000 users.
- Asite has been profitable in recent years, and Tony expects full-year revenues of around £5.5m in Asite’s current financial year (ending 30 June), and forecast revenues rising to £7.8m in 2015 and £13m in 2016. Internationally, “Australia has gone ridiculous on us“, reaching £700k from nothing in 18 months, Tony said, but, after two attempts, the company still “needs to crack the US”. The Goldman Sachs deal was highlighted as a major step forward in raising their profile in north America (Asite appointed a US VP of Sales last July, and yesterday I met its other US representative, AEC industry veteran Paul Seletsky).
I was, and to some extent still am, sceptical about the Adoddle cartoon character (for a product striving for corporate adoption in a serious and conservative industry vertical like construction it look somewhat child-like or frivolous – even Facebook, mentioned, remains blandly branded). However, I think Asite is right to want to make its product easy to sign up to and easy to use without training. Many non-construction SaaS applications offer immediate use online and users can quickly learn by doing; yet most SaaS solutions in the AEC space still tend to rely on a direct sales team, with consultancy and training support to get initial users up to speed with their platforms.
The expansion of Asite cMOB to smartphone and tablet-native apps is overdue. Asite was an early mobile mover, offering web-based access to its platform in the late 2000s, but, while being enthusiastic about social approaches to communications with its user community (see June 2009 post), Asite has lagged a little behind its competitors in offering mobile-native apps. This is a key area for future development, as users are increasingly likely to want secure access to their corporate systems via mobile devices, sometimes offline, and these also often require simpler interfaces than conventional lap/desktop interfaces with mouse and keyboard-based inputs.
Merging these two areas of social and mobile, I’ve used a slightly different word recently: “mocial“. Startups are eyeing the construction collaboration space, and I think real-time ‘mocial’ approaches adopted by FieldLens and GenieBelt (post) could challenge incumbents who don’t adapt (I wrote a guest post published yesterday on the Fieldlens blog on this topic).