May 24 2017

Growing Viewpoint continues BIM push

Viewpoint Construction Software continues to grow its EMEA revenues, with BIM a strongpoint for customer adoption, says Steve Spark. 

Viewpoint logo 2016Ahead of the Viewpoint Construction Software UK user conference in London this week (24-25 May), I met up with Steve Spark, Viewpoint’s EMEA commercial director, to hear what the company planned to share with its customers and end-users.

Continued double-digit growth 

The Newcastle, UK-based EMEA operation continued to grow its SaaS collaboration and mobile revenues in 2016, up 24% on 2015, Spark said (at the conference, a slide showed full-year revenues at around £14m – c. $17.3m or €14.7m). The company’s Middle East market was “tough” and growth there had been “flat,” but its partnerships strategy in mainland Europe had delivered a boost of around 15%.

However, the company’s strong position in the UK has delivered the bulk of the company’s revenue growth, Spark said, with Viewpoint UK winning work from asset owner/operators, tier 1 contractors and also from consultants and other supply chain members. Looking at the UK’s top 20 contractors, he says Viewpoint is working with all but one of them.

Given that some clients may insist on other systems and that some contractors may use several SaaS providers, this is hardly conclusive evidence of market domination (customer logos displayed in vendor slide decks often include the same businesses), but Spark highlights enterprise deals, which are more conclusive. “Fifty per cent of the top 20 UK contractors have signed enterprise deals to use Viewpoint For Projects (VFP), while we also have enterprise deals with 15% of them for use of Viewpoint Field View.” (Field View was formerly the mobile application Priority1, acquired in December 2014).

The total number of VFP users as of April 2017 is now 262,000, up 29% from 203,470 in 2016 (active users were given as 43,181, up from 37,936 in 2016). The VFP platform now hosts over 711,000 documents, up 27%. Total number of projects was up 48% to 117,628.

Viewpoint VFP stats May 2017

Why adopt Viewpoint?

Viewpoint 2017 survey dataWe talked about reasons behind this growing adoption of the Viewpoint collaboration products, with Constructing Excellence’s key performance indicators (KPIs; 2016 report here) providing some context for customer research that Viewpoint had undertaken. This survey showed that 84% of Viewpoint rated the software as delivering a medium-high impact on return on investment, 95% rated it similarly for improvements in health and safety, in quality, and in reductions in errors and rework. “Sixty per cent of our users said they made cost savings of up to 20% at the design phase. Fifty-six per cent made cost savings of up to 20% at the construction phase.”

I asked if Viewpoint had seen any change in the market following Aconex’s March 2016 acquisition of the Anglo-German Conject business. “We understand that the Conject platform will be discontinued with many customers eventually being switched to the Aconex platform,” said Spark. “As a result, we have seen strong growth in enquiries from customers who are using this change as a reason to review their options. We have won new deals from customers who prefer our approach to collaboration to Aconex’s.”
(Read what Aconex CEO Leigh Jasper said about their product migration).

Product development

Viewpoint has continued to capitalise on its investments in adding building information modelling (BIM) functionality to its platform. Some of these date back to the early days of the UK BIM adoption programme or are updates on announcements made a year ago, though the latest step forward has been implementing support for IFC4. The VFP product roadmap includes addition of BIM Collaboration Format (BCF) capabilities (“We can already create and share BCF notifications; next step is to manage BCF responses”; BCF was discussed at Viewpoint’s 2016 summit too) and new tools to support asset owners’ operation and maintenance requirements.

As well as BIM and document control improvements, Spark said Viewpoint is also continuing to develop Field View with expanded support for forms, and growing project management capabilities, including integration with customer back-office systems including enterprise resource planning (ERP) – a strength of the US parent company. “We have been looking to strengthen our enterprise offering so that businesses can exploit their investment in their on-premise tools – such as Viewpoint’s Vista – by integrating these with our collaboration products in the cloud,” said Spark.

Team and Field

Larsen talks at 2017 VPCSJeremy Larsen (Viewpoint’s director of product development) told the conference about plans to make VFP more accessible from mobile platforms, with better support across the three main operating systems: Android (originally the sole platform for Field View), iOS and Windows. Repeating Spark’s integration point, Larsen also said further integration between VFP and Field View is on the roadmap.

Barry Frangipane talked about Field View. The product is now fully available on iOS, and Viewpoint is working towards full parity with Windows (the release is imminent). The dated and cumbersome user interface has been replaced; it is now faster to load, requires fewer clicks, and is more responsive, with customisable screens. Field View dashboards have also been improved. He also talked about “skinny sync” – optimising synchronisation between the web application and local devices so that users didn’t sync data they didn’t require, or no longer needed. Forms can now be printed direct from tablets too, and support for PDFs is improving, Frangipane said.

What’s next? Field View will be able to link to documents that are held in VFP. Field View will be available on smartphones in 2018 (it will be quicker to onboard new devices too), and there will be more APIs to give greater access to information.

Josh Wright talked about VFP product development. Multi-file upload has been added to the system, deploying new and more user-friendly drag-and-drop technologies (requiring less training), with an interface that includes progress bars so users are updated on upload progress. VFP Desktop provides “the ease of Dropbox with the power of VFP,” he said.

What’s coming next? VFP is moving to an HTML5 viewer (dropping any reliance on ActiveX plug-ins or Flash); the new Brava viewer will support view and mark-up in all major browsers, with comparisons available in Chrome. Dashboard developments will include slicker visualisations, customisable to personal and project level tasks. VFP Mobile will provide easy access to VFP on tablets (Android, iOS and Windows) for access to documents in the field. The BIM viewer has been strengthened to support IFC4 and improve COBie navigation and model performance. BS1192-2 numbering is also on the product roadmap for the second half of 2017.

Innovation and the future…. Larsen’s team is also looking beyond six-month spans seeking user guidance on what might be needed two-three years in the future, particularly on project communications. Matt Harris, SVP, Products, had earlier talked about “Viewpoint’s next generation project platform” – Larsen talked about a “state of the art platform”, utilising the Microsoft Azure platform (echoes of Bentley here), Xamarin, HTML5, and AngularJS. The aim is software that is intuitive, ease to use and flexible, supporting defined business processes, Larsen said.

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