Egnyte is targeting its enterprise file sync and sharing platform at architecture, engineering and construction, positioning itself as an ‘agnostic CDE’.
Attending the first day of the FutureBuild 2020 trade show in London earlier this month, I noticed an Egnyte stand among the digital exhibitors. Stepping on to the stand, I briefly met Andrew Martin, EMEA senior sales director and UK managing director, and he told me that US-based Egnyte had identified the UK construction sector as one of its targets for its Software-as-a-Service collaboration and file-sharing platform, and was starting to exhibit more widely as UK AEC events (this was just as the coronavirus outbreak was beginning to impact the UK – FutureBuild was already showing signs of reducing footfall, so, as Egnyte reduced its stand personnel, Martin and I didn’t get chance to follow up on this conversation).
Egnyte, EMEA and construction
The Egnyte platform is not a construction-specific SaaS technology, nor is it directly competing with simple file-sharing providers like Dropbox or Box. It is positioned as a corporate solution for “secure content collaboration, compliant data protection and simple infrastructure modernisation”. Established in 2007, the company (backed by Google Ventures among others) is based in California and, having established a million-plus user-base, started a push into Europe in 2014, seeking to tempt enterprise customers with a technology that could be deployed on-premise, in the cloud, or deployed in a hybrid setup. At that time, Egnyte’s customers included UK contractor Bowmer & Kirkland, the Texas-based arm of UK contractor Balfour Beatty, plus other US firms including Andersen Construction, McKenney’s, Power Design, Inc. and Tutor Perini Corporation.
Balfour Beatty (case study) selected Egnyte to replace its Box file-sharing solution and also leveraged Egnyte’s integration with PlanGrid (since November 2018, part of Autodesk). Egnyte also integrates with other AEC-oriented tools including Nemetschek’s Bluebeam (post), Newforma (Newforma acquires SmartUse, 2014) and Raken (Mobile-first Raken builds its niche, 2017), and, in September 2019, announced an integration with Procore (another US vendor also increasingly active in the UK – it recently joined the UK BIM Alliance, something that I understand Egnyte is intending to do too).
Following FutureBuild, I received an Egnyte email saying that, for construction customers, Egnyte enables them to:
“1. Digitise sites to improve user experience, allow offline access to project documents and sync changes back with HQ.
2. Provide an Agnostic CDE which integrates with your current applications and workflows, creating a consolidated file storage structure which allows you to mitigate version conflicts and data silos, this will ensure a quicker project handover time, a more secure project process and a golden thread of data.”
An Extranet Evolution view
I am hoping to have a more detailed conversation Martin and his Egnyte UK colleagues in the near future. Judging from its sales collateral, exhibition stand and corporate emails, Egnyte clearly feels it has a compelling offer to an industry sector reliant on efficient and secure information exchange. But, like others, how well it really delivers a ‘common data environment’ is open to question. As recently discussed (January 2020: Towards connected data environments…), UK guidance on the international BIM standard ISO 19650 underlines that a CDE is a combination of technical solutions and process workflows, not a single platform. Also, the envisaged future for BIM is one in which collaboration is enabled more around BIM objects and less around files and file storage (see Open CDEs post). Egnyte talks of “ecosystems” and is clearly committed to developing integrations with other solutions, so its ability to ensure a “golden thread of data” will therefore demand the creation of interconnections at the data level with other technologies and workflows deployed in project delivery and built asset operation and use.
(A small niggle: despite the exposure the company has had to the UK construction market, Egnyte’s co.uk website hasn’t been localised sufficiently to remove US-oriented references to ‘general contractors’, ‘specialty contractors’, ‘jobsites’, ‘trailers’ and ‘superintendents’.)