Jan 04 2018

Script&Go targeting UK

Script&Go logo 2018Rennes, France-based mobile application developer Script&Go is expanding beyond France, opening offices in Montreal, Canada, and in the UK. Since August (soon after my June 2017 post) its developers have been working to adapt its software for the UK market.

Claiming 414% revenue growth from 2014 to 2017, CEO Benoît Jeannin says: “There has a been a real demand for this in the UK. We have assembled a marketing and sales team there that will assist us in adapting BatiScript, our construction management software designed particularly for defect management on tablets and smartphones. We are present in Bath and Birmingham. Being there allows us to meet professionals in the UK market and listen to their needs. Listening is at the heart of our trade.” (Faisal Hamid is the firm’s UK country manager, and attended December’s COMIT community day in High Wycombe).*

In 2018, the company is considering opening an office in Germany. It says 2018 will also see a project to unite the company’s two products, BatiScript and Site Diary. It plans:

  • workflows for document storage and drawing management
  • modules to share ‘defects’ data between different stakeholders (talking about becoming a “social network for real-estate field workers” – not the first vendor to aspire to this, of course; Copenhagen’s GenieBelt and US players FieldLens and JobSite Unite [now closed], among others, have said the same)
  • an event management module, and
  • a module for users to monitor the quality of completed activities

Longer term (like other mobile-first developers), it sees the smartphone as the key device, aiming for intuitive data entry while mobile, while retaining a back office application for data management and reporting. The company says it is researching handwritten (with a stylus) and verbal data entry (contextualised voice recognition) methods. The integration of Building Information Modelling (BIM) is also part of Script&Go’s product roadmap.

Interested in drones?

COMIT* COMIT is hosting the inaugural meeting of its drone community at Bentley’s offices in the City of London on 25 January 2018. More details here.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/01/script-and-go-targeting-uk/

Jan 03 2018

Accruent buys Kykloud

kykloud-logoNorth Shields, UK-based mobile Software-as-a-Service asset management application vendor Kykloud has been acquired by Austin, Texas-based software business Accruent for an undisclosed sum.

Launched in January 2012, proptech startup Kykloud was founded by Edwin Bartlett and former 4Projects (now part of Viewpoint nearby in Newcastle-upon-Tyne) CTO Nick Graham, and in six years has grown to around 25 people, generating around £5m in annual revenues. Its information capture and reporting toolset was initially focused on the needs of surveyors and engineers but by 2016 owner/operators were Kykloud’s biggest sector. It has supported property management inspections for the UK’s Network Rail, and 15 months ago was selected to review the condition of around 80,000 buildings in 22,000 state-funded schools across England as part of the Education Funding Agency’s Condition Data Collection Programme (post). Kykloud says it is used by operators such as the BBC, engineering and services firms including CBRE and Cushman & Wakefield, and over 30% of all UK surveyors.

The core Kykloud software suite comprises three main components: mobile building surveying data collection, web-based asset management data storage, and desktop reporting.

Accruent logoAccruent, since May 2016 a Genstar Capital private equity portfolio company, delivers cloud-based software and services to manage real estate, facilities and asset management, from capital planning through to Internet-of-Things (IoT) monitoring and control. It claims to have created “the only integrated SaaS-based framework and reporting platform for full lifecycle physical resource management”, and has over 7,000 global customers in a wide range of industries in 149 countries around the world. Recent acquisitions include BlueCielo (Amsterdam-based asset lifecycle information management provider – bought in November 2017), Lucernex, a provider of Integrated Workplace Management Systems – August 2017) and Verisae (IoT solutions provider – September 2016). UK retailer Sainsbury’s is listed among Accruent’s customers, which I understand also include Boots and the Co-op.

In a letter to business partners, Kykloud says:

“the companies’ visions are well aligned, and our product lines are highly complementary. Kykloud customers will benefit from Accruent’s world-class support infrastructure and the advantages that Accruent’s scale brings to our operations, development and cross-application innovation.”

Accruent provides solutions complementary to Kykloud, including IWMS, facility management (CAFM), predictive maintenance and IoT-based equipment control. The letter says Kykloud and Accruent already share customers in the retail sector using vx Maintain, an Accruent product.

John Borgerding, CEO of Accruent, says:

John Borgerding - Accruent CEO“Kykloud’s software complements Accruent’s existing strength in capital planning, and we’re pleased we already have joint customers linking it with one of our facility management solutions. This acquisition helps us fulfill our global strategy of bringing complementary best-of-breed solutions into our portfolio, and fits our vision of helping customers manage physical resources across their lifecycles. We look forward to introducing the ease-of-use and flexibility of Kykloud’s tablet-optimized app to customers around the world involved in property surveying, third-party building maintenance or real estate operations.”

Ed Bartlett of Kykloud says:

Ed Bartlett“We’ve long admired Accruent’s global reach and best-of-breed solution set. We are confident that Kykloud’s accessible user experience will add an important and strategic component to Accruent’s portfolio, and will put Kykloud in front of a much wider range of customers.”

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2018/01/accruent-buys-kykloud/

Dec 31 2017

New owners for iSite

iSiteA corporate merger between two UK construction businesses mainly engaged in the fit-out sector would not normally grab my attention. However, the pre-Christmas announcement that Styles & Wood is to be combined with interiors firm Southerns Group means a change of ownership for Styles & Wood’s information technology subsidiary, Nottingham-based iSite.

Central Square Holdings Ltd (CSHL) is owned by Steve Parkin, chairman and founder of delivery business Clipper Logistics, which counts some of the country’s biggest retailers among its clients. Clipper floated in 2014 and Parkin used some of the proceeds to buy into interiors firm Southerns Group in 2016. The plan is to combine this with Styles & Wood (more background – TCI article).

iSite

iSite HubiSite has been a smaller player in the UK construction collaboration market, supporting many Styles & Wood customers by offering supporting information management services. As a result, its customers have tended to be industry clients with retail and office portfolios to maintain – a service iSite provided via its Portal solution. In 2012, iSite launched a cloud-based facilities management solution branded as “The Hub”, building on relationships with, among others, Nationwide Building Society and retailers Tesco, the Co-op and Morrison’s (until the late 2000s, iSite was known as StoreData, hinting at its retail connections).

The 2012 “Assetology” campaign is now ancient history, and the business – now led by former FM software executive Graham Perry (who joined iSite in 2012) – describes itself as:

“… experts in Big Data analytics. We provide cloud-based portals and mobile applications for data capture, integration and analytics to manage Corporate Real Estate, Facilities Management, Assets, Programmes and Projects. … As part of Styles&Wood Group PLC, we can provide our clients access to a fully integrated range of property support services, enabling them to enhance the performance of their property assets.”

Until a change in its reporting practices, Styles & Wood used to publicly report iSite’s contribution to group turnover and profits; in 2014, for example, it generated revenues of £1.84m (profit: £192k) – then its most successful year, and it looked to be on target to beat that the following year (see September 2015 post).

As well as the Portal and Hub solutions, it also provides a mobile solution branded as iSite Go.

Deal impact

Central Square has indicated that it “has no intention of changing Styles & Wood’s strategic plans, the location of Styles & Wood’s operations or redeploying Styles & Wood’s fixed assets or effecting a material change to the operations of the business or any conditions of employment of Styles & Wood employees”.

This may mean that iSite continues to support its parent company’s business activities, though its ownership by a contracting business may deter some customers in that sector from dealing with iSite. Most of the successful collaboration technology businesses have been independent of such interests (if it was seen as a non-core business, I think a disposal or a management buy-out might make its services more attractive to contracting customers).

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2017/12/new-owners-for-isite/

Dec 18 2017

Oracle to buy Aconex – reaction

Admiration, apprehension, concern, excitement – SaaS construction collaboration vendors react to Oracle’s pitch to buy Aconex.

Aconex logo 2014Market reaction to Oracle’s Aconex acquisition announcement yesterday saw a predictable leap in Aconex’s share price on the Australian Securities Exchange. From Friday’s close of A$5.29, Aconex shares rocketed 44% to close at A$7.63 (just below Oracle’s offer price), with over 27 million shares traded (but still below Aconex’s historical high of over A$8 in July 2016).

Aconex share price to 18Dec2017

In Australia, Atlassian founder Mike Cannon-Brookes warned Australian fund managers to ignore Aussie tech firms at their peril, calling the deal a big win for Aussie tech. While some analysts and investors believe there is some scope for a second offer from another major tech company, RBC Capital Markets equity research vice-president Paul Mason said “it’s difficult to see another player that could compete with Oracle to acquire it.” (read AFR article).

The UK’s Financial Times pointed out Aconex has lost money in four of the past six years, and highlighted investor scepticism about Oracle’s cloud services plans (not helped by Oracle’s latest quarterly results showing a disappointing cloud performance), adding “Oracle shareholders must hope that, ultimately, builders, not M&A bankers, will help put the company’s cloud growth on a steady footing.”

Competitor reaction

I talked to staff from several rival vendors about the deal. There was admiration for what Aconex and its founders Leigh Jasper and Rob Phillpot had achieved, with one source saying the valuation was “almost unbelievable” (nearly ten times the company’s revenues to 30 June 2017 reported in August) given that Aconex declared a statutory loss last time around.

With Oracle the first major B2B software giant to make a concerted play in the construction vertical market, another source said this has to be a good thing for the industry’s digital transformation (“they know data, they know SaaS”). Other industry sources wondered if Oracle might be seen as too big – or “even too American” – for some customers to work with, though one said the deal might also help build Aconex adoption in the US, with Oracle offering one-stop PaaS (platform as a service, ie: hardware and infrastructure) and SaaS.

There was concern about what the acquisition might mean for some Aconex staff. Oracle was described as “an acquisition machine” likely to rapidly spit out personnel who were surplus to requirements in Oracle’s construction and engineering global business unit (each Oracle GBU has its own general manager, development, sales, marketing, consulting and M&A strategy). There is already some potential overlap between toolsets – Aconex was looking to expand into construction payment management, for example (the focus of Oracle Textura). However, the concern was tempered by excitement about potentially recruiting ex-Aconex staff with detailed knowledge of the construction collaboration technology sector.

Sanjeev Shah (CEO of UK SaaS vendor GroupBC) talked about the deal in the context of ‘common data environments’ (CDEs):

Sanjeev Shah“We’ve always thought it highly likely that a major vendor with a significant bias towards financials/ERP would be interested in acquiring one of the mainstream CDE providers. I believe it’s good for the industry to understand the significance and importance that CDEs have to play in the world of digital construction now and in the future and I believe the acquisition by Oracle is a strong endorsement of this.”

Colin Smith (formerly CEO at BIW, Conject and Textura Europe, and now a non-executive director of Causeway) said:

Colin Smith - Textura Europe“Looking at the numbers, it’s an excellent deal for Aconex shareholders, so congratulations to Leigh and Rob for delivering such a great result. That said, this (coupled with their acquisition of Textura) is an inspired deal for Oracle and clearly signals their serious intent regarding construction – which is a good thing for the industry. Existing software suppliers must take note and up their game accordingly – it’s going to be a case of have lunch or be lunch!

Thomas Bachmaier, CEO of Germany’s think project!, says:

Thomas Bachmaier“Oracle’s acquisition of Aconex in our view highlights the great potential of the engineering and construction market as well as the strategic importance of online project collaboration for the industry. It’s a very positive signal for us as the leading and now largest pure-play provider in Europe.”

Tony Ryan, CEO of London-based Asite, said:

Tony Ryan (Asite CEO)“I think this is amazing for the industry that a business like this can be valued appropriately. I guess we are the last man standing from the original crowd that began this journey. Hats off to Rob and Leigh, but there is now so much more to do….”

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2017/12/oracle-to-buy-aconex-reaction/

Dec 17 2017

Oracle set to buy Aconex

Aconex logo 2014US-based IT giant Oracle has announced it has offered to buy Melbourne, Australia-based Software-as-a-Service construction collaboration technology vendor Aconex, for Au$7.80 (Au$5.96) per share in cash, a deal valuing Aconex at approximately US$1.2 billion (c. Au$1.6bn, £0.9bn or €1.0bn).

Project cost control

The pre-internet giant has spent billions to compete in the cloud computing era – and this deal expands Oracle’s construction and engineering cloud offering. In 2007 it acquired Cimmetry, developer of the popular Autovue browser CAD viewer plugin (later rebadged as an ‘enterprise visualisation’ tool), and its project management software Primavera, acquired by Oracle in 2008, is widely used in the sector. The August 2016 acquisition of Textura’s cloud-based construction payment management (CPM) services extended the reach of Oracle’s cloud-based services. At the time, it had some 85,000 contractors – mostly in the US – in the Textura network, and over US$3.4 billion in payments processed per month, but was also expanding in Australia and pushing into Europe.

Meanwhile, Aconex was pushing into similar areas. Its July 2015 acquisition of Worksite from ARES, adding project cost management (including earned value management, budgeting, cost performance, and forecasting) to its portfolio, with Connected Cost Management (CCM) soft-launched in late 2016 and public marketing started in April 2017. Aconex’s deal to acquire Anglo-German rival Conject in March 2016 added further depth to the Melbourne business’s project cost control functionality and grew its European presence.

Guy Barlow, AconexMeanwhile, it probably helped that several former Oracle executives were already working in Aconex. At the recent Project Controls Expo (November 2017), I interviewed Guy Barlow (recruited just over a year ago) who led the launch of CCM, and I identified it as Aconex’s potential game changer. Barlow was subsequently joined by several other Oracle colleagues. Underlining the importance of CCM, one-time Worksite executive Tim Olshansky was recently appointed CTO of Aconex.

Oracle view

Mike Sicilia, Oracle SVP and GM, Construction and Engineering Global Business Unit, said:

“Delivering projects on time and on budget are the highest strategic imperatives for any construction and engineering organization. With the addition of Aconex, we significantly advance our vision of offering the most comprehensive cloud-based project management solution for this $14 trillion industry.”

Aconex view

Aconex co-founder and CEO Leigh Jasper said:

Leigh Jasper“The Aconex and Oracle businesses are a great, natural fit and highly complementary in terms of vision, product, people and geography. As co-founders of Aconex, both Rob Phillpot and I remain committed to the business and are excited about the opportunity to advance our collective vision on a larger scale, and the benefits this combination will deliver to our customers.”

The Aconex board of directors has unanimously recommended the deal – the offer represents a 47.4% premium to Friday’s closing price of Au$5.29 – nearly four times the 2014 initial public offering price for Aconex’s shares in December 2014. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2018, subject to Aconex shareholder approval in March and certain regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. More information is available at www.oracle.com/aconex.

Update (8 February 2018) – The meeting of shareholders to approve the deal is scheduled to take place on Wednesday 14 March 2018 in Melbourne. Independent expert, Deloitte believes the deal is fair and reasonable and in the best interests of Aconex shareholders, in the absence of a superior proposal. The board continues to unanimously recommend that shareholders vote in favour.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2017/12/oracle-set-to-buy-aconex/

Nov 30 2017

Ape Mobile expands internationally

Australian startup APE Mobile is spreading its wings internationally, looking to grow a US-based sales team and maybe add a London office in the future.

APE LogoAt Digital Construction Week in London in October, I met up with several businesses I had previously written about – one was APE Mobile, a Perth, Australia-based company I first encountered in October 2014.

Founder Matt Edwards had applied his project experience and in November 2013 launched APE Mobile’s Paperless Site app for contractors working on-site, helping them manage memos, forms, actions, drawings and documents, plus reports, via Apple iOS devices, while an open API enabled easy data exchange with back-office business systems. Recommendation and word-of-mouth marketing quickly extended APE Mobile beyond its Western Australia heartland (it enjoyed monthly revenue growth of 20% in its first year).

In August 2015, Edwards announced a Series A funding round led by Jolimont Global and Viburnum Funds, giving the company access to Au$2m (then c £0.94m or US$1.47m) to fund further product development and to drive growth . Then I noted that it wasn’t trying to compete with pure SaaS construction collaboration vendors, like Aconex, but was positioning itself as complementing existing solutions.

APE Mobile targeting Europe

Kevin Reece, Ape Mobile’s head of growth, was in London on 18 October to check out the competitive landscape (as well as visiting DCW, APE Mobile also exhibited at National Construction Week in Birmingham and was going to have a stand at London Build). He said: “We were very focused on Australia for the first couple of years, and since the start of 2017, we’ve been doing more marketing overseas – in the US, UK and New Zealand (we did a couple of US shows: CONExpo and the AGC IT forum) – and now about 25% of our customers are outside Australia.”

He said monthly recurring revenues were up 52% in the last quarter, and they were about to recruit sales people for the US market, complementing an Australia-based team that was stretched to cope with the time differences involved in international sales; a London office would be the logical next step after the US West Coast operation in Denver was established.

The company had also been boosted by advice from Leanne Graham, a former Xero executive and experienced cloud technology executive, appointed chairman of Ape Mobile in April 2016. Since her appointment, the company raised a further Au$2m from existing investors in late 2016, is currently closing a funding round, and plans a larger fund-raising round in 2018 to help it solidify its US presence.

Reece said:

Kevin Reece (APE Mobile, at DCW)“APE Mobile is building on its strengths to provide the kind of transformational insights that contractors will depend on to win in this rapidly changing industry. We realised that all people really want is to understand what’s happening on site, and because we capture data in a unique way, we have vast amounts of rich data that can be put to good use. We started by enabling access to data, and providing simple insights, but the evolution of this will be to essentially rollback time, which has many use cases such as safety management and contract disputes.”

Integrations (via a fully-documented public API) with Sage 300 CRE, Viewpoint’s Vista and Dexter + Cheney Spectrum, have also helped make the product attractive to users of those ERP systems; the company has also started integrations to Procore and Aconex, he said, and was looking at other AEC-specific vendors. A partner programme was also helping to extend the company’s marketing reach.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2017/11/ape-mobile-expands-internationally/

Nov 24 2017

Connected Cost – Aconex’s game-changer?

Guy Barlow, global commercial director for Connected Cost at Aconex, was speaking at the Project Controls Expo in London last week (16 November 2017). I talked to him before his presentation (on the world’s emerging ‘Giga projects’).

Aconex logo 2014Just over six months ago, Melbourne, Australia-based SaaS construction collaboration vendor Aconex finally publicly launched its Connected Cost solution, filling a gap in its product portfolio compared to several competitors, particularly in north America. The July 2015 Worksite acquisition from ARES Corporation (also at the Expo) had apparently already encouraged some customers looking for project cost functionality, and the deal to acquire Anglo-German rival Conject in March 2016 added further project cost control functionality into the Aconex SaaS stack.

Guy Barlow joined Aconex from Oracle’s Primavera team in late 2016 (with a CV boasting earlier spells at PwC, IBM and Bearing Point), and has subsequently been joined by several other Oracle colleagues. Compared to Oracle, he said it was an opportunity to be “a bigger fish in a relatively small pond,” but also to work in an innovative and growing company changing the industry, and, with Connected Cost: “a product that will break the status quo.”

Selling Connected Cost to the former Conject customer base

Connected Cost was soft-launched in November 2016, with marketing starting in earnest in April 2017. Currently, the Conject Financial Cost solution remains a separate product to Connected Cost. Barlow said:

Guy Barlow, Aconex“Over time, you pull the best from what you’ve got and build it into your existing product, but for now the two are separate. Naturally, our goal is to sell Connected Cost to our Conject customers, filling in the gaps where the original product didn’t meet their needs.”

We talked about internationalising Software-as-a-Service products, and developing consistent process naming conventions, as well as accommodating different language needs. “Things like NEC capability, while not unique to the UK, have to be accommodated to fit different markets,” Barlow said.

Connected Cost has made the Aconex platform more attractive to some clients. Some recent deals would not have been done without Connected Cost. It is getting us into a whole new space. Document management and collaboration is hugely important to the industry and has helped Aconex grow over the last 16 years, but project controls get us to a new spot, helps us elevate the conversation, and get into more enterprise-type deals.”

ERP and ecosystems

Guy Barlow talking at Project Controls Expo, London, November 2017In some markets such as Asia, Barlow said spreadsheets are often still used to manage project controls, but customers have been looking at Aconex as it allows them to quickly adopt and deploy a solution that already has the “familiar look and feel of a spreadsheet but with all the collaboration built underneath it” (in his ‘Giga-project’ presentation later, Barlow said “the deployment time of Aconex was one thing that excited me about the technology”). He said “clients are tired of clunky, on-premise legacy solutions built on old software architecture“, and are looking for cloud-based alternatives.

However, he was clear that Connected Cost does not replace enterprise ERP or scheduling systems; it becomes part of a complementary enterprise software ‘ecosystem’.

“The corporate ERP system is great for looking in the rear-view mirror, but in a project-intensive industry you want to have forward-facing sight of how your projects are performing. We sit in that ‘sweet spot’ between ERP and scheduling (we have native, out-of-box integration with [Primavera] P6), and marry up the real-time data coming in with the budget information to give them that picture.

Construction payment management

In April 2017, Aconex founder Rob Phillpot talked about moving into construction payment management and supplier finance. Barlow said claims and payments / progress claim capabilities are one of the key areas in Connected Cost, describing current practice as “so backwards” (ie: in need of digitisation). “Supply chain finance is something we’re moving forward with, and we have someone working with Rob in Melbourne on this.”

As an ex-Oracle executive, Barlow had little contact with Textura when it was acquired by Oracle in April 2016 for US$663m – and accepted that Aconex’s Connected Cost CPM push would see him in direct competition with former colleagues, but he could only speculate about how Textura might fit alongside other Oracle products such as Primavera. (Other products in this sector include Zuuse’s Progressclaim, branded as PayApps.com in the UK, and, in the UK, OpenECX’s WebContractor.)

Connected Cost and 5D BIM

Taking the cost conversation a stage further we talked about building information modelling and cost management: so-called 5D BIM. “This is definitely on our roadmap,” Barlow said. “If a change is made in the 3D model, you obviously want to reflect that change in the cost, though, right now, we have priorities in other areas.” The roadmap also extends to augmented reality and drones, he said.

With one-time Worksite executive Tim Olshansky now CTO of Aconex, Barlow said Connected Cost would benefit from Olshansky’s push on pan-Aconex initiatives like Aconex API integration (“hugely important to us”), dashboarding, and the continued migration of Conject functionality to help retain those customers. Portfolio planning and risk management were areas that Barlow was interested in, potentially a logical extension of the company’s project controls capabilities, that could be augmented by business intelligence tools interrogating the “incredibly rich datasets” now being managed through Connected Cost.

Update (29 November 2017) – Guy Barlow has also been interviewed in the CIOB’s Global Construction Review.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2017/11/connected-cost-aconexs-game-changer/

Nov 24 2017

Rhumbix and real-time site data

Rhumbix automates construction workforce timekeeping and reporting at the field level via a mobile app, and provides real-time reporting, benchmarking and analysis to managers.

Rhumbix logoSometimes being separated by an ocean and continent doesn’t help communication. As a London-based writer, I received a news release about San Francisco, California’s Rhumbix, and reached out for an interview, but the timings just didn’t work out (and there’ve been a couple of post-blog updates – latest 20.45pm GMT, 28 November 2017). In the meantime, I’ll briefly summarise….

Rhumbix was founded by two former US Navy personnel – Zach Scheel was a civil engineer, and Drew DeWalt was a submarine pilot – who met at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. In 2013, they were both working in northern Chile on separate projects, but both identified they had the same challenges of data collection on construction sites and estimating labour costs. Rhumbix is the result: a mobile platform that provides real-time project data and insights to project stakeholders.

The company’s news release claims it is currently being used by seven of the top 20 builders in the United States, including Turner Construction, which has seen a 790% ROI on its investment in Rhumbix, largely down to reducing the time taken to enter timecards. Foremen went from 4.5 hours per week of time entry to 20 minutes; superintendents and SPO engineers spent 90% less on manual timekeeping. It appears to be offered at three levels:

  • Rhumbix BASIC is a mobile app deployed to foremen to collect field data. “Data collected is shared immediately with the home office through an administrative dashboard. Timecards, daily reports, cost codes, T&M tags, pictures and notes are now 100 percent digitised.” The app uses GPS and customer-defined geo-fences to create more accurate records of job-hours worked on projects
  • Rhumbix CORE helps firms take their digitised data and feed it back to project managers, superintendents and foremen to provide real-time benchmarking and analysis.
  • Rhumbix MASTER allows integration of third party data with custom professional services and deployments to optimise and proactively improve processes

The company closed a US$7.35 million round of funding led by Blackhorn Ventures, in October 2017. The technology provides integration with Procore, Viewpoint, Intuit Quickbooks and Xero.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2017/11/rhumbix-and-real-time-site-data/

Nov 10 2017

Aconex promotes from within

Aconex logo 2014Melbourne, Australia-based SaaS construction collaboration technology vendor Aconex has announced the promotion of two employees to its executive team.

Tim Olshansky (Aconex CTO)Tim Olshansky has been appointed chief technology officer. He was most recently head of engineering, Americas, at Aconex. Previously he founded Worksite, provider of a SaaS project cost management solution that was acquired by Aconex in July 2015. Aconex says Olshansky will focus on strategy, direction, and execution of technology at Aconex. He is based in the company’s San Francisco office, its hub for the ongoing expansion of Aconex in the North America region. He replaces the short-lived Craig Fulton, the former Telstra executive appointed as CTO in February 2017 (post), who left Aconex in July and is now with IBM in Melbourne.

Kirsten Mann has been named acting vice president, product and experience. Mann “has spent close to two decades guiding organisations on how to enhance customer experience and has helped build a world-class product team at Aconex.” Over the past seven years she has held several Aconex roles, including director of customer/user experience and online support, and most recently, general manager of global design and experience. Melbourne-based, she will be directing new product offerings and continuing to address customer needs across the Aconex platform.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2017/11/aconex-promotes-from-within/

Nov 03 2017

Total Synergy targets AEC designers

Australia’s Total Synergy provides a SaaS-based practice management toolset aimed at architects, engineers and other small AEC design firms, and is going global.

Total Synergy logoNorth Sydney, Australia-based Total Synergy has been developing its practice management tools for architects and engineers since 2000. I met founder and CEO Scott Osborne on a recent trip to London, along with EMEA regional manager Damiaan van Zanen, and they told me something of the history of the now 27-strong firm, and its forward ambitions.

Initially, the core Synergy product was a conventional on-premise toolset. It was competing against platforms such as the UK-based Union Square (acquired by Deltek in July 2016), Rapport3 and CMAP (its focus on AEC designers separates it slightly from providers such as the UK’s BuilderStorm, US-based e-Sub.com and New Zealand’s TidyBuild – post). Having made the full transition to the cloud, the company is now looking to expand internationally. I saw van Zanen doing the rounds at Digital Construction Week two weeks ago; he manages the company’s London office in Clerkenwell. An office in north America is to be established in 2018 to expand the product’s round-the-clock human support and provide a US-based sales and marketing team.

An accountant by background, Osborne says Synergy is designed to meet the changing needs of the AEC sector globally.

Approximately 95 percent of global AEC businesses have fewer than 25 staff. We developed Synergy to enable this majority to untether from their offices and desks through a pure cloud software application. Synergy is designed to help all small-to- medium AEC businesses identify where they are profitable, manage their work and documentation, and collaborate with industry colleagues and clients on the same platform… without adding the significant cost and complexity found in bigger systems.”

Synergy is intended to help the AEC industry find more time for design. Drawing on the experiences of 10,000 users in Australia and New Zealand, Osborne says this is a key challenge for small-to- medium AEC professional services businesses:

“A simple example of immediate time savings is from one of our recent beta trials: a structural engineering
company of four people saved one-and- a-half days of time in just invoicing after only one month… that’s
one-and- a-half days back for the managing director who does almost everything in a firm that size.”

Three core functions

Synergy offers three core function areas for AEC design businesses: project accounting, project management, and collaboration. The service was launched globally this week, with a new website and a new video:

Synergy-dashboardThe product is built around a core offering of cloud-based project accounting, project management and collaboration, with strong dashboards and reporting functions. It has tools to set staff rates, and to manage documents, invoices, contacts, images and timesheets and is integrated with small business accounting solutions including Xero, QuickBooks Online and MYOB AccountRight Live, so avoiding double entry of information.

The company is not intending for Synergy to compete with the SaaS collaboration products of firms such as Aconex, Procore or Newforma. “Our aim is to integrate with the solutions from these guys,” van Zanen told me. “Where businesses do want to do some basic 2D markup we are working on an integration with the Bullclip tool from Drawboard.” He said some resource planning and related Gantt chart functionality would be added to the toolset in 2018 too.

‘Professional’ pricing start from £10 per user per month, allowing up to 2GB of storage per user, while the ‘Business’ band costs from £15, with 5GB per user and offering more document and invoice templates and deeper project phasing options.

Total Synergy functionality

 

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2017/11/total-synergy-targets-aec-designers/

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