Real-time collaboration

Through, I found an interesting white paper from Web-Ex.

While not focused on construction collaboration or extranet technologies, it had some interesting points to make about employing an externally hosted solution.

In passing, I was struck by a new abbreviation. The paper quotes research by the Service and Support Professionals Association and Tech Strategy Partners, which found that, of total IT budget, on average 47% goes towards the total cost of support and management (what Web-Ex abbreviates to TCSM – an interesting, and more specific, variation or sub-set of total cost of ownership, TCO). In other words, almost half of an organisation’s IT budget is spent just keeping current systems running – highlighting the need for organisations to manage their chosen systems as efficiently as possible.

Web-Ex’s white paper looks at most of the familiar criteria used to compare the suitability of web-hosted v. in-house solutions: affordability, availability, scalability, performance, supportability, manageability, compatibility, specialised needs, security, compliance and vendor viability. It concludes:

Most enterprises that have investigated this trade-off have agreed with IDC’s conclusion from its Executive Brief entitled Conferencing through Service Providers for Low Cost and Reliability: “[Real-time collaboration] should drive productivity, not inhibit it. Because running multimedia communications services is not a core competency for most companies, many will find that entrusting this responsibility to someone else is the best way to make sure conferencing features are useful and that business objectives are met. Service providers offer expertise and economies of scale that are not typically available internally.

I have argued much the same kind of thing in my book. Indeed, replace IDC’s references to conferencing with ‘construction collaboration technologies’ and you’d have my argument in a nutshell.

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The “Software as a service” Age

I notice Bill Gates is reported as saying the "software as a service" age is here. Nothing new in such an announcement from Microsoft. Some of their products have now moved forward a bit, of course, but also Microsoft is looking over its shoulder at ASP businesses such as If you’re interested in knowing more about the virtues of SaaS, this March 2005 article from gives a good overview of the advantages and potential benefits.

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Welcome to the Extranet Evolution

Welcome to the "Extranet Evolution". Why did I choose this title? Well, the term "Extranet Evolution" forms the subtitle of my recently published book on ‘project extranets’ or – as I prefer to call them – construction collaboration technologies. ("Construction Collaboration Technologies: The Extranet Evolution" is published by Taylor & Francis, and it is so hot-off-the-press that the first copies were sold less than a month ago. For more information, have a look at the book flyer.

My choice of the word "evolution" probably also needs explaining. As the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) sector tends to be quite conservative in its adoption of new technologies, I believed there was little chance of web-based technologies changing the complexion of the industry overnight. Industry customers and their project teams will want to establish that the technologies (and the companies behind them) are robust, reliable, and likely to be around for a while. As a result, migration from traditional forms of communication are more likely to be evolutionary than revolutionary.

And why blog? As an advocate of online collaboration, I feel I should practice what I preach and use online collaboration tools – of which blogs are just one example – to comment upon the impacts of information and communication technologies on construction projects.

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