Jul 22 2014

New chairman at Aconex

Aconex logo 2014AconexAdam Lewis (Aconex chair 2014), the Melbourne, Australia-based SaaS construction collaboration technology provider, has appointed a new chairman. Simon Yencken, who succeeded the then embattled Martin Hosking in June 2011, has stepped down (but will remain a director) and Adam Lewis (right), a non-executive director since November 2011, is the new chairman.

Today’s boardroom reshuffle announcement has also seen Keith Geeslin, a partner at Aconex investor Francisco Partners, elected as a director in place of his Francisco colleague Petri Oksanen who had served on the Aconex board since 2012.

The company was rumoured last week to be preparing to float on the Australian Stock Exchange.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.extranetevolution.com/2014/07/new-chairman-at-aconex/

Jul 22 2014

Help Brok with some BIM quotes …

I have a BuildingSMART contact, Brok Howard (he’s @Brokhoward on Twitter), at HOK in the USA, who was looking for some designers’ views on how the UK AEC sector is moving from paper to full digital model delivery.

He asked me about views expressed by speakers at recent conferences (for example, I attended ThinkBIM in Leeds on 9 July, a HP BIM event at the RIBA in London last week, and a Constructing Excellence event on asset management last month), and I thought I would share the “casual, shoot from the hip perspectives” (many of them Twitter soundbites) I quoted….

When do you think the professional standard of care will require design professionals to provide 3D models for all individual scope instead of paper 2D drawings? Full BIM and only models.

  • “Project life doesn’t start when you appoint an architect … you need to make a business case first”
  • “For those working in the public sector (and private sector clients adopting the UK government BIM approach), it will be 2016.”
  • “Defining deliverables at the outset helps you plan your future data needs. … BIM execution starts ‘at the end’, with consideration of the asset’s future use (OpEx)”
  • “BIM is not just 3D, or 4D (sequencing) or 5D (cost), but 6D – it includes asset operations.”
  • “Our BIM standards are still work in progress. The picture will be clearer by March 2015.”

What are the major challenges design professionals face in this transition?

  • “Getting support from the top – if processes fail to get embedded, users soon revert to 2D and workloads grow.”
  • “Challenges include a poor understanding of company BIM capabilities, regional differences in these, and continuously developing BIM strategies”
  • “Trusting the data is a challenge to some businesses.”
  • “Let’s have a single shared project objective. Collaboration is about having the same objective – it’s not a process.”
  • “Poor interoperability is a major factor. Autodesk and Bentley don’t help.”

What opportunities do you see opening up when contracts required modeling from everyone on a design team and paper goes away?

  • “I know an electrical contractor using BIM because it makes him more productive, not because it’s going to be mandated.”
  • “If we give clients great buildings (with data), they can lead future projects that more effectively push the boundaries.”
  • “Buildings that are well constructed for ‘business’ productivity will more than offset the costs of FM, BIM.”
  • “Nobody is yet handing over asset information upon completion. The real value will be in this data.”
  • “In the context of BIM, the ability for us to provide exportable services is one of the main drivers for UK adoption.”

(If you have any more quotable quotes that might help Brok, please add them via the comments.)

Permanent link to this article: http://www.extranetevolution.com/2014/07/help-brok-with-some-bim-quotes/

Jul 18 2014

Aconex to float on ASX?

Aconex logo 2014The Australian Financial Review is reporting that Aconex is preparing for an initial public offering on the Australian Stock Exchange.

The Melbourne-based SaaS construction collaboration technology vendor (now sporting a shiny new corporate identity) is said to be working with investment banks UBS and Macquarie Capital to prepare a road show for fund managers in Sydney, Melbourne and Asia, which could see the company’s shares on the ASX by the end of 2014. The story is repeated by SmartCompany, which says any such move will put it alongside technology contemporaries Atlassian and Xero.

The company was founded in 2000 by Leigh Jasper and Rob Philpott, and rapidly expanded internationally during the early 2000s, establishing offices across Asia and Europe, and more recently moving in to the north American market. In September 2008, it received a private equity injection of a AU$107.5m (then around £49m) from California, US-based Francisco Partners.

Aconex Revenues Profit/Loss December 2013The company’s fortunes were buffeted by the global financial crisis as the recession savaged the worldwide construction industry, and the company has also had to deal with some outbreaks of boardroom bickering. Revenue growth was flat for a while (see January 2012 post), and, while the last two years have seen an upturn in revenues (in the year to 30 June 2013, it reported earnings of Au$52.6m (then £28.4m or US$46.8m), its international expansion also meant the business’s losses have steadily grown.

In revenue terms, Aconex, however, remains roughly twice the size of its nearest SaaS pure play rivals in construction collaboration, and it is, arguably, the only one with a genuinely global reach.

Update (23 July 2014) – The Australian Business Spectator reports Aconex received favourable feedback from Asian investors on a roadshow this week. It did a two-day non-deal roadshow in Hong Kong, is meeting Melbourne fund managers today (Wednesday), and heading to Sydney tomorrow (Thursday). It is reported the company expects to deliver $80 million of revenue in financial year 2015, with an annual growth rate of 20 per cent, and that “Asian investors particularly like the story of taking Australian expertise global.” The IPO is slated for some time this year, but the size of the offer has not been disclosed.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.extranetevolution.com/2014/07/aconex-to-float-on-asx/

Jul 18 2014

SmartBuilder founder reflects on UK mobile AEC market

smartBuilder-logoWhile writing about SmartBuilder‘s closure earlier this week, I was engaged in an email exchange with the company’s founder and CEO Peter Daly about the challenges of promoting mobile applications in the UK construction market. Here he reflects on his experience over the past four years.

What are the factors in construction adoption of mobile solutions?

Peter DalyPeter Daly: I think the key thing is that this is a market that has been emerging for 14 years very slowly since the era of the PDA. While iPad and other tablet and smartphone use has increased in the sector that has not meant that in-field software has taken off.  Such use as there is is confined mainly to Tier 1 firms while early vendor entrants such as Priority1 have satisfied a lot of the very limited market demand in the UK.

We hear it discussed often at COMIT events: is mobile device use a health and safety issue for construction firms?

Peter Daly: The H&S angle is I think largely an excuse in the UK – although that is certainly not to minimise the need for safe use of smartphones and tablets. A clip-board needs no site safety assessment, but if you get too absorbed in it at height you are just as much at risk!

In the US where smartphone and tablet adoption are more widespread this is less of a problem. Certainly there is a reluctance  to buy devices – due to a lack of perceived ROI. Whether BYOD ['Bring your own device'] can have an impact here as in other sectors (especially in the US) remains to be seen.

I think that your previous post on collaboration platforms (16 reasons why no one yet dominates the collaboration platform space, 2013) also hits the nail on the head about many common problems with the mobile space: the project-centred selling, the ‘churn’, the piloting, etc.

One key thing is that, apart from the compulsion to adopt BIM in the UK, there are not many far-sighted firms like Costain who see IT as a source of competitive advantage. In lots of other sectors, management are using IT to re-invent the business model or to compete successfully with lower costs.  There has been a huge improvement in the last five years in the UK – due in no small measure to Paul Morrell – but that embrace of BIM has not been translated into a general interest in what else technology can offer the industry.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.extranetevolution.com/2014/07/smartbuilder-founder-reflects-on-uk-mobile-aec-market/

Permanent link to this article: http://www.extranetevolution.com/2014/07/aconex-revamps-corporate-identity/

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