Aconex sees huge potential in the Indian market

Andy Lake, General Manager Asia, Aconex speaks to Construction Week Online about the growth prospect of IT in construction industry in India

Why and how should a company go for adopting/implementing IT solution or upgrade from existing ones to new/advanced solution?
To remain competitive, construction firms need to adopt the industry’s best tools and processes. Without question, IT solutions can significantly improve productivity and profitability, helping companies to accelerate project delivery and protect their margins.
After firms have seen the value of IT solutions, very few want to go back. Having used our online collaboration solution, we have never seen a client revert to using hard copies and email to manage their project communication. As a leading contractor recently said, “It would be like going back to using manpower to lift steel beams instead of using a crane.”
Three of the main factors for companies to consider when selecting an IT solution include: whether the product has the required functionality; how easy the system is to use; and the vendor’s track record in servicing similar companies or projects.
Perhaps the most important of these is the system’s ease-of-use – the market-leading IT solutions tend to be highly intuitive, promoting high levels of adoption and usage. Essentially, the more the IT solution is used, the greater value companies get for their investment.

How can a company maximise profit by using IT?
Across all areas of business, IT solutions are streamlining time-consuming, manual processes. For instance, how much faster is it to bank or to buy a book online compared to going into a branch?
This can also be seen in the construction industry. Online collaboration solutions, for example, allow all the companies involved in a project to access, distribute and track their documents and correspondence using a central, web-based platform. During a project’s design and construction phases, where a large volume of information is being exchanged between team members, this IT solution can help maximise profit in several ways.
Because information is managed online, there are the direct cost savings of printing and couriers. Many of our clients report a 50% reduction in printing and distribution costs.
Productivity gains also play a large part in maximising profit. For example, one of our clients in the Americas working on a $268 million industrial project reduced its document control costs and hours by 84% – from $743,000 down to $116,000. Another client reported that they spent around 65% less time searching for information. Across all our clients, RFI turnaround times are typically 43% faster than the industry averages. When added up over a project’s duration, these time savings can make a big difference to bottom line.

What are the software/solutions you offer for infrastructure and real estate sectors? Have you launched any new product recently? What’s the USP of the product?
Aconex provides an online collaboration platform for managing the large volume of information generated and exchanged during real estate, infrastructure and power projects. Our system enables all the parties involved in a project to access, distribute, track and archive their documents and correspondence in real time – at any time and from any location. This reduces the time and cost of information management, while reducing the risk of disputes and delays. We currently service US$260 billion worth of projects in 70 countries and are still seeing strong growth in India and worldwide.
We are constantly looking at new ways to help construction companies collaborate and last month we launched Aconex Mobile, our first iPhone application. This lets users manage many day-to-day collaboration tasks, including managing project mail, viewing documents, uploading and superseding drawings, and sharing video and audio notes immediately with the team.
The app has been a bit hit with our users, already being downloaded more than 2,800 times and being featured on the “What’s Hot” and “Top Free iPhone Business Apps” lists in the Australian App Store, where it was first launched.

How do you address the issues related to seamless implementation, easy adoption, after sales and staff education if the company is not familiar or comfortable about the transition?
This is such a crucial area and one that is central to our business. We often say that a successful implementation is 20% down to the technology and 80% the people that use it.
Traditionally, IT providers would deliver their software in a box then either walk away or charge large implementation fees. We take a very different approach, advising clients on best-practice information management processes, and then providing the entire project team with training and unlimited 24/7 support.
We feel this is an investment worth making, particularly over the long term as clients keep coming back to us. It’s actually one of our biggest differentiators as we see on average 11-times greater adoption of our system compared to our competitors. This means that during a project more information is being captured, giving our clients the maximum value from the system.

What is the growth potential of IT solution industry? What is your plan for Indian market?
We see considerable potential in the Indian market, particularly across large and complex real estate, infrastructure and power projects. Major players such as L&T, Tata Power and Reliance are using our system, as are many mid-sized construction firms, and we are only just scratching the surface.
Currently less than 10% of all construction projects in India use an online collaboration platform to manage their project information; whereas in countries such as North America, the UK and Australia, this figure can exceed 50%. Uptake of our solution in India has doubled over the past 12 months and we expect to see similar growth in the year ahead.

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