‘Extranet’ vendors getting social?

As some readers will know, I spent much of the past ten years working in the ‘extranet’ or ‘construction collaboration technologies’ market, and I maintain a continued interest in that sector (including a blog about it). Occasionally, that interest also crosses over into PR, marketing and social media – as it did when I looked at Asite‘s recently launched Web 2.0-enabled platform (see post here and on ExtranetEvolution.com), and, today, a Google Alert has just sparked another snapshot exploration.

The Alert took me to a Facebook page created for Aconex, an Australia-based provider of construction collaboration technologies. I created a similar page for my former employer BIW Technologies some months ago (plus one on LinkedIn and a BIW Twitter feed), so this set me searching for similar pages relating to the main construction collaboration vendors – of which there are about ten currently active in the UK.

About as social as the rest of AEC

Given that their core business is focused on improving information sharing and collaboration among users, you would have thought that these supposedly technology-savvy companies would have been in the forefront of Web 2.0 adoption. But I think their marketing instincts are, in the main, reflective of customers and end-users’ attitudes and behaviours in the somewhat conservative architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) market. ‘Safe’, business-focused networks like LinkedIn are popular, as is the current media darling, Twitter, but take-up of other tools is more patchy.

Searches on the business-oriented networking site LinkedIn were most successful, yielding company pages for 4Projects, Aconex, Asite, BIW, Business Collaborator, Causeway, and ePin in the UK, the France-based Sword group, plus US based e-builder and Kalexo among others.

I found official Twitter feeds from Aconex (updates protected), Asite, BIW, ePin, Sarcophagus and Union Square; most were established relatively recently and have few updates or followers – currently the most prolific and most followed Tweeter is the longest-established: BIW. But recent market entrant Woobius is an active Twitter user, as are around half a dozen regularly tweeting ‘Woobians’. (To see if this changes over time, I am minded to create a construction collaboration Twitter league, echoing the Architects Twitter league set up by Su Butcher, and Martin Brown’s recently launched FM Twitter leagueUpdate (29 July 2009) – the AECcollaborators Twitter League is now live).

On YouTube, I identified seven Asite (solutions) videos, three Aconex-related videos, and one by BIW. Again, Woobius is quickly establishing a presence, with three YouTube videos posted in the past fortnight alone.

The official UK collaboration bloggers include Asite, Aconex and Woobius (I was, I suppose, an unofficial BIW blogger until earlier this year).

However, in Facebook, there is a scant presence. Apart from the Aconex and BIW corporate pages (the fans of both seem to be mainly comprised of staff), I discovered only Asite Past and Present, an unofficial alumni group for existing and former employees (featuring a distinctly non-corporate and politically-incorrect discussion of Who knobbed the most people at work? – a stark warning of the risks that can arise from uncontrolled staff use of social media).

(Of course, if I’ve missed any LinkedIn profiles, Twitter IDs, YouTube vids or Facebook pages among the leading collaboration vendors, please let me know).


3 pings

  1. Hi Paul,
    Its great to see more companies using these tools and interesting that the collaboration industry is relatively late on takeup. I am reminded of Alex Morris’ comment on Thursday’s AEC Network meeting, that as a visualiser, he had often thought of the perspective of the viewers of his visuals, but not so much of the clients who purchased them, when it came to creating a narrative/story.

    A twitter league would be a great idea, though it is hard work! If you just want to follow the companies using twitter, you might instead set up a twitter account (called, for example @ConstructCollaborate) dedicated to following just these users. Then if you can find a twitter stats tool which analyses your ‘friends’ growth you have ready-made statistical analysis.

  2. Hi Paul,

    Very interesting article. What a great idea about creating a twitter league… it’s always a good place for new twitter comers to find out who’s on twitter.

    As for our experience on the use of social media, one thing we’ve found at Woobius is that these tools are really about connecting with your users and closing the feedback loop. If our intention is to use it to ‘sell’ or ‘promote’, then it would only serve to alienate people. Naturally it’s a fine line between the two, which is why I believe intention is the key… tweet because we mean it, post a video blog because we have something interesting to share… but never with the intention to promote.

    Love to hear other people’s view on this?

    • Paul on 29 July 2009 at 9:32 am
    • Reply

    I have now set up a Twitter League hosted on a page on the ExtranetEvolution.com blog here. Looking forward to seeing how it develops.

  1. […] technology vendor Asite’s revamped website and its new social media features (see also ‘Extranet’ vendors getting social?). Three months later, I had a quick look to see how the Asite community has been […]

  2. […] I blogged about the how the main UK AEC publications were deploying social media, and in July I wrote about the Web 2.0 presence of collaboration technology vendors; some (like Asite) were increasingly […]

  3. […] I blogged about the how the main UK AEC publications were deploying social media, and in July I wrote about the Web 2.0 presence of collaboration technology vendors; some (like Asite) were increasingly […]

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published.