Nov/Dec 2011

Don’t look now but the market for technology is getting crowded. Software providers which often talk about solving “bottlenecks” now ironically find themselves caught up in a “bottleneck” of their own.

In a way, we seem to be entrenched in an era of “parity” in the software community. While certainly good for groups like the NFL where a Super Bowl winner can emerge from a pack of bottom-dwellers at any point, parity isn’t exactly what you would call an ideal situation for a market like construction; the Cincinnati Bengals winning the Super Bowl—pleasant surprise; your software provider suddenly falling off the radar in terms of innovation—not so much.

This certainly hasn’t always been the case. In years past it was evident which tech providers were the clear-cut leaders within their respective application categories. Today that gap between the top and bottom is as tight as ever. Need proof? Just go pick up a copy of the latest IT Playbook, where the trend is clearly evident in a category like project management, where a mere six percentage points separated the top six vendors, as ranked by Constructech readers. This isn’t to single out any one vendor, but instead to point out the fact that within construction the options for technology are more vast and deep than ever before.

In a way the overall trend demonstrates one of two things: either the market leaders have taken their eye off the ball, or those that were a bit farther behind in the pack in years past are starting to do a lot of things right to make construction companies stand up and take notice. To be fair, it’s safe to say a bit of both are occurring in the market.

Truth be told, some technology providers, for whatever reason, haven’t seemed as dedicated to construction as they have in the past. In some cases they have been the victim of acquisition where the parent company has its eyes on a bigger prize than the industry of construction. In other cases, it may be a case of pure complacency—it tends to get lonely at the top. But for whatever the reason, the market for construction technology is as tight as ever. New players are emerging all the time; not to mention those that have been in the market for years and have dedicated the proper resources to create solutions that cannot be ignored.

In either case, this era of parity can only last so long. Soon enough we will begin to see a new group of leaders emerge. A year from now, the numbers could be even tighter—or even starkly different—across the board.

Aside from the vendors, it is clear a convergence of factors seems to be at play here, beginning with the economy. It’s hard to ignore the role that a slumping market has played on the ability for companies to make the necessary technology investments. In a way it has forced many companies to explore new options when it comes to technology solutions. Parity can be good, but sooner or later we need to return to an era of dynasties with regards to market leaders, or at least a new crop of leaders and companies to consider once again.

Constructech Editors

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