Woobius introduces the construction industry to 21st century collaboration

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You’d think that with the futuristic and gravity defying creations they spawn, architects would be leading the vanguard of efficient working practices. It turns out they’re still stuck in the 90s, where sharing files and collaborating with partners and clients is done via CD and bike messenger, or – shock! horror! – even printouts sent by post.

Tech startup Woobius is trying to solve this problem with its collaboration tool for architects and engineers, built to suit the specialised workflows of the construction industry.

To set the scene: your typical building project involves hundreds if not thousands of drawings, depending on the size of the project. Each drawing has multiple revisions and comments from consultants on the project. Multiply this by 15-20 companies involved in a typical building project, and it makes for a pretty big collaboration headache.

Woobius is taking on existing tools in this space, such as BIW, Asite and 4projects, which have been criticised for being slow, expensive, hard to use and often introduced only in the construction stages of a project, rather than starting from the design process.

Woobius1The service is centred on two tools: the dropbox, a light-weight inter-company file sharing tool, and the vault, which includes document control functionality. It’s been in beta for a year and has evolved in response to feedback from architects using it on live projects in that time.

The business model is a straightforward freemium one; projects are free up to 200MB, and £10/GB/month thereafter. The privately funded startup was founded in 2007 by architect Bob Leung, who designed the product, and technology lead Daniel Tenner.

They plan to officially launch and market Woobius now that proof of concept is in place. Given the site’s reported growth through word of mouth alone – from 15 initial users to over 2500 registered users across 100 construction projects in 27 countries – I’d say they’re on to a winner.

  • http://www.woobius.com/ Daniel Tenner

    Thanks for the great write-up :-)

    Worth adding that the 2500 figure is a little out of date – that was over a month ago! We’re now just over 3000, in 32 countries rather than 27.

    Thanks again for the write-up!

  • Simon

    It will be interesting to see how the features/price compare to other systems like Buzzsaw & Acconex!

    I couldn’t see it anywhere on the site, but does Woobius provide a full back up to users at the end (or at any time during) the project for their own records?

    • http://www.woobius.com/ Daniel Tenner

      We haven’t gotten round to building the “archive/download this project” functionality just yet, but it’s very high on our list. Should be out in the next few months at most.

  • http://www.extranetevolution.com Paul Wilkinson

    Interesting assessment, Basheera. I am not sure that it is fair to say that the likes of BIW, etc are often only introduced at the construction phase. There are numerous examples where such systems are implemented early in the design cycle and become the backbone of communication right through to project handover and into operation and maintenance. Much depends on the client’s understanding of the need, and on the procurement route.

    Simon, I made the same point about post-project archives to Daniel and Bob when I met them recently – see my blog post on Woobius at http://www.extranetevolution.com/extranet_evolution/2009/04/woobius-follow-up.html – maybe that’s why Daniel put it high on the list! :-)

  • http://www.iqbalgandham.com Iqbal

    Hey Daniel

    Gd luck, and nice post by the TC team, at least the project is a little diff from the normal social network type apps which we keep hearing about.

    Keep it up


  • http://landscapearchitectureresource.com Dan

    Excellent! It’s about time. We’re stuck in the 90’s here for sure… multiple ftp sites that are always losing connection, unwieldy email trails a mile long, printouts all over the place.
    There is so much that can be improved in design, construction, and project management.
    I’m looking forward to a time when we can collaborate in real time in virtual 3d space as the model is being designed and built.

  • http://clair.ro/flow/2009/06/07/daily-digest-for-june-7th/ Flow » Blog Archive » Daily Digest for June 7th - The zeitgeist daily

    […] Woobius introduces the construction industry to 21st century collaboration — 2:01pm via Google […]

  • http://www.technow.com.hk/woobius Woobius就靠一個上傳下載檔案管理網站,成功擄獲100個建築設計案的芳心 | TechNow 當代科技 - web host by CommuniLink

    […] Woobius就靠一個上傳下載檔案管理網站,成功擄獲100個建築設計案的芳心 標籤: 4projects    Asite    BIW    Techcrunch    Woobius    建築業    建築設計    檔案管理 昨天在TechCrunch UK看到一個還算簡單又很成功的網站案例,它是一個英國的網站公司叫Woobius,這不是一般網站,一般人除非在該領域裡,不然可能終身用不上也終身不認識這間公司。 Woobius打算攻的是「建築業」,重要的是,它去年才剛開始一年,就已經非常的成功,據說也沒有怎麼行銷,就從15位初期測試使用者快速成長到3000位註冊會員,有高達100個建築專案已經開始使用這網站,使用者還遍布在有32個國家! 如果以上的數字屬實,那給了我們一些很有趣的思考點── 注意,像這種「建築業」的軟體理應屬於專業領域,一般人如你我肯定不知道,想做也做不出來,因為裡面的商業流程與廠商間的互動非常複雜,且通常早就 有人看準這些產業,早就已有幾間成熟的軟體公司出了好幾套軟體,由於市場大,它們說不定都已經默默的上市了,儘管我們一輩子沒聽過這些公司的名字,但在業 界那些名字就如同自來水一樣的天天都得聽得到、用得到、玩得到。以英國的「建築業」為例,它們的軟體早就被大軟體如BIW、Asite 、4projects等給把持住了。 那,為何Woobius也有機會? 據報導,Woobius能成功,應該是因為其他軟體的功能都只有在工程開始後,才比較派得上用場,而Woobius不同,它從設計時期開始就可以使用,一 路用到工程進行後都可以用,這樣的說法讓人覺得有點難以置信,畢竟大廠不可能只做一段而偏偏遺漏另一段。但這段論述顯然又沒有錯,因為也是據報導,上述那 些軟體真的還沒有被所有的建築專案所使用,據說在歐洲建築業還是有不少設計師依然採用非常低科技(low tech)的方式來分享設計圖,譬如,他們竟然以傳真的,以CD燒的,然後透過快遞、郵寄送給對方! 創業家看準了這點:雖然很多大廠都已經進入建築業,但就因為大家都還在用傳統的方式交換設計圖,因此建築業應該還有網站創業家的機會! 他專針對這點做出了Woobius。建築師們因為有很多搭配的廠商,所以他們需要不斷的和這些廠商溝通、修改設計圖到可以為止,一棟建築物,可能會 畫出幾百張甚至幾千張的「設計圖」,每一張設計圖經過好幾位設計師、顧問的修改、註解…。Woobius分為兩個大功能,一個叫「dropbox」,一個 叫「vault」,主要提供檔案上傳、修改歷史、每個檔案的註解、下載…。 從上面的截圖可以看到,以「vault」來說,它就是讓我們列出此建築的每一部份,選了一個,右邊就會出現那部份的所有文件,選了一個文件,右下方就會出現該文件的所有修改歷史記錄。這就只是一個很基本的檔案管理員的功能,這個網站其實一點也不難做! 而這個「不難做」的網站,現在一年就有了100個建築專案開始使用,雖然Woobius收費是「免費」,但免費空間可用到的只有200MB,接下來採空間廠商會用的計費法──每GB收10英磅的月費。以建築的圖這麼大又這麼多的情況下,200MB肯定很快就用完了── Woobius不需要太多人使用,只要大型的專案都「重度使用」就好了。 Woobius教我們一個有趣的機會: 許多專業領域雖然都已經有那些產業原生的應用軟體廠了,有些至少也被Oracle、IBM這些大廠給看準並進入「染指」了,但是,就還是有一些產業 仍然以傳統的方式來做事,我們的機會就來了。那些大廠,肯定是將它們的軟體包山包海,什麼都有,但就還是有一些公司,寧可「什麼都不用」。寧可叫把印表機 列印到沒有墨水,天天叫快遞,用蓋章的來簽單。 這些「什麼都不用」的愈多,就愈有機會,管它有多少大廠在那邊!我們一個一個來看,ERP就算最基本的也需要專業知識且很多人在做,CRM就算最基 本的也會有點複雜,但現在愈來愈重視的「collaboration」呢?這部份被軟體大廠視為一個新領域,對網路創業家來說,只要做一個可以資料上傳的地方,剩下的讓他們用一般email或MSN去搞定就好了。Woobius的100個建築專案大概就是這樣來的,妙哉。 創業家可以來想想,還有哪個產業,目前還在用郵寄在寄給夥伴的,然後來來回回做的?或許就是一個機會,我們只要以「Woobius」為底,照著產業 需求修改一下,同樣的東西,只要改掛一個「專給xx業」的招牌,就可以吸引那個產業的人;只要有一百個專案,就有機會可以得到一筆穩定的收入。 網路產業已經過度競爭,其他產業卻還有人還在默默用非網路的方法進行每日工作。網路創業家可以多多結交異業的朋友,一頓晚餐一聊,機會就出來了,只要別光說不練、說了馬上做,把這個產業的朋友一起拉進來做,以Woobius有32個國家的使用者,這是一個很棒的外銷機會。 Source 你可以訂閱本站更新 RSS feed 或 通過 電子郵件 訂閱更新. […]

  • Gavelect

    Good and bad news regarding the UK construction industry. British construction activity contracted for a 21st month running in November but the pace of decline eased and new order volumes rose for the first time since February 2008, a survey showed on Wednesday. The Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply/Markit construction contracts PMI index rose to 47.0 in November, its highest since August, from 46.2 in October. The recent rise in house prices boosted residential construction, which expanded for a third month running and at its fastest rate in over two years. But both commercial and civil engineering sectors reported further declines and employment overall declined for an 18th consecutive month.

  • http://www.schneiderdesigners.co.uk/ architects

    The article is very interesting!! Thank you for sharing.

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