Leigh Jasper

Leigh Jasper

VP, Aconex Strategy and Operations at Oracle's Aconex
Leigh Jasper is the VP of Strategy and Operations at Oracle's Aconex, a leading collaborative construction and engineering management software.
Leigh Jasper

How E&C Businesses Can Set Their Workforce Up for Digital Transformation

The construction industry has struggled with the consistent challenge of low productivity. Globally, the construction sector has seen annual productivity improvements of on average just 1.0 percent over the past two decades.

In comparison, the manufacturing sector averages around 3.6 percent globally. It’s clear to see the industry has been outpaced by others.

What low productivity really means to the construction industry is low output, late project delivery, reduced profits, and costly delays.

The sector is highly complex with fragmentation at its core and continual challenges around low margins, adversarial pricing models, financial fragility, and skills shortages.

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The Collaboration Tipping Point

In a social sense, collaboration creates a community. If collaboration is successful, the community takes on a life of its own. It becomes a network, defined by the structured processes and information shared by members of the community.

This is true of the social networks that many of us use – Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, et al. The website of each network is effectively a collaboration service in the cloud that connects all members and enables the community to function and grow.

Do we view business collaboration in the same way that we view the social experience? As a network linking a community – one to one, one to many, many to many? If not, then we’re missing the whole point of B2B collaboration.

A network – business or social – should be easy to learn and use. If it’s not, then it can’t spawn a community, much less sustain one. Beyond ease of use, a network should be valuable to users, so that they want to use it regularly, in increasing amounts. Then it becomes a habit, built into people’s daily routines. This is especially applicable to business collaboration services.

Collaborative processes are often mandated by job requirements because – when executed properly – they produce a successful outcome. But if the network that supports these processes isn’t easy to use, then it isn’t used consistently – with predictable results. Processes are incomplete. Information is inaccurate. Deadlines are missed. Schedules slip. Costs exceed budget.

On the other hand, if the network is easy to learn and use, then the team – the network’s community – ramps up quickly and uses it more regularly and consistently. Then the social principle kicks in, and the team functions in a coordinated, interdependent manner – with a life of its own.

Collaboration among teams within a single organization has one level of value. The larger and more cross-functional the teams, the higher the value. When collaboration crosses multiple organizations, its value increases exponentially. And if the network that supports multiparty collaboration across organizations is a single service – rather than a set of disparate tools with limited or no interoperability – then the value multiplies further.

It’s essential that the network be independent, neutral and trusted by all parties engaged in collaboration. If it’s not, then collaborative processes and information sharing will be disrupted. For example, this is what happens when data is trapped behind one organization’s firewall and can’t be accessed by team members in other organizations.

Like social networking, business collaboration reaches a tipping point both within and across organizations. In Malcolm Gladwell’s terminology, this is “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point,” when the team of collaborators becomes a community with a life of its own. Members of this community move on to other assignments and jobs, and they take the collaborative processes and information that they have internalized with them. At one time or another, most of us have heard a new boss say, “When I was at such and such, we followed these processes and used this service. We’ll do the same here because we have similar challenges and opportunities – and this service really works.”

The tipping point results from the network multiplier effect – the community of collaborators is noticeably larger than the sum of its parts and infinitely larger than any one organization. We see it all the time in the global construction industry. A contractor uses our service on one project because it was purchased and implemented by the project manager. Then the contractor moves on to manage his/her own project and adopts the service – typically for a team of hundreds across numerous organizations in different geographic regions.

That’s how our community grows. We’re now up to 40,000 organizations connected in our network. How about your community?

Collaboration for Grown Ups: It’s Time for Robust Data Handling

This week’s Collaboration for Grown Ups post in Computerworld addresses a topic on everyone’s mind: data.

We, as collaboration professionals, are focused on making sure that the right data goes to the right people, and that access and sharing are as simple as possible. However, we also need to do our due diligence and consider how data is being handled behind the scenes. With data come data records, which become critical in the event of operational disagreements, legal disputes, compliance and regulatory issues, and similar situations. With that in mind, what are the challenges facing us today that stand to jeopardize security, neutrality and trust among all parties?

See my latest post – “It’s time for robust handling” – where I discuss how in the age of Big Data, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and multiparty collaboration, IT must take different approaches to ensure that information is handled properly – and adopt solutions to get us there.



Aconex acquires an O&M Manuals solution as FM shows signs of growth

Operations & Maintenance ManualsI was encouraged to see that the International Facility Management Association found that a third of respondents to its most recent survey are planning to increase the total space they manage. Companies in Healthcare, Education and Insurance are especially bullish, and we are seeing that in our own business, too.

Almost half of respondents reported an increase in retrofit and renovation activity – good news as the construction market continues its recovery.

But too many FM professionals still rely on ring-binders to manage their Operation and Maintenance Manuals, taking a huge gamble on having the accurate and up-to-date information they need, and putting their Return on Assets at risk.

As part of our mission to transform the way the industry manages information and processes, we have been looking at how to better to streamline the planning, building and operating phases of an asset. Whatever the answer turned out to be, we knew that the ring binder’s day had come.

Today, Aconex announced that is has acquired Grazer, a pioneer in digital O&M manuals. And I have been proud to welcome the employees and clients of Grazer to the growing Aconex family.

The integrated offering builds on both companies’ year-long partnership, and further extends the Aconex platform from the design and delivery stages of a project into the ongoing operations phase, helping clients maximize their Return on Assets.

But don’t just take my word for it – hear from Hindmarsh Construction on how we’re helping them deliver world-class results for a major healthcare client.

Welcome to Aconex Blog Central!

In Aconex’s 10 years in the industry, we’ve witnessed a lot of changes, driven a lot of changes, and learned a great deal of useful information that we think may interest and benefit you too.

That’s why we developed our new Blog Central. It’s a single spot for sharing the latest news on Aconex technology, products, customers, and the industry. The hub is the home of our blogs, resource for sharing good practices in online project collaboration, and a candid forum for you to engage in real conversation.

To make things easy, our posts are organized in the following categories so that—with one simple click—you can find all the information related to the topic you want to explore:

  • Seen from Aconex: Industry news and trends, company news, big-picture issues
  • Built on Collaboration: Latest updates on our products, tips on how to get the most from your Aconex system
  • Industry Best Practice: Tips on how to make collaboration smoother and make your life easier; best practices for addressing the issues and obstacles that are part of any big project
  • Innovation: New technology developments, SaaS, online project collaboration and project management

Many of us at Aconex will try to post as often as possible. We have different thoughts and ideas to explore, so you can expect a good variety of topics and, with any luck, some food for thought.

But the Blog Central isn’t only for Aconex information.

We know you have other interests that stretch beyond our company news, blog posts and videos. That’s why it also features articles from other influencers and thought leaders in the Construction, Engineering, and Energy & Resources industries.

Don’t be shy: Tell us what you think, what you want to talk about, or anything else that comes to mind. We’re looking forward to some lively interaction.