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Status of E-Business Implementation in the Construction Industry


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STATUS OF E-BUSINESS IMPLEMENTATION IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY By BRYCE HARRIS TREFFINGER A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SCIENCE IN BUILDING CONSTRUCTION UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2005

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Copyright 2005 by Bryce Harris Treffinger

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iii ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to extend special thanks to those people without whose guidance, encouragement, and assistance this thesis woul d not have been possible. I am especially thankful for the time and energy Dr. R. Raymond Issa devoted to lead ing me in the right direction and helping me prepare my thesis. I would also like to thank Dr. Robert Cox and Dr. Ian Flood for serving on my committee. I owe special thanks to my parents and my sister Seanna for their support, and to Jared for his understanding and encouragement throughout the entire process. I would be lost without their unconditional patience and love.

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iv TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.................................................................................................iii LIST OF TABLES.............................................................................................................vi LIST OF FIGURES..........................................................................................................vii ABSTRACT.....................................................................................................................vi ii CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY...........................................................................1 Introduction................................................................................................................... 1 Aims and Objectives.....................................................................................................2 2 LITERATURE REVIEW.............................................................................................4 The Electronic-Business Phenomenon.........................................................................4 Compatibility among e-Business Users......................................................................14 Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Customer Satisfaction........................18 e-Business Applications..............................................................................................20 Case Studies................................................................................................................24 e-Business Strategy.....................................................................................................25 3 METHODOLOGY.....................................................................................................27 Scope of Work............................................................................................................27 Survey Methodology..................................................................................................28 Selection of Survey Participants.................................................................................28 4 ANALYSIS OF SURVEY RESULTS.......................................................................31 Results of the e-Business Assessment Survey............................................................32 Respondent Profiles....................................................................................................32 Survey Findings..........................................................................................................35 5 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS.....................................................53 APPENDIX E-BUSINESS ASSESSMENT SURVEY................................................57

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v LIST OF REFERENCES...................................................................................................64 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.............................................................................................66

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vi LIST OF TABLES Table page 4-1 Survey respondent employee position......................................................................33 4-2 Adopted e-Business application ad option in the construction industry...................36 4-3 Respondent priorities................................................................................................45

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vii LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 4-1: Respondents j ob title distribution.............................................................................33 4-2: Respondents employee size distribution...................................................................34 4-3: Respondents distri bution by annual revenue.............................................................35 4-4: Distribution of adopted e-Bu siness applications in 2000 and 2005..........................37 4-5: Connection with supplie rs, partners, and customers................................................39 4-6: Company supplied computing devices.....................................................................41 4-7: Electronic busin ess initiatives in the construction industry.....................................43 4-8: Construction indus trys prioritized goals.................................................................46 4-9: Construction industry reasons for not implementing e-Business.............................48 4-10: Benefits realized by the construction industry w ith e-Business implementation...48 4-11: Impact on revenue..................................................................................................49 4-12: Construction industrys perceive d benefits of e-Business implementation...........50 4-13: Distribution of companie s monitoring e-Business efforts......................................51 4-14: The construction i ndustrys perceived ideas on fu ture spending on e-Business implementation within their company......................................................................51

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viii Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Bu ilding Construction STATUS OF E-BUSINESS IMPLEMENTATION IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY By Bryce Harris Treffinger May 2005 Chair: R. Raymond Issa Major Department: School of Building Construction This study is an update of a previous study completed in 2000 dealing with the implementation of e-Business in the constr uction industry. The main objective was to determine if and how e-Business strategies ha ve changed in the construction industry and whether or not more of the top constructi on industries are using e-Business to their advantage compared to five years ago. Th is was completed by conducting an e-Business assessment survey. The survey was designed for the following purposes: Whether the construction industry has become more receptive to information technologies and e-Business practices. Why companies use e-Business in their wo rk strategies and how it impacts their work process. What extent companies use these strate gies, technologies, and applications. Whether companies plan to continue spending on e-Business applications

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ix This survey examined previous use of eBusiness strategies and applications in recent years, We also iden tified up-and-coming technologies needed for the successful advancement of internet technologies in constr uction industries. Tools such as wirelesstechnologies, more-advanced web-based pr oject-management software, customerrelationship management, and bidding on th e Internet are all becoming household phenomena in the construction industry. The data collected from surveys sent out to construction industry leaders was analyzed. The information was compiled to determine how far the industry has come in previous years, and whether companies will continue to use e-Business. Although slow to embrace e-Business, the construction industr y is taking an active role in e-Business implementation. Companies are making plans for future improvements in efforts to increase productivity and enc ourage cost savings.

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1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY A growing number of information tec hnologies are entering the construction industry. Cell phones, palm organizers, lapt ops, wireless email, and other wireless technologies are all facilitati ng operations in the industry. Information Technology (IT) is essential in any business operation. IT is the most advanced way to communicate necessary information quickly, efficiently, and effectively. IT is driving the information revolution. The Internet has made communicat ion easy for every company; and is vital for successful management, customer relati onship management, and business-to-business exchange. Introduction The construction industry has been criticized for its inefficiencies and traditional, often outdated ways of conducting business opera tions. It is often difficult to convince individuals in this industry to change their thinking. They of ten feel that if something has worked for so long then why change it? Al though the construction industry is beginning to embrace technology little by little, it is still a slow process. Technology is changing communication for th e construction industry and also for every industry, and individual. E-mail is esse ntial in any workplace; it is difficult to find a successful business without an e-mail addre ss. In the construc tion industry, Project Specific Web Sites (PSWS) are another t echnology enhancing business operations. We conducted a survey to determine the construction i ndustrys stance on ebusiness compared to previous years; and to de termine the future role of e-Business in the

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2 industry. Industry leaders from small and large firms alike were surveyed in an effort to get a broad range of opinions. The survey al so aimed to determine construction leaders intentions of using e-Business applica tions, whether for ease of communication, productivity, cost, or service. We also examined the impact of current e-business application on revenue. We also examined effect e-Business systems are having on productivity and profit to determine whether these systems will continue to thrive in the construction industry. Aims and Objectives Our study was designed to measure the c onstruction industrys attitude toward Internet technologies and e-Business applicatio ns. Is the construction industry beginning to embrace the technology of tomorrow and use it to their advantage, or are they stuck in their old ways? How have companies attitude s toward e-Business ch anged in the past 5 years? Will these companies continue to evolve in their thinking? One objective of our study was to determ ine if the general attitude of the construction industry toward e-Business is beginning to change in acceptance of technology, and how its acceptance of this techno logy can be used to the advantage of the industry. Furthermore, if the industry has accepted this new idea, how have they implemented e-Business applications in to their current bu siness operations? Another objective was to m easure the construction indus trys e-Business against whether these goals have been reached or are within grasp. We compared the results of our survey with results from a previous survey to determine if e-Business attitudes have changed in the construction industry; and if s o, to what degree. We did this in the hope of determining future acceptance and implemen tation of these e-Business applications.

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3 Chapter 2 is comprised of the literatur e review which looks at and analyzes different e-Business strategies and applicatio ns that are currently in use. Chapter 3 focuses on the methodology of the survey as well as the aims and objectives of this study. The results that were obtained from the respondents to the survey are examined in Chapter 4. Finally, Chapter 5, presents fi nal conclusions and recommendations for further research in this area of study.

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4 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW This chapter takes a look at e-Business on th e Internet, where it has been in the past 5 years, and where it is head ed in the construction industr y. We analyzed e-business tools currently used in the construction indus try for successful return on investment in terms of company productivity, and time and cost savings. The Electronic-Business Phenomenon Electronic-Business (e-Business) has become a world-wide phenomenon. It is no different than ordinary business. Intern et technologies, inte llectual property, and customer superiority are combined and integr ated with business activities which alter the traditional business model of operations (Cha ng and Ping Li 2003). Companies large and small, public and private, from any industr y are using e-Business to organize business communications and improve success rates. E-Business has become increasingly popular over the past 5 years, improve technology is making easier to adapt and use from any location. Owners are more demanding and industry leaders want information available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. More adaptabl e programs and collaboration are desired. Electronic marketplaces are emerging where th e construction industry can go to find the most appropriate manufactured products and services are being developed and being made available to the cons truction industry. Lowering operating costs, increased productivity, and improved customer satisfaction are a few of the realities of e-Business strategies (Regan 2002). The improved productivity improvements offered by newly

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5 developed e-Business services can reduce and often eliminate unnecessary mistakes, time, energy, and costs, all while keeping projects on track. The construction industry has great potential in realizing the benefits of e-Business. Industry leaders need only to give up thei r old ways and turn to the computer for improved company success. There is a gr eat deal of opportunity, especially in construction e-markets. The Internet lets companies track projects, realize results faster, reduce risk, and hold parties accountable for their actions. In the past, the cons truction industry seemed to reject the Internet and its technologies because of the industrys deep roots in traditional thinking; but the In ternet has the pote ntial to rid the industry of inefficiency and cost. By sticking to the old methods of regular mail, couriers, and faxes the construction industry often gets a bad rap for finishing projects la te and over budget. "The vast majority of people in the industry don't know what the he ll these online services are. It's not a technical question, it's a cultural one. The highest level of IT in the construction industry is the fax machine (Fisher 38). Construction-industry leaders are leery of e-commerce because of the mere nature of the construction industry. It is an extremely people-orient ed business. Relationships with suppliers and subcontractors have last ed for years: the option of using an unknown subcontractor found online is unappealing to most traditional thinking leaders. However, e-Business thrives on the peopl e-oriented nature of c onstruction; without human interface, the systems would not succeed at all. E-Business requires an integrated alignment of technology, operation, strategy, structure, and human interaction in a continuously expanding network (Chang and Ping Li 2003).

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6 The benefits of e-Business are being r ealized by several businesses in various disciplines. Impacts realized by e-Business are not limited to reduced costs. Improved predictability, productivity, relia bility, and scalability, ability to detect defects, improved levels of service, and extended market res earch are all pros that are attracting more companies as well as software applications th at allow users to get more for their money (Issa et al. 2003). Swinerton & Walberg Bu ilders(Fisher 2000) cut change order turn around time by more than half by using Bi dcom.com, an online project management program. Because the construction industry is a mu ltibillion dollar industry, the idea of saving time and money on daily operations shou ld be a real concern. The construction industry claims that 60 to 80% of the tota l cost of management operation, including capital, labor, materials and transportation, is directly attributable to information management (Geissler 2001). This informati on management pertains to everything from scheduling to ordering materials to designi ng and coordinating c onstruction and shop drawings. More time is actually spent on the business side of construction with sharing information than is spent onsite act ually constructing the structure. E-Business Impacts. Companies are required to ha ve well-structured business cultures in order to survive in this tec hnologically advanced world. The culture a business takes on and makes their own has to be not just daily operations, but a complete mindset that is developed over time (Issa et al. 2003). E-Business s hould be just that: a mindset within a companys organization. It ha s reached that stage on a certain level. It is unlikely that you will find a successful company without e-mail and Internet use. However, to survive, e-Business should be ad opted on a daily basis in order to keep up

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7 with trends and stay a step ahead of competition. E-business has expanded the construction market while making the world sma ller (Issa et al. 2003). Perhaps this is the reason more companies are setting up intern ational offices, because it is easier to communicate and stay organized with e-Busine ss adoption part of the company plan. Business-to-Business (B2B) e-Business The opportunity for construction to take advantage of business-to-business (B2B) eco mmerce, or the exchange of services, information and/or products from one busine ss to another, that produce positive affects for their company is significant (Webopedi a 2005). B2B connects customer, supplier, and partner applications, as well as business processes across the In ternet. Supply chain partners can use B2B for shared planning as well as synchronized manufacturing, and distribution management. The main purpose of B2B is to automate business operations and information. Industries associated with construction, su ch as design, and facilities management or various infrastructures su ch as commercial buildings, manufacturing plants, roads, highways, public and private projects alike, t ogether signify a worldw ide market of more than $4 trillion a year (Cleveland 2001). Ho wever, construction companies are not using this B2B ecommerce to their full advantage. Such a huge industry as construction should take notice of the growing technological tre nds and invest time and efforts into becoming more technologically savvy in or der to create greater successes for their companies. With such a large amount of money at stake in construction proj ects worldwide, companies could be using B2B ecommerce more to thei r advantage to streamline operations and increase company benefits.

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8 The advantages B2B e-Business can offer in terms of speed and cost savings need to be realized by the construction industr y. The construction process is much more complicated than most other industries because of the variety of proj ects and the fact that every project is unique from owner to designer to project manager. This fact can make most standardized practices for other industr ies a nightmare for the construction industry. Because there are so many people involved in any construction process it can be difficult to process business transactions. It is through straight-thr ough processing that streamlin e processes involved in construction can be achieved. This process i nvolves entering the necessary information one time into a system and allowing the syst em to take it through the process with minimal human interface (Cleveland 2001). A Web-centric system, or an integrated network of computer devices and informati on appliances that manages, stores, and distributes information through WWW sp ecifications, can support collaborative environments more readily through a combina tion of Internet technologies. Among these technologies are HTML-based Web pages with Java Applets, JaveSc ripts, CGI Scripts, Databases, FTP, peripheral devices, as well as other new data formats (Rojas and Songer 1999). Although project web sites are extremely usef ul in regard to team collaboration and exchange of documents and information, it r eally does not have anything to do with B2B e-commerce and the selling and/or buying of construction items and materials for a certain project. It is merely the sharing of information for projects and nothing more. Without components, we are forced to revert to the traditional manual methods for identifying and quantifying the materials we ne ed to purchase and erect. We inject a

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9 human right into the middle of our ecommerce transactions (Cleveland 56). Dealing with components are what makes processe s easier thus streamlining activities and speeding up processes. Because the construction industry deals with a multitude of systems, coordinating these systems becomes a task in itself. Implementing e-Business has been an obvious obstacle that must be overcome. The comple x nature of e-Business makes it difficult to implement and manage, especially when there ar e legacy systems and security issues that have to be implemented into the e-Bu siness network as well (Perkowski 2003). EBusiness requirements are evolving so rapidly that a traditional requirements definition based on the functionality desired is accomm odating the ability to integrate future technologies (Aberdeen Group 2001). This is great news because there a so many systems that are faced with the problems of trying to integrate older programs causing headaches for users. The ideal type of appli cation should allow one firm to function in an extremely adaptable network consisting of ot her companies, who coordinate both their internal and external transactions via a high level trust for a highly shared interest (Chang and Ping Li, 2003). Information passed from one system to another must be done accurately so the outcome remains the same as when it was first introduced into the system. It is difficult for each system in a project to understand all the different methods the other systems have used to deal with the same components (Cleveland, 2001). There are always implementation challenges, whether it is implementing mainframe systems or implementing the late st web portal. (IT) is not the biggest challenge. There are still challenges in changi ng business processes, getting them to take

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10 advantage of IT, training, roll-outs, and ge tting the skill sets you need. Top management has to be convinced that the i nvestment is worth it (Gould 2003). Currently in the constructi on industry, the extent of B2B ecommerce is that of project collaboration websites where companies can share information such as documents, drawings, schedules, RFIs, ema ils, among other project information. There are also websites that allow for the buying a nd selling of construction materials through electronic catalogs or through a process of reverse auction. Reverse auctions Auctions are familiar to most individuals. One person places a bid on an item they desire. If another indi vidual comes along and d ecides that they too would like to purchase the item then they will have to place a higher bid on the item. Sellers and buyers watch the items price and bid appropriately until a specified date and time have arrived. At this time the highest bidder will receive the desired item. Reverse Auctions are exactly what their name implies. The bids go down instead of up. There is only one buyer and a plethora of bidders who are all trying to compete for the item by bidding the lowest price. Reve rse auctions are most often done for services, such as in the construction industry, rath er than an actual item. Reverse auctions in the government sector as well as well known retailers such as Home Depot and Target have resulted in savings of 12 to 48 percent (Simpson 2005). Reverse auctions offer other benefits besides cost-savings to tax-pa yer funded projects. These auctions are usually hos ted by a website where bidders can go and bid as well as see other bidders postings. This means that everything is visible. There are no hidden secrets. Because the price goes down, management teams can become more knowledgeable about their costs an d waste by monitoring the auction.

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11 Wireless technology At a 2004 Construction Indus try Institute conference, wireless technology was heralded as the biggest breakthrough of e-business in the construction industry to date. With the constr uction industry being a $3.9 trillion-per-year industry, this means great things for the fu ture. Wireless technology will allow business transactions to take place from anywhere at anytime. Anywhere from 5 to 10% of a construction projects cost can be saved us ing web-based technologi es (McKenzie 2004). Communication is faster and can be done on a more timely basis. Because of instant access to information, wireless technologies save time and in the construction industry time is money. There are already new applications on the Internet that include project management, e-marketplace venues, and real-tim e collaboration over the Internet. With wireless as an option these tasks are made even more efficient. There is no need to haul around heavy computer equipment in order to carry out a simple ebusiness transaction. The construction industry often deals with probl ems that need to be solved in a moments notice. Wireless technologies allow connection to the Internet and thus e-Business transaction from any portable device over any ne twork to any data s ource or application. They facilitate the use of IT technologies that include Personal Information Management (PIM) synchronization, e-mail synchronization, ac cess to corporate databases, access to Enterprise Information System (EIS) applicat ions, intranets, file sharing, and access to the World Wide Web (WWW) (AberdeenGroup 2001). Wireless technology is allowing the construction industry to work where they are most often, on the site and out of the office.

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12 For wireless communications to work in todays mobile driven technology world, continuous support over the unpredic table wireless networks of today is essential. To do this successful wireless infr astructure should provide the ability to do the following: Balance the support among millions of de vices, Support messaging that is not synchronized, Provide quick interaction, Pres erve data, Guarantee the delivery of services, information, and business transacti ons seamlessly, without fault, and without change to the original content (AberdeenGroup 2001). Web-based project management software is especially advantageous when used in conjunction with wireless technologies. The accessibility of information on a web-based management system changes from isolated to universal (Rojas and Songer, 1999). It was only a few years ago that project informati on was physically in the office and the only people that had access to that office would have access to that information. The webbased systems offer access to project informa tion to anyone who has In ternet access. The availability of information has made a complete 180 from limited access to fully available. Wireless technology is only helping the situation in that in addition to these web-based systems being available 24 hours a day 365 days a year, they can be accessed from any location. Companies who are realizing the benefits of this wireless technology are equipping their employees with multifunctional phones that are capable of cellula r service, two-way radio, text messaging, and are always connect ed to the Internet enabling access to intranets and extranets, e-ma il, company calendars and date books, as well as being able to collect and calculate data when and wher e it happens in the field. There are faster connections, equipment, and other multimedia tools on the horizon that allow sounds,

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13 images, and video as well as expanded e-commerce capabilities with which the construction industry should ta ke full advantage. Wireless technologies, reverse auctions, and el ectronic catalogs are all useful tools the construction industry has been familiari zing themselves with, however, there are more opportunities for e-business then the c onstruction industry is even aware of. These new technologies do pose a threat to the construction industry. Owners are going to see the virtual reality tools and believe that projects can be completed faster and under budget. Project management is going to become more open and more complicated. Building under budget and on time is not going to be enough anymore. We live in an age where technology can change business by managing information in new, dynamic ways and creating collaborat ive, interconnected paths among crews, contractors, consultants, and customers. Go wireless! (McKenzie 9). The construction industry needs to embrace the new technologies in order to stay on top and continue to achieve greater successes. Web based project management The web based project site is a new software tool that allows various i ndividuals in the design and c onstruction process to work together over the Internet. The idea behind project Web sites is that information in current design and construction projects are disorganized, which leads to failure in communication, and misunderstandings, which in turn leads to conflict, cost, and scheduling discrepancies. These project Web sites should offer a pl ace that is easily accessible, reliable, and a place for storing pr oject information that can be accessed at anytime. This should in turn allow a new level of access to project information that should replace or diminish the use of co mmunication tools such as telephone, fax,

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14 overnight mail, facsimile, and email. It is al so supposed to alleviate the use of those huge binders that have become not orious on construction projects. A project Web site will afford all the members of team with the same information in the same format so no discrepancies should arise. This in turn should lead to better organized, better communicated project. This project Web site idea is growing and more widely accepted as the companies offering these services de velop their ideas and grow with technology (OBrien 2000). When a construction project is in progress there ar e usually stacks of paper including: plans, specifications, produc t cut sheets, shop drawings, correspondence, schedules, operations and maintenance manuals just to name a few. Time, money, and thus paper could be saved if all this information was put on the project web based system. Then in order to find information all that woul d have to be done is navigation to the site at anytime information was needed. The information would be easier to find, better organized, and take up a lot less space. Links to websites for the materials and products used on the project could also be placed on th e site. This would allow the owner to stay up to date on product information and allow fo r easy contact to a particular manufacturer without having to search high and low for contact information. Compatibility among e-Business Users Software application, as well as collaborat ive sites, and every company database has their own information system that is uni que, making incompatibility inevitable. The exchange of information becomes difficult and often impossible spending valuable time on recreating information in th e attempt to exchange the in formation (Geissler 2001). Vital information locked into a companys data base is underutilized and can often be overlooked or has to be recreated costing valuable time and money. An example of this

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15 detrimental situation is when only one individual in a company knows a piece of information about a project. If this pers on is removed from the project then the information is lost. It is better to have a central storage space wher e anyone has access to all the information on a project. This wa y if someone leaves, their knowledge of the project does not, and the proj ect can continue seamlessly. With this in mind it is necessary to establish standards that can be used by everyone at every stage in a project so no discrepancies will occur. Interoperability, or the free exchange of information across data barriers, is the answer. The construction industry needs to stop wasting time with repetitive tasks and create documents one time and be able to pass it on to the next software application seamlessly without fault, corruption or loss of functionality. Insuffici ent interoperability increases costs and allows for mistakes and missed opportunities for the construction industry. It is estimated that the cost of inadequate interope rability in the United States capital facilities industry to be $15.4 bill ion a year (Gallahe r et. al. 2004). Imagine one company being able to "r ead" construction drawings generated by another for cost-estimating data, then taking the same drawings and extracting scheduling, maintenance and other project ma nagement data. Imagine the potential of "mining" your computerized inventory, labor and delivery schedules to develop generic invoices that would easily slip into any accounting package operated by all customers-regardless of those customers' unique needs (Geissler 42). The International Alliance for Interoperabi lity (IAI) has been developing a way to translate information in different format s for exchange among different software applications. Other significant organizations have joined the IAI in their efforts for

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16 interoperability such as, the American Inst itute of Architect, the Associated General Contractors of America, the Civil Engin eering Research Foundation, the construction Specifications Institute, the Design-Build Inst itute of America and the National Institute of Building Services (Geissler 2001). This is exactly what the arch itecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industries need c onsidering the vast amounts of crossover information that occurs in these industries. For instance, the invoice is a common tr ansaction used across industries. The problem is that "if you have 2,000 clients, you will have 1,900 different formats in which invoices must be structured. That means that critical data such as job numbers, dates, product quantities and more must be formatted differently for each client (Geissler 43). When companies have to reformat these or any transactions valuable time and money is once again wasted and mistakes are likely to occur. Computer-aided design (CAD) drawi ngs are another issue among the AEC industries. Once construction drawings are comp lete, shop drawings need to be designed. Once the drawings are complete it is safe to assume that estimating programs, material detailing programs, and scheduling programs would all be used. However, these programs that generate all these documents are rarely if ever co mpatible with each other. To aid in this problem, IAI is working on another project for Industry Foundation Classes (IFCs). IFCs are object-oriented standards developed in ISO/STEP Express language. This language represents build ing components and then communicates a representation of the whole project as components linked to other components. The computer model created, the IFC, can then be understood by other IFC software (Geissler 2001).

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17 IAI is also assisting in th e development of an extensible markup language for the AEC industry of aecXML. This language is designed exclusively for the AEC industries developed with standards that will be used by software companies to ease conflicting programming problems which in turn s hould simplify life for everyone involved. e-Business Language Currently, the standard la nguage of the Internet for business transactions is the Extended Mar kup Language (XML). An XML format is a collection of rules for tagging data with desc riptive labels. Once the data is labeled, the data can then be exchanged without regard to the vagaries of the numerous software applications (Geissler 2001). This is a difficult language fo r the construction industry to use because of the mass quantity of component s present. With XML it is necessary to standardize component labels and properties, su ch as change orders, windows, and doors. To date small steps have been taken in designing a language just for the construction industry called aecXML (Cleveland 2001). As st ated previously, there is a need for standardized labels within th ese languages in order for logi cal communication to occur. Within the aecXML language there are two types of standardized labels, non-AEC specific and AEC specific. The aecXML framework includes sets of XML schema, or a meaningful combination of one more elements and attributes, to explain information specific to exchanges between participants involved in designing, constructing and operating structures and facilities. The aecXML fr amework provides the AEC industry with the standard language it needs to share any inform ation over the Internet with other users. The framework identifies the in formation exchanged between industry users as well as processes ruling the exchange of that data (Weng and Zhu 2001).

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18 Software with either aecXML format or IFCs will allow business processes in the construction industry to become more stream lined while saving the integrity of data transferred as well as valuable time and m oney. Sir Michael Latham, lead a study that has been referenced as stating that with th e implementation of interoperable information systems would allow savings of approximately 30% to the construc tion industry (Geissler 2001). The North American IAI, estimates that with the use of IFCs and aecXML formats in the AEC industry would yield $7.5 to $15 billion annually (Gei ssler 2001). Autodesk Inc., GraphiSoft Nemetschek A.G. and Olof Granlund Oy have been certified as implementers of IAI' s IFC 1.5.1. Microsoft is also heading up programs that will offer software with IFC 2.0. Timberline Software Corp., Bentley Systems Inc., and Autodesk Inc. are also jumping on the bandwagon to develop programs that are compatible with IAI IFCs (Geissler 2001). The continued produc tion and organization of software developers depends on the indus try leaders not the so ftware developers. Once the industry sees the benefits and th e ease at which it allows organization work flow they be more willing to help define the standards for the software developers and the success will continue to grow. Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Customer Satisfaction E-Business dictates fast and flexible response to increasingly dynamic market changes, but it also requires stable and enduring relationships between companies and employees as well as between companies and partners, and companies and customers (Chang and Ping Li 2003). Customer satisfactio n is one of the most important roles of eBusiness software providers. Customers dete rmine the success of a companys website. Customers have confirmed the benefits the eBusiness technologies had on the speed and cost effectiveness of deploying and managing integration projects. Consumers have been

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19 gaining market power and they are in control as to the direction and pace of the economic growth of the companies who host these webs ites. Companies need to be devoted to customer satisfaction and be easy with whic h to deal if they do not want to lose customers to competitors websites. Business applications that offer personalized customer services are especially important to most customers these days. In the online world, businesses have th e opportunity to develop very deep relationships with customers, both through accepting preference of customers and then observing their purchase behavi or over time, so that you can get that individualized knowledge of the customer and uses that i ndividualized knowledge of the customer to accelerate their discovery process (Krishnamurthy 3). In order to keep customers interested and loyal to companys websites it is the customer service and customized experien ce that keeps customers coming back. Amazon.com employees never meet their cust omers face-to-face, but repeat customers are flagged and if they en counter a problem these buyers are ushered to the front customer services to speak with a high leve l manager. Sacks Fifth Avenue applies the same concept to their high ro llers by moving them to the front of the customer help line when in need (Enos 2005). Customer-centric means figuring out what your customers want by asking them, then figuring out how to give it to them, and th en giving it to them. Thats the traditional meaning of customer-centric (Krishnamurthy 2). Improving customer experience online involve s: identifying your customers goals as well as the companys goals, commit to orga nizing that great customer experience, and then monitoring the customer experi ence as well (Hurst and Gellady 1999).

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20 For customer service to be exactly that, cust omer service, it is necessary to organize the company structure and consolidate custom ers records so everyone has access to these records with one click so th ere is no run around when assis ting a customer (Enos 2005). Customers do not want to deal with a company that is not patient or takes an interest in their consumers. The website is the first pl ace to treat the customers with respect. If customers find the website too difficult to navi gate or just plain unfriendly, they are not likely to return. Companies wi ll lose opportunities for sales, customer relationships, and positive feedback which equal losses in revenue if they do not provide a site that is user friendly. The key driver of online success, or failure, is the customer experience (Hurst and Gellady 3). e-Business Applications Because customer satisfaction is such a bi g deal in keeping e-Business applications running, the rate at which ne w and improved applications are needed is increasing. Advanced e-Markets, redrafting and optimi zation of supply chains, and outsourcing of business functions are all factors that drive the needs for flexible applications. The technology that is used and define d for e-Business applications needs to be able to change and be able to adapt to the constantly changing marketplaces and it is up to these technologies to make successful busine sses out of successful e-marketplaces. Virtual marketplaces can be organized in one of two ways, either horizontally or vertically. Horizontal market s offer common services to a va riety of industries. These services can include financia l services, benefits management, maintenance and repair, and operating equipment procurement process ma nagement. Vertical marketplaces refer to a web site that combines unrelated materi als and services that are used jointly for a particular industry. The site then makes this collected data available to industry

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21 members. In the construction industry, a vertical marketplace could provide an application service, as well as a marketplace for the sale of goods and services for the construction industry (Issa et al. 2003). Virtual marketplaces can improve sales and distribution while reducing inventory levels. Companies are able to distribute their products to a multitude of companies worldwide that they otherwise might have never had contact. Amazon.com has been heralded as the first company to be asso ciated with the e-Commerce phenomenon. Their e-marketplace was carefully planned and stra tegically placed, on the Internet of course. E-retailing is a solution to a different t ype of storefront, a storefront that is established online for the sel ling of products and services online. E-retailing allows businesses to create, manage, and run business from their computer. The key trade that is made is that real estate is tr aded for web space. Real estate is the main cost of physical retailers, whereas web hosting, development a nd maintenance fees are the main costs of e-retailing. That is why ther e is the old saying: location, lo cation, location. Real estate gets more expensive every year, and tec hnology gets cheaper every year, and it gets cheaper fast (Krishnamurthy 2002). Successful e-Business sites are user friend ly, easy to navigate, available across any operating system. With this in mind, the cost that is put into these systems should be carefully monitored and deliberately planned so as to not lose money with the end product. In order to develop and plan for syst ems that are to be pr oductive it is important to keep the necessary components of a succe ssful e-business strategy in check. These necessitates are: the demand fo r real-time access to information, the need to integrate base applications that are too costly to repl ace, to ability to collect information from a

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22 vast number of sources, the ability to have different applications communicate with one another to create a streamlined flow of information, the ability to communicate wirelessly, and adaptation to change (AberdeenGroup 2001). Issa et al. (2003) explained a model th ey created that shows the savings and efficiencies companies realize when adopti ng e-Business strategies into their company culture. They explain that because new trends force the construction industry to deliver a better product with enhanced customer i nvolvement and satisfac tion, businesses must expand their market globally so every partic ipant becomes experienced in the part they play in the whole business operation. Theref ore, in order to produce the best quality product while achieving ultimate customer sa tisfaction, everyone on the team needs to work together. This can only be done th rough Internet technology. By implementing Internet technologies and thus e-Business solu tions, improved quality of work will satisfy the client, improve efficiency of product deve lopment which in turn satisfies the project team (Issa et al. 2003). e-Business integration As stated previously, the complex nature of e-Business makes it difficult to integrate its applications into existing company software as well as other e-Business application across th e web for communication purposes. The construction industry is fragmented between general contractors, subcontractors, architects, engineers, owners, and develope rs. This is where e-Business integration infrastructures come in. An e-Business integration infrastructure consists of several layers of different technologies that pr ovide communication, integration, organization, and coordination services (AberdeenGroup 2001).

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23 Investing the time to choose the right technology and supplier for e-Business applications is critical. K nowledge of the supplier of the technology selected as well as the credibility of the supplie r are two important characte ristics investors should be looking for when choosing the best technol ogy for their job. The development of a strategic integration infrastructure can best be created though determining the needs of eBusiness and overcoming the obstacles e-Business can present. The result of strategic planning for these infrastructures is long term benefits, which really makes it all worth it in the end (AberdeenGroup 2001). Some industry leaders feel it might be too late to get invo lved in e-Business operations. However there are steps that can be taken to begin the road to e-Business success. An e-Business framework should be set up in a company in order to begin the implementation into the companys operations. An e-Business framework should consist of three effects including: the communication effect, the brokera ge effect which allows ac cess to global markets with little cost, and the inte gration effect which decreases a nd improves the supply chain. An organization model should then be established. The next step should be a ranking of the opportunities that are available through e-Business tr ansactions. Finall y, for each of the opportunities that were listed, a potential solu tion should be identifi ed using one of the three affects stated prev iously (Schulz 2003). This is just a brief overview of an approach to get the ball rolling in the effort of creating a successful e-Business framework. Ca reful research should be done in order to create an e-Business framework that explores strategies with less risk and opportunities for greater opportunities.

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24 Case Studies Robert Bosch Corporation The Robert Bosch Corpor ation has experienced real value in implementing e-Business applications into company operations. The director of e-commerce at Robert Bosch Corporations said "In my mind, e-Business drives your processes toward real time" (Gould 39). The implementation of at Robert Bosch Corporation is pretty conservati ve in that they do not like to jump into the system without knowing what is has in store for their compa ny. They want to see the technology at work and actually succeeding before adoption companywide begins. The e-commerce committee will first introdu ce a project they feel will assist the company. A return on investment of less then a year is then determined. After approval, the project is then given a three to six mont h test project where it will try out its success rates. If the test project is successful, the project is then issued companywide (Gould 2003). Two of their e-Business a pplications include real-time inventory checks and direct purchasing through an e-marketplace. Only a web-browser is needed to interact with these applications. Bosch employees are descri bing these as "way better than what they had" (Gould 39). Siemens VDO Automotive Siemens VDO Automotive is another company applying e-Business applications into their corporate structure. Bill Macfarlane, CIO, feels the automotive industry would benef it from e-Business for procurement, supply chain management, and product development. Currently, Siemens uses web-based auctions, RFP/RFQ management, supplier co mmunications, and purch asing. With these ideas for implementation, one of Siemens firs t e-Business applications was catalog-based procurement. Next in line for e-Business at Siemens include: web-based requisitions,

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25 with workflows, approvals, and budget contro ls. Macfarlane says web-based technology "is the way to go. If you're not doing it we b-based, you're missing the boat" (Gould 40). TRW Automotive TRW Automotive has begun using an online ordering system to help boost sales. Now, between 50 and 60% of TRWs orders come through the ordering system rather than by phone or fax. Another e-Business application is that of online customization for products. Customers can configure products and submit them to TRW for pricing (Gould 2003). TRWs e-Busi ness applications have helped with customer sales, inventory manage ment, and supplier communication. Primavera Systems This developer of project management software, partnered with PurhasePro.com, an online provider of Internet B2B procurement. The new marketplace is PrimeContract.com and is intended for construction companies, subcontractors, owners, and suppliers. The purpose is to speed up the purchasing process of goods and services, as well as aid in effec tive review of bids a nd project contracts. "The construction industry is ripe for e-commerce," says Jo el Koppelman, president of Primavera. "PrimeContract.com extends projec t management into the heart of purchasing and procurement of construction materials, components and services (Partnership 16). e-Business Strategy Companies that begin to re -evaluate their technology needs and usage, evaluate new Web-based solutions, and to develop, refi ne, select and prioritiz e a set of solutions will be in a good position to realize considerable cost savings, increase operating efficiencies and improve customer satisfaction and profitability. E-Business is about the commitment a nd capability of companies in various industries to utilize digita l technology, emphasize intelle ctual property, and enhance customer satisfaction across the business functions, thus changing the way of doing

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26 business from a traditional company-centric stand-alone paradigm to a new networkleveraged synchronized paradigm (Chang and Ping Li 2003). It is the future and it is here now. Companies must embrace the new technologies if they want to survive in this fast paced, dog eat dog world. Chapter 3, will discuss the methodology of the survey as well as the aims and objectives of this study. The steps used in order to select res pondents as well as the reasoning for selecting the responde nts will also be clarified.

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27 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY This study focuses on e-Business practices in the construction industry. Current eBusiness applications, ava ilable technologies, types of providers for e-Business technology, as well as current user s of e-Business applications were researched to design a survey about e-Business in the construc tion industry today. The hypothesis on this topic is that the construc tion industry is growing rapi dly and beginning to embrace technology and realize its benefi ts. They are using e-Busine ss applications more every year and experiencing high success rates. Scope of Work This study investigates the views of the construction industry on e-Business and eprocurement. This information was obtained through the distribution of and response to a survey (Appendix A) that was sent out electr onically to constructi on industry leaders. The questions on this survey were designe d to determine the following: 1) the willingness of the constructi on industry respondents to use e-Business and e-procurement in future endeavors to help their companies make advancements in their field, 2) if they are already using these tools in their company, how far have they come since they first began using e-Business, 3) wh at type and size of companies are more likely to use eBusiness in their everyday activities. Th e survey was sent out via email, to 91 corporations selected from the 2003 Engin eering News Record Top 400 Contractors. These companies range from general contra cting, project management, to design build companies based throughout the United States The companies also vary in workforce

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28 size, geographical location, and annual profits. The main focus was to determine the extent of e-Business implemen tation by general contractors. Survey Methodology The survey is designed to determine the cu rrent status of e-Business practices, the construction industries implementation of eBusiness applications, and the effects eBusiness applications have on the construc tion industry. Questions in the survey concentrate on the size of companies, ge ographical distribution, revenue, current eBusiness practice, e-Business initiatives, eBusiness processes, e-Business affects on revenue, and past, present, and future plan s for e-Business applications within their company. A similar survey was conducted in the year 2000. The updated survey for this study consisted of some similar questions as we ll as additional questi ons more specific to the technologies of today. The results of the survey conducted in 2000 and the survey conducted for this study will be compared al ong with any additional information obtained from the new questions in an effort to de termine any trends in e-Business in the construction industry. With answers to these questions as the goal a survey was set up in order to determine e-Businesses effects on company processes. The survey was primarily multiple choice with a few demographics questions These sections were each designed accordingly to obtain the information needed to compile and analyze the final responses. Selection of Survey Participants The survey was distributed to 91 contra ctors selected from the 2004 ENR Top 400 Contractor list, found at http://www.enr.com. Every fifth company beginning with the number one ranking company on ENR Top 400 C ontractors were selected ( e.g., 1, 5, 10,

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29 15, ). This resulted in 81 companies from ENR Top 400 Cont ractors List. The subsequent ten companies were then sele cted from The ENR De sign-Build Companies List that were also included on the ENR Top 400 Contractors List but were not selected in the number sequence as previously noted. Contractors with web sites were chosen fi rst because of their obvious knowledge of Internet use and its capabilitie s. If a company was select ed and it was discovered they did not have a web site, they were left out of the survey and the preceding company in ranking on the list was chosen. If this compa ny also exhibited the absence of a website the company one rank above the selected comp any was chosen and so on until a company with a website was discovered. Compa ny information from their websites was documented for follow-ups and evaluation of survey results. This survey was prepared and administered via e-mail. The survey was sent out to ninety-one companies with a fax number include d for returning the survey. This survey was arranged as an anonymous survey. The information about the companies will be kept confidential, and the da ta gathered are pooled together. The analysis of results is kept strictly within this study. The results are based on responses from 20 corporations out of ninety-one organizations selected from ENR TOP 400. The busine sses surveyed represent project management, general contractor, design bu ild, and construction services companies throughout the United States. The respondent companies varied in terms of annual revenues, number of employees, and geogr aphic region of operations. The data was collected and analyzed for the study to de termine growing trends and construction industry changes in the past five years.

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30 The next chapter, Chapter 4, will discuss the results that were obtained from the respondents to the survey (Appendix A). Th ese results will then be analyzed and compared to a similar survey completed in 2000 (Issa et al. 2003) to determine any trends relating to e-Busine ss initiatives and adaptations in the construction industry.

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31 CHAPTER 4 ANALYSIS OF SURVEY RESULTS The eBusiness Assessment Survey is desi gned to determine the current usage in the construction industry of e-Business appli cations and how those views have changed in the past five years. The survey was ai med towards the construc tion industrys leading general contractors and their re sponse to e-Business initiatives. Since the survey was sent to the most successful contractors in the United States it is assumed they are doing something different to advance their busin ess success rates. The survey questions whether or not e-Business applications have anything to do with these companies successes and if so, if they plan on con tinuing their use and /or advancing their technology in order to better understand and utilize e-Busine ss strategies. Questions about company revenue size, number of em ployees, and geographical location were asked in order to determine whether smaller or larger general contracting firms were more willing to participate in e-Business. Information about current use of e-Business applications, as well as future plans for investment was questioned to determine companies e-Business implementation plans. Most important e-Business applications currently in use was also determined in order to assess applications that are most useful to the construction industry. The construction industry is beginning to re alize the benefits of e-Business. With the final results in, the ability to categori ze companies processes that worked became apparent. As survey results came in it was obvious that some companies had been

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32 working with e-Business for quite sometime and had worked through all the kinks and now had e-Business working for them. The e-Business Assessment Survey will be analyzed quantitatively to determine whether or not e-Business is finding a place in the construction industry. The results will then be compared to those results of a si milar e-Business assessment survey conducted in 2000 (Issa et al. 2003). Additional questions we re added to the present survey and only those questions that relate to the survey in 2000 will have comparison analysis results. Results of the e-Business Assessment Survey Respondent Profiles The respondents in this survey are base d on a 22 % return rate. Although this seems like a low return rate, accurate info rmation can still be determined as well as growing trends within the cons truction industry. The job titl e of the respondents from the 2000 survey compared to the 2005 survey varied as shown in Table 4-1. Of the responses to the survey, 5 (25%) we re from executives: they all felt either knowledgeable or very knowledgeable about the companys e-Business efforts conveying the idea that the executives or senior leve l management makes the decisions about the business operations that are taken on within the company. Three of the respondents (15%) worked in computer systems management; they came in second with claiming knowledge in company e-Business efforts with th e same type of responses as senior level management of very knowledgeable or knowle dgeable. Thus, it seems that the company executives and computer systems management work together in making decisions as to what technologies the company will adopt presently and in the future.

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33 Table 4-1: Survey respondent employee position 2000 2005 What are your job functions? Profile % Profile % Executive (CEO, owner, VP, etc) 7 35% 5 25% Operations Management 1 5% 7 35% Financial / Accounting 0 0% 0 0% Sales / Marketing 2 10% 4 20% E-Business Development 4 20% 0 0% Computer Systems management 0 0% 3 15% Consultant / IT Provider 1 5% 0 0% Engineering 0 0% 0 0% Other 5 25% 1 5% TOTAL 20 100% 20 100% A B Figure 4-1: Respondents job ti tle distribution. A) For the ye ar 2000 B) For the year 2005. Firms with employee size ranging from 100 to 499 employees at their current location had the greatest response to the su rvey. Figure 4-2 shows the employee size distribution of all the firms surveyed comp ared to the survey in 2000. Because the majority of the survey respondents are of si milar employee size, the comparison of results will be of even greater substance because of the companies similar experiences in relation to company size. Of the participants, 85% (17) ha d other locations within the United States and 55% (11) had internationa l locations. Companies with international locations had utilized more e-Business applicat ions as well as more types of connections, other than phone, fax, and email, for communi cation with suppliers than companies that operate solely in the United States. It is not uncommon for construction companies to be spread across the nation and even the world because the project they construct are for

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34 different clients and th us different locations demanding that they be on site to monitor progress. The surveys show the apparent use of Internet and other technologies in order to communicate from different locations. A B Figure 4-2: Respondents employ ee size distribution. A) For the year 2000 and B) For the year 2005. There is also significance in the fact that there is a greater distribution in size from the 2005 survey. Keep in kind that the companies for this survey were chosen based on their ranking on ENRs Top 400 contractors me aning they are successful companies. There was a 6% (1) response from companies with 20 to 49 employees: although this is a small company, they are making profits that co uld be attributed to e-Business efforts and their ability to communicate and expand their services. A companys revenue can be significant when it come to e-Business operations. The amount of revenue a company brings in each year will determine their spending on other company needs such as communications within the company structure. Figure 4-3 shows the distribution of the respondent firms revenues. There was a 32% (6) response from companies with revenue of one billion dollars or more. The companies in this revenue bracket spent more money on networki ng, computer hardware, intranet/extranet,

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35 and other e-Business applications than companies making a smaller revenue. This is for the obvious reason that these companies have a greater need and a great source from which to purchase the nece ssary items and tools. $100 Mil to $299.9 Mil 6 31% $300 Mil to $499.9 Mil 4 21% $1 Billion 6 32% $500 Mil to $1 Billion 2 11% $50 Mil to $99.9 Mil 0 0% $1 Mil to $49.9 Mil 1 5% Figure 4-3: Responde nts distribution by annual revenue Survey Findings Selected results of the survey will be disc ussed in the rest of the section with the following topics in mind: adoption of e-Bu siness, communication t ool usage, e-Business initiatives, intended gains from e-Business im plementation, and future plans and goals for e-Business within respondent companies. The first question on e-Business: Are you involved in adopting any of the following e-Business applicati ons? was asked of the res pondents to determine the current applications the construction indus try is using on a day to day basis. The distribution of e-Busi ness applications implemen ted by respondent companies can be found in Table 4-2 and Figure 4-4. It is understood that te chnology is a rapidly growing phenomenon and that a lot can happen in five years. However, as shown in Table 4-2, even after a five year time since a similar survey was sent out and analyzed, there appears to be the same rate of e-Business implementation. Every company

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36 surveyed is involved with e-Business applicatio ns, in some form or another, within their company. The most widely used e-Business application in 2005 is that of extranet/intranet at 75% (15) and project management cl ose behind with a 70% (14) adoption rate. This survey also shows more adoption in the wireless category than in previous years. The previous survey in 2000 showed 0% adoption of any kind of wireless technology. Presently 45% (9) of companies are utilizing the wireless technologies in part because of technological ad vances as well as greater user familiarity with this technology. Table 4-2: Adopted e-Business applica tion adoption in the construction industry Comparing the outsourcing of e-Business a pplications to internal development by the companies, it is found that there is more outsourcing now than five years ago. This could be due to software development a nd greater understanding of the construction industry and its standards as well as its unpr edictable operations that need flexible programs that can be used from project to pr oject. The presence of more outsourcing also has to do with companies using their internal ly developed programs in combination with 2000 Results 2005 Results e-Business Initiatives n % Internal OutSrce n % Internal OutSrce E-Procurement 8 40% 3 0 5 25% 1 4 Customer Relationship Mgmt 6 30% 3 0 10 50% 9 1 Workflow 8 40% 3 1 8 40% 7 2 Supply Chain Management 5 25% 2 1 3 15% 2 0 Extranet/Intranet 13 65% 7 1 15 75% 12 2 E-Commerce 9 45% 4 0 6 30% 3 3 Kwldg Mgmt./ Data Warhse 9 45% 5 0 9 45% 7 3 Internet Infrastructure 12 60% 5 1 10 50% 9 2 Enterprise Resource Planning 5 25% 4 0 7 35% 6 1 Accounting / Finance 11 55% 5 0 13 65% 9 5 Project Collaboration 10 50% 4 5 11 55% 7 6 Project Management 14 70% 5 4 14 70% 8 8 Digital Exchange / Auction 1 5% 0 1 9 45% 2 6 Wireless 0 0% 0 0 9 45% 6 1

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37 outsourcing in order to create an application that works best for their company. Although there is still a great deal of internal deve lopment, this likely has to do with company preference of already in place processes, especial ly in the extranet/intranet category. It is difficult for the construction industry to move on from something that they believe is working and does not need to be changed. Figure 4-4: Distribution of adopted e-Business ap plications in 2000 and 2005 Accounting and finance tools are among the most implemented tools and are used a great deal at 65% (13) with most internally developed. Project co llaboration tools are also automated and used widely among cons truction industry leader s. These tools are designed to help companies organize their information about a project in one place, usually a website. This allows the inform ation to be accessed by anyone working on the project, at anytime, from any place. Thus resulting in increased productivity and a more streamlined approach which saves time a nd money, which is why construction industry leaders have embraced these tools.

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38 Digital exchange has made great progress that most likely has to do with project collaboration tools and the softwa re that is associated with these tools. More software has come out that is focused on construction indu stry standards in the past five years that allows for easier exchange of information over the Internet. This explains the increase in use and adoption responses. It is easier than ever before to exchange information on the Internet. Wireless capabilities have allo wed digital exchange as well as project collaboration tools to be used more widely in the construction industry. Wireless has gone from a 0% usage in 2000 to 45% (9) over the past five years. Although more than 45% of companies require cell phones, wh ich use wireless technologies, respondents were most likely considering wireless conn ections for laptops on site and for wireless data exchange over the Internet. The combination of these three tools has helped each tool alone and explains their greater adoption in the construction industry. There was a change in the constructi on industrys thoughts on e-Commerce, eProcurement, and supply chain management in terms of less use for these applications. They are still among the least adopted applica tions even though they have great potential in saving money and streamlining operations. The lack of applic ations using these services in the construction indus try has lead to a lack of ex pertise in these areas simply because there is not enough industry specific operations out there for these companies to use that work with their business operations. The construction industry is embracing e-Bu siness application slowly but surely. The number of adoptions of thes e applications is sure to rise especially with the new generation of individuals getting ready to en ter the construction work force. They are more computer savvy and have the expertis e and experience to introduce new operations

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39 and applications into the construction industr y that can only help propel the construction industry into the computer age. Communication The respondents were then asked about the connections they have with their supplie rs, partners, and customers. The purpose of this question was to determine exactly which methods of contact they are using to stay in touch and to exchange information with suppliers, partne rs, and customers. Figure 4-5 shows the distribution of respondent connectio ns with customers and suppliers Figure 4-5: Connection with s uppliers, partners, and customers Although the survey indicated that the cons truction industry most often uses the old method of communicating by phone or in person there is an increase in the use of e-mail by respondents. This use of e-mail expresses the fact the constructi on industry is using the Internet on a daily basis to conduct its business operations. Th e facsimile has been around for a while and because everything is not completely automated it is necessary to

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40 keep this communication tool in connection with the other most widely used tools, phone and e-mail. Because the construction indus try is people oriented and face time with customers, suppliers, and partners is impor tant, the use of the phone should not by any means be eliminated, just enhanced. The use of cell phones, cell phones with Internet capabilities, and cell phone Personal Digital Assistan ts (PDAs) is only making communication easier and more effective. Again, the use of wireless technologies has ta ken a leap in the past five years in the construction industry from 5% (1) in 2000 to over 35% (6) in 2005. Electronic data exchange (EDI) is somewhat related to wirele ss in that wireless can increase the use of EDI. The more places you are able to exch ange information the greater the chance that it will be used. Thus, with the increase in wireless communications comes increased EDI use. The use of public and private market places is pretty low considering the recent surge in digital marketplace presence. The US construction industry is heavily dependent on personal relationships and seems to stil l work by word of mouth, asking around and using past suppliers and manufacturers fo r business operations. With the growing popularity of wireless computing, this trend is bound to grow because the construction industry will be able to reorder an item from a digital marketplace at a moments notice should something go wrong with a current building material. Another question was asked of the survey participants about company requirements for mobile computing devices to connect w ith others. Does your company require or supply employees with any mobile computing devices in order to connect with others was asked to determine how connected thes e companies hope to be with clients,

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41 suppliers, and even within the organization itself. Figure 4-6 displays the distribution of supplied computing devices to employees. Figure 4-6: Company su pplied computing devices Although not every company required their suppliers to have mobile computing devices, all the companies surveyed supplie d their own employees with cell phones and 60% supplied cell phones with varying capabi lities i.e. some supplied BlackBerries which supply users with e-mail, speakerphone instant messaging, and Internet browsing among other capabilities. The construction indus try is a fast paced business. Employees are rarely at their desks and are often on the move. Decisi ons often come down to last minute details and project managers should be available at a moments notice. Cell phones make this possible which is why they are so widely issued to construction management employees. Personal Digital Assistants (PDA) are the next most popular computing device with which to supply employees with 60% (12) of companies supplying their employees with these devices. PDAs have similar capabiliti es as BlackBerries without the ability of a phone. Internet access is common, along with personal organizers, day planners, e-mail,

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42 and word processing are all available on thes e devices. Keeping tr ack of high profile project, meeting minutes, and schedules are al l made easier with the use of PDAs. Tablet PCs are becoming more popular. Because they hold more information than PDAs, larger projects can be tracked on organized with thes e devices. They are larger than a PDA but are just as mobile. With wireless becoming more readily available and 55% of companies requiring wireless devices tablet PCs are begi nning to showing up on more construction projects. Global Positioning Systems (GPS) are only us ed by 10% (2) of the respondents. Most companies have been using GPS system on equipment on the jobsite in order to track use, productivity, as well as to prevent theft. It is al so used in automobiles as a direction assistant with helping users with finding locations of points of interest. With the apparent use of these mobile computing devices it is clear that the construction industry is em bracing new technologies and looking for new ways to increase productivity. These devices simplif y processes and streamline workflow which is exactly what the complex construction industr y needs. After all time is money in this industry. Electronic Business Initiatives. The next question Which of the following Internet-related IT initiatives are you curren tly working on or plan to be involved in? was designed to determine what e-Business applications were being implemented into the construction industry. It is also designed to determine where the construction industry is lacking in terms of their e-Bu siness efforts. Figure 4-7 di splays the distribution of eBusiness initiatives in the construction industry. Current practices and future implementation on procurement, supply ch ain, transactions, e-commerce, project

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43 development, intranet/extranet, e-markets, order tracking, partne ring, and communication were all covered to determine the industrys n eeds. Ninety percent of the companies that responded have implemented e-Business initiativ es and have plans for future e-Business initiatives within their orga nization. Such a high respons e rate indicates that the construction industry is ready and willing to implement e-Business initiatives. Figure 4-7: Electronic business initiatives in the construction industry Project Development and Intran et/Extranet tools are the most used and/or are slated for greater use. Greater use of Intranet/E xtranet at 60% (12) versus 55% (11) in 2000, was no surprise considering its high response rate earlier with e-Bu siness applications. The respondent companies also have a strong focus on project development and complete organization of project systems. This is also no surprise with the high response for project management applications stated earlier. Companies, most likely, have plans to continue their use of these initiatives with plans to develop these areas further. Communication was the next leader in initiatives a lthough it decreased 10% from 60% (12) in 2000 to 50% (10) in 2005. This d ecrease could be attributed to the fact that

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44 the respondents feel this area is important but that they ar e more focused on other areas at present. However, as stated previously, communication in the c onstruction industry is key. With a constant need to keep in touch with suppliers, clients, and everyone involved on the project, communication is extremely impo rtant to construction industry leaders. These tools are important to maintain and increase productivity while reducing costs and staying on schedule. The survey indicates that e-Procurement and e-Commerce are likely to be adopted in the near future. Respondent s are aware of these tools bu t do not have the ability or knowledge at present to implement these into operations. As stated previously, these are the items that are outsourced indicating that the respondents are not as aware of these information applications as much as other activities and applications. However, the survey indicates they are wi lling to take on these tools in the future as a means to increase productivity and improve business operations. Prioritized goals of the Construction Industry Please rate the following from the least important to the most important according to your business goals. This question was designed to determine technologie s the respondents saw as most important in furthering their companys business operati ons as well as the future structure of the company. Table 4-3 shows the respondents priorities and their ra nkings in order to determine how or why they plan on implemen ting certain e-Business initiatives. Figure 4-8 shows the distribu tion of the respondent companies goals.

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45 Table 4-3: Respondent priorities 2000 2005 Business Goals AvgMinMaxRank%AvgMin Max Rank% Increased Internal Communication 4.9 4.0 5.0 1 65 3.8 1.0 5.0 3 37 Increased External Communication 4.9 4.0 5.0 1 654.5 2.0 5.0 5 68 Enhanced Customer Relationships4.9 4.0 5.0 2 604.6 2.0 5.0 1 74 Expansion of geography 2.8 1.0 5.0 12 153.1 2.0 5.0 10 11 Innovation of product/services delivery 3.9 3.0 5.0 6 203.5 2.0 5.0 8 11 Shorter, accurate transaction 3.7 2.0 5.0 7 153.3 1.0 5.0 9 17 Transparent market 2.8 2.0 5.0 12 5 2.5 1.0 5.0 12 7 Expansion of Partnership 3.5 2.0 5.0 10 153.0 2.0 5.0 11 5 Reduced capital costs 3.5 2.0 5.0 8 253.9 2.0 5.0 4 32 Reduced travel costs 3.5 2.0 5.0 8 103.4 1.0 5.0 7 15 Increased productivity 4.6 4.0 5.0 4 454.6 2.0 5.0 2 70 Increased predictability 4.7 4.0 5.0 3 504.6 3.0 5.0 2 70 Reduced defects 4.1 3.0 5.0 5 304.5 3.0 5.0 4 58 Improved industry standards 3.2 1.0 5.0 11 5 3.8 2.0 5.0 6 21 The survey results indicate that custom er relationships are of most important concern for leading construction companie s ranking second in 2000 and moving to the number one goal in 2005. Increased productivity and increased predic tability is a close second, moving from fourth and third respectiv ely to tying for second. The construction industry is especially concerned with re ducing cost, and increas ing productivity and predictability which will in turn reduce cost s as well as save time. Reducing defects and improved communication with suppliers, custom ers, and partners, ranks at number four as a main goal of construction industry leader s. Increased internal communication is not as high of a priority as it was in 2000 movi ng ranks from number one in 2000 to number three in 2005, probably due to the fact that companies have developed their internal communication and are now focusing on broade r communication applications. Improved industry standards as a goal has taken a leap from ranking eleventh in 2000 to ranking sixth in 2005. Construction industry leader s seem to be figuring out that the more standards that are developed, the greater th eir ability to communicate effectively, and

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46 with minimal confusions. Most of the busin ess goals have not changed a great deal in five years since 2000 because of their similar rankings from 2000, wh ich brings forth the trend of the construction industrys goals. These goals should help in the further development of applications geared toward the construction industry s goals as well as allowing the industry to see exac tly what e-Business applications it needs to implement in order to achieve their goals. Figure 4-8: Construction industrys prioritized goals Business to Business Exchange. In the past 5 years has your company participated in an industry-specific Business to Business (B2B) exch ange? This question was designed to determine whether or not th e construction industry is moving away from its traditional ways of buying and selling products and services. It is not clear as to whether or not the construction industry is fa miliar with this practi ce because 35% (7) did not know if their company had participated in B2B exchange, 40% (8) said no, and another 20% (5) said their company had partic ipated in this applic ation. These results show that B2B exchange is not implemented as much as desired due in part to it process.

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47 The B2B exchange process involves entering in formation into a system and allowing the system to take it through th e process with minimal human interface (Cleveland 2001). The problem with this is the mere comple xity of the construction industry and its systems. The construction industry deals wi th a multitude of systems and coordinating these systems is difficult without the lo ss of information or change of data. Implementing B2B exchange is an obvious obs tacle that must be overcome and is on its way to working within the construction industry. Obstacles What has held you back from condu cting e-Business? This question was designed to help industry suppliers, software developers, and e-Business experts determine what they can do to help the constr uction industry in their e-Business efforts. Everything from lack of security and industry standards, to cost of the application is covered in this question. Figure 4-9 displa ys the obstacles the c onstruction industry is facing with conducting e-Business. Because e-Business is so new to the construction industry there are few precedents of comp anies who have implemented e-Business applications with real time documented resu lts. Construction indus try leaders are most likely at the point in their eBusiness implementation and they are all waiting to see what successes and benefits they have reaped from their efforts. Another reason the construction industry is wary of implementing too much eBusiness at one time is because of the lack of expertise. E-Business is new to construction; however it is still fairly new to all disciplines which indicates that there is going to be a lack of expertise in this area across the board. However, with the increase in computer literacy among the workforce, the implementation of e-Busi ness is sure to be on the rise.

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48 Figure 4-9: Constr uction industry reasons for not implementing e-Business Benefits If e-Commerce applications have been implemented in your company within the past 5 years, has your company seen significant improvements in any of the following areas? Figure 4-10 displays th e results of benefits with which the construction industry has experienced w ith the implementation of e-Business applications. The ability to retrieve project information with ease and allowing for more effective use of time are the greatest benefits realized by the responde nts in this survey with 40% (8) feeling these were benefits th eir company was realizing. These benefits really go hand in hand, because with the better use of time comes cost savings which is the next benefit the respondents felt in which they were taking part. Figure 4-10: Benefits realized by th e construction industry with e-Business implementation

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49 When these construction industry leaders first implemented e-Business into their daily operations they had a few ideas about what they wanted to accomplish. The question How would you charac terize the impact of your eBusiness initiatives on your main source of revenue was designed to de termine if their e-Business efforts were actually helping their company in the way they most expected it to help in reducing cost and increasing revenue. Figure 4-11 displa ys the 2005 respondents feeling on how they perceive e-Business impact on revenue. Figure 4-11: Impact on revenue Most of the respondents felt that thei r e-Business adoption was somewhat significant with 35% (7). The upper portion of respondents at 45% (9) felt there was some sort of impact on revenue by the e-Busi ness implementation. The four that did not respond were also the same individuals that felt they were not knowledgeable in their companys e-Business efforts. Figure 4-12 shows the distribution of res ponses to the question. Your companys e-Business efforts are primarily intended to? The survey showed that an overwhelming number of respondents impleme nted e-Business in the hope of increasing productivity, which leads to more effective use of time, and in turn cost savings. The construction industry is big on getting things completed as fast as possible with the least amount of

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50 steps. It is evident in this response that the construction industry getting done attitude is what is driving the deci sions on e-Business adoption. Figure 4-12: Construction industrys percei ved benefits of e-Business implementation It is somewhat surprising th at earlier in the survey th e top goal of these respondents was to enhance the customer relationship and here they ar e more focused on increasing productivity instead of improving customer se rvice. Perhaps the industry feel that by increasing productivity and delivering projects that are on time or earlier will increase customer satisfaction and thus the customer relationship. Future Spending. The question your company quan tifies and closely tracks the value of its e-Business efforts was designed to determine if these companies are really paying attention to whether or not e-Business is working for them or not. Figure 4-13 displays the distribution of respondent replies. The res ponses here varied across the board. It was difficult to determine whether or not the construction industry is really paying attention to e-Busi ness implementation. Although th e industry is beginning to embrace e-Business, it still seems to be a new practice. Tracking is on a case by case basis and will most likely be monitored in gr eater detail in the future after companies have experienced it for a while where great er results can be realized.

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51 Figure 4-13: Distribution of comp anies monitoring e-Business efforts The last question in the survey is D o you expect you spending on e-commerce to increase, decrease, or remain the same in th e coming year? With what the construction industry knows about e-Business and what appli cations they use on a daily basis, they are able to determine whether or not they will continue on the same track or move to a different approach as far as their business ope rations are concerned. Figure 4-14 displays the range of responses re ceived from the survey. Figure 4-14: The construction industrys perceived ideas on future spending on eBusiness implementation within their company The respondents show no signs of wanti ng to rid their operations of e-Business implementation. Either way they plan on continued spending on e-Business in the construction industry. The companies feel th at e-Business implementation is benefiting business operations and that continued support for it is crucial to business success.

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52 The next chapter, Chapter 5, will presen t final conclusions and recommendations for further research in this area of study. E-Business has potential for an even brighter future in the construction indus try. It has already begun is forward shift, and it seems as though there is no turning back.

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53 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Electronic Business definitely has a place in the future of construction operations. Its benefits have already begun to show succe sses within the companies they have been implemented. Easier project coordination, more effective use of time, and cost savings are all promises that e-Business is deliver ing. However, in order for e-Business to succeed in the first place industry leaders ne ed to determine their goals and company standards. An understanding of what customers want and how to find these customers is one area they need to develop in order to design e-Business for communications. Companies also needed to assess their products and services to determine how to market themselves and what was required to turn their company into a productive, profitable business. Today, virtually all companies use the Internet in some sort of fashion and they will continue to expand their use a nd knowledge of the Internet as new uses emerge. As stated previously, the construction i ndustry claims that 60% to 80% of the total cost of operation, including capital, labor, materials a nd transportation, is directly related to information management (Geissler 2001). Th e construction industry is a global network that can use the Internet and e-Business to c onnect to suppliers, customers, and partners worldwide. The results of the e-Business Assessment Su rvey have indicated that, contrary to popular belief, the construction industry is ac tually implementing e-Business solutions in order to streamline operations. Not only is the industry already implementing e-Business

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54 applications, but they are also ready and w illing to embrace new applications as long as there is evidence that implementation will pr ove successful for their own company in the long run. Increased productivity by the respondent companies was the overwhelming response to the perceived benefit of e-Business. However, the other benefits realized by the respondent companies that was a more ta ngible response was that of finding more effective use of time, and the ability to retr ieve project information with greater ease. The majority of the respondents felt that because of these re al and perceived benefits, eBusiness implementation in the construction industry made either a significant or very significant impact on their comp anies business operations. Plans to continue spending within re spondent companies also expresses the industrys desire to continue e-Business implementation in the future. At this point in time, however, the construction industry ha s only scratched the surface of what the Internet can do for them and they have a l ong way to go before the industry realizes the maximum return the Internet and e-Business have to offer. The fact that the industry has only scratched the surface is not the fault of the construction industry but the complexity of the discipline and the inability, at present, for so many different systems to collaborate with accurate results. Most e-Business applications are not desi gned to fit the complex nature of the construction industry. With the developmen t of greater technologi es and the aecXML language, e-Business will have a greater pres ence in the construction industry. In the near future, aecXML will allow for great er integration among systems as well as

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55 functioning in the adaptable networks made up of other companies who coordinate internal and external trans actions all in one place. The study shows that the constr uction industry is taking an active role in e-Business implementation and that companies are making plans for future internal and external improvements in order to increase productiv ity and encourage cost savings. Recommendations for Future Research While the results of this survey provide valuable information about e-Business implementation in the construc tion industry, further research is necessary in order to increase maximum potential of this phenomenon within the construction industry. Since the construction industry as a whole conducts the same types of business processes just on different scales according to company size and project specifics, surveys should be conducted industry wide. The survey should seek a larger number of responses by sending out the survey to a larger number of industry leaders with a web presence not only those on the ENR top 400 contractors list It would also be helpful to send the survey to the same companies so tracking of specific companies can be analyzed yielding more accurate results instead of ju st a random sampling every time. There should also be a type of measuremen t for productivity in this study because it was the greatest perceived benefit of e-Busine ss. It was only a pe rception because there was not a developed form of measurement to da te that could be used in conjunction with this survey. Additionally, it is recommended that future studies focus on the progress of the integration of e-Business applications am idst the complex business operations of the construction industry. The trends toward enha nced integration and interoperability will

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56 result in even greater improvements in productivity, time management, and reduced costs.

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57 APPENDIX E-BUSINESS ASSESSMENT SURVEY Informed Consent Form M.E. Rinker, Sr. School of Building Construction PO Box 115703 Gainesville, FL 32611-5703 Fax (352) 392-9606 Suncom: 622-5965 Dear Participant, I am a graduate student in the Rinker School of Building Construction at the University of Florida. As part of my course work I am conducting a survey, the purpose of which is to determine the use of e-Business solutions in the construction industry. I am asking you to participate in the survey because of your close connection with these issues, as a participant in the construction industry. Participants will be asked to fill out a survey lasting no longer than 20 minutes. You will not have to answer any question(s) you do not wish to answer. Your survey will be conducted in your wor kplace, after you have read this informed consent. Only I will have access to the surv ey that you fill out. The statistical data collected from your survey and others will be documented in my thesis. Although, your identity (if you choose to reveal it) will be ke pt confidential to the extent provided by the law and your identity will not be re vealed in the final manuscript. There are no anticipated risk s, compensation or other direct benefits to you as a participant in this survey. Y ou are free to withdraw your consent to participate and may discontinue your participation in the inte rview at any time without consequence. If you have any questions about this research protocol, please contac t me at (352) 373 7379 or my faculty supervisor, Dr. R. Ra ymond Issa, at (352)-273-1152. Questions or concerns about your rights as a research participant may be directed to th e UFIRB office, University of Florida, Box 112250, Gain esville, FL 32611; Ph: (352) 392 0433. By filling out the provided survey, you give me the permission to report your responses anonymously in the final manuscript to be subm itted to my faculty supervisor as part of my course work. Sincerely,

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58 ______________ Bryce Treffinger I have read the procedure described above. I voluntarily agree to participate in the research study and I have received a copy of this description. _______________________________________ Signature of the participant Date

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59 This survey has been designed to find out how the construction industry adopting the Internet tools and e-Business strategi es as well as the plans for future implementations. Please take a few minutes from your busy schedule and participate in the survey. Upon completion, please either fax it to (352) 846-2772 or mail it to us at: Dr. R. Issa, Attn: E Business Survey, Ri nker School of Building Construction, Box 115703, Gainesville, FL 32611-5703 1. What are your job functions? (PLEASE CHECK ALL THAT APPLY) Executive (CEO, Owner, VP, etc) Operations Management (Project Manager, Project Engineer, etc) Financial/ Accounting Sales/Marketing E-Business Development/E-Business Strategist Computer Systems Management Consultant/IT Provider Engineering Other (Please Describe) 2. How many people are employed at this lo cation and in your entire organization, including all of its branches, divisions, and subsidiaries? (PLEASE CHECK ONLY ONE PER COLUMN) At this Location In this State In the U.S. International Locations Entire Organization 10,000 or more 5,000-9,999 1,000-4,999 500-999 100-499 50-99 20-49 10-19 1-9 3. What was your companys revenu e in the year 2004, in US dollars? (PLEASE CHECK ONLY ONE) $1 to $49.9 Million $300 to $499.9 Million $50 to $99.9 Million $500 Million to $1 Billion $100 to $299.9 Million $1 Billion +

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60 4. Are you involved in adopting any of the following e-Business applications ? (PLEASE CHECK ALL THAT APPLY AND INDICATE IF YOU ARE DEVELOPING INTERNALLY OR OUTSOURCING) Developing Internally Outsourcing E-Procurement Customer Relationship Management Workflow Supply Chain Management Extranet/Intranet E-Commerce Knowledge Management/Data Warehousing Internet Infrastructure Enterprise Resource Planning Accounting /Finance Project Collaboration/Project Specific Web Sites (e.g. E-Builder, Project Talk, Constructware, Endeavor, etc..) Project Management (e.g. Prolog, Expedition, etc.) Digital Exchange/Auction Wireless None of the above (PLEASE SKIP TO QUESTION #7) 5. What type of connections do you have with your suppliers, partners and customers? (PLEASE CHECK ALL THAT APPLY) Phone, in-person Public Web-based market places E-mail Wireless Fax Centralized Internet Based Information management Electronic Data Interchange Telecommunications XML Private Web-based market places Other (Please specify) _________________________________ 6. Does your company require or supp ly employees with any of the following mobile computing devices in order to connect with others within your organization : (PLEASE CHECK ALL THAT APPLY) Cell Phones Tablet PCs PDAs Phones with Internet Capabilities Wireless connections GPS systems Other _____________________________ We do not require mobile computer devices

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61 7. Does your company require or supply em ployees with any of the following mobile computing devices in order to connect with suppliers, partners, and customers : (PLEASE CHECK ALL THAT APPLY) Cell Phones Tablet PCs PDAs Phones with Internet Capabilities Wireless connections GPS systems Other _____________________________ We do not require mobile computer devices 8. How knowledgeable are you about your companys e-Business efforts? (PLEASE CHECK ALL THAT APPLY) Very Knowledgeable Knowledgeable Somewhat Knowledgeable Not Knowledgeable 9. Over the course of one year, what dollar values do you buy, specify, recommend, or approve in purchases of th e following products or services: (PLEASE CHECK ONLY ONE PER COLUMN) Networking/ Telecommuni cations Internet/ Extranet/ Intranet Computer Hardware Service/ Support Materials/ Equipment Electronic Commerce $500,000 or more $400,000 to $499,999 $300,000 to $399,999 $200,000 to $299,999 $100,000 to $199,999 $50,000 to $ 99,999 Less than $50,000 10. Which of the following Internet-related IT initiatives are you currently working on or plan to be involved in? (PLEASE CHECK ALL THAT APPLY) Procurement/Purchase Supply Chain Transaction Processing E-Commerce/Sales Project Development/Project Specific Web Site Intranet/ Extranet E-markets Order Tracking Deliver Center over the Internet Partnering Communication

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62 11. Please rate the following from the least important (1) to the most important (5) according to your business goals. Very Important 5 Somewhat Important 4 Important 3 Not very Important 2 Not Important at all 1 Increased external business communication Increased internal communication Enhanced customer relationship Expansion of geographical opportunities Innovation of product/service delivery Shorter, accurate transactions Transparent market Expansion of partnership opportunities Reduced capital costs Reduced travel costs Increased productivity and profitability Increased predictability and project performance Reduced defects and accidents Improved industry standards Other (PLEASE SPECIFY) 12. In the past 5 years, has your company participated in an industry-specific Business to Business exchange? Yes, If Yes Please Specify ______________________________________________________________ No Do Not Know 13. Please tell us what has held you back from conducting e-Business? (PLEASE CHECK ALL THAT APPLY) Lack of Security Lack of industry standards Lack of appropriate laws and regulations Cost of EDI Cost of e-Business applications Cost of networking / telecommunications Lack of infrastructure Lack of expertise in e-Business and construction Lack of successful real time examples 14. If e-commerce application have been im plemented into your company within the past 5 years, has your company seen significant improvements in any of the following areas: (PLEASE CHECK ALL THAT APPLY) Easier to retrieve project information More effective use of time Labor management Cost savings in any department Schedule Efforts

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63 15. How would you characterize the impact of your e-Business in itiatives on your main sources of revenue? Very Significant Somewhat Significant Somewhat Insignificant Insignificant 16. Your companys e-Business efforts are primarily intended to: (Select Only One) Increase Revenues Reduce Costs Increase Productivity Improve Service 17. Your company quantifies and closely tr acks the value of its e-Business efforts: (Select Only One). Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree 18. Do you expect your spending on e-commer ce to increase, decrease, or remain the same in the coming year ? (Select Only One) Increase Decrease Stay the Same

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64 LIST OF REFERENCES Aberdeen Group, e-Business Infrastructure Integra tion: Practical Approaches. An Executive White Paper (2001). Aberdeen Group, Inc. 2001. As Seen on 29 Jan 2005. Chang, Sung-Lung Steven, and Pi ng Li Carl H. Peter. How to Succeed in E-Business By Taking the Haier Road: Formulating E-Business Strategy Through Network Building Competitiveness Review Vol 13, Issue 2, 2003, 34 46. Cleveland, A.B. B2B in the Construction Industry: Putting First Things First Leadership & Management in Engineering Vol. 1, Issue 1, Jan 2001, 56-57. Enos, Joel. Click with Customers, Ziff Davis Smart Business As Seen on 9 Feb 2005, Fisher, Susan E. Can Construction Adapt to Online Markets ? InfoWorld Vol. 22, Issue 20, 15 May 2000, 38. Gallaher, Michael P., Alan C. OConnor, J ohn L. Dettbarn, Jr., and Linda T. Gilday. Cost Analysis of Inadequate Interope rability in the U.S. Capital Facilities Industry. NIST U.S. Department of Commer ce Technology Administration: NIST GCR 04-867. 2004. As seen on 9 Feb 2005 < http://www.bfrl.nist.gov/oae/ publications/gcrs/04867.pdf > Geissler, Richard. Building Data Bridges Roads & Bridges Vol. 39, Issue 2, Feb 2001: 42 45. Gould, Lawrence S. Suppliers Talk about E-Business: Its Becoming Business As Usual Automotive Design & Production Vol. 115, Issue 6, Jun 2003, 38 40. Hurst, Mark, and Emily Gellady. Creative Good White Pape r: Building A Great Customer Experience to Develop Brand, Increase Loyalty, and Grow Revenues CreativeGood As seen on 9 Feb 2005 Issa, R.R.A, I. Flood, and G. Caglasin. A Survey of E-Business Implementation in the US Construction Industry ITcon Vol. 8, 2003, 15-28.

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65 Krishnamurthy, Sandeep. The Amazon E-Commerce Management: Text and Cases, 27 Sept 2002: 1-45. As seen on 19 Feb 2005: < http://www.swlearning.com/marketing/krishnamurthy/first_edition/case_updates/ amazon_final.pdf > McKenzie, Kevin. Wireless Technology Helps Improve Bottom Line Business Journal: (Central New York) Vol. 18, Issue 13, 26 Mar 2004, 9. OBrien, William J. Implementation Issues In Proj ect Web Sites: A Practitioners Viewpoint. Journal of Management in Engineering May/June 2000, 34-39. Partnership Creates E-Commerce Mar ketplace for Construction Industry Facilities Design & Management Vol. 18, Issue 11, Nov 1999, 6. Perkowski, Michael. Is E-Business Finally Living Up to Its Hype? Cio Insight Issue 30, Sept 2003, 73 89. Regan. Doing Business on the Internet Organizational System Research Association 17 Feb 2002, As Seen on 15 Feb 2005 Rojas, Eddy M., and Anthony D. Songer. Web-Centric Systems: A New Paradigm for Collaborative Engineering Journal of Management in Engineering Vol 15, Issue 1, Jan/Feb 1999, 39 45. Schulz, Yogi. How to Cook Up a Quick E-Business Strategy Computing Canada Vol 29, Issue 10, 23 May 2003, 24. Simpson, Catherine. Reverse Auctions: Before Bidding, Know Your Base Costs Fort Worth Business Press Vol. 17, Issue 13, 26 Mar 2004, 32. Webopedia. Definition of B2B e-commerce Webopedia As Seen on 21 February 2005: < http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/B/B2B.html > Weng, Ray, and Yimin Zhu, aecXML Framework International Alliance for Interoperability 25 June 2001, As Seen on 16 Feb 2005: < www.iaina.org/aecxml/aecXML_Framework_R1.doc >

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66 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Bryce Treffinger was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on May 2, 1981. She and her family moved to Orange Park, Florida in 1987. She attended elementary school, junior high, and high school in Orange Park, Florida. After graduating from high school in 1999, sh e attended the Univer sity of Florida Gainesville to obtain her Bachelor of Desi gn in the College of Design, Construction, and Planning. After completion of her bachel ors degree in 2003, she attended the M.E. Rinker, Sr. School of Building Construction at the University of Florida to obtain her Master of Science in Building Construc tion, ,which she was awarded in May 2005. Shortly after graduation (May 28, 2005) she was married. The future holds bright things in store fo r Bryce Treffinger. She plans to work for a large commercial construction company wher e she will use her knowledge and skills in design and construction management, learned from the University of Florida, to lead a successful career.


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Title: Status of E-Business Implementation in the Construction Industry
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Copyright Date: 2008

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Material Information

Title: Status of E-Business Implementation in the Construction Industry
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Copyright Date: 2008

Record Information

Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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STATUS OF E-BUSINESS IMPLEMENTATION IN THE CONSTRUCTION
INDUSTRY














By

BRYCE HARRIS TREFFINGER


A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF SCIENCE IN BUILDING CONSTRUCTION

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2005

































Copyright 2005

by

Bryce Harris Treffinger















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to extend special thanks to those people, without whose guidance,

encouragement, and assistance this thesis would not have been possible. I am especially

thankful for the time and energy Dr. R. Raymond Issa devoted to leading me in the right

direction and helping me prepare my thesis. I would also like to thank Dr. Robert Cox

and Dr. Ian Flood for serving on my committee.

I owe special thanks to my parents and my sister Seanna for their support, and to

Jared for his understanding and encouragement throughout the entire process. I would be

lost without their unconditional patience and love.
















TABLE OF CONTENTS

page

A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ................................................................................................. iii

LIST OF TABLES ..................................... .. .......... .................................... vi

LIST OF FIGURES ......................................... .................................... vii

A B S T R A C T ..................................................................................................................... v iii

CHAPTER

1 IN TR OD U CTION TO TH E STU D Y ...................................................... ...............1...

Introduction .................................................................................................... ...............1
Aims and Objectives ..... ............... .. ........... ...................................... ...2

2 LITER A TU R E REV IEW .................................................................... ...............4...

The Electronic-B business Phenom enon .................................................... ...............4...
Com patibility am ong e-Business U sers................................................................... 14
Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Customer Satisfaction..................... 18
e-Business Applications.................................................................. 20
C a se S tu d ie s ............................................................................................................... 2 4
e-Business Strategy ........................ .. ........... ......................................25

3 M E T H O D O L O G Y ................................................... ............................................ 27

S co p e o f W o rk ............................................................................................................ 2 7
Survey M methodology .. .. ...................................................................... ............ 28
Selection of Survey Participants...................................................... ................ 28

4 ANALY SIS OF SURVEY RESULTS .................................................. .................. 31

Results of the e-Business Assessm ent Survey....................................... ................ 32
Respondent Profiles ................................... ......... ...... ...............32
S u rv ey F in d in g s .......................................................................................................... 3 5

5 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ................................................53

APPENDIX E-BUSINESS ASSESSMENT SURVEY................................................57


iv










L IST O F R E FE R E N C E S .... ......................................................................... ................ 64

BIO GR APH ICAL SK ETCH ...................... .............................................................. 66


























































v
















LIST OF TABLES

Table page

4-1 Survey respondent em ployee position................................................. ................ 33

4-2 Adopted e-Business application adoption in the construction industry ................36

4-3 R espondent priorities. ....................................................................... ................ 45















LIST OF FIGURES


Figure page

4-1: R respondents job title distribution ........................................................ ................ 33

4-2: Respondents employee size distribution ................................................... 34

4-3: Respondents distribution by annual revenue........................................ ................ 35

4-4: Distribution of adopted e-Business applications in 2000 and 2005 .......................37

4-5: Connection with suppliers, partners, and customers ...........................................39

4-6: Com pany supplied com putting devices................................................ ................ 41

4-7: Electronic business initiatives in the construction industry ................................43

4-8: Construction industry's prioritized goals ................................................... 46

4-9: Construction industry reasons for not implementing e-Business..........................48

4-10: Benefits realized by the construction industry with e-Business implementation...48

4-11: Im pact on revenue ............... ................ ............................................... 49

4-12: Construction industry's perceived benefits of e-Business implementation ...........50

4-13: Distribution of companies monitoring e-Business efforts.................................51

4-14: The construction industry's perceived ideas on future spending on e-Business
im plem entation w within their com pany................................................. ................ 51















Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Building Construction

STATUS OF E-BUSINESS IMPLEMENTATION IN THE CONSTRUCTION
INDUSTRY

By

Bryce Harris Treffinger

May 2005

Chair: R. Raymond Issa
Major Department: School of Building Construction

This study is an update of a previous study completed in 2000 dealing with the

implementation of e-Business in the construction industry. The main objective was to

determine if and how e-Business strategies have changed in the construction industry and

whether or not more of the top construction industries are using e-Business to their

advantage compared to five years ago. This was completed by conducting an e-Business

assessment survey. The survey was designed for the following purposes:

* Whether the construction industry has become more receptive to information
technologies and e-Business practices.

* Why companies use e-Business in their work strategies and how it impacts their
work process.

* What extent companies use these strategies, technologies, and applications.

* Whether companies plan to continue spending on e-Business applications









This survey examined previous use of e-Business strategies and applications in

recent years, We also identified up-and-coming technologies needed for the successful

advancement of internet technologies in construction industries. Tools such as wireless-

technologies, more-advanced web-based project-management software, customer-

relationship management, and bidding on the Internet are all becoming household

phenomena in the construction industry.

The data collected from surveys sent out to construction industry leaders was

analyzed. The information was compiled to determine how far the industry has come in

previous years, and whether companies will continue to use e-Business. Although slow

to embrace e-Business, the construction industry is taking an active role in e-Business

implementation. Companies are making plans for future improvements in efforts to

increase productivity and encourage cost savings.














CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY

A growing number of information technologies are entering the construction

industry. Cell phones, palm organizers, laptops, wireless email, and other wireless

technologies are all facilitating operations in the industry. Information Technology (IT)

is essential in any business operation. IT is the most advanced way to communicate

necessary information quickly, efficiently, and effectively. IT is driving the information

revolution. The Internet has made communication easy for every company; and is vital

for successful management, customer relationship management, and business-to-business

exchange.

Introduction

The construction industry has been criticized for its inefficiencies and traditional,

often outdated ways of conducting business operations. It is often difficult to convince

individuals in this industry to change their thinking. They often feel that if something has

worked for so long then why change it? Although the construction industry is beginning

to embrace technology little by little, it is still a slow process.

Technology is changing communication for the construction industry and also for

every industry, and individual. E-mail is essential in any workplace; it is difficult to find

a successful business without an e-mail address. In the construction industry, Project

Specific Web Sites (PSWS) are another technology enhancing business operations.

We conducted a survey to determine the construction industry's stance on e-

business compared to previous years; and to determine the future role of e-Business in the









industry. Industry leaders from small and large firms alike were surveyed in an effort to

get a broad range of opinions. The survey also aimed to determine construction leaders'

intentions of using e-Business applications, whether for ease of communication,

productivity, cost, or service. We also examined the impact of current e-business

application on revenue. We also examined effect e-Business systems are having on

productivity and profit to determine whether these systems will continue to thrive in the

construction industry.

Aims and Objectives

Our study was designed to measure the construction industry's attitude toward

Internet technologies and e-Business applications. Is the construction industry beginning

to embrace the technology of tomorrow and use it to their advantage, or are they stuck in

their old ways? How have companies attitudes toward e-Business changed in the past 5

years? Will these companies continue to evolve in their thinking?

One objective of our study was to determine if the general attitude of the

construction industry toward e-Business is beginning to change in acceptance of

technology, and how its acceptance of this technology can be used to the advantage of the

industry. Furthermore, if the industry has accepted this new idea, how have they

implemented e-Business applications into their current business operations?

Another objective was to measure the construction industry's e-Business against

whether these goals have been reached or are within grasp. We compared the results of

our survey with results from a previous survey to determine if e-Business attitudes have

changed in the construction industry; and if so, to what degree. We did this in the hope

of determining future acceptance and implementation of these e-Business applications.






3


Chapter 2 is comprised of the literature review which looks at and analyzes

different e-Business strategies and applications that are currently in use. Chapter 3

focuses on the methodology of the survey as well as the aims and objectives of this study.

The results that were obtained from the respondents to the survey are examined in

Chapter 4. Finally, Chapter 5, presents final conclusions and recommendations for

further research in this area of study.














CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW

This chapter takes a look at e-Business on the Internet, where it has been in the past

5 years, and where it is headed in the construction industry. We analyzed e-business

tools currently used in the construction industry for successful return on investment in

terms of company productivity, and time and cost savings.

The Electronic-Business Phenomenon

Electronic-Business (e-Business) has become a world-wide phenomenon. It is no

different than ordinary business. Internet technologies, intellectual property, and

customer superiority are combined and integrated with business activities which alter the

traditional business model of operations (Chang and Ping Li 2003). Companies large and

small, public and private, from any industry are using e-Business to organize business

communications and improve success rates. E-Business has become increasingly popular

over the past 5 years, improve technology is making easier to adapt and use from any

location.

Owners are more demanding and industry leaders want information available 24

hours a day, 7 days a week. More adaptable programs and collaboration are desired.

Electronic marketplaces are emerging where the construction industry can go to find the

most appropriate manufactured products and services are being developed and being

made available to the construction industry. Lowering operating costs, increased

productivity, and improved customer satisfaction are a few of the realities of e-Business

strategies (Regan 2002). The improved productivity improvements offered by newly









developed e-Business services can reduce and often eliminate unnecessary mistakes,

time, energy, and costs, all while keeping projects on track.

The construction industry has great potential in realizing the benefits of e-Business.

Industry leaders need only to give up their old ways and turn to the computer for

improved company success. There is a great deal of opportunity, especially in

construction e-markets.

The Internet lets companies track projects, realize results faster, reduce risk, and

hold parties accountable for their actions. In the past, the construction industry seemed to

reject the Internet and its technologies because of the industry's deep roots in traditional

thinking; but the Internet has the potential to rid the industry of inefficiency and cost. By

sticking to the old methods of regular mail, couriers, and faxes the construction industry

often gets a bad rap for finishing projects late and over budget. "The vast majority of

people in the industry don't know what the hell these online services are. It's not a

technical question, it's a cultural one. The highest level of IT in the construction industry

is the fax machine" (Fisher 38).

Construction-industry leaders are leery of e-commerce because of the mere nature

of the construction industry. It is an extremely people-oriented business. Relationships

with suppliers and subcontractors have lasted for years: the option of using an unknown

subcontractor found online is unappealing to most traditional thinking leaders. However,

e-Business thrives on the people-oriented nature of construction; without human

interface, the systems would not succeed at all. E-Business requires an integrated

alignment of technology, operation, strategy, structure, and human interaction in a

continuously expanding network (Chang and Ping Li 2003).









The benefits of e-Business are being realized by several businesses in various

disciplines. Impacts realized by e-Business are not limited to reduced costs. Improved

predictability, productivity, reliability, and scalability, ability to detect defects, improved

levels of service, and extended market research are all pros that are attracting more

companies as well as software applications that allow users to get more for their money

(Issa et al. 2003). Swinerton & Walberg Builders(Fisher 2000) cut change order turn

around time by more than half by using Bidcom.com, an online project management

program.

Because the construction industry is a multibillion dollar industry, the idea of

saving time and money on daily operations should be a real concern. The construction

industry claims that 60 to 80% of the total cost of management operation, including

capital, labor, materials and transportation, is directly attributable to information

management (Geissler 2001). This information management pertains to everything from

scheduling to ordering materials to designing and coordinating construction and shop

drawings. More time is actually spent on the business side of construction with sharing

information than is spent onsite actually constructing the structure.

E-Business Impacts. Companies are required to have well-structured business

cultures in order to survive in this technologically advanced world. The culture a

business takes on and makes their own has to be not just daily operations, but a complete

mindset that is developed over time (Issa et al. 2003). E-Business should be just that: a

mindset within a company's organization. It has reached that stage on a certain level. It

is unlikely that you will find a successful company without e-mail and Internet use.

However, to survive, e-Business should be adopted on a daily basis in order to keep up









with trends and stay a step ahead of competition. E-business has expanded the

construction market while making the world smaller (Issa et al. 2003). Perhaps this is the

reason more companies are setting up international offices, because it is easier to

communicate and stay organized with e-Business adoption part of the company plan.

Business-to-Business (B2B) e-Business. The opportunity for construction to take

advantage of business-to-business (B2B) ecommerce, or the exchange of services,

information and/or products from one business to another, that produce positive affects

for their company is significant (Webopedia 2005). B2B connects customer, supplier,

and partner applications, as well as business processes across the Internet. Supply chain

partners can use B2B for shared planning as well as synchronized manufacturing, and

distribution management. The main purpose of B2B is to automate business operations

and information.

Industries associated with construction, such as design, and facilities management

or various infrastructures such as commercial buildings, manufacturing plants, roads,

highways, public and private projects alike, together signify a worldwide market of more

than $4 trillion a year (Cleveland 2001). However, construction companies are not using

this B2B ecommerce to their full advantage. Such a huge industry as construction should

take notice of the growing technological trends and invest time and efforts into becoming

more technologically savvy in order to create greater successes for their companies. With

such a large amount of money at stake in construction projects worldwide, companies

could be using B2B ecommerce more to their advantage to streamline operations and

increase company benefits.









The advantages B2B e-Business can offer in terms of speed and cost savings need

to be realized by the construction industry. The construction process is much more

complicated than most other industries because of the variety of projects and the fact that

every project is unique from owner to designer to project manager. This fact can make

most standardized practices for other industries a nightmare for the construction industry.

Because there are so many people involved in any construction process it can be difficult

to process business transactions.

It is through "straight-through processing" that streamline processes involved in

construction can be achieved. This process involves entering the necessary information

one time into a system and allowing the system to take it through the process with

minimal human interface (Cleveland 2001). A Web-centric system, or an integrated

network of computer devices and information appliances that manages, stores, and

distributes information through WWW specifications, can support collaborative

environments more readily through a combination of Internet technologies. Among these

technologies are HTML-based Web pages with Java Applets, JaveScripts, CGI Scripts,

Databases, FTP, peripheral devices, as well as other new data formats (Rojas and Songer

1999).

Although project web sites are extremely useful in regard to team collaboration and

exchange of documents and information, it really does not have anything to do with B2B

e-commerce and the selling and/or buying of construction items and materials for a

certain project. It is merely the sharing of information for projects and nothing more.

"Without components, we are forced to revert to the traditional manual methods for

identifying and quantifying the materials we need to purchase and erect. We inject a









human right into the middle of our ecommerce transactions" (Cleveland 56). Dealing

with components are what makes processes easier thus streamlining activities and

speeding up processes.

Because the construction industry deals with a multitude of systems, coordinating

these systems becomes a task in itself. Implementing e-Business has been an obvious

obstacle that must be overcome. The complex nature of e-Business makes it difficult to

implement and manage, especially when there are legacy systems and security issues that

have to be implemented into the e-Business network as well (Perkowski 2003). E-

Business requirements are evolving so rapidly that a traditional requirements definition

based on the functionality desired is accommodating the ability to integrate future

technologies (Aberdeen Group 2001). This is great news because there a so many

systems that are faced with the problems of trying to integrate older programs causing

headaches for users. The ideal type of application should allow one firm to function in an

extremely adaptable network consisting of other companies, who coordinate both their

internal and external transactions via a high level trust for a highly shared interest (Chang

and Ping Li, 2003). Information passed from one system to another must be done

accurately so the outcome remains the same as when it was first introduced into the

system. It is difficult for each system in a project to understand all the different methods

the other systems have used to deal with the same components (Cleveland, 2001).

There are always implementation challenges, whether it is implementing

mainframe systems or implementing the latest web portal. (IT) is not the biggest

challenge. There are still challenges in changing business processes, getting them to take









advantage of IT, training, roll-outs, and getting the skill sets you need. Top management

has to be convinced that the investment is worth it (Gould 2003).

Currently in the construction industry, the extent of B2B ecommerce is that of

project collaboration websites where companies can share information such as

documents, drawings, schedules, RFI's, emails, among other project information. There

are also websites that allow for the buying and selling of construction materials through

electronic catalogs or through a process of reverse auction.

Reverse auctions. Auctions are familiar to most individuals. One person places a

bid on an item they desire. If another individual comes along and decides that they too

would like to purchase the item then they will have to place a higher bid on the item.

Sellers and buyers watch the item's price and bid appropriately until a specified date and

time have arrived. At this time the highest bidder will receive the desired item. Reverse

Auctions are exactly what their name implies. The bids go down instead of up. There is

only one buyer and a plethora of bidders who are all trying to compete for the item by

bidding the lowest price. Reverse auctions are most often done for services, such as in

the construction industry, rather than an actual item.

Reverse auctions in the government sector as well as well known retailers such as

Home Depot and Target have resulted in savings of 12 to 48 percent (Simpson 2005).

Reverse auctions offer other benefits besides cost-savings to tax-payer funded projects.

These auctions are usually hosted by a website where bidders can go and bid as well as

see other bidder's postings. This means that everything is visible. There are no hidden

secrets. Because the price goes down, management teams can become more

knowledgeable about their costs and waste by monitoring the auction.









Wireless technology. At a 2004 Construction Industry Institute conference,

wireless technology was heralded as the biggest breakthrough of e-business in the

construction industry to date. With the construction industry being a $3.9 trillion-per-year

industry, this means great things for the future. Wireless technology will allow business

transactions to take place from anywhere at anytime. Anywhere from 5 to 10% of a

construction project's cost can be saved using web-based technologies (McKenzie 2004).

Communication is faster and can be done on a more timely basis. Because of instant

access to information, wireless technologies save time and in the construction industry

time is money.

There are already new applications on the Internet that include project

management, e-marketplace venues, and real-time collaboration over the Internet. With

wireless as an option these tasks are made even more efficient. There is no need to haul

around heavy computer equipment in order to carry out a simple e-business transaction.

The construction industry often deals with problems that need to be solved in a moments

notice.

Wireless technologies allow connection to the Internet and thus e-Business

transaction from any portable device over any network to any data source or application.

They facilitate the use of IT technologies that include Personal Information Management

(PIM) synchronization, e-mail synchronization, access to corporate databases, access to

Enterprise Information System (EIS) applications, intranets, file sharing, and access to

the World Wide Web (WWW) (AberdeenGroup 2001). Wireless technology is allowing

the construction industry to work where they are most often, on the site and out of the

office.









For wireless communications to work in today's mobile driven technology world,

continuous support over the unpredictable wireless networks of today is essential. To do

this successful wireless infrastructure should provide the ability to do the following:

Balance the support among millions of devices, Support messaging that is not

synchronized, Provide quick interaction, Preserve data, Guarantee the delivery of

services, information, and business transactions seamlessly, without fault, and without

change to the original content (AberdeenGroup 2001).

Web-based project management software is especially advantageous when used in

conjunction with wireless technologies. The accessibility of information on a web-based

management system changes from isolated to universal (Rojas and Songer, 1999). It was

only a few years ago that project information was physically in the office and the only

people that had access to that office would have access to that information. The web-

based systems offer access to project information to anyone who has Internet access. The

availability of information has made a complete 180 from limited access to fully

available. Wireless technology is only helping the situation in that in addition to these

web-based systems being available 24 hours a day 365 days a year, they can be accessed

from any location.

Companies who are realizing the benefits of this wireless technology are equipping

their employees with multifunctional phones that are capable of cellular service, two-way

radio, text messaging, and are always connected to the Internet enabling access to

intranets and extranets, e-mail, company calendars and date books, as well as being able

to collect and calculate data when and where it happens in the field. There are faster

connections, equipment, and other multimedia tools on the horizon that allow sounds,









images, and video as well as expanded e-commerce capabilities with which the

construction industry should take full advantage.

Wireless technologies, reverse auctions, and electronic catalogs are all useful tools

the construction industry has been familiarizing themselves with, however, there are

more opportunities for e-business then the construction industry is even aware of.

These new technologies do pose a threat to the construction industry. Owners are

going to see the virtual reality tools and believe that projects can be completed faster and

under budget. Project management is going to become more open and more complicated.

Building under budget and on time is not going to be enough anymore. "We live in an

age where technology can change business by managing information in new, dynamic

ways and creating collaborative, interconnected paths among crews, contractors,

consultants, and customers. Go wireless!" (McKenzie 9). The construction industry

needs to embrace the new technologies in order to stay on top and continue to achieve

greater successes.

Web based project management. The web based project site is a new software

tool that allows various individuals in the design and construction process to work

together over the Internet. The idea behind project Web sites is that information in

current design and construction projects are disorganized, which leads to failure in

communication, and misunderstandings, which in turn leads to conflict, cost, and

scheduling discrepancies. These project Web sites should offer a place that is easily

accessible, reliable, and a place for storing project information that can be accessed at

anytime. This should in turn allow a new level of access to project information that

should replace or diminish the use of communication tools such as telephone, fax,









overnight mail, facsimile, and email. It is also supposed to alleviate the use of those huge

binders that have become notorious on construction projects. A project Web site will

afford all the members of team with the same information in the same format so no

discrepancies should arise. This in turn should lead to better organized, better

communicated project. This project Web site idea is growing and more widely accepted

as the companies offering these services develop their ideas and grow with technology

(O'Brien 2000).

When a construction project is in progress there are usually stacks of paper

including: plans, specifications, product cut sheets, shop drawings, correspondence,

schedules, operations and maintenance manuals, just to name a few. Time, money, and

thus paper could be saved if all this information was put on the project web based system.

Then in order to find information all that would have to be done is navigation to the site

at anytime information was needed. The information would be easier to find, better

organized, and take up a lot less space. Links to websites for the materials and products

used on the project could also be placed on the site. This would allow the owner to stay

up to date on product information and allow for easy contact to a particular manufacturer

without having to search high and low for contact information.

Compatibility among e-Business Users

Software application, as well as collaborative sites, and every company database

has their own information system that is unique, making incompatibility inevitable. The

exchange of information becomes difficult and often impossible spending valuable time

on recreating information in the attempt to exchange the information (Geissler 2001).

Vital information locked into a company's data base is underutilized and can often be

overlooked or has to be recreated costing valuable time and money. An example of this









detrimental situation is when only one individual in a company knows a piece of

information about a project. If this person is removed from the project then the

information is lost. It is better to have a central storage space where anyone has access to

all the information on a project. This way if someone leaves, their knowledge of the

project does not, and the project can continue seamlessly. With this in mind it is

necessary to establish standards that can be used by everyone at every stage in a project

so no discrepancies will occur.

Interoperability, or the free exchange of information across data barriers, is the

answer. The construction industry needs to stop wasting time with repetitive tasks and

create documents one time and be able to pass it on to the next software application

seamlessly without fault, corruption or loss of functionality. Insufficient interoperability

increases costs and allows for mistakes and missed opportunities for the construction

industry. It is estimated that the cost of inadequate interoperability in the United States

capital facilities industry to be $15.4 billion a year (Gallaher et. al. 2004).

"Imagine one company being able to "read" construction drawings generated by

another for cost-estimating data, then taking the same drawings and extracting

scheduling, maintenance and other project management data. Imagine the potential of

"mining" your computerized inventory, labor and delivery schedules to develop generic

invoices that would easily slip into any accounting package operated by all customers--

regardless of those customers' unique needs" (Geissler 42).

The International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI) has been developing a way to

translate information in different formats for exchange among different software

applications. Other significant organizations have joined the IAI in their efforts for









interoperability such as, the American Institute of Architect, the Associated General

Contractors of America, the Civil Engineering Research Foundation, the construction

Specifications Institute, the Design-Build Institute of America and the National Institute

of Building Services (Geissler 2001). This is exactly what the architecture, engineering,

and construction (AEC) industries need considering the vast amounts of crossover

information that occurs in these industries.

For instance, the invoice is a common transaction used across industries. The

problem is that "if you have 2,000 clients, you will have 1,900 different formats in which

invoices must be structured. That means that critical data such as job numbers, dates,

product quantities and more must be formatted differently for each client" (Geissler 43).

When companies have to reformat these or any transactions valuable time and money is

once again wasted and mistakes are likely to occur.

Computer-aided design (CAD) drawings are another issue among the AEC

industries. Once construction drawings are complete, shop drawings need to be designed.

Once the drawings are complete it is safe to assume that estimating programs, material

detailing programs, and scheduling programs would all be used. However, these

programs that generate all these documents are rarely if ever compatible with each other.

To aid in this problem, IAI is working on another project for Industry Foundation

Classes (IFCs). IFCs are object-oriented standards developed in ISO/STEP Express

language. This language represents building components and then communicates a

representation of the whole project as components linked to other components. The

computer model created, the IFC, can then be understood by other IFC software (Geissler

2001).









IAI is also assisting in the development of an extensible markup language for the

AEC industry of aecXML. This language is designed exclusively for the AEC industries

developed with standards that will be used by software companies to ease conflicting

programming problems which in turn should simplify life for everyone involved.

e-Business Language. Currently, the standard language of the Internet for

business transactions is the Extended Markup Language (XML). An XML format is a

collection of rules for tagging data with descriptive labels. Once the data is labeled, the

data can then be exchanged without regard to the vagaries of the numerous software

applications (Geissler 2001). This is a difficult language for the construction industry to

use because of the mass quantity of components present. With XML it is necessary to

standardize component labels and properties, such as change orders, windows, and doors.

To date small steps have been taken in designing a language just for the construction

industry called aecXML (Cleveland 2001). As stated previously, there is a need for

standardized labels within these languages in order for logical communication to occur.

Within the aecXML language there are two types of standardized labels, non-AEC

specific and AEC specific.

The aecXML framework includes sets of XML schema, or a meaningful

combination of one more elements and attributes, to explain information specific to

exchanges between participants involved in designing, constructing and operating

structures and facilities. The aecXML framework provides the AEC industry with the

standard language it needs to share any information over the Internet with other users.

The framework identifies the information exchanged between industry users as well as

processes ruling the exchange of that data (Weng and Zhu 2001).









Software with either aecXML format or IFCs will allow business processes in the

construction industry to become more streamlined while saving the integrity of data

transferred as well as valuable time and money. Sir Michael Latham, lead a study that

has been referenced as stating that with the implementation of interoperable information

systems would allow savings of approximately 30% to the construction industry (Geissler

2001). The North American IAI, estimates that with the use of IFCs and aecXML

formats in the AEC industry would yield $7.5 to $15 billion annually (Geissler 2001).

Autodesk Inc., GraphiSoft, Nemetschek A.G. and Olof Granlund Oy have been

certified as implementers of IAI' s IFC 1.5.1. Microsoft is also heading up programs that

will offer software with IFC 2.0. Timberline Software Corp., Bentley Systems Inc., and

Autodesk Inc. are also jumping on the bandwagon to develop programs that are

compatible with IAI IFC's (Geissler 2001). The continued production and organization

of software developers depends on the industry leaders not the software developers.

Once the industry sees the benefits and the ease at which it allows organization work

flow they be more willing to help define the standards for the software developers and the

success will continue to grow.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Customer Satisfaction

E-Business dictates fast and flexible response to increasingly dynamic market

changes, but it also requires stable and enduring relationships between companies and

employees as well as between companies and partners, and companies and customers

(Chang and Ping Li 2003). Customer satisfaction is one of the most important roles of e-

Business software providers. Customers determine the success of a company's website.

Customers have confirmed the benefits the e-Business technologies had on the speed and

cost effectiveness of deploying and managing integration projects. Consumers have been









gaining market power and they are in control as to the direction and pace of the economic

growth of the companies who host these websites. Companies need to be devoted to

customer satisfaction and be easy with which to deal if they do not want to lose

customers to competitor's websites. Business applications that offer personalized

customer services are especially important to most customers these days.

"In the online world, businesses have the opportunity to develop very deep

relationships with customers, both through accepting preference of customers and then

observing their purchase behavior over time, so that you can get that individualized

knowledge of the customer and uses that individualized knowledge of the customer to

accelerate their discovery process" (Krishnamurthy 3).

In order to keep customers interested and loyal to company's websites it is the

customer service and customized experience that keeps customers coming back.

Amazon.com employees never meet their customers face-to-face, but repeat customers

are flagged and if they encounter a problem these buyers are ushered to the front

customer services to speak with a high level manager. Sacks Fifth Avenue applies the

same concept to their "high rollers" by moving them to the front of the customer help line

when in need (Enos 2005).

"Customer-centric means figuring out what your customers want by asking them,

then figuring out how to give it to them, and then giving it to them. That's the traditional

meaning of customer-centric" (Krishnamurthy 2).

Improving customer experience online involves: identifying your customers' goals

as well as the company's goals, commit to organizing that great customer experience, and

then monitoring the customer experience as well (Hurst and Gellady 1999).









For customer service to be exactly that, customer service, it is necessary to organize

the company structure and consolidate customer's records so everyone has access to these

records with one click so there is no run around when assisting a customer (Enos 2005).

Customers do not want to deal with a company that is not patient or takes an interest in

their consumers. The website is the first place to treat the customers with respect. If

customers find the website too difficult to navigate or just plain unfriendly, they are not

likely to return. Companies will lose opportunities for sales, customer relationships, and

positive feedback which equal losses in revenue if they do not provide a site that is user

friendly. "The key driver of online success, or failure, is the customer experience" (Hurst

and Gellady 3).

e-Business Applications

Because customer satisfaction is such a big deal in keeping e-Business applications

running, the rate at which new and improved applications are needed is increasing.

Advanced e-Markets, redrafting and optimization of supply chains, and outsourcing of

business functions are all factors that drive the needs for flexible applications. The

technology that is used and defined for e-Business applications needs to be able to change

and be able to adapt to the constantly changing marketplaces and it is up to these

technologies to make successful businesses out of successful e-marketplaces.

Virtual marketplaces can be organized in one of two ways, either horizontally or

vertically. Horizontal markets offer common services to a variety of industries. These

services can include financial services, benefits management, maintenance and repair,

and operating equipment procurement process management. Vertical marketplaces refer

to a web site that combines unrelated materials and services that are used jointly for a

particular industry. The site then makes this collected data available to industry









members. In the construction industry, a vertical marketplace could provide an

application service, as well as a marketplace for the sale of goods and services for the

construction industry (Issa et al. 2003).

Virtual marketplaces can improve sales and distribution while reducing inventory

levels. Companies are able to distribute their products to a multitude of companies

worldwide that they otherwise might have never had contact. Amazon.com has been

heralded as the first company to be associated with the e-Commerce phenomenon. Their

e-marketplace was carefully planned and strategically placed, on the Internet of course.

E-retailing is a solution to a different type of storefront, a storefront that is

established online for the selling of products and services online. E-retailing allows

businesses to create, manage, and run business from their computer. The key trade that is

made is that real estate is traded for web space. Real estate is the main cost of physical

retailers, whereas web hosting, development and maintenance fees are the main costs of

e-retailing. That is why there is the old saying: location, location, location. Real estate

gets more expensive every year, and technology gets cheaper every year, and it gets

cheaper fast (Krishnamurthy 2002).

Successful e-Business sites are user friendly, easy to navigate, available across any

operating system. With this in mind, the cost that is put into these systems should be

carefully monitored and deliberately planned so as to not lose money with the end

product. In order to develop and plan for systems that are to be productive it is important

to keep the necessary components of a successful e-business strategy in check. These

necessitates are: the demand for real-time access to information, the need to integrate

base applications that are too costly to replace, to ability to collect information from a









vast number of sources, the ability to have different applications communicate with one

another to create a streamlined flow of information, the ability to communicate

wirelessly, and adaptation to change (AberdeenGroup 2001).

Issa et al. (2003) explained a model they created that shows the savings and

efficiencies companies realize when adopting e-Business strategies into their company

culture. They explain that because new trends force the construction industry to deliver a

better product with enhanced customer involvement and satisfaction, businesses must

expand their market globally so every participant becomes experienced in the part they

play in the whole business operation. Therefore, in order to produce the best quality

product while achieving ultimate customer satisfaction, everyone on the team needs to

work together. This can only be done through Internet technology. By implementing

Internet technologies and thus e-Business solutions, improved quality of work will satisfy

the client, improve efficiency of product development which in turn satisfies the project

team (Issa et al. 2003).

e-Business integration. As stated previously, the complex nature of e-Business

makes it difficult to integrate its applications into existing company software as well as

other e-Business application across the web for communication purposes. The

construction industry is fragmented between general contractors, subcontractors,

architects, engineers, owners, and developers. This is where e-Business integration

infrastructures come in. An e-Business integration infrastructure consists of several

layers of different technologies that provide communication, integration, organization,

and coordination services (AberdeenGroup 2001).









Investing the time to choose the right technology and supplier for e-Business

applications is critical. Knowledge of the supplier of the technology selected as well as

the credibility of the supplier are two important characteristics investors should be

looking for when choosing the best technology for their job. The development of a

strategic integration infrastructure can best be created though determining the needs of e-

Business and overcoming the obstacles e-Business can present. The result of strategic

planning for these infrastructures is long term benefits, which really makes it all worth it

in the end (AberdeenGroup 2001).

Some industry leaders feel it might be too late to get involved in e-Business

operations. However there are steps that can be taken to begin the road to e-Business

success. An e-Business framework should be set up in a company in order to begin the

implementation into the company's operations.

An e-Business framework should consist of three effects including: the

communication effect, the brokerage effect which allows access to global markets with

little cost, and the integration effect which decreases and improves the supply chain. An

organization model should then be established. The next step should be a ranking of the

opportunities that are available through e-Business transactions. Finally, for each of the

opportunities that were listed, a potential solution should be identified using one of the

three affects stated previously (Schulz 2003).

This is just a brief overview of an approach to get the ball rolling in the effort of

creating a successful e-Business framework. Careful research should be done in order to

create an e-Business framework that explores strategies with less risk and opportunities

for greater opportunities.









Case Studies

Robert Bosch Corporation. The Robert Bosch Corporation has experienced real

value in implementing e-Business applications into company operations. The director of

e-commerce at Robert Bosch Corporations said "In my mind, e-Business drives your

processes toward real time" (Gould 39). The implementation of at Robert Bosch

Corporation is pretty conservative in that they do not like to jump into the system without

knowing what is has in store for their company. They want to see the technology at work

and actually succeeding before adoption companywide begins.

The e-commerce committee will first introduce a project they feel will assist the

company. A return on investment of less then a year is then determined. After approval,

the project is then given a three to six month test project where it will try out its success

rates. If the test project is successful, the project is then issued companywide (Gould

2003).

Two of their e-Business applications include real-time inventory checks and direct

purchasing through an e-marketplace. Only a web-browser is needed to interact with

these applications. Bosch employees are describing these as "way better than what they

had" (Gould 39).

Siemens VDO Automotive. Siemens VDO Automotive is another company

applying e-Business applications into their corporate structure. Bill Macfarlane, CIO,

feels the automotive industry would benefit from e-Business for procurement, supply

chain management, and product development. Currently, Siemens uses web-based

auctions, RFP/RFQ management, supplier communications, and purchasing. With these

ideas for implementation, one of Siemens first e-Business applications was catalog-based

procurement. Next in line for e-Business at Siemens include: web-based requisitions,









with workflows, approvals, and budget controls. Macfarlane says web-based technology

"is the way to go. If you're not doing it web-based, you're missing the boat" (Gould 40).

TRW Automotive. TRW Automotive has begun using an online ordering system

to help boost sales. Now, between 50 and 60% of TRW's orders come through the

ordering system rather than by phone or fax. Another e-Business application is that of

online customization for products. Customers can configure products and submit them to

TRW for pricing (Gould 2003). TRW's e-Business applications have helped with

customer sales, inventory management, and supplier communication.

Primavera Systems. This developer of project management software, partnered

with PurhasePro.com, an online provider of Internet B2B procurement. The new

marketplace is PrimeContract.com and is intended for construction companies,

subcontractors, owners, and suppliers. The purpose is to speed up the purchasing process

of goods and services, as well as aid in effective review of bids and project contracts.

"The construction industry is ripe for e-commerce," says Joel Koppelman, president of

Primavera. "PrimeContract.com extends project management into the heart of purchasing

and procurement of construction materials, components and services" (Partnership 16).

e-Business Strategy

Companies that begin to re-evaluate their technology needs and usage, evaluate

new Web-based solutions, and to develop, refine, select and prioritize a set of solutions

will be in a good position to realize considerable cost savings, increase operating

efficiencies and improve customer satisfaction and profitability.

E-Business is about the commitment and capability of companies in various

industries to utilize digital technology, emphasize intellectual property, and enhance

customer satisfaction across the business functions, thus changing the way of doing






26


business from a traditional company-centric stand-alone paradigm to a new network-

leveraged synchronized paradigm (Chang and Ping Li 2003). It is the future and it is here

now. Companies must embrace the new technologies if they want to survive in this fast

paced, dog eat dog world.

Chapter 3, will discuss the methodology of the survey as well as the aims and

objectives of this study. The steps used in order to select respondents as well as the

reasoning for selecting the respondents will also be clarified.














CHAPTER 3
METHODOLOGY

This study focuses on e-Business practices in the construction industry. Current e-

Business applications, available technologies, types of providers for e-Business

technology, as well as current users of e-Business applications were researched to design

a survey about e-Business in the construction industry today. The hypothesis on this

topic is that the construction industry is growing rapidly and beginning to embrace

technology and realize its benefits. They are using e-Business applications more every

year and experiencing high success rates.

Scope of Work

This study investigates the views of the construction industry on e-Business and e-

procurement. This information was obtained through the distribution of and response to a

survey (Appendix A) that was sent out electronically to construction industry leaders.

The questions on this survey were designed to determine the following: 1) the

willingness of the construction industry respondents to use e-Business and e-procurement

in future endeavors to help their companies make advancements in their field, 2) if they

are already using these tools in their company, how far have they come since they first

began using e-Business, 3) what type and size of companies are more likely to use e-

Business in their everyday activities. The survey was sent out via email, to 91

corporations selected from the 2003 Engineering News Record Top 400 Contractors.

These companies range from general contracting, project management, to design build

companies based throughout the United States. The companies also vary in workforce









size, geographical location, and annual profits. The main focus was to determine the

extent of e-Business implementation by general contractors.

Survey Methodology

The survey is designed to determine the current status of e-Business practices, the

construction industries implementation of e-Business applications, and the effects e-

Business applications have on the construction industry. Questions in the survey

concentrate on the size of companies, geographical distribution, revenue, current e-

Business practice, e-Business initiatives, e-Business processes, e-Business affects on

revenue, and past, present, and future plans for e-Business applications within their

company.

A similar survey was conducted in the year 2000. The updated survey for this

study consisted of some similar questions as well as additional questions more specific to

the technologies of today. The results of the survey conducted in 2000 and the survey

conducted for this study will be compared along with any additional information obtained

from the new questions in an effort to determine any trends in e-Business in the

construction industry.

With answers to these questions as the goal a survey was set up in order to

determine e-Businesses effects on company processes. The survey was primarily multiple

choice with a few demographics questions. These sections were each designed

accordingly to obtain the information needed to compile and analyze the final responses.

Selection of Survey Participants

The survey was distributed to 91 contractors selected from the 2004 ENR Top 400

Contractor list, found at http://www.enr.com. Every fifth company beginning with the

number one ranking company on ENR Top 400 Contractors were selected ( e.g., 1, 5, 10,









15, ... ). This resulted in 81 companies from ENR Top 400 Contractors List. The

subsequent ten companies were then selected from The ENR Design-Build Companies

List that were also included on the ENR Top 400 Contractors List but were not selected

in the number sequence as previously noted.

Contractors with web sites were chosen first because of their obvious knowledge of

Internet use and its capabilities. If a company was selected and it was discovered they

did not have a web site, they were left out of the survey and the preceding company in

ranking on the list was chosen. If this company also exhibited the absence of a website

the company one rank above the selected company was chosen and so on until a company

with a website was discovered. Company information from their websites was

documented for follow-ups and evaluation of survey results.

This survey was prepared and administered via e-mail. The survey was sent out to

ninety-one companies with a fax number included for returning the survey. This survey

was arranged as an anonymous survey. The information about the companies will be kept

confidential, and the data gathered are pooled together. The analysis of results is kept

strictly within this study.

The results are based on responses from 20 corporations out of ninety-one

organizations selected from ENR TOP 400. The businesses surveyed represent project

management, general contractor, design build, and construction services companies

throughout the United States. The respondent companies varied in terms of annual

revenues, number of employees, and geographic region of operations. The data was

collected and analyzed for the study to determine growing trends and construction

industry changes in the past five years.






30


The next chapter, Chapter 4, will discuss the results that were obtained from the

respondents to the survey (Appendix A). These results will then be analyzed and

compared to a similar survey completed in 2000 (Issa et al. 2003) to determine any trends

relating to e-Business initiatives and adaptations in the construction industry.














CHAPTER 4
ANALYSIS OF SURVEY RESULTS

The e- Business Assessment Survey is designed to determine the current usage in

the construction industry of e-Business applications and how those views have changed

in the past five years. The survey was aimed towards the construction industry's leading

general contractors and their response to e-Business initiatives. Since the survey was sent

to the most successful contractors in the United States it is assumed they are doing

something different to advance their business success rates. The survey questions

whether or not e-Business applications have anything to do with these companies

successes and if so, if they plan on continuing their use and /or advancing their

technology in order to better understand and utilize e-Business strategies. Questions

about company revenue size, number of employees, and geographical location were

asked in order to determine whether smaller or larger general contracting firms were

more willing to participate in e-Business. Information about current use of e-Business

applications, as well as future plans for investment was questioned to determine

companies' e-Business implementation plans. Most important e-Business applications

currently in use was also determined in order to assess applications that are most useful to

the construction industry.

The construction industry is beginning to realize the benefits of e-Business. With

the final results in, the ability to categorize companies' processes that worked became

apparent. As survey results came in it was obvious that some companies had been









working with e-Business for quite sometime and had worked through all the kinks and

now had e-Business working for them.

The e-Business Assessment Survey will be analyzed quantitatively to determine

whether or not e-Business is finding a place in the construction industry. The results will

then be compared to those results of a similar e-Business assessment survey conducted in

2000 (Issa et al. 2003). Additional questions were added to the present survey and only

those questions that relate to the survey in 2000 will have comparison analysis results.

Results of the e-Business Assessment Survey

Respondent Profiles

The respondents in this survey are based on a 22 % return rate. Although this

seems like a low return rate, accurate information can still be determined as well as

growing trends within the construction industry. The job title of the respondents from the

2000 survey compared to the 2005 survey varied as shown in Table 4-1.

Of the responses to the survey, 5 (25%) were from executives: they all felt either

knowledgeable or very knowledgeable about the company's e-Business efforts conveying

the idea that the executives or senior level management makes the decisions about the

business operations that are taken on within the company. Three of the respondents

(15%) worked in computer systems management; they came in second with claiming

knowledge in company e-Business efforts with the same type of responses as senior level

management of very knowledgeable or knowledgeable. Thus, it seems that the company

executives and computer systems management work together in making decisions as to

what technologies the company will adopt presently and in the future.










Table 4-1: Survey respondent employee position
2000 2005
What are your job functions?
Profile % Profile %
Executive (CEO, owner, VP, etc) 7 35% 5 25%
Operations Management 1 5% 7 35%
Financial / Accounting 0 0% 0 0%
Sales / Marketing 2 10% 4 20%
E-Business Development 4 20% 0 0%
Computer Systems management 0 0% 3 15%
Consultant / IT Provider 1 5% 0 0%
Engineering 0 0% 0 0%
Other 5 25% 1 5%
TOTAL 20 100% 20 100%


IT consultant
Computer
Operations 5% Systems Other
Management 5% Executive





Other 20% Operations
25% 35%

A B
Figure 4-1: Respondents job title distribution. A) For the year 2000 B) For the year 2005.

Firms with employee size ranging from 100 to 499 employees at their current

location had the greatest response to the survey. Figure 4-2 shows the employee size

distribution of all the firms surveyed compared to the survey in 2000. Because the

majority of the survey respondents are of similar employee size, the comparison of results

will be of even greater substance because of the companies' similar experiences in

relation to company size. Of the participants, 85% (17) had other locations within the

United States and 55% (11) had international locations. Companies with international

locations had utilized more e-Business applications as well as more types of connections,

other than phone, fax, and email, for communication with suppliers than companies that

operate solely in the United States. It is not uncommon for construction companies to be

spread across the nation and even the world because the project they construct are for









different clients and thus different locations demanding that they be on site to monitor

progress. The surveys show the apparent use of Internet and other technologies in order

to communicate from different locations.


1,000 to 4,999 500 -999 20 49 1,000 to 4,999
Emloyees Employees 50 -99 Employees Einloyees
3 8 Employees 1 2 500 -999
50 -99 18% 2
15% 40% 3 6% 12% Employees






EmployeFigure 4-2: Respondents employee size distribution. A) For the year 2000 and B) For the12
0year 2005.


20their ranking on ENR's Top 49 100 499 contractors100 -499
EmThployees Employees Employees
0% 45% 52%

A B
Figure 4-2: Respondents employee size distribution. A) For the year 2000 and B) For the
year 2005.

There is also significance in the fact that there is a greater distribution in size from

the 2005 survey. Keep in kind that the companies for this survey were chosen based on

their ranking on ENR's Top 400 contractors meaning they are successful companies.

There was a 6% (1) response from companies with 20 to 49 employees: although this is a

small company, they are making profits that could be attributed to e-Business efforts and

their ability to communicate and expand their services.

A company's revenue can be significant when it come to e-Business operations.

The amount of revenue a company brings in each year will determine their spending on

other company needs such as communications within the company structure. Figure 4-3

shows the distribution of the respondent firm's revenues. There was a 32% (6) response

from companies with revenue of one billion dollars or more. The companies in this

revenue bracket spent more money on networking, computer hardware, intranet/extranet,










and other e-Business applications than companies making a smaller revenue. This is for

the obvious reason that these companies have a greater need and a great source from

which to purchase the necessary items and tools.

$300 Mil to
$499.9 Mil $500 Mil to $1
4 Billion
21% 2
11%



$299.9 Mil
6 1 Billion

31% 6
$50 Mil to $99.9 $1 Mil to $49.9 32%
Mil Mil
0 1
0% 5%

Figure 4-3: Respondents distribution by annual revenue
Survey Findings

Selected results of the survey will be discussed in the rest of the section with the

following topics in mind: adoption of e-Business, communication tool usage, e-Business

initiatives, intended gains from e-Business implementation, and future plans and goals for

e-Business within respondent companies.

The first question on e-Business: "Are you involved in adopting any of the

following e-Business applications?" was asked of the respondents to determine the

current applications the construction industry is using on a day to day basis.

The distribution of e-Business applications implemented by respondent companies

can be found in Table 4-2 and Figure 4-4. It is understood that technology is a rapidly

growing phenomenon and that a lot can happen in five years. However, as shown in

Table 4-2, even after a five year time since a similar survey was sent out and analyzed,

there appears to be the same rate of e-Business implementation. Every company










surveyed is involved with e-Business applications, in some form or another, within their

company. The most widely used e-Business application in 2005 is that of

extranet/intranet at 75% (15), and project management close behind with a 70% (14)

adoption rate. This survey also shows more adoption in the wireless category than in

previous years. The previous survey in 2000 showed 0% adoption of any kind of

wireless technology. Presently 45% (9) of companies are utilizing the wireless

technologies in part because of technological advances as well as greater user familiarity

with this technology.

Table 4-2: Adopted e-Business application adoption in the construction industry


2000 Results 2005 Results
e-Business Initiatives
n % Internal OutSrce n % Internal OutSrce
E-Procurement 8 40% 3 0 5 25% 1 4
Customer Relationship Mgmt 6 30% 3 0 10 50% 9 1
Workflow 8 40% 3 1 8 40% 7 2
Supply Chain Management 5 25% 2 1 3 15% 2 0
Extranet/Intranet 13 65% 7 1 15 75% 12 2
E-Commerce 9 45% 4 0 6 30% 3 3
Kwldg Mgmt./ Data Warhse 9 45% 5 0 9 45% 7 3
Internet Infrastructure 12 60% 5 1 10 50% 9 2
Enterprise Resource Planning 5 25% 4 0 7 35% 6 1
Accounting / Finance 11 55% 5 0 13 65% 9 5
Project Collaboration 10 50% 4 5 11 55% 7 6
Project Management 14 70% 5 4 14 70% 8 8
Digital Exchange / Auction 1 5% 0 1 9 45% 2 6
Wireless 0 0% 0 0 9 45% 6 1


Comparing the outsourcing of e-Business applications to internal development by

the companies, it is found that there is more outsourcing now than five years ago. This

could be due to software development and greater understanding of the construction

industry and its standards as well as its unpredictable operations that need flexible

programs that can be used from project to project. The presence of more outsourcing also

has to do with companies using their internally developed programs in combination with










outsourcing in order to create an application that works best for their company. Although

there is still a great deal of internal development, this likely has to do with company

preference of already in place processes, especially in the extranet/intranet category. It is

difficult for the construction industry to move on from something that they believe is

working and does not need to be changed.



Extranetilntraiet r m
Project Management
Accounting r -
Project Collaboration
Internet Infrastructure
CFM-
Wireless
Digital Exchaige 2005
,~.j..-. K* fl.~L-~ A' -


knowledge iMgt i Data M.
Workflow
Enterprise Resource Planning
E-Conmmerce
e-Procurement
Supply Chain


-- -


0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80%


Figure 4-4: Distribution of adopted e-Business applications in 2000 and 2005

Accounting and finance tools are among the most implemented tools and are used a

great deal at 65% (13) with most internally developed. Project collaboration tools are

also automated and used widely among construction industry leaders. These tools are

designed to help companies organize their information about a project in one place,

usually a website. This allows the information to be accessed by anyone working on the

project, at anytime, from any place. Thus resulting in increased productivity and a more

streamlined approach which saves time and money, which is why construction industry

leaders have embraced these tools.









Digital exchange has made great progress that most likely has to do with project

collaboration tools and the software that is associated with these tools. More software

has come out that is focused on construction industry standards in the past five years that

allows for easier exchange of information over the Internet. This explains the increase in

use and adoption responses. It is easier than ever before to exchange information on the

Internet. Wireless capabilities have allowed digital exchange as well as project

collaboration tools to be used more widely in the construction industry. Wireless has

gone from a 0% usage in 2000 to 45% (9) over the past five years. Although more than

45% of companies require cell phones, which use wireless technologies, respondents

were most likely considering wireless connections for laptops on site and for wireless

data exchange over the Internet. The combination of these three tools has helped each

tool alone and explains their greater adoption in the construction industry.

There was a change in the construction industry's thoughts on e-Commerce, e-

Procurement, and supply chain management in terms of less use for these applications.

They are still among the least adopted applications even though they have great potential

in saving money and streamlining operations. The lack of applications using these

services in the construction industry has lead to a lack of expertise in these areas simply

because there is not enough industry specific operations out there for these companies to

use that work with their business operations.

The construction industry is embracing e-Business application slowly but surely.

The number of adoptions of these applications is sure to rise especially with the new

generation of individuals getting ready to enter the construction work force. They are

more computer savvy and have the expertise and experience to introduce new operations









and applications into the construction industry that can only help propel the construction

industry into the computer age.

Communication. The respondents were then asked about the connections they

have with their suppliers, partners, and customers. The purpose of this question was to

determine exactly which methods of contact they are using to stay in touch and to

exchange information with suppliers, partners, and customers. Figure 4-5 shows the

distribution of respondent connections with customers and suppliers




Phone / In Poerson



Telecommunications
EDI
Wireless U 2005
Public Market Place 2000
Private Market Place
Centralized Internet Info mgt
XML
Other

0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50', 60 70% 80% 90% 100%


Figure 4-5: Connection with suppliers, partners, and customers

Although the survey indicated that the construction industry most often uses the old

method of communicating by phone or in person there is an increase in the use of e-mail

by respondents. This use of e-mail expresses the fact the construction industry is using

the Internet on a daily basis to conduct its business operations. The facsimile has been

around for a while and because everything is not completely automated it is necessary to









keep this communication tool in connection with the other most widely used tools, phone

and e-mail. Because the construction industry is people oriented and face time with

customers, suppliers, and partners is important, the use of the phone should not by any

means be eliminated, just enhanced. The use of cell phones, cell phones with Internet

capabilities, and cell phone Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) is only making

communication easier and more effective.

Again, the use of wireless technologies has taken a leap in the past five years in the

construction industry from 5% (1) in 2000 to over 35% (6) in 2005. Electronic data

exchange (EDI) is somewhat related to wireless in that wireless can increase the use of

EDI. The more places you are able to exchange information the greater the chance that it

will be used. Thus, with the increase in wireless communications comes increased EDI

use.

The use of public and private market places is pretty low considering the recent

surge in digital marketplace presence. The US construction industry is heavily dependent

on personal relationships and seems to still work by word of mouth, asking around and

using past suppliers and manufacturers for business operations. With the growing

popularity of wireless computing, this trend is bound to grow because the construction

industry will be able to reorder an item from a digital marketplace at a moments notice

should something go wrong with a current building material.

Another question was asked of the survey participants about company requirements

for mobile computing devices to connect with others. "Does your company require or

supply employees with any mobile computing devices in order to connect with others"

was asked to determine how connected these companies hope to be with clients,









suppliers, and even within the organization itself Figure 4-6 displays the distribution of

supplied computing devices to employees.


Cell PhonesEE
Phones with Internet Capabilities
PDA's
Wireless Connections
Tablet PCs
GPS Systems
Other
Not Required
0% 10% 20, 30 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100 ,
Figure 4-6: Company supplied computing devices

Although not every company required their suppliers to have mobile computing

devices, all the companies surveyed supplied their own employees with cell phones and

60% supplied cell phones with varying capabilities i.e. some supplied BlackBerriesTM

which supply users with e-mail, speakerphone, instant messaging, and Internet browsing

among other capabilities. The construction industry is a fast paced business. Employees

are rarely at their desks and are often on the move. Decisions often come down to last

minute details and project managers should be available at a moments notice. Cell

phones make this possible which is why they are so widely issued to construction

management employees.

Personal Digital Assistants (PDA) are the next most popular computing device with

which to supply employees with 60% (12) of companies supplying their employees with

these devices. PDAs have similar capabilities as BlackBerriesTM without the ability of a

phone. Internet access is common, along with personal organizers, day planners, e-mail,









and word processing are all available on these devices. Keeping track of high profile

project, meeting minutes, and schedules are all made easier with the use of PDA's.

Tablet PCs are becoming more popular. Because they hold more information than

PDAs, larger projects can be tracked on organized with these devices. They are larger

than a PDA but are just as mobile. With wireless becoming more readily available and

55% of companies requiring wireless devices, tablet PCs are beginning to showing up on

more construction projects.

Global Positioning Systems (GPS) are only used by 10% (2) of the respondents.

Most companies have been using GPS system on equipment on the jobsite in order to

track use, productivity, as well as to prevent theft. It is also used in automobiles as a

direction assistant with helping users with finding locations of points of interest.

With the apparent use of these mobile computing devices it is clear that the

construction industry is embracing new technologies and looking for new ways to

increase productivity. These devices simplify processes and streamline workflow which

is exactly what the complex construction industry needs. After all time is money in this

industry.

Electronic Business Initiatives. The next question "Which of the following

Internet-related IT initiatives are you currently working on or plan to be involved in?"

was designed to determine what e-Business applications were being implemented into the

construction industry. It is also designed to determine where the construction industry is

lacking in terms of their e-Business efforts. Figure 4-7 displays the distribution of e-

Business initiatives in the construction industry. Current practices and future

implementation on procurement, supply chain, transactions, e-commerce, project









development, intranet/extranet, e-markets, order tracking, partnering, and communication

were all covered to determine the industry's needs. Ninety percent of the companies that

responded have implemented e-Business initiatives and have plans for future e-Business

initiatives within their organization. Such a high response rate indicates that the

construction industry is ready and willing to implement e-Business initiatives.


IntranetExtranet
Project Development
Communication
E-Commerce
Procurement
Transaction
Supply Chain
Deliver Center
Partnering
E-Markets
Order Tracking


i ii r
I~ I~I -
I~ I~I -
- I I -


*2005
*2000


0% 10% 2(1 30 '., 40% 50 ., 60%
Figure 4-7: Electronic business initiatives in the construction industry

Project Development and Intranet/Extranet tools are the most used and/or are slated

for greater use. Greater use of Intranet/Extranet at 60% (12) versus 55% (11) in 2000,

was no surprise considering its high response rate earlier with e-Business applications.

The respondent companies also have a strong focus on project development and complete

organization of project systems. This is also no surprise with the high response for

project management applications stated earlier. Companies, most likely, have plans to

continue their use of these initiatives with plans to develop these areas further.

Communication was the next leader in initiatives although it decreased 10% from

60% (12) in 2000 to 50% (10) in 2005. This decrease could be attributed to the fact that


- -
---









the respondents feel this area is important but that they are more focused on other areas at

present. However, as stated previously, communication in the construction industry is

key. With a constant need to keep in touch with suppliers, clients, and everyone involved

on the project, communication is extremely important to construction industry leaders.

These tools are important to maintain and increase productivity while reducing costs and

staying on schedule.

The survey indicates that e-Procurement and e-Commerce are likely to be adopted

in the near future. Respondents are aware of these tools but do not have the ability or

knowledge at present to implement these into operations. As stated previously, these are

the items that are outsourced indicating that the respondents are not as aware of these

information applications as much as other activities and applications.

However, the survey indicates they are willing to take on these tools in the future

as a means to increase productivity and improve business operations.

Prioritized goals of the Construction Industry. "Please rate the following from

the least important to the most important according to your business goals." This

question was designed to determine technologies the respondents saw as most important

in furthering their company's business operations as well as the future structure of the

company. Table 4-3 shows the respondents priorities and their rankings in order to

determine how or why they plan on implementing certain e-Business initiatives. Figure

4-8 shows the distribution of the respondent companies' goals.










Table 4-3: Respondent priorities
Business Goals 2000 2005
Avg Min Max Rank % Avg Min Max Rank %
Increased Internal4.9 4.0 5.0 1 65 3.8 1.0 5.0 3 37
Communication
Increased External
Increased External 4.9 4.0 5.0 1 65 4.5 2.0 5.0 5 68
Communication
Enhanced Customer Relationships 4.9 4.0 5.0 2 60 4.6 2.0 5.0 1 74
Expansion of geography 2.8 1.0 5.0 12 15 3.1 2.0 5.0 10 11
Innovation of product/services 3.9 3.0 5.0 6 20 3.5 2.0 5.0 8 11
delivery
Shorter, accurate transaction 3.7 2.0 5.0 7 15 3.3 1.0 5.0 9 17
Transparent market 2.8 2.0 5.0 12 5 2.5 1.0 5.0 12 7
Expansion of Partnership 3.5 2.0 5.0 10 15 3.0 2.0 5.0 11 5
Reduced capital costs 3.5 2.0 5.0 8 25 3.9 2.0 5.0 4 32
Reduced travel costs 3.5 2.0 5.0 8 10 3.4 1.0 5.0 7 15
Increased productivity 4.6 4.0 5.0 4 45 4.6 2.0 5.0 2 70
Increased predictability 4.7 4.0 5.0 3 50 4.6 3.0 5.0 2 70
Reduced defects 4.1 3.0 5.0 5 30 4.5 3.0 5.0 4 58
Improved industry standards 3.2 1.0 5.0 11 5 3.8 2.0 5.0 6 21

The survey results indicate that customer relationships are of most important

concern for leading construction companies ranking second in 2000 and moving to the

number one goal in 2005. Increased productivity and increased predictability is a close

second, moving from fourth and third respectively to tying for second. The construction

industry is especially concerned with reducing cost, and increasing productivity and

predictability which will in turn reduce costs as well as save time. Reducing defects and

improved communication with suppliers, customers, and partners, ranks at number four

as a main goal of construction industry leaders. Increased internal communication is not

as high of a priority as it was in 2000 moving ranks from number one in 2000 to number

three in 2005, probably due to the fact that companies have developed their internal

communication and are now focusing on broader communication applications. Improved

industry standards as a goal has taken a leap from ranking eleventh in 2000 to ranking

sixth in 2005. Construction industry leaders seem to be figuring out that the more

standards that are developed, the greater their ability to communicate effectively, and










with minimal confusions. Most of the business goals have not changed a great deal in

five years since 2000 because of their similar rankings from 2000, which brings forth the

trend of the construction industry's goals. These goals should help in the further

development of applications geared toward the construction industry's goals as well as

allowing the industry to see exactly what e-Business applications it needs to implement in

order to achieve their goals.


Enhanced Customer Relationships
Increased Productivity
Increased Predictability
Increased Internal Communications
Reduced Defects
Reduced Capital Costs
Increased External Communications
_______m *2005
Improved Industry Standards *m EJO
Reduced Travel Costs S20
Innovation of Product Delivery
Shorter transactions
Expansion of Geography
Expasion of Partnership
Transparent Market _

0 1 2 3 4 5

Figure 4-8: Construction industry's prioritized goals

Business to Business Exchange. "In the past 5 years has your company

participated in an industry-specific Business to Business (B2B) exchange?" This question

was designed to determine whether or not the construction industry is moving away from

its traditional ways of buying and selling products and services. It is not clear as to

whether or not the construction industry is familiar with this practice because 35% (7) did

not know if their company had participated in B2B exchange, 40% (8) said no, and

another 20% (5) said their company had participated in this application. These results

show that B2B exchange is not implemented as much as desired due in part to it process.









The B2B exchange process involves entering information into a system and allowing the

system to take it through the process with minimal human interface (Cleveland 2001).

The problem with this is the mere complexity of the construction industry and its

systems. The construction industry deals with a multitude of systems and coordinating

these systems is difficult without the loss of information or change of data.

Implementing B2B exchange is an obvious obstacle that must be overcome and is on its

way to working within the construction industry.


Obstacles. "What has held you back from conducting e-Business?" This question

was designed to help industry suppliers, software developers, and e-Business experts

determine what they can do to help the construction industry in their e-Business efforts.

Everything from lack of security and industry standards, to cost of the application is

covered in this question. Figure 4-9 displays the obstacles the construction industry is

facing with conducting e-Business. Because e-Business is so new to the construction

industry there are few precedents of companies who have implemented e-Business

applications with real time documented results. Construction industry leaders are most

likely at the point in their e-Business implementation and they are all waiting to see what

successes and benefits they have reaped from their efforts.

Another reason the construction industry is wary of implementing too much e-

Business at one time is because of the lack of expertise. E-Business is new to

construction; however it is still fairly new to all disciplines which indicates that there is

going to be a lack of expertise in this area across the board. However, with the increase

in computer literacy among the workforce, the implementation of e-Business is sure to be

on the rise.











Lack of Successful real time examples- U
Lack of expertise in e-Business and construction
Lack of Industry Standards
Lack of Security
Cost of Networking
Cost of EDI
Lack of Infrastructure
Cost of e-Business applications
Lack of Appropriate laws and regulations

0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 45%

Figure 4-9: Construction industry reasons for not implementing e-Business

Benefits. "If e-Commerce applications have been implemented in your company

within the past 5 years, has your company seen significant improvements in any of the

following areas?" Figure 4-10 displays the results of benefits with which the

construction industry has experienced with the implementation of e-Business

applications. The ability to retrieve project information with ease and allowing for more

effective use of time are the greatest benefits realized by the respondents in this survey

with 40% (8) feeling these were benefits their company was realizing. These benefits

really go hand in hand, because with the better use of time comes cost savings which is

the next benefit the respondents felt in which they were taking part.



More effective use of time
Easier to retrieve project information
Scheduling Efforts
Cost savings
Labor management
0% 10% 20 30% 40% 50%
Figure 4-10: Benefits realized by the construction industry with e-Business
implementation










When these construction industry leaders first implemented e-Business into their

daily operations they had a few ideas about what they wanted to accomplish. The

question "How would you characterize the impact of your e-Business initiatives on your

main source of revenue" was designed to determine if their e-Business efforts were

actually helping their company in the way they most expected it to help in reducing cost

and increasing revenue. Figure 4-11 displays the 2005 respondents feeling on how they

perceive e-Business' impact on revenue.


No Response
Insignificant
Somewhat insignificant
Somewhat Significant
Very Significant
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Figure 4-11: Impact on revenue

Most of the respondents felt that their e-Business adoption was somewhat

significant with 35% (7). The upper portion of respondents at 45% (9) felt there was

some sort of impact on revenue by the e-Business implementation. The four that did not

respond were also the same individuals that felt they were not knowledgeable in their

company's e-Business efforts.

Figure 4-12 shows the distribution of responses to the question. "Your company's

e-Business efforts are primarily intended to?" The survey showed that an overwhelming

number of respondents implemented e-Business in the hope of increasing productivity,

which leads to more effective use of time, and in turn cost savings. The construction

industry is big on getting things completed as fast as possible with the least amount of









steps. It is evident in this response that the construction industry "getting done" attitude

is what is driving the decisions on e-Business adoption.



Increase Productivity

Improve Service

Reduce Costs

Increase revenue

0% 10% 20% 30-. 40% 50', 60% 70., 80%
Figure 4-12: Construction industry's perceived benefits of e-Business implementation

It is somewhat surprising that earlier in the survey the top goal of these respondents

was to enhance the customer relationship and here they are more focused on increasing

productivity instead of improving customer service. Perhaps the industry feel that by

increasing productivity and delivering projects that are on time or earlier will increase

customer satisfaction and thus the customer relationship.

Future Spending. The question "your company quantifies and closely tracks the

value of its e-Business efforts" was designed to determine if these companies are really

paying attention to whether or not e-Business is working for them or not. Figure 4-13

displays the distribution of respondent replies. The responses here varied across the

board. It was difficult to determine whether or not the construction industry is really

paying attention to e-Business implementation. Although the industry is beginning to

embrace e-Business, it still seems to be a new practice. Tracking is on a case by case

basis and will most likely be monitored in greater detail in the future after companies

have experienced it for a while where greater results can be realized.










No Response
3 -%Strongly Agree
15% 2
Strongly 10%

2 Agree


Disagree
7
35 "o

Figure 4-13: Distribution of companies monitoring e-Business efforts

The last question in the survey is "Do you expect you spending on e-commerce to

increase, decrease, or remain the same in the coming year?" With what the construction

industry knows about e-Business and what applications they use on a daily basis, they are

able to determine whether or not they will continue on the same track or move to a

different approach as far as their business operations are concerned. Figure 4-14 displays

the range of responses received from the survey.


Increase -
Stay the Same a i-
Decrease
0% 10% 20-, 30% 40% 50 *' 60%
Figure 4-14: The construction industry's perceived ideas on future spending on e-
Business implementation within their company

The respondents show no signs of wanting to rid their operations of e-Business

implementation. Either way they plan on continued spending on e-Business in the

construction industry. The companies feel that e-Business implementation is benefiting

business operations and that continued support for it is crucial to business success.






52


The next chapter, Chapter 5, will present final conclusions and recommendations

for further research in this area of study. E-Business has potential for an even brighter

future in the construction industry. It has already begun is forward shift, and it seems as

though there is no turning back.














CHAPTER 5
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Electronic Business definitely has a place in the future of construction operations.

Its benefits have already begun to show successes within the companies they have been

implemented. Easier project coordination, more effective use of time, and cost savings

are all promises that e-Business is delivering. However, in order for e-Business to

succeed in the first place industry leaders need to determine their goals and company

standards. An understanding of what customers want and how to find these customers is

one area they need to develop in order to design e-Business for communications.

Companies also needed to assess their products and services to determine how to market

themselves and what was required to turn their company into a productive, profitable

business.

Today, virtually all companies use the Internet in some sort of fashion and they will

continue to expand their use and knowledge of the Internet as new uses emerge. As stated

previously, the construction industry claims that 60% to 80% of the total cost of

operation, including capital, labor, materials and transportation, is directly related to

information management (Geissler 2001). The construction industry is a global network

that can use the Internet and e-Business to connect to suppliers, customers, and partners

worldwide.

The results of the "e-Business Assessment Survey" have indicated that, contrary to

popular belief, the construction industry is actually implementing e-Business solutions in

order to streamline operations. Not only is the industry already implementing e-Business









applications, but they are also ready and willing to embrace new applications as long as

there is evidence that implementation will prove successful for their own company in the

long run.

Increased productivity by the respondent companies was the overwhelming

response to the perceived benefit of e-Business. However, the other benefits realized by

the respondent companies that was a more tangible response was that of finding more

effective use of time, and the ability to retrieve project information with greater ease.

The majority of the respondents felt that because of these real and perceived benefits, e-

Business implementation in the construction industry made either a significant or very

significant impact on their companies business operations.

Plans to continue spending within respondent companies also expresses the

industry's desire to continue e-Business implementation in the future. At this point in

time, however, the construction industry has only scratched the surface of what the

Internet can do for them and they have a long way to go before the industry realizes the

maximum return the Internet and e-Business have to offer. The fact that the industry has

only scratched the surface is not the fault of the construction industry but the complexity

of the discipline and the inability, at present, for so many different systems to collaborate

with accurate results.

Most e-Business applications are not designed to fit the complex nature of the

construction industry. With the development of greater technologies and the aecXML

language, e-Business will have a greater presence in the construction industry. In the

near future, aecXML will allow for greater integration among systems as well as









functioning in the adaptable networks made up of other companies who coordinate

internal and external transactions all in one place.

The study shows that the construction industry is taking an active role in e-Business

implementation and that companies are making plans for future internal and external

improvements in order to increase productivity and encourage cost savings.

Recommendations for Future Research

While the results of this survey provide valuable information about e-Business

implementation in the construction industry, further research is necessary in order to

increase maximum potential of this phenomenon within the construction industry. Since

the construction industry as a whole conducts the same types of business processes just

on different scales according to company size and project specifics, surveys should be

conducted industry wide. The survey should seek a larger number of responses by

sending out the survey to a larger number of industry leaders with a web presence not

only those on the ENR top 400 contractors list. It would also be helpful to send the

survey to the same companies so tracking of specific companies can be analyzed yielding

more accurate results instead of just a random sampling every time.

There should also be a type of measurement for productivity in this study because it

was the greatest perceived benefit of e-Business. It was only a perception because there

was not a developed form of measurement to date that could be used in conjunction with

this survey.

Additionally, it is recommended that future studies focus on the progress of the

integration of e-Business applications amidst the complex business operations of the

construction industry. The trends toward enhanced integration and interoperability will







56


result in even greater improvements in productivity, time management, and reduced

costs.














APPENDIX
E-BUSINESS ASSESSMENT SURVEY

Informed Consent Form

M.E. Rinker, Sr. School of Building Construction
PO Box 115703
Gainesville, FL 32611-5703

Fax (352) 392-9606
Suncom: 622-5965

Dear Participant,

I am a graduate student in the Rinker School of Building Construction at the University
of Florida. As part of my course work I am conducting a survey, the purpose of which is
to determine the use of e-Business solutions in the construction industry. I am asking you
to participate in the survey because of your close connection with these issues, as a
participant in the construction industry. Participants will be asked to fill out a survey
lasting no longer than 20 minutes. You will not have to answer any questions) you do
not wish to answer.

Your survey will be conducted in your workplace, after you have read this informed
consent. Only I will have access to the survey that you fill out. The statistical data
collected from your survey and others will be documented in my thesis. Although, your
identity (if you choose to reveal it) will be kept confidential to the extent provided by the
law and your identity will not be revealed in the final manuscript.

There are no anticipated risks, compensation or other direct benefits to you as a
participant in this survey. You are free to withdraw your consent to participate and may
discontinue your participation in the interview at any time without consequence.

If you have any questions about this research protocol, please contact me at (352) 373 -
7379 or my faculty supervisor, Dr. R. Raymond Issa, at (352)-273-1152. Questions or
concerns about your rights as a research participant may be directed to the UFIRB office,
University of Florida, Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611; Ph: (352) 392 0433.

By filling out the provided survey, you give me the permission to report your responses
anonymously in the final manuscript to be submitted to my faculty supervisor as part of
my course work.

Sincerely,






58





Bryce Treffinger

I have read the procedure described above. I voluntarily agree to participate in the
research
study and I have received a copy of this description.



Signature of the participant Date










This survey has been designed to find out how the construction industry adopting
the Internet tools and e-Business strategies as well as the plans for future
implementations. Please take a few minutes from your busy schedule and participate in
the survey. Upon completion, please either fax it to (352) 846-2772 or mail it to us at:
Dr. R. Issa, Attn: E Business Survey, Rinker School of Building Construction, Box
115703, Gainesville, FL 32611-5703


1. What are your job functions? (PLEASE CHECK ALL THAT APPLY)

OL Executive (CEO, Owner, VP, etc)
OL Operations Management (Project Manager, Project Engineer, etc)
OL Financial/ Accounting
OL Sales/Marketing
OL E-Business Development/E-Business Strategist
0L Computer Systems Management
0L Consultant/IT Provider
LI Engineering
LI Other (Please Describe)

2. How many people are employed at this location and in your entire organization,
including all of its branches, divisions, and subsidiaries? (PLEASE CHECK ONLY ONE
PER COLUMN)

At this In this In the International Entire
Location State U.S. Locations Organization
L 10,000 or more LI LI LI LI LI
aL 5,000-9,999 aL Li Li Li Li
Li 1,000-4,999 aL Li Li Li Li
L 500-999 aL Li Li Li Li
L 100-499 aL Li Li Li Li
L 50-99 aL Li Li Li Li
L 20-49 aL Li Li Li Li
L 10-19 aL Li Li Li Li
L 1-9 aL Li Li Li Li

3. What was your company's revenue in the year 2004, in US dollars? (PLEASE
CHECK ONLY ONE)

Li $1 to $49.9 Million LI $300 to $499.9 Million
Li $50 to $99.9 Million LI $500 Million to $1 Billion


a $100 to $299.9 Million


a $1 Billion +










4. Are you involved in adopting any of the following e-Business applications?
(PLEASE CHECK ALL THAT APPLY AND INDICATE IF YOU ARE DEVELOPING INTERNALLY OR
OUTSOURCING)

Developing Outsourcing
Internally
OL E-Procurement 0L LD
DL Customer Relationship Management DL LD
aL Workflow aL La
DL Supply Chain Management DL LD
0L Extranet/Intranet LI LI
DL E-Commerce DL LD
LI Knowledge Management/Data Warehousing LI LI
LI Internet Infrastructure LI LI
LI Enterprise Resource Planning LI LI
LI Accounting /Finance LI LI
LI Project Collaboration/Project Specific Web LI LI
Sites (e.g. E-Builder, Project Talk,
Constructware, Endeavor, etc.....)
LI Project Management (e.g. Prolog, Expedition, LI LI
etc....)
LI Digital Exchange/Auction LI LI
Li Wireless LI LI
Li None of the above (PLEASE SKIP TO QUESTION
#7)


5. What type of connections do you have with your suppliers, partners and
customers? (PLEASE CHECK ALL THAT APPLY)

LI Phone, in-person LI Public Web-based market places
Li E-mail DL Wireless
LI Fax LI Centralized Internet Based
Information management
LI Electronic Data Interchange LI Telecommunications
L XML
LI Private Web-based market places Li Other (Please specify)


6. Does your company require or supply employees with any of the following
mobile computing devices in order to connect with others within your
organization: (PLEASE CHECK ALL THAT APPLY)

DL Cell Phones DL Wireless connections
Li Tablet PC's Li GPS systems
Li PDAs Li Other


LL We do not require mobile computer devices


Q Phones with Internet Capabilities










7. Does your company require or supply employees with any of the following
mobile computing devices in order to connect with suppliers, partners, and
customers: (PLEASE CHECK ALL THAT APPLY)


L] Cell Phones
L] Tablet PC's
OL PDAs
0L Phones with Internet Capabilities


LI Wireless connections
OL GPS systems
aL Other
OL We do not require mobile computer devices


8. How knowledgeable are you about your company's e-Business efforts? (PLEASE
CHECK ALL THAT APPLY)


OL Very Knowledgeable 0L


Knowledgeable Li


Somewhat Knowledgeable 0L


Not Knowledgeable


9. Over the course of one year, what dollar values do you buy, specify, recommend,
or approve in purchases of the following products or services: (PLEASE CHECK ONLY
ONE PER COLUMN)


$500,000 or more
$400,000 to $499,999
$300,000 to $399,999
$200,000 to $299,999
$100,000 to $199,999
$50,000 to $ 99,999
Less than $50,000


Networking/
Telecommuni
cations
aL
aL
aL
aL
aL
aL
aL


Internet/
Extranet/
Intranet
aL
aL
aL
aL
aL
aL
aL


Computer
Hardware

aL
aL
aL
aL
aL
aL
aL


Service/ Materials/ Electronic
Support Equipment Commerce


10. Which of the following Internet-related IT initiatives are you currently working on or
plan to be involved in? (PLEASE CHECK ALL THAT APPLY)


Li Procurement/Purchase
Li Supply Chain
Li Transaction Processing
Li E-Commerce/Sales
Li Project Development/Project Specific Web Site
Li Intranet/ Extranet


Li E-markets
Li Order Tracking
Li Deliver Center over the Internet
Li Partnering
Li Communication










11. Please rate the following from the least important (1) to the most important (5)
according to your business goals.

Very Somewhat Important Not very Not
Important Important Important Important
at all
5 4 3 2 1
Increased external business U U U U U
communication
Increased internal U U U U U
communication
Enhanced customer ] ] ] ]
relationship
Expansion of geographical U U U U U
opportunities
Innovation of product/service ] ] ] ]
delivery
Shorter, accurate transactions ] ] ] ]
Transparent market U U U U U
Expansion of partnership LI LI LI LI LI
opportunities
Reduced capital costs ] ] ] ]
Reduced travel costs U U U U U
Increased productivity and U U U U U
profitability
Increased predictability and U U U U U
project performance
Reduced defects and accidents U U U U U
Improved industry standards U U U U U
Other (PLEASE SPECIFY)

12. In the past 5 years, has your company participated in an industry-specific
Business to Business exchange?
LI Yes, If Yes Please Specify
L No
aL Do Not Know

13. Please tell us what has held you back from conducting e-Business? (PLEASE CHECK
ALL THAT APPLY)

LI Lack of Security L] Cost of networking / telecommunications
LI Lack of industry standards LI Lack of infrastructure
LI Lack of appropriate laws and LI Lack of expertise in e-Business and construction
regulations LI Lack of successful real time examples
OL Cost of EDI
LI Cost of e-Business applications

14. If e-commerce application have been implemented into your company within the
past 5 years, has your company seen significant improvements in any of the
following areas: (PLEASE CHECK ALL THAT APPLY)
LI Easier to retrieve project information LI Cost savings in any department
LI More effective use of time LI Schedule Efforts
LI Labor management






63


15. How would you characterize the impact of your e-Business initiatives on your
main sources of revenue?
OL Very Significant Li Somewhat Significant Li Somewhat Insignificant Li Insignificant

16. Your company's e-Business efforts are primarily intended to: (Select Only One)
OL Increase Revenues OL Reduce Costs OL Increase Productivity OL Improve Service

17. Your company quantifies and closely tracks the value of its e-Business efforts:
(Select Only One).
OL Strongly Agree 0L Agree 0L Disagree 0L Strongly Disagree

18. Do you expect your spending on e-commerce to increase, decrease, or remain
the same in the coming year? (Select Only One)
Li Increase Li Decrease Li Stay the Same















LIST OF REFERENCES


Aberdeen Group, e-Business Infrastructure Integration: Practical Approaches. An
Executive White Paper, (2001). Aberdeen Group, Inc. 2001. As Seen on 29 Jan
2005.

Chang, Sung-Lung Steven, and Ping Li Carl H. Peter. How to Succeed in E-Business By
Taking the Haier Road: Formulating E-Business Strategy Through Network
Building. Competitiveness Review, Vol 13, Issue 2, 2003, 34 46.

Cleveland, A.B. B2B in the Construction Industry: Putting First Things First,
Leadership & Management in Engineering, Vol. 1, Issue 1, Jan 2001, 56-57.

Enos, Joel. Clik nA ith Customers, Ziff Davis Smart Business, As Seen on 9 Feb 2005,


Fisher, Susan E. Can Construction Adapt to Online Markets? InfoWorld, Vol. 22, Issue
20, 15 May 2000, 38.

Gallaher, Michael P., Alan C. O'Connor, John L. Dettbarn, Jr., and Linda T. Gilday.
Cost Analysis of Inadequate Interoperability in the U.S. Capital Facilities
Industry. NIST U.S. Department of Commerce Technology Administration: NIST
GCR 04-867. 2004. As seen on 9 Feb 2005 <
http://www.bfrl.nist.gov/oae/publications/gcrs/04867.pdf >

Geissler, Richard. Building Data Bridges. Roads & Bridges, Vol. 39, Issue 2, Feb 2001:
42 -45.

Gould, Lawrence S. Suppliers Talk about E-Business: It's Becoming Business As Usual,
Automotive Design & Production, Vol. 115, Issue 6, Jun 2003, 38 40.

Hurst, Mark, and Emily Gellady. Creative Good White Paper: Building A Great
Customer Experience to Develop Brand, Increase Loyalty, and Grow Revenues.
CreativeGood As seen on 9 Feb 2005


Issa, R.R.A, I. Flood, and G. Caglasin. A Survey of E-Business Implementation in the US
Construction Industry, ITcon, Vol. 8, 2003, 15-28.










Krishnamurthy, Sandeep. The Amazon. E-Commerce Management: Text and Cases, 27
Sept 2002: 1-45. As seen on 19 Feb 2005:
amazon_final.pdf >

McKenzie, Kevin. Wireless Technology Helps Improve Bottom Line, Business Journal:
(Central New York), Vol. 18, Issue 13, 26 Mar 2004, 9.

O'Brien, William J. Implementation Issues In Project Web Sites: A Practitioners
Viewpoint. Journal of Management in Engineering, May/June 2000, 34-39.

Partnership Creates E-Commerce Marketplace for Construction Industry, Facilities
Design & Management, Vol. 18, Issue 11, Nov 1999, 6.

Perkowski, Michael. Is E-Business Finally Living Up to Its Hype? Cio Insight, Issue 30,
Sept 2003, 73 89.

Regan. Doing Business on the Internet, Organizational System Research Association, 17
Feb 2002, As Seen on 15 Feb 2005

Rojas, Eddy M., and Anthony D. Songer. Web-Centric Systems: A New Paradigm for
Collaborative Engineering, Journal of Management in Engineering, Vol 15, Issue
1, Jan/Feb 1999, 39 -45.

Schulz, Yogi. How to Cook Up a Quick E-Business Strategy. Computing Canada, Vol
29, Issue 10, 23 May 2003, 24.

Simpson, Catherine. Reverse Auctions: Before Bidding, Know Your Base Costs. Fort
Worth Business Press, Vol. 17, Issue 13, 26 Mar 2004, 32.

Webopedia. Definition ofB2B e-commerce, Webopedia, As Seen on 21 February 2005:


Weng, Ray, and Yimin Zhu, aecXAL Framework, International Alliance for
Interoperability. 25 June 2001, As Seen on 16 Feb 2005: na.org/aecxml/aecXMLFramework _R.doc>















BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Bryce Treffinger was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on May 2, 1981. She and her

family moved to Orange Park, Florida in 1987. She attended elementary school, junior

high, and high school in Orange Park, Florida.

After graduating from high school in 1999, she attended the University of Florida

Gainesville to obtain her Bachelor of Design in the College of Design, Construction, and

Planning. After completion of her bachelor's degree in 2003, she attended the M.E.

Rinker, Sr. School of Building Construction at the University of Florida to obtain her

Master of Science in Building Construction, ,which she was awarded in May 2005.

Shortly after graduation (May 28, 2005) she was married.

The future holds bright things in store for Bryce Treffinger. She plans to work for

a large commercial construction company where she will use her knowledge and skills in

design and construction management, learned from the University of Florida, to lead a

successful career.