Connecting the Construction Industry
Databuild works with companies in the construction sector, from manufacturers, suppliers, to contractors and retailers. Databuild gives its clients the opportunity to take a proactive approach to market their products or services. Clients receive daily updates throughout the project cycle along with contact details of relevant professionals.
Peter Burger, the former Managing Director of Specifile, together with his wife, Matilda, founded Databuild in 1974. They believed that there was a real need for project information in the building industry. Researchers gathered information through municipalities and they would submit their hand-written notes to Matilda at the end of the day.
She would then spend the night typing the information which was printed the next morning, sorted and sent to clients via the postal system.
Almost 40 years later, the company is now part of the Centric Group after a change in ownership and Databuild has seen exponential growth since the emergence of new technology.
Technology the Game Changer
“Technology has indeed had the most significant impact on our business, and we embrace the increased opportunities for ourselves and ultimately for our clients,” says Morag Evans, CEO of Databuild. “A major development took place in 1993 when Databuild developed a system which enabled us to sort information by building type, project stage, province, project value, et cetera.
“This was a huge step forward as it meant that information was sorted according to clients’ specific requirements and faxed to them each night, resulting in clients getting their information much quicker. It was quite an adjustment for our clients who were accustomed to receiving pink, green and yellow project information sheets in the post!”
Around this time, Databuild’s clients were offered a software package that the company developed called Elektrodata which was provided via floppy disc containing a week’s worth of data. This eventually progressed to daily emails. Then, in 2005, Databuild’s online system was launched, allowing clients immediate access to projects and the ability to manage their information.
Databuild’s very own CIA agents play the integral role of researching the construction industry.
“The researchers in our company are called our very own CIA, which stands for Construction Industry Agents, and as you can imagine, their effort is vital in our business,” explains Evans. “This dedicated team has a database of over 33,000 industry professionals that they keep in regular contact with, making sure that they cover activities in the industry as effectively as possible. To make sure that the information we make available to our clients is as accurate as possible, our agents contact every single professional on each team to cross-reference relevant details before it reaches our clients.”
While the main focus of Databuild is gathering information that relates to current and upcoming projects, the advent of technology has meant that the company can provide clients with the functionality they need to integrate and manage their projects more effectively into their respective sales processes. Databuild’s online system allows its clients the ability to filter the data to suit their unique requirements. Clients can manage the flood of information using watch lists, tag functionality, follow ups and notes.
“As the industry becomes more and more competitive, a higher degree of sophistication is called for to ensure competitive advantage, and often, the very survival of companies,” says Evans. “With margins constantly under threat, it is crucial that business starts operating smartly, managing stock, relationships and opportunities more effectively than was needed before.
“Technological solutions like those found in our Databuild CRM system make it possible for clients to consolidate the fragmented information typically scattered in various systems and makes activities transparent to the organisation. Ultimately with the view of gaining valuable business intelligence made possible through the consolidation of data.”
Pioneering the Industry
Having had a presence in the industry for four decades, Databuild has seen how the construction sector has changed.
“The last forty years have seen an incredible increase in available products, and local manufacturers now have to compete against an array of imported goods, often of comparable quality but at significantly lower prices,” says Evans. “This means that manufacturers have to be more vigilant than ever before, and have to make sure that there is a constant focus on available opportunities that projects represent. The introduction of BEE has impacted significantly on construction companies who were forced to take a brand new look at the people composition of their businesses, and re-evaluating the factors that would lead to their competitiveness in the bidding environment of a changed playing field in South Africa.
“Professional teams used to comprise clients (developers), Architects, QS’s and Engineers, but these teams keep growing, with more and more disciplines being considered vital in terms of the conceptualisation, execution and completion of all types of projects. This has led to all players in our industry having to take an increased number of factors into account than ever before.”
In looking ahead to the next phase of its business, Databuild will continue to improve functionality to assist clients in response to their feedback. A mobile application is scheduled for development during 2014.
Databuild recently gained an interest in DesignMind, an online networking portal. The platform gives clients an online presence so that their products or services are searchable by design professionals who can then request additional information. Evans says this too shows “the value of building connections and leveraging the magic of technology.”
DesignMind also has a Facebook page which is extremely popular with many thousands of consumers who access the page daily, thus giving clients access to a broader market.
Databuild continues to play a vital role in the industry. Over the last 40 years the company has built powerful relationships with professionals from varied sectors. This respected history has enabled Databuild to have an intimate understanding of the challenges clients across various disciplines face on a daily basis.
“Our passion for technology allows us to constantly seek and offer solutions that contribute greatly to (our clients) success,” says Evans. “But possibly our greatest edge comes from the people that make up this great organisation. Our feet are firmly planted in a solid set of values that keep us on track during stormy seas, and we strive to embody those in every interaction with our clients, the professionals in the industry and each other.”