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CONSTRUCTION BUSINESS

SMEs GET ACCESS TO FREE SOFTWARE

Local company offers tools to small and medium-sized business to increase efficiency



Small and medium-sized construction firms can now avail free of charge Web-based software and application services, thanks to the efforts of local software company Builk Asia, which has developed construction software called Builk.com.

Builk.com is an online and social network platform offering free construction business software.

Builk Asia's business development director Patai Padungtin said that the aim of providing free software services to companies in the construction industry, where most of them are small and medium-sized businesses, was to give them tools to increase business efficiency without the cost of investment.

Currently, Builk.com has about 3,200 users since it became available in April last year.

"Software on Builk.com is free. Our main revenue comes from advertisements of related products and services in the construction business. For example, our advertising customers are SCG, Shera, Tata Steel and Sripathum University. It is a new business model that gives everyone a win-win situation. The small- and medium-sized construction firms can use the software for free, we get income by providing the free service, and suppliers and other related businesses in the construction industry can advertise their products to potential customers," said Patai.

He added that the traffic at Builk.com now is about 300,000 page-views per month. On average, usage time is about 33 minutes per user per day.

"To use our free services, they have to sign up and register as our users. Now we have 3,200 users from 900 companies. These are people performing various roles and holding different positions such as executives, engineers, purchasers, and admin," said Patai.

He said that by the end of this year, Builk.com is expected to generate Bt2 million revenue. The company has been selling advertising only since March this year.

Builk.com is the result of hard work and research and development by parent company Longkong Studio.

Longkong Studio, a six-year-old software firm, develops and provides enterprise resource planning (ERP) software for the construction industry through the turnkey model. Longkong Studio's main products are called 'Pojjaman', which is ERP for mid-size construction businesses, and 'Pillarone' which is ERP for large-size construction businesses. The company currently generates Bt20 million revenue.

"The business model of Longkong Studio is to provide turnkey solutions of ERP for construction businesses. In six years, we have a total of 300 customers, of which 90 per cent are in the domestic market and only 10 per cent are abroad. We have been trying to expand our business. But in the domestic market, the scope is quite limited as the potential customers are mid-to-large-sized construction firms. Expanding abroad means higher cost and more resources," said Patai.

Builk.com is a result of Longkong Studio's attempt to reach out to the wider market. Patai said that in the domestic market, there are about 84,000 companies in the construction industry's supply chain. After conducting market research, he found that there was a lot of potential in the supply chain as there are a lot of small and medium construction firms who need to use technology to enhance their business but do not have the budget for buying a construction software licence.

"It is my personal passion and I want to see Thai construction business - most of them are SMEs - have a chance to use technology to increase their business performance. In the past, there was no affordable software for them. I really understand this problem as our family business is a small-sized supplier in this industry," said Patai.

He wanted to develop a new business model that would provide free software through software-as-a-service (SaaS) model for SMEs in construction businesses. He set up a new company, Builk Asia, to provide the new service -Builk.com.

"Builk.com's role is as a media in the construction business. Its main content is software and application as well as games. We build software, create a community, and then we get advertising. The construction business spends about Bt1.2 billion on advertising. This is our target source for revenue for Builk.com," said Patai.

He added that Builk.com aims to have 10,000 registered users by the end of next year and increase to 30,000 registered users by the end of 2013.

"In the construction industry, there are 84,000 companies that are hiring a total of about 400,000 people and they are our potential target users," said Patai.

Builk.com plans to expand in terms of features and functions. It will offer online games related to the construction businesses. The games are set to engage users to spend more time at the website to attract advertising as well as to create a new model of advertising. Instead of offering online ads in the traditional model like banner, games can used to help embed the advertising smoothly.

"Builk.com is now available in Thai and English. We plan to localise the site to suit each country in the Asean region. Beginning next year, we will localise content in local languages in Vietnam and Indonesia. We foresee it as the IT platform for the construction business throughout this region. This move is the preparation for the Asean Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.

Builk.com is the winner of Thailand ICT Awards 2011 and Asia-Pacific ICT Awards 2011 in the industrial application category.


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