One quality that seems to be developing in the information technology industry is deliberation, as vendors take time to refine features before touting them.
An example is a feature refined over the last year or so by Web-based project host e-Builder to automatically route faxes into electronic workflows. Jon Antevy, CEO of the Boca Raton Fla.-based companyin which ENRs parent McGraw-Hill Construction has a minority interestsays the idea is to pull contractors who dont use computers into the system by using fax machines, a tool most of them have.
"Those who have a computer and those who dont can co-exist peacefully and never know who was not on line," says Antevy. "It has taken away our biggest competition, which is the old way of doing business."
The process starts when a new participant gets involved. Those who dont have access to the project Website get a bar-coded cover sheet for faxes and an 800 number to send them to. The code identifies the senders role in the project and directs faxes accordingly. Queries, notes and sketches become electronic documents that can be automatically routed, annotated and addressed. Responses are returned through the senders fax machine.
"Its really helpful," says user Mirjan Sinoimeri, project manager on a ferry terminal project in New York City for Skanska USA. "We have some contractors not part of the group in e-Builder. The only way they have to communicate with us electronically is by faxing things in."