McGraw Hill Construction's Dodge Global Network, a suite of information resources built on a database of current project leads and detailed project information, is completing transition of its subscribers to a new technology platform. The user interface coincides with the release of several new features. Early feedback indicates the system is now more useful and user-friendly.
The transformation is due to a shift from the old service model, in which project information was packaged and pushed to clients on request, to a user- managed pull of data, made possible by the embrace of big-data management and search tools and the use of cloud technology, says Isaac Sacolick, McGraw Hill Construction's CIO. Like Dodge, ENR is part of McGraw Hill Construction under the parent company, McGraw Hill Financial.
The changes to Dodge have enabled a suite of new offerings, which now include not only bid leads for contractors, but also a variety of market analysis tools tailored to the needs of both contractors and building product manufacturers. Contractors can analyze market trends by region and project type, based on current data and McGraw Hill forecasting, and building product manufacturers can see where, and by whom, their products are specified to find where sales might be improved.
"I think McGraw Hill is the front runner in terms of using this online and putting its database in a user-friendly format in the cloud and moving away from the spreadsheet," says Kenny Kwong, service strategy and market intelligence director for Balfour Beatty, U.S. "Compared to its competitors, McGraw Hill is ahead. But in terms of technology, it's about time," Kwong adds.
"When I first started seven years ago, we had a lot of subs who said they couldn't use it [Dodge]. It was too confusing and too complicated. Now, subs hardly ever say that," says Belinda Rhodes, estimating administrative assistant at general contractor Lemoine Co. LLC, Lafayette, La. She says she particularly appreciates that the invitations to bid she distributes via the network link to her company website, which attracts subs to explore and find additional work to bid, she says.
The network delivers services in a browser-agnostic, mobile-friendly HTML5 format. The services draw on the same trove of data. Subscriptions are tailored variously to deliver project information in specified geographic zones for small and large general contractors, small and large subcontractors, and building-product manufacturers.
The project data—plans, plan notations scanned from the plans, specifications and the state of project development—is gathered and updated by local reporters in more than 80 cities. But it is the processing of the data and its ingestion into a database optimized for unstructured data that enables the rapid, flexible delivery of information tailored for each subscriber's particular needs.
Two new features went live on Jan. 31. One allows subscribers in a specific geographic zone to buy, a la carte, information about a project outside of that zone. Another lets contractors select a project and then pull documents from the database directly into a service called Dodge DocuPro, which creates a workspace in the cloud for collaboration with subs and suppliers to assemble a bid.
Another offering for international project information uses a different information-gathering model: Dodge International subscribers follow the project developments of thousands of international design firms, including 70% of ENR's Top 500 Design Firms. The data on emerging projects is used to generate leads for work in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, India, Latin America and elsewhere. "We are starting to do similar things with [Dodge International] by aggregating the data into structured project details," explains Cherie Hernandez, senior director of product development.