Real Estate Software expert and Lucernex President Joe Valeri (see Joe’s management summary here) provides a start to the conversation.
The term “Integrated Workplace Management Systems” or “IWMS” was coined by Michael Bell formerly of The Gartner Group. This new term was then used as the basis for producing an IWMS market assessment including a Gartner Magic Quadrant. This type of assessment is commonly produced by Gartner to compare technology vendors in many industries. Without a common term, in this case IWMS, there would have been no way to ‘lump’ a bunch of vendors together into a comparison document. In reality, at the time the term was coined, the vendors thrown into the IWMS bucket were very dissimilar and often addressed very different markets. Since then, however, using the IWMS blueprint provided in the IWMS market analysis containing the Magic Quadrant, the vendors have actually enhanced their products, changed messaging and in some cases merged to better fit the image of “IWMS”. While features of the vendors have grown more similar, they remain different in some very important ways, most notably their expertise in specific customer bases and specific functionality that addresses that base.
I for one, have worked for two real estate software vendors and competed in the IWMS market since long before the term was coined, having co-founded Lucernex in 2000, then taken over as CTO and head of product management at Accruent in 2003 then returned to Lucernex to become President. I have seen most of the vendors products, have talked to any number of people who have worked for the different vendors and seen marketing and Blogs from many vendors. Most seem to be trying very hard to fit the mold of “IWMS” when really we should be distinguishing ourselves based on our unique knowledge and features. Lucernex, for example is a Retail specific IWMS or is better described as a Store Lifecycle Management (SLM) solution.
If you look at the key vendors in the space in addition to Lucernex you will find Accruent, Tririga, Manhattan, Siterra, Planon, amtdirect, Bricsnet, Qube, BIG, FM Systems and many more. What’s most interesting is that there are enormous differences between these vendors both in their background and expertise and in the functionality that they deliver, yet we are all “IWMS” vendors to Gartner. For example, Lucernex leadership came from retail, hospitality and corporate technology. Our products reflect that as we are very strong in site selection, lease analysis, transaction management, construction project management, lease administration, rent accounting and capital project management. Our knowledge of prototypical development design, planning and management as well as lease administration and rent accounting is second to none among “IWMS” vendors. If you look at each of the other vendors you will find a variety of other specialties as well.
The easiest way to assess what an IWMS vendor is best at is to look at the background of the leadership. If all executives of an IWMS firm come out of construction management, you can bet their construction project management features are really good. If their leadership came from real estate brokerage, their site selection and lease management features are likely their best functions. Strong facilities management is likely to come from someone with a background in corporate or campus property management. No one vendor is best at everything and, no matter what any vendor says, no one is best to fit every customer.
My hope is the market will begin to segment and become redefined by what is really needed by the different end user communities. After all, what is needed by a 200 store retailer is not the same as what is needed by a University with 2 campuses, or a corporation with 5 locations, or a government agency with 300 global locations, or a restaurant chain with 20,000 locations worldwide, or a cell phone company with thousands of towers and hundreds of stores. I look to organizations like IWMSNews and FacilityLeadership to begin to dissect the market instead of simply picking up where Gartner left off.
Some vendors have already begun to move away from the pure IWMS moniker. At Lucernex, for example, we now consider ourselves a Store Lifecycle Management (SLM) vendor and don’t use the IWMS tag for our solutions any longer. Qube software and amtdirect don’t use the IWMS name at all and Accruent has begun to use Enterprise Location Management or ELM to describe their solutions (though this may change due to the recent purchase of Accruent by a Private Equity firm).
We need new thought leaders whose agenda is not to lump us all together to be able to write a single report trying to compare us all against a single set of requirements. Instead, identify the needs of the different end user communities, see what features and functions are most important to them and how they need them delivered and compare the vendors to those requirements. What I believe we would find is there are several strong vendors in the market that are the best at serving one or two groups of user communities which would make it easier for buyers to know what is available to them and which vendors to compare.
I welcome additional opinions from customers and other vendors.
Go to our Lx Retail product page to find out more about the Lx Retail Store Lifecycle Management (Retail IWMS).