On September 22–26, 2019, Nvoicepay celebrated its second attendance at Viewpoint Collaborate in Portland, Oregon, as an official partner and sponsor. Several members of our sales, marketing, and product team attended—some of us as Viewpoint Collaborate veterans, having participated in the conference for many years. This provided us with a good perspective on the conference as an indicator of tech adoption in the construction industry.
In our customer panel, we heard from our VP of Product Strategy, Josh Cyphers, who gave a talk on "How the Role of the Construction Financial Manager is Changing."
Andy Holt at Viewpoint wrote an in-depth recap of every panel session.
Aside from the panels, the Nvoicepay team experienced the show from the vantage point of our booth, and the conversations we had with construction professionals there. Here’s our view from the show floor:
This conference has been steadily growing in size, with well over 2,000 attendees. That’s partly due to Trimble bringing together Viewpoint and eBuilder, both of which it acquired 2018. Even after combining the attendees of their respective conferences, however, it’s still growing overall.
The ecosystem is growing too, looking much like the kind of mature tech ecosystem found in any number of industry verticals. There are always new and innovative technologies, and it’s interesting to see how these get acquired and consolidated into bigger systems (or go by the wayside). This is great news for the construction industry, which has famously lagged in technology innovation and adoption.
Every year, the Vista ERP system does more, and is well on its way to achieving its vision as an end-to-end platform, connecting the field and the back office.
That means construction companies now have choices. They can go with the native platform and integration partners, whose services include telematics, estimating, drawings management, equipment management, data analytics, and, of course, payments, for a total workflow package. Or, if there’s a certain functionality they just can’t live without, they can cherry-pick best-in-breed cloud solutions to meet their specific needs.
Either way, building custom systems is no longer necessary. That’s not to say it isn’t still an option—we spoke with one company planning to bring in consultants to build their own custom ERP. For most companies, however, there are now many worthy possibilities available, which don’t require custom building and can be implemented quickly.
Security has always been a major element of Nvoicepay’s product and services, but that part of our talk track seemed to resonate more this year. We know that payment fraud overall is on the rise, particularly ACH fraud. Even the result of a live poll conducted during Josh’s talk showed that over 40 percent of respondents experienced fraud in the last year.
We also noticed that people are thinking more proactively about their company’s security procedures. Even if they haven’t been the victim of fraud, there’s more of a “when, not if” attitude. Whether that’s in response to a close call, or if they’re just embracing reality, we found ourselves fielding a lot more questions about security than we used to.
We were extremely busy at our booth—awareness and interest in automating payments are picking up. We also saw a broader audience than we have in the past. Usually, we talk to accounting and finance people, but this year we had a number of IT and procurement people visiting the booth. IT professionals wanted to kick the tires and talk security, but also see how easy it is to implement Nvoicepay. Answer: very easy; they barely need to be involved.
We also talked to one interesting organization that has already digitized procurement, which we haven’t seen a lot of in the construction industry. They’re looking for payment automation as the logical completion of a digital procure-to-pay workflow, which is a common technology play in many industries we serve.
All in all, there were many signs at Viewpoint Collaborate that the construction industry is finally on the road to widespread technology adoption. Of course, the audience was a bit skewed, because we mostly spoke to technology leaders—those who’ve already adopted Viewpoint solutions. But it squares with what we’re seeing in the rest of the industry.
Industry growth, a new generation of digital-native workers, cost and efficiency pressures, and the availability of technology—suited to the needs of the construction industry—are pushing the industry forward. We can’t help but agree with Viewpoint Chairman and CEO Manolis Kotzabasakis, who said in his keynote, “It’s a great time to be in construction."