Early e-business applications in the construction industry were built around focused and narrow processes such as oniine blue rooms and online project management and collaboration portals. It was estimated that US$2.5 billion has been spent in capital investments, in the United States only, by Application Service Providers creating project
management and collaboration portals alone.
Despite the large IT investments completed over the past years, the productivity for many Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) companies has been flat or has declined in the same period.
For the construction industry to reap the benefits of such investments, it must equally invest in improving its e-business infrastructure to support the cross-industry deployment and improve its benefit realization rates. Dramatic improvement in industry performance requires equally dramatic changes to business processes and management practices, and, more importantly, a strong infrastructure to support these changes.
e-Business infrastructure extends beyond the physical hardware and routers that support the network connections enabling e-business transactions. e-Business infrastructure is interdisciplinary in nature; it involves business process, trading models, network hardware and software infrastructure, software inter operability standards, Iegal standards, and more.
The ultimate value that the industry can derive from e-business will be reached when those disciplines and standards are aligned in an integrated construction e-business infrastructure. This chapter proposes a framework for the integrated construction e-business infrastructure.
It introduces the components of the integrated infrastructure and builds a case for the importance of coordinating the components with each other.