ARTBA member B2W Software and its flagship estimating solution are celebrating their 25th anniversaries in 2018. The firm now has customers in all 50 U.S. states, each Canadian province, and several other countries. In 2018, the company expanded its sales and support team by 30 percent, and also doubled the size of its Atlanta-area sales and service facility. This Q & A with B2W founder and CEO Paul McKeon was conducted via email.
ARTBA: B2W Software got its start with the first-ever software application designed specifically for estimating heavy highway paving work. What has surprised you about its development over the past 25 years?
McKEON: We could not have predicted the specific advances in enabling technologies over two-plus decades – from DOS to Windows to browser interfaces, and in database and processing capacity. What has remained the same is that, the premise of our original idea – using the best software technology to optimize the speed, accuracy and analytical aspects of the estimating process – still guides the constant evolution of B2W Estimate today. We typically release three updates every year so that we can incorporate the latest technology, as it becomes available, and address emerging requirements of our clients.
ARTBA: What other developments or trends in transportation construction software are the focus of your attention today?
McKEON: We’re focused on something contractors are demanding, and that is a more cohesive approach to software; one that allows them to collaborate across workflows and manage a single, definitive source of real-time operational data. Over the last five or 10 years, many contractors have deployed a collection of disparate software applications for tracking performance or labor, dispatching resources, maintaining equipment and managing other operational workflows. But these workflows are interconnected. Contractors are finding out that it is very difficult to get these solutions to talk to each other. They are also discovering that managing data on employees, jobs and equipment in multiple places and trying to keep everything in sync is extremely inefficient. This disjointed approach opens the door for errors and lag time and it makes it very difficult to generate reports. This is why we’ve developed our ONE platform. Data from B2W Estimate flows seamlessly to operational elements of the platform. These specialized B2W elements for resource scheduling and dispatching, field tracking, equipment maintenance and data capture and analysis then pull operational data from a single database and they update that same data in real time.
ARTBA: What’s your vision of where B2W and the transportation construction industry will be in another 25 years?
McKEON: I believe the operational aspects of transportation construction will become more data-driven. This will not take 25 years. We are seeing it already, and technology and necessity will increase the pace rapidly. Immediate, detailed data is available from an expanding array of sources, from software to sensory devices. Contractors are now focused on aggregating and analyzing that information in a fast, easy and automated manner. The contractors that can turn their data into actionable intelligence, not only for business decisions in the office, but also to supplement the experience and skill of the people making operational decisions in the field every day, are going to gain a real competitive advantage.
ARTBA: Your thoughts on transportation construction investment at the federal level, especially the Highway Trust Fund revenue gap and the 2020 expiration of the FAST Act?
McKEON: With transportation as well as other infrastructure in North America, we don’t have the luxury of investing if and when we can find the money. We have to repair existing infrastructure and build new projects to support public safety and a competitive economy. There appears to be growing bi-partisan support for increased infrastructure funding, and we are optimistic that we could see progress on that front in the coming year. Public-private partnerships also hold some promise. Software also has a role to play in addressing the infrastructure funding gap. Contractors that deploy a platform like ours can gain the process efficiency, real-time visibility, and access to data that essentially allow them to do more with less.