Real Estate & Construction Industry Disruption In Progress: WeWork x FieldLens

Construction Dive’s Hallie Busta reports on the recent acquisition of construction software startup FieldLens by commercial real estate startup WeWork.

Never heard of either? You may not be alone, if you have been working in the built environment for some time. Chances are, however, that you’ll be hearing a lot more about WeWork and their highly profitable, avant garde approach to co-working commercial office spaces. One just opened down the street from me, for example.

Basically, WeWork is leveraging the same concepts behind the “sharing economy” but just applying those concepts to the stodgy world of commercial real estate. Their growth is so significant, that their operations team is struggling to keep up with bringing new spaces online. Which is why the company purchased another startup company, known as FieldLens.

From the article:

So far, WeWork has 140 locations in 44 cities worldwide, and Fano noted in his blog post that the company is adding new locations at a rate of five to 10 per month. With its FieldLens buy, WeWork is giving its operations team a new management tool.

“Today, there is information loss at every stage of the building process as real estate, design, construction, and operations are provided by a large number of disparate providers,” Fano wrote. “This results in needless waste of materials, time, and capital at the end user’s expense.”

For its part, FieldLens has also been hot on the growth path, raising $8 million in Series A funding in 2014 with its mobile project management system. FieldLens is one of a number of construction technology startups that has earned the interest of investors for their ability to digitize an industry that’s long held onto its analog project management methods.

What’s the Point?

Right now, the entire industry surrounding the built environment is on the precipice of sweeping change that will permanently alter how work gets done in the future. Entirely new business models and methods of designing and constructing buildings are emerging.

FieldLens is one example of a class of software that only existed at the enterprise level at the beginning of this millennium. The design and construction process requires so much collaboration, that paper just cannot keep up — real-time updates are essential to keeping successful projects on track.

Companies like WeWork and FieldLens are the future. That doesn’t mean that another competitor won’t come along that is even more innovative.

But anyone working in design, construction and real estate who thinks that they can keep doing things the way they’ve been doing is in for a brutal wake-up call.

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Image courtesy FieldLens’ website