Media brands such as Architectural Record and Engineering News-Record were once the center of McGraw-Hill Construction. But since Keith Fox became president in March 2010, the focus has moved toward the company's Dodge database and new business intelligence products. For full-year 2011 versus 2010, MHC saw a 32% increase in business from customers new to MHC or existing customers who added a new product or service. Additionally, the percentage of business that was digital increased from 67% to 73% in one year, Fox said.
The Dodge database includes 500,000 construction projects and 65,000 digitized plans compiled by a network of 400 reporters in 80 metropolitan areas across the U.S. Over the past year, Dodge has rolled out three new business intelligence products that reflect a new approach and mindset.
“We have transformed our business from what was historically a lead-generation business to an offering of customized business intelligence tools,” Fox said. “We've gone from telling our customers to figure out for themselves [how to use the data] to providing them with new, innovative digital dashboards that will figure it out for them.”
The first launch, in February 2011, was Dodge SpecShare Suite. This product enables building product manufacturers to identify sales and marketing opportunities by notifying them when their type of building product, their brand name or competitors' brands appear in the written text of a project's specifications.
This January, two new Dodge products were released—BidPro, for building contractors, and BuildShare, for architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) customers. BidPro enables contractors to set up alerts within 23 building trades, automatically letting them know of new projects that fit their specifications. BuildShare helps AEC companies uncover connections among active project owners and AEC businesses responsible for their projects. BuildShare gives users “the ability to target and win business where the opportunities are strongest,” Fox said.
The new offerings come at an additional cost over the Dodge Network subscription. “These new products are directly aligned to the customers' ability to grow revenue, so they're willing to pay the premium,” Fox said.
The products also open up new customer opportunities for MHC. “Our sweet spot has always been the large national and significant regional players,” Fox said. “Now we have products that can work for a regional contractor or building product manufacturer.”
Making these changes required some different staffing. “We hired analytics people for product development and IT, as well as new sales talent experienced in selling capabilities rather than data,” Fox said.
Kate Cassino, VP-product development at MHC, used focus groups, digital panels and face-to-face meetings to understand customer needs. After the recession hit, “their behavior became very different,” she said. “They wanted more analytics, more actionable intelligence and to have information pushed to them rather than to search for it.”
More Dodge products are on their way. “Our product pipeline is extremely full for 2012,” Fox said. “We have another significant launch for the third quarter of 2012, and there will be enhancements to these three products in the second and third quarters, as well.”