Whether you have realised it or not, technology is now running the fenestration sector. Social media plays a central role in almost every company. Email, chat apps and Teams/Zoom are the main ways we communicate with each other and with the public. Video is a rapidly growing part of the marketing landscape in this sector. Website development has become way better. These are the obvious things.

There is tech running the sector in less overt ways too. The software that runs the machinery. The tech which allows customers to order online and track their products. The tech that is allowing installers to keep on top of their work internally.

Technology and software have rightly taken their place at the centre of our sector. Finally. But with the acquisition of First Degree Systems last week, following on from another tech merger the year before, and the rapid development of new apps and software going to market right now, it’s clear there is a tech race underway. And that is a wonderful thing to see.

Healthy competition in fenestration

The idea of a tech race in fenestration would have been laughed at ten years ago. Our industry has been slow to embrace new ways of working. Only now, due to the pandemic, has the industry had to rapidly evolve and change the way we all work to allow us to keep working and remain functioning. It has been said that up to ten years worth of change has taken place in a matter of months.

Now the tech landscape of UK fenestration has changed dramatically. There is now a wide range of tech companies that operate in different parts of our sector, offering different solutions to different problems, and all seem to be performing very well right now.

There are the likes of Onsite 7, which is an installer-focused CRM type solution that allows installation companies to manage their workflows and workloads across their company from start to finish. It includes office and on-site staff and joins the entire sales process from initial call to remedial work for clients via an app and desktop software. I have been given the demo and we’re in the process of implementing it at our company as we speak. It’s intuitive, very easy to use and very affordable for the amount that it can do. Definitely worth a look.

Then you have pricing software solutions such as Pricepoint by MPlogic and Tommy Trinder. Both are proving popular right now with installers, which in a period where time is the most precious commodity, these pricing software packages are a godsend to companies looking to turn around quotes as quickly as possible for homeowners.

You also have companies like First Degree Systems, which is a tech company that provides solutions for companies up and down the supply chain, including installers and fabricators alike. It is their recent acquisition, along with the 2020 acquisition of The Consultancy by Business Micros, which I believe marks the start of a tech race in this sector.

Some of us have recognised for a while the importance software and tech was always going to play in this sector. We saw it coming years ago. Yet there has been an inherent lethargy when it came to this part of the market. This is no longer the case. There is clear competition between the different tech companies to bring out new offerings to help solve some of the biggest problems the sector has. They know that if they can be the first to solve that problem, there is major business to be won because of it, and in return, the industry is helped as well. The more tech companies there are, the more competition there is, which creates more solutions for the industry to take advantage of. It’s great to see it unfold and I am looking forward to a much more advanced and evolved industry in the coming years.

Outside interest

The tech space is one where everyone is watching what everyone else is doing. As our industry becomes more embedded with tech and software, and the tech companies grow along with it, there is going to be a lot of interest in our tech companies from bigger firms and businesses around the UK and indeed around the world.

For example, Compusoft, the business that has agreed to buy First Degree Systems, is a UK and Ireland based tech company that already had products in the Kitchen, Bathroom and Manufacturing Design sectors. They’re a company already involved in the home improvement market, just in different spaces to fenestration. Now they are buying First Degree Systems, they now have an immediate foot in the door in our sector, widening their overall market reach. This is the type of deal we can expect to happen more often as already established companies seek to expand their portfolio.

The current crop of tech companies in fenestration is of high quality. Business Micros, Onsite 7, The Consultancy, First Degree Systems, Tommy Trinder, Window CAD, Business Pilot UK and more are all doing very high-quality work. As they grow with the sector overall I can easily see a situation where larger tech companies start to see these and perhaps new startups in the years to come as acquisition targets. Or, perhaps the tech sector in fenestration starts to consolidate within itself and we see the formation of a tech super-group.

The opportunities here are endless. I am genuinely excited about the progress we are making in the tech space. We have some really forward-thinking, modern businesses creating incredible work and solutions to help the advancement of the fenestration sector. As the competitive race in our tech space continues, the software, the apps, the solutions are only going to get better in time. We could also see the rise of some quite significant businesses in terms of turnover and value.

Technology is our future. These companies are proving it.

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