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Monday, February 12, 2007

The shortened Q and A for the press after serveral hours of presentations was cut short since we were running late. But some were interesting. I’m paraphrasing both Qs an As.

Q: What’s up with dealers only being able to sell in one vertical? They can’t serve customers who need more!
A: Yes, expect to see us broadening what they can sell across our internal divisions.

Q: Will you price products such that they are more affordable in developing countries?
A: We already do. In fact, now we are getting complaints that folks in the UK can’t compete in India because of software costs.

Q: What’s the value proposition for geospatial at Autodesk?
A: We focus on public works/telco/utils an unlike others do geospatial analysis during design.
We make integration easier. We want to capture “volumization” that is, the things that are done the same across the world (water runs downhill everywhere). Others don’t do that.

Q: Autodesk is big on Building Information Management (BIM) but not on Product Lifecycle Management. Why?
A: PLM is really a marketing answer for the three companies that do PLM (they are all mechanical companies most of us in GIS won’t know) to serve the fininacial community, aka investors. We’ve yet to see a company that needs PLM! When consulting is 90% of a job and software 10% one of two things is going on:
(1) the softawre is no good
(2) the client is trying to do something that won’t work

Disclosure: Autodesk covered travel, lodging, food for me to attend World Press Day. I also received corporate gifts.

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/12 at 08:39 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Folks going to the ESRI User Conference are now prepped to see cool hardware after the “Touch Table” appeared one year and the “Terrain Table” another. I believe today was the first time I saw hardware showed off that way on an Autodesk stage. Being the press we didn’t ooh and ah, but the two offerings do warrant at least a “cool” from me.

One was simply a large touch screen mounted on the wall. With familiar gestures an Autoesk “fellow” zoomed in and turned a 3D model. It was sort of the touch table, but on a wall.  Autodesk apparently has made that tool available to a few clients and is looking for partners to build it. (We first got a “we’ve not made it available” from CEO Carl Bass, then got a “no, clients have it” from CTO Jeff Kawalski. Get the story straight, guys!)

More interesting to me was the “Boom Cam” in-house only toy. Imagine a flat screen monitor hung on a boom so you can move it where you like. Now consider it your window to look at a 3D model. Move the boom low to look at the wheels of the car. Come up to see the door. A control even opened the door so you could navigate inside the car. The idea there, said Carl Bass, is to make using any software that intuitive.

Disclosure: Autodesk covered travel, lodging, food for me to attend World Press Day. I also received corporate gifts.

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/12 at 08:28 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

After five hours of Autodesk Press Day I returned to the hotel to blog. I read this PR, posted on our website:

Geospatial Applications Feature in Expanded AutoCAD Technology Portfolio
. The release begins:

At its World Press Day event, Autodesk, Inc. (Nasdaq: ADSK) today showcased enhancements to its AutoCAD Map 3D 2008 and AutoCAD Raster Design 2008 geospatial software products…

There’s a problem: Autodesk didn’t showcase anything of the kind! I and some hundred plus other press folks heard VPs talk, saw some customers show off their work and learned nothing about new geospatial products. We also learned nothing about AutoCAD 2008, which is highlighted in this release.  Those products and others were said to be “introduced” at the event. That, we were assured would be tomorrow.

But, Autodesk got one right. The PR titled CEO Outlines Strategic Direction at Worldwide Media Event did reflect what we saw and heard.

Disclosure: Autodesk covered travel, lodging, food for me to attend World Press Day. I also received corporate gifts.

 

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/12 at 08:15 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Amar Hanspal, who is now VP of PGP (platform, geospaital and plant) at Autodesk gave geospatial it’s 10 minutes during the main stage presentation at World Press Day. His talk made me feel like it was 1995. That’s just about when both Autodesk and Bentley were trying to position their new CAD-based GIS offerings. Here’s what he said.

Autodesk Geospatial Solutions (Intergraph’s old name for that group for those who remember back that far) is about “GIS with an engineer’s eye.” It’s about the need for precision in GIS. He said “precision” a lot. Engineering GIS (recall Bentley’s geoengineering?), he noted, focusses on specific segments: public works, communications and utilities. (Again, sounds like Intergraph.) The group’s goal is to make GIS “affordable, accessible and digetstable” for small/medium engineering firms (SMEs).

He used the “GIS is too expensive” line, citing how competitors’ systems cost tens of thousands of dollars to get the first map while Autodesk can do it for no more than $7,000. It’s 2007; has anyone looked at competitors offerings?

What distinguishes Autodesk’s geospatial offerings? He listed:

1. AutoCAD - most vector data is made with AutoCAD because it has the best editing and cleanup tools
2. CAD + GIS = Engineering GIS
3. open standards - “We created the first Internet vector GIS” in 1995. (I believe he means MapGuide. Autodesk bought that technology. It was called Argus.) And, in 2005 turned MapGuide and feature data objects (FDOs) open source. (It’s too bad that remark was under a bullet labelled “open standards.”

Hanspal touted a big win in a North American city worth $8.5 million over SAP, Intergraph and “of course” Intergraph. “Customers are voting with their wallets” he noted.

He wrapped up with GIS growth stats (no source, no indication if the numbers are dollars, marketshare or what; I’ve asked my press contact to answer that question):
Autodesk 24%
MapInfo   15.4%
ESRI       2%
Intergraph -0.3%

Tomorrow we get the technical briefing which will hopefully sound more like 2007.

Disclosure: Autodesk covered travel, lodging, food for me to attend World Press Day. I also received corporate gifts.

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/12 at 07:49 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

I fell into this by accident when another press person in conversation before the opening presentation at Autodesk World Press Day here in San Francisco congratulated Chris Bradshaw. I noted my confusion and learned:

Chris Bradshaw, until Jan 31 the VP of Infrastructure Solutions Division, is now the Chief Marketing Officer. His lead spot in geo is now owned by Lisa Campbell. She’ll oversee both products and marketing for a group now called geospatial, which is in turn part of PGP: Platforms, Geospatial and Plant. That’s headed by Amar Hanspal.

The civil part of ISD is no longer with and GIS; it’s integrated with Architecture, Engineering and Construction.

Brashaw noted that geospatial revenues hit $100,000 last year. Revenues have nearly doubled in the last four years.

There’s a new government sales director at Autodesk and since 60% of his sales are from geospatial, that’s key to our space. There’s also a sort of pilot program where sales staff from Autodesk and Oracle are tackling mutual prospects. Most of these are in state/local not federal space. Oracle already does well in federal; it’s looking or new or “switch” accounts from SQLServer.

Disclosure: Autodesk covered travel, lodging, food for me to attend World Press Day. I also received corporate gifts.

by Adena Schutzberg on 02/12 at 07:43 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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