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Sean Flaherty talks to Architosh: On BIM and Vectorworks in Asia

Sean Flaherty, CEO of Nemetschek Vectorworks Inc., recently spoke with Architosh about everything from BIM, to China to if the “Holy Grail” of modeling in architecture was achievable in BIM. In this first of several parts feature interview, Flaherty talks to Architosh about BIM and Vectorworks in Japan and China.

Background on Nemetschek Vectorworks, Inc.

Before we jump into the article and interview series, it serves all readers to understand where this US-based, globally strong CAD/BIM company is within the industry. Technically the Vectorworks software firm is one of three such architectural BIM software solutions owned by CAD giant Nemetschek AG of Germany, the parent company that owns ALLPLAN in Germany and Graphisoft’s ArchiCAD in Hungary.

Nemetschek Vectorworks’ customers are approximately 45 percent in Europe, 30 percent in the Americas and the balance in Asia–where they are strongest in Japan. The biggest single markets by nation for the popular cross-platform CAD tool are the United States, Japan and Germany–in that order.

01 - Nemetschek Vectorworks, Inc. is wholly owned by Nemetschek AG of Germany.

01 – Nemetschek Vectorworks, Inc. is wholly owned by Nemetschek AG of Germany.

In the discussion that is going to follow we are going to hit on multiple aspects of Vectorworks and the company behind it. This should interest both those interested in Building Information Modeling (BIM) and those interested in Vectorworks.

This is the first part in this interview series. In this article we tackle BIM and Vectorworks in Asia. In upcoming articles we will delve into BIM topics like the emergence of BIM collaboration servers, BIM modeling and many other facets of Vectorworks. So look for those articles soon.

BIM in Japan: How Far Behind — How Much Influence?

We start our discussion somewhere mid-stream where we were talking about just how technologically advanced Japan is compared to other parts of the world.

AFR (Anthony Frausto-Robledo): I’ve seen TV shows focused on how advanced their building industry is in terms of construction, but how do you see Japan in terms of BIM adoption? 

SF (Sean Flaherty): BIM in Japan is actually quite far behind–not just compared to northern Europe but also to the United States.

AFR: So is BIM furtherest ahead in northern Europe and then the United States? What about Germany? Is that included in northern Europe?

SF: Germany is another country that we associate as being very technologically advanced but when it comes to BIM it is a lot like Japan. BIM leads in northern European countries like Scandinavia and than the United States and United Kingdom.

AFR: But I know that Japan is one of your largest installed bases of customers. How does this lagging in BIM in Japan affect your software development for that market? Does this unique situation affect how the distributor steers the evolution of that product in that localized market? 

SF: It has in the past. But I would say that these days we are leading a bit because we are pushing BIM functionality into Japan. But I would also say that because we have about 30 percent of the total market share there (in Japan) that we listen and respect our customers and their workflows, which can be, and do, evolve differently than elsewhere. Particularly, because we have a lot of large customers there…we don’t want to disrupt their workflows too much.

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AFR: Yes, you have some very larger Japanese customers who are big construction companies. Can you talk about that…are they following the western BIM adoption model–it is really the giant builders who are leading the BIM charge there?

SF: Yes, absolutely. It’s pretty universal. That’s not to say that’s the only scale that has benefit with BIM. But I would say what is fairly universal is that the bigger the project the bigger the possible payoff for adopting BIM.

next page: Big Asia and Big BIM: What exactly is the size benefit?

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