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[AF-R] Can you discuss the leadership transition a bit? Will Richard maintain some role in the company?

[Sean Flaherty] Richard is going to remain as chairman, head of the outside board. That will keep a high level of corporate continuity going through the transition. I'm not sure if you know this but I've been around the company nearly as long as Rich. I joined Rich within the first six months of the company's founding. In fact, we are celebrating our 20th anniversary of the company this June 6th.

Since the corporate buyout from Nemetschek AG, Rich has been grooming me for this position. I've been doing most of the product strategy for the past 10 years. When AG bought us it really forced us to take a good hard look at what kind of company we were and what our customers wanted. That's where the four key abilities of Nemetschek North America came from.

The four key abilities?

We spoke about these during the VectorWorks 11 unveiling event. The four key abilities are: Usability, Affordability, Adaptability, and Availability. We see Usability as our key strength over our rivals. People find VectorWorks very easy to learn and use.

When we talk to our architect customers in particular they always tell they bought too much technology over the years and that they can't use it all -- that they never figured out how to do this or that with so much of the technology they purchased. For us, we deliver things they can figure out...and more and more of what we are doing is going back to what people actually want to do but haven't been able to do because they couldn't figure it out. Everyone always says their technology is easy to do but it's mostly marketing mantra.

What does "Availability" mean in the four key abilities?

Availability is key also, it means people have flexibility and choice with their hardware platforms...and their languages. VectorWorks is widely used globally because it is available in so many languages.

I'm not sure if people realize this but most VectorWorks use is nearly evenly split between three global regions: North America, Europe and Asia/Australia. And Australia and New Zealand have recently really started growing for us.

Is China becoming a growth market for you?

We are very interested in China. As you know the world economy is quickly changing. You have very inexpensive growing markets in places like China and Russia, and more customers are working on large projects using teams in locations around the world. So the language support is key for us and so is the language support in emerging markets. Maybe the documents stay in English or German but teams in Russia or China want to be able to market up the documents in their native languages.

We keep hearing about outsourcing in the US in the high technology sectors. Do you see evidence of this type of outsourcing happening in the CAD-based industries?

It's happening now. It's happening in China and Russia and it's happening with remote or regional offices or subsidiaries. It is cheaper for companies to set up in these regions where salaries are vastly lower than in the developed markets like the US and Europe. We have customers in Germany who are telling us about their needs for working with [CAD] draftsmen in China and Russia.

In a changing global economy, language support and the basics of collaboration are more important than many of the promises in BIM (building information modeling). A lot of our customers are just looking for low tech collaboration. They want good PDF support with markup abilities.

I can see the obvious economic benefits companies have when they embrace global markets this way, but how is the BIM part of the equation fitting into this global picture?


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