I was curious about Synergis Software's first ever press event. Though I had known of Synergis for many years, they had kept a fairly low profile. Now Synergis was joining the ranks of companies -- usually big ones -- that have realized that a great way to generate editorial coverage is to fly in and sit down a bunch of editors. For the whole day (sometimes more), a company can have the undivided attention of editors in a way that cannot be accomplished from a WebEx meeting or a trade show floor. Editors, being a conscientious lot, will invariably turn that big chunk of time into ink (or pixels, as the case may be). Voila! Suddenly, there will be many articles sprout about the company or its product.
My curiosity piqued right away as Todd Cummings, Synergis Software's vice president of R&D addressed us with:
Is it madness to expect humanity, humility and service from a software company?
Had I stumbled into a New Age meeting in the very unlikely setting of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, once famous for its steel mills? As I checked for exits, president and CEO David Sharp followed up by revealing that he more or less works for his employees and may respond to their problems by asking how he might be failing them as their CEO. There is no politics or backstabbing at Synergis, he adds. Is Synergis run like a democracy? "That would be nice. If it was, I would at least have a vote," joked Sharp.
Synergis has gone as far as to institute what they call a "Red Flag" policy. Any employee can force one issue per quarter (called a Red Flag) which demands consideration at the highest level. This was instituted after a "couple of disasters" caused by good ideas being ignored.
But lest we forget, Synergis is a business, and by their own accounts, a successful one. Majority owned by Sharp himself, Synergis Technologies Inc. overall (Synergis Software is one of two independent divisions) raked in $17 million last year. From its start in 1985, it has enjoyed 21 straight years of profitability. Synergis employs 92 people, most of them near its Quakertown headquarters.
Synergis is comprised of two divisions. One is devoted to selling and supporting Autodesk applications. But the focus of this meeting was the software division, which employs about half of all Synergis employees and is responsible for the Adept enterprise product data management product. The software division's revenue has grown 70% over last year, we were told.
Was this a result of CAD users discovering a need for PDM? Or Synergis' increasing market share? Synergis did not know about its market share in the PDM market (does anyone?) but felt strongly that the demand for PDM is heating up. I wondered if that demand is spread among too many vendors? TenLinks lists over 80 PDM products in its directory (see TenLinks list). Among them are PDM products from CAD vendors that would seem to offer a guaranteed acceptance of the users' valuable CAD data. To make matters worse, some of these PDM products have been included with the CAD product and are sitting there on the shelf ready for use at no additional cost. Why would a CAD user pay more to use Adept?
Scott Lamond, VP of marketing and sales explains: If an Inventor or SolidWorks user is just managing their CAD files, Vault or PDMWorks may be sufficient. “But if you need to share engineering information with other departments like manufacturing or purchasing, or automate the engineering change or approval process or even collaborate across geographies, you’ll need Adept.”
- there are 27,000 Adept users
- 65% of users are in manufacturing, 16% AEC, the rest are users in process plant design, facilities and asset management, telecommunications and energy
- W. L. Gore (makers of Gortex), the US Coast Guard, SchuF, NASA, DirectTV and CBS are customers
- Adept takes 5 to 15 days to implement
- Adept includes Cimmetry's AutoVue solid model viewer
- Although SolidWorks supports multiple configurations Adept will only display a "thumbnail view" of the most current configuration. Synergis plans to remedy this in a future release. The current version does, however, show the relationship between these multiple configurations in a tree hierarchy
- PrintWave, a newly announced product that will allow batch printing and publishing from a print server, is being readied for shipment. It will sell for $6000 per print server location and only works with Adept
- Adept got its start in 1988 as software written to manage files for Scott Paper. A year later, it was used at M&M Mars. It became a shrink wrapped product soon thereafter.
- Adept's viewer can display "350-400" different formats
- Adept for MySQL costs $1300 per concurrent license with support and annual maintenance $325/yr per concurrent license. Adept MS SQL and Oracle versions start at $1400 a license.