As my flight back from the Bricsys Int'l conference is still barely over the Atlantic, I continue to plot a course to the top for CAD contenders.
“Autodesk is a $2B company. My data's safe. Every one uses their products. I won't get fired for recommending them. They are going to be around for awhile.”
(practially every CAD user under the sun)
An insurmountable problem? Maybe not. Safety in numbers may be compelling for users and daunting for vendors, but let us take a look at what it means to be big.
In reality, Big is in the eye of the beholder. Your CAD company only has to appear Big.
Allow me once again to use as an example the one company that has risen to market domination during Autodesk's reign. When SolidWorks arrived on the national scene, they gave every indication of being bigger than they were. Though the founders may have been minting CD's in their garages in their jeans months ago, sweating out an uncertain future, they showed up in the late 90's in suits at big booths at all the CAD trade shows. Glossy magazine ads furthered the impression of Big. They looked the part. Customers thought safety, confidence. Like the big bank on Main Street. You can trust Big. It’s not going anywhere. Your CAD data is safe. Yeah, their stuff did look easier than Pro/E. It was way cheaper. But anyone can do cheap. The company could not be dismissed as a small fly-by-night company. SolidWorks appeared big in all the ways it was perceived by potential customers.
Just as important as what they did was what they didn't do. SolidWorks did not build the big building on Main Street. Getting their name on a giant office building off the highway to stroke their egos, impress family and friends? They didn't give themselves huge salaries and buy expensive cars. A least not right away. The big campus was to come much later, after an acquisition by Dassault. They used their money judiciously, building the product, the channel... They looked down the road and realized that it was more important to look big to their potential customers... not their wives, their friends, their neighbors.
That was then. But who goes to trade shows today? And who reads magazines? What's a company to do?
Be Big on the Web…
Just as SolidWorks looked and found the real and meaningful ways to look big over 15 years ago, so must contenders. These days its all about the web. We are we are immersed in it. Yet, I still see contenders try to make a go of it with tired tradition. No CAD company has found a way to exploit the Web. We all Google for information. We read what our peers are saying on blogs. We Tweet during user meetings. I'm buying a camera so I'll read 3 or 4 reviews on the Web.
I'm not suggesting a web facade but a strong presence on the web. which is easier to establish that building a huge office on main street, or spending millions on tradeshow booths or on magazine ads. If SolidWorks was starting today, they would have found a way to look big on the Web.
Be Big on the Phone
Answer every call. Don't hide behind your web site. Give phone numbers and pick up the phone. Whether it be a customer, developer or reseller. And make it an American number, or at least employ good English speakers. Nothing smacks of cost-cutting like "Barry" in Bangalore who only is very good at memorizing the script and for little else besides providing a lost serial number
Bricsys can't be big right away. But Bricsys can act big. It is showing many steps in this direction. Having the Int'l Conferenece is, in of itself, a way of being Big. Big CAD companies have annual conferences. Little ones don't.
Certainly we press are impressed