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Delivering functionality at a fraction of the cost

Carol Bartz is the Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of Autodesk, Inc., the supplier of design software and PC software companies in the world. Carol Bartz
Carol Bartz
president and CEO of Autodesk

Carol Bartz is the Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of Autodesk, Inc., the supplier of design software and PC software companies in the world. Bartz previously held positions at Sun Microsystems, 11 years ago serving as vice president of worldwide field operations and an executive officer of the company. Appointed to President Bush’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, Bartz is one of a select group of industry leaders expected to play a key role in shaping and setting the government’s high tech agenda. She also serves on the Board of Directors of BEA Systems, Cisco Systems, Network Appliance, and the Foundation for the National Medals of Science and Technology.

In her recent visit to India she talked to GIS Development in an exclusive interview where she shared some of her thoughts about the prospects and future of the geospatial industry in general.

In view of the worldwide economic sloth and continuous decline in growth rates in the recent decades, how do you observe the performance and potential of the Geospatial Market today?
Rather than a slowing down, we see demand for Autodesk’s geospatial solutions increasing. Rising IT costs, more complex data management processes, and the need for accurate geospatial data are all fueling this demand. Increasingly, companies are recognizing the need for and value of sharing geospatial data with various departments throughout an organization, but many data management solutions take months, if not years, to implement. Most companies need to solve these problems now.

Autodesk provides integrated CAD and GIS solutions that quickly streamline complex processes and simplify the sharing of data associated with these processes. Autodesk’s solutions are specifically designed for fast implementation. We make our products as easy to use as possible, so user adoption is rapid. We’re also aware of the importance of ongoing business processes – you can’t stop a business to install software – and with Autodesk solutions, there’s minimal disruption to legacy data and processes. For these reasons, customers continue to buy our products.

How would you comment on the potential and threats of Asia and Pacific region as a market for spatial products, services and tools in comparison to other parts of the world? Is there any specific strategy direction to deal with the diversity and unexpectedness of this region?
Autodesk is a global company, and we’ve doing business in these regions for many years. Early on, to ensure that our products addressed the unique needs of these markets, we established local development teams market. Our products are not translations of American tools. We design and build our geospatial and civil engineering software products specifically for use in Asia. They are Asian tools using Asian standards for GIS and engineering, and they are built in Asia.

We’re tapping into the phenomenal talent and knowledge base there, and we’re taking advantage of it, to fuel the innovation of our next generation software. We recognize that the threat of competition is real, so we continue to pay close attention to local markets. This approach is working for Autodesk.

The Middle East region is also fast proving to be a prime area of rapid growth in infrastructure, knowledge economy and verticals of geospatial applications. How would you comment on the region and your plans for it?
Our geospatial and civil engineering software team is currently working with the transportation ministry in a large Middle Eastern country. Following the same strategy that has been successful for Autodesk in other regions, we are making sure that we fully understand the market needs, culture, changes and growth taking place there. We expect that our investment in the Middle East will increase in the future, and that we’ll be well positioned to address this emerging market.

Autodesk, one of the world’s largest design software companies, has morphed into a digital content company. In later part of 2004, it announced the launch of a GIS based complete, open solutions for Local Government and Public Works Agencies. What according to you are the advantages and limitations of the geospatial (GIS) sector over CAD/CAM?
CAD and GIS software have historically been used to design and manage the same spatial infrastructure and perform many similar functions. Historically, CAD tools were better at manipulating features, editing data, and maintaining engineering precision throughout a project. Traditionally, GIS technology was best for managing large spatial databases, performing analysis, and creating cartographic presentations.

Today the boundaries are blurring. Our product Autodesk Map 3D contains the power of both CAD and GIS in a single product. In fact, the GIS Manager for a large city water district recently told us that he never would have believed he would be using, quote “CAD tools” to manage his GIS database, but that is exactly what they are doing. In truth, Autodesk Map 3D acts as a bridge between both these worlds

Most of the developing nations generally have rural development, infrastructure development and defense issues as one the few prime areas of focus. How Autodesk with its line of products and services aims at addressing these issues.
Autodesk has served the needs of rural, infrastructure, and defense development since its founding in 1982. In the beginning, development partners extended AutoCAD with vertical applications to address these needs. Later, Autodesk extended AutoCAD with Autodesk Map 3D, Autodesk Civil 3D, and Autodesk Consulting, creating extensible solutions that directly supported these needs. Today, development partners are extending Autodesk Map 3D, Autodesk Civil 3D, and Autodesk MapGuide to create purpose built solutions for government and infrastructure management firms.

In view of the growing demand, the aware market the existing players and rising number of choices for the end users, what is Autodesk’s USP (unique selling point) to give edge to its products over others? Any latest technological updates you would like to share?
Autodesk’s unique selling point is the high and very rapid return on investment we provide to our customers. By providing CAD and GIS functionality in a single offering, we deliver a great deal of functionality to our customers, at a fraction of the cost of other solutions. Our geospatial solutions lower the total cost of ownership by leveraging existing geospatial data and integrating directly with the most popular relational databases. Our new model based technology in Autodesk Civil 3D is transforming the civil engineering industry by creating order of magnitude time savings in the design development and documentation process. Finally, Autodesk MapGuide’s fast implementation and ease of extensibility provides unmatched geospatial web publishing solutions for government, utilities, and communications organizations.

What are your plans for India in specific, in terms of services, products, education, research or development?
Autodesk has been serving the Indian market for two decades. We provide our complete range of geospatial solutions – Autodesk Map 3D, Autodesk Civil 3D, Autodesk MapGuide, Autodesk Buzzsaw, Autodesk DWF Composer, Autodesk Raster Design, Autodesk Geospatial Design Server, and Autodesk Consulting Services. India is an important market for Autodesk. We work closely with Indian educational institutes to develop courses for GIS, mapping, and civil engineering. And, as I’ve already noted, we conduct software development in India and support local Indian software development firms that extend Autodesk solutions to incorporate local requirements.

Geospatial information and technology has traditionally been viewed as something exclusively for hardcore professionals and laboratories. However, in last few years, use of GIS and related tools is expanding with governments across Asia embracing these technologies and massive investment is being made in infrastructure and utilities. Where do you see the recognition of spatial industry heading? What might be the key application areas of the future?
Autodesk products are being used every day by thousands of non-IT professionals. Geospatial solutions are moving out of their traditional roots in the CAD and GIS departments and across the entire enterprise. Geo-coding customer databases, automatic vehicle location systems for fleet management, infrastructure asset management and tracking solutions, and emergency response solutions are all examples of modern geospatial solutions built on Autodesk solutions and technologies. Key applications areas where we see future growth are the non-CAD and non-GIS departments that leverage geospatial information to provide new business and life saving benefits for governments, utilities and communications firms.