June 29, 2009
Intergraph User Conference 2009 Report
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Susan Smith, Managing Editor
Intergraph User Conference 2009 Report
By Susan Smith
Intergraph held its annual user conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Washington D.C. June 14-18th. Attendance was notably down as for all events this year, but conference organizers were cheered by the 1,500 or so who did make it. The event was elegantly presented; care taken with food and presentations, but there were no unnecessary extras.
The global economy was an understandable topic of chairman, president and CEO Halsey Wise’s keynote at Intergraph 2009, entitled “Powering the Future.” 2009 also marks the 40th year anniversary of Intergraph. The U.S. economy has gone “from boom to bust” according to Wise, and he asked, “what will bring organizations back up to boom again?”
Everyone has opinions on what might turn things around, but as so many people try to understand what caused it in the first place, it’s very difficult to know what could cause it to change for the better. Last year at the 2008 conference held in Las Vegas at Caesar’s Palace, no one could have predicted how dramatically the global economy would be affected. Wise cited these stock market statistics: as of June 1st 2009 the Dow Jones was 30 % down, NASDAQ down 26%, and the VIX index down almost 46%. He said that looking around we can all see the changes: the rate at which banks lend money to each other has changed, oil prices, 30 –year mortgage rates have changed and
unemployment has risen in the U.S. He said that there were empty seats on airline flights, but I traveled on a full flight on the way to DC.
Wise counts Intergraph’s durable customer relationships as a factor in keeping the company strong. He said the company would rely on their core values and innovation, which would allow them to weather such variables as economic cycles, technology cycles and customer needs.
Times of economic stress open up some of the best economic opportunities, according to Wise, citing a person who in 1928,during the height of the Great Depression, decided that sliced bread would be a good way to not waste bread.
In 1920, neoprene and nylon were invented to solve the problem of tires on automobiles wearing out too fast.
7 keys to innovation at Intergraph:
Wise said that Intergraph is a leader in many areas such as video mosaicking. The company derives 22% of its revenue from new products, and is “betting a lot” on their new data centric strategy. The company has $240 million in cash at this time. The “now, next and after next” strategy announced in 2003 is continuing to evolve at Intergraph.
Intergraph is opening new R&D centers, and looking at new technologies that will fit into their technology stack. Wise said later that their goal is to reach $1 billion by 2012, a completely organic goal; any acquisitions will be on top of that.
Reid French, chief operating officer, spoke on the topic, “Software and the New Normal,” focusing on the role software and technology can play in the volatility and cost pressure today.
He said that Intergraph’s goal was to deliver software that will allow you to deal with this new normal.
“Just about every important economic metric has shifted dramatically,” said French. “The speed of how this has happened is astonishing.” Prior to September 6, 2008, there were only 35 days in which the stock market had risen or fallen more than 4% in a single trading session. He said, we have had more volatility in the past nine months than in 60 years.
He explained that the VIX index measures applied volatility. At the moment, volatility is high. “What impact will high volatility have on our organizations?” he asked. He said that only the fittest organizations will survive, meaning that they need to have great flexibility and cost structure, and can operate in real time.
French said that in this “new normal,” software can enable organizations to make them more efficient and adaptable.
Award winning journalist Tom Brokaw spoke of his experiences as a journalist covering news around the world. He spoke about the generation emerging from the depression, who were asked to go across the oceans and engage in war. “When people did learn to take measure of their lives every day, their maturity was accelerated because of the decisions they had to make,” he said. “The secret to our immigrant nation is that we’re at our best when faced with our greatest challenges.”
To read about the Intergraph awards, read the
Process, Power , Marine
In a press conference, Wise talked about how users of the SmartPlant Foundation, Intergraph’s key data management toolset, had changed. Five years ago, 90% were EPCs, with 10% in Owner Operator space. Now 1/3 of users are in the Owner Operator space. What is appealing is the data hand-off in the operational phase is made easier by using Intergraph tools.
“In a down market, we are training more people in SmartPlant 3D than before,” said Wise. “How much of our activity increase in the product is due to a down market? They have time now, in a rising economy. We are training people at light speed. Training budgets have not been cut. Most of the people have decided engineers are in short supply. EPCs are keeping them on ice and giving them other initiatives to work on, such as training.”
Wise added that Intergraph’s training is classroom based, and their web based training has done very well, and is offered for all Intergraph products.
Executive vice president, Global Development Development, Process, Power & Marine, Patrick Holcomb talked about the SmartPlant 3D products have become mature and Intergraph has seen good industry uptakes of the technology. They have over 250 clients
And over 7,000 licenses.
“Obviously we had a setback with the global economy turning on us, and what that did is stalled a bunch of new projects,” said Holcomb. “Typically what most of the engineers do is wait for a new project to launch, in fact they wait for new projects even to upgrade. Most of them have internal rules they simply won’t do anything but critical hot fixes during a project.”
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-- Susan Smith, AECCafe.com Managing Editor.
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