Tuesday’s press release from Autodesk regarding its new relationship with Pitney Bowes Software (PBS, the new name as of January 1, 2012 for Pitney Bowes Business Insights) raised many questions. Joe Francica and I spoke with James Buckley, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Customer Data & Location Intelligence, Pitney Bowes Software and Rich Humphrey, Director of Civil Infrastructure in the AEC Division at Autodesk on Tuesday night to try to tease out some answers.
Humphrey outlined the relationship as taking advantage of the relative strength of each company across the Plan -> Design-> Build-> Manage lifecycle. While both companies have fingers across each step, Autodesk has particular strength in the middle (Design, Build) and PBS has strength on the ends (Plan, Manage). The idea is to work together to provide a deep and complete set of tools to organizations moving through those steps. With that broader perspective on projects, organizations can take on master planning and policy development. While there is overlap in some areas, Humphrey and Buckley agreed that there is synergy within that overlap. And, the bigger goal is to unlock the GIS and design data, enable analytics and make better decisions.
What sort of organizations will be ideal clients? The pair ticked off three for attention in the short term:
- road and highway transportation
- local government
- mining and natural resource management
If those sound a bit outside of PBS’ expertise, remember that the company has acquired traffic products (Paramics) and local government asset management tools (Confirm, currently not sold in the U.S.). I for one am not that familiar with these tools or their users. There is also a vision that horizontal tools like PBS geocoding and Geosk content management system will provide value across enterprises.
We found the first of the year announcement date interesting and asked, “Why now?” The answer revealed that no single event or client launched discussions of a relationship. Instead, the more conversations continued the more value each company could offer from its products to common clients. Further, Pitney Bowes is interested in growing via alliances and has some experience in this space. Buckley noted the company’s successful relationship in the retail banking space. In short, such relationships are not without precedent.
We asked about plan for integration of products and it’s likely that will be a longer term play. That said, the two companies have already bid on projects together, the fruits of which may be known in the first half of 2012.
We asked about how Autodesk sees GIS as part of its set of offerings. Humphrey made it clear the company had not backed off its investment in GIS, but rather repositioned it to better fit client needs. “GIS means,” he said, “unleashing GIS data and analytics to a broader set of clients,” which I understood to mean both within existing client organizations and in new ones.