Bentley’s press release announcing the opening of registration for its BE Conference May 8-12 (isn’t April sort of late for that?) notes:
“BE Conference attendees come from AE firms, architecture firms, design-build firms, engineering consultants, facility owner-operators, departments of transportation, rail companies, site engineering firms, communications and utilities firms, federal government and defense contractors, local government, public works, plant engineering, procurement and construction contractors (EPCs), and plant owner-operators. They are also users of MicroStation, ProjectWise, and AutoPLANT, as well as ESRI, Land Desktop, and PDS users. “
The company is actively seeking users of competing products. The BE website page for Land Desktop users suggests that “For companies that have been dependent on Autodesk products in the past for their civil engineering work, the BE Conference provides a view into the very powerful alternative that Bentley offers.”
This indicates two things to me. First, Bentley is keenly aware that to grow its base it needs to draw from existing users of other technologies. Bentley’s “You Deserve Better” campaign, and previous efforts like it, were the first recognition of the nearly saturated state of market. Opening the doors to a user conference so broadly seems a bit unusual, at least in the GIS business. I was surprised to see a Bentley representative on the floor at Autodesk University last year, but perhaps I’m still mired in old stereotypes of competing vendors being removed from booths, meetings and conferences. Second, Bentley will be using the event to market to potential users in addition to educating and stroking existing users. It will be interesting to see how existing users react to the perhaps different mix of education and marketing.