Richard Smedley-Williams is the sales director at Autodesk. Smedley-Williams has been in the Autodesk industry for 10 years. His work is centered on building Autodesk channels and equipping the channels to have the right skills, capacity and capability to assist customers. He spoke with funmi ilesanmi.
We started the first design symposium last year and we started it to support our objectives of creating awareness in the market around the new tools that are available. Last year we focused mostly on most of the AutoCAD products and this year we want to take a upper notch from the presentation perspective and show customers the more intricate, more specialized but very interesting design tools. The objective of this symposium is to bring customers together to showcase to them the most innovative design tools so that we can help the Nigerian market become more competitive.
Interest in the Nigerian Market
All the infrastructure are here; oil and gas, architecture. When you drive from the airport to Victoria Island, you see different projects here and there. The population is huge; the Nigerian market is very innovative and very tech savvy. The Nigerian market is probably one of the most technologically savvy markets in West Africa so we feel that it is an obvious choice to work here coupled with the strong professional bodies here like the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) is why we think Nigeria is so attractive.
We would like to eradicate software piracy in a positive way so we would like to accelerate awareness around the benefits of using legal software. If you considered the price - value balance, customers do not complain about a BMW being expensive. We have reached the right point in our pricing strategy and now we want to make customers aware of why it is better to use legal software. We have a relationship with the NCC which is at the early stage. We have not formalized a programme with them yet but we would like to keep it as positive and as meaningful as possible.
Amnesty Period Given to Users
Our experiences in other parts of the continent plus the believe that with an amnesty period, you are giving customers a period of time when there is a lot of education, a lot of discussions, a lot of events, all happening about the same time to give the market a time and give customers a time to get legal software. If we feel that customers are receptive to the positive approach, we might consider a clampdown but we prefer to take the awareness approach rather than clamping down on illegal users.
Extension of Amnesty Period
We feel that people want to use genuine technology and we want to make sure they know where to get it from.
Causes of Software Piracy
I think customers do not know where to buy original software and they do not know what illegal software looks like. I maintain that if a customer does not know where to buy software from, they do not know why they should value it, they have an assumption of how much they think it costs so it is a very holistic school of thought.
It is consistent, coordinated approach to modeling the building in 3D to experience their project before it is built. The benefit of that is because you can design your building, you can visualize your building when it s not yet built. Visualization is such a powerful tool. It allows you to simulate. For example, if you have a building with too much glass it is going to have a lot of heat during the day but less heat at night so it allows you to visualize, to simulate and in doing so you can coordinate the building with the architect, with the mechanical engineer and the team in planning heating and ventilation
The benefit of that is to pull everyone together earlier so that you can to build better designs in a short dramatic time.
BSA Report on Piracy in Nigeria
The BSA is the Business Software Alliance which has come together to eradicate illegal use of licenses around the globe and conducts studies all over the world. The BSA is a professional governing body and the most recent software piracy report from BSA which I think was in 2008 indicates software piracy to be at about 80 per cent for Nigeria. How they come to that was through lots of research but it is not about design, it is about software piracy overall. It includes all kinds of software.
Advantages of Using Genuine Software
The first one from a customer perspective is that you can stay on the current version of software. When there is a new release, you get that automatically because it is a part of your subscription. The next is with specific regard to direct support. Then there is increased productivity that you can achieve, there is no loss to your reputation because professionals want to work with professionals and that is part of the third line of the campaign which is to change efficiency. The possibilities are numerous but pirated software tends to crash. Using genuine software is a proactive way of guarding your intellectual property.
We have run quite a comprehensive programme with the design symposium, we have got newsletters we send to our customers and in the news letter we include stories on how to check tricks. There is an electronic mail to customers plus the design competition we are doing with the Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE) and then there is the newspaper advertisement. We have also distributed thousands of posters. Predominantly, awareness has been through the channel partners, keeping them up to date and informed of what is going on. They in turn inform their customers. It means they have one-on –one discussions with their customers.
We have got the broadest and deepest products available. We have products from 2D designs to very high end, to industrial application design. We launched the consumer application design not too long ago. We have over 60 million downloads of consumer application. In the consumer application environment, we have sketching tools. What we found is that a mechanical toy application that even 10 year old boys love and we are finding that changing across the markets dramatically and many people want to make use of designs. And that is available on the App store and it cost few dollars to get those software applications.
Economic Benefit of Using Original Software
I strongly believe that if you look at all the countries that are strong with architecture, engineering, construction and leading the way, for Nigeria to lead the way, you need all those things.
I think Nigeria has come a very long way and it is wonderful. There are buildings going up, refurbishment of buildings so Nigeria has a lot to gain from using genuine software because it will make the country more profitable and more competitive and if you are more competitive, you can be more innovative and if you are more innovative, you can create anything and make the work environment conducive for everyone.
Software Piracy in Nigeria
Obviously piracy is high in developing countries than in more developed countries but I believe that here it will change. If you take the NSE for example, the partnership is brilliant because to be a professional engineer here means something. To be an architect here means something and we are partnering with such institutions because they use genuine software and that means something as well so there is a lot to gain.