“Ecosystem” is a hot word in recent years. What’s that in your mind?
As a matter of fact, an ecosystem can never be built. For example, if you stack up grasses and trees in a place, it is far from a system. This society itself is a system, which comes into being through a long process step by step. For us, for example, on one hand, countless solutions can be derived from our CAx solutions; on the other hand, our CAx solutions are only a part of a larger solution. In other words, we are in others’ systems, while others are also in ours. As for the ecosystem that I hope to build, it is an all-in-one technology platform connecting 2D CAD, 3D CAD, CAM, CAE, etc. with data flowing seamlessly, and our partners can build all kinds of vertical solutions based on it. It is sustainable and all-win.
According to what you’ve said just now, partners including distributors and application developers both play important roles in your dream ecosystem. But I discovered that some CAx providers are turning to “de-intermediate” by connecting with clients directly. What do you think of it?
Personally, I am not a big fan of this kind of fast-paced business model. For the companies which offer typically tool-oriented and very standardized products with relatively low technical requirements, the importance of intermediary may be diminished. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is completely negated; at least that’s not the case for engineering software, which is customizable and technology-oriented. The intermediary not only sells, but more importantly, shoulders the responsibility of providing various service and technical support to customers. So in my opinion, it cannot be eliminated, at least in the foreseeable future. The key is that both of us are clear about our respective role and play it well, and the distribution of benefit is fair and reasonable.
Here, another question may prompt – how can we reinforce the cooperation and win with our intermediary, or, our partners? The answer is that we should keep advancing our products and providing different solutions. For example, a partner selling our 2D products in the past is very likely to sell our 3D products, and even CAE and PLM products in the future. That is to say, when a specific product is going downhill, we have new ones for our partners. We keep giving them new things, and new possibilities to gain profits. Only in this way can we grow and win together. If we just focus on the one and only product, it will be a zero-sum game. In a nutshell, we will not “de-intermediate”. Instead, what we care about is how to grow and win with them.
It recalls me of the Global Partner Conference, or ZWorld (renamed this year) held by ZWSOFT. What’s your original intention to do this?
Although we always take business trips everywhere, it is quite hard for our partners to have a very clear picture of what we are like simply by talking with a young fellow in his or her twenties traveling there with a backpack. So in 2009, we held the first GPC. At that time, we just wanted to let our global partners to get closer to see what exactly ZWSOFT is like, to see what kind of people they are working with, and to see what software a Chinese company can develop. Up to now, we have successfully held 7 such conferences.
This year, it has been renamed as “ZWorld”, welcoming not only our partners, but also everyone in the CAx industry, to share, communicate, and strengthen friendship. Why we decided to make this change? One of the motivations is that I’ve discovered that the industry chain in the United States is admirable after attending COFES in the past eight years. A variety of professional companies fitting in different points of the chain. They promote, support and learn from each other, forming a competitive and powerful environment for all. I hope that ZWSOFT can also do something to unite a batch of like-minded people and various partners from all over the world, to do greater things. Competition and cooperation will exist forever, but what is more vital is that we hold together and make the industry bigger and better. The reason is quite simple – it will be no use being the leader if the whole industry doesn’t develop well or even doesn’t exist anymore.
After talking about partners, what about competitors? What do you think of the relationship with them?
The world is big, so is the market. Only if you have your uniqueness, you are able to survive well. As a saying goes, the real enemy is ourselves. What may really defeat us has not been, and will never be our competitors; instead, it is ourselves. To take a step further, the players who overturn the market may even not come from the competitors we can see; instead, they may be the ones out of sight. Therefore, we should be more focused on and keep improving ourselves, insist on our characteristics, develop the products our customers really like, connect more tightly with them and go deeper into their production chain to enhance their efficiency. That’s what we should really care about.
At the same time, I think that all the players in the filed should cherish each other, since from one angle we are competing, and from the other we may be cooperating. What’s more, the possibility of cooperation is larger than that of competition in the future, because the world is huge, and the market is massive. We may compete in one product line or in a specific market; however, we may cooperate in other product lines or other markets. We actually share many similarities – we are doing the same things and trying to do better; we are providing competitive products to clients; we are finding our own place; we are all excellent. So I am desiring more communications and cooperation with our competitors.