Interview with Maxim Bogdanov, ASCON CEO

When buying a CAD product most of us consider many factors, such as the list of features, the price, the platform, the level of integration between programs our clients and customers are already using, and so on.  While we may not realize it, many times we are also looking for something that feels or looks familiar. That’s one of the reasons CAD companies invest so much in marketing, trying to build trust, familiarity, and loyalty in their brand. However, if we can overcome our conservative attitude and bravely consider less mainstream software systems, we would be open to discovering some great products with very attracting pricing. These great opportunities are usually hidden from our eyes, but that doesn’t mean they are not worth our money. One of these hidden pearls is ASCON, a Russian CAD system that offers a competitive and interesting combination of price and features.  A look around may reveal relatively few ASCON users, but that doesn’t say anything about the quality of their software. At Novedge we have been selling ASCON for a couple of years and I’ve always been curious to know something more about this, to me, mysterious Russian company. Recently I had the opportunity to interview the CEO of the company, Maxim Bogdanov, and I tried to learn more about him and his mostly unknown yet intriguing company.

Maxim, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your new position?

I joined ASCON more than 12 years ago. My start in the company was in 1996 in a position of CAD Software Sales Manager, then I passed through Chief of Regional Sales Team to Chief Marketing Officer. From January 2008 I was appointed to CEO of ASCON Group, after Mr. Alexander Golikov, who occupied this position from the foundation of the company and then became Chairman of the Board.

this company has already became a part of my lifeD

Of course, it was an important step in my life, but this company has already became a part of my life and most people from our team I have known for many years. It’s a real pleasure for me to work with such a professional, active and creative group, as well as to manage all the activity of this constantly developing company.

Which features of KOMPAS 3D make the software different from the competition?

The competition in the area of CAD solutions is really very high and intense now, but due to the world’s economic situation industrial companies are putting more attention on trying to use their budget effectively. ASCON offers them in KOMPAS-3D all the functional of professional, powerful 3D and 2D modeling, as well as wide range of add-ons (such as piping, sheet-metal, animation, kinematic and dynamic analyses, 3D model recognition system, extended import/export opportunities and many others) at just a fraction of the cost of similar brand-name solutions. With the help of our partners all over the world we provide CAD users with cost-effective mid-range solutions which already have helped thousands of enterprises save millions of dollars.

any person [..] can become working-proficient in just a few days

Not only is our solution a budgeting advantage, but it also has a user-friendly interface, powerful assembly design, compatibility with all known CAD systems, stable and instant local technical support in different regions, and ease-of-learning and usage.  Any person, with only a minimal experience in CAD, can learn KOMPAS and become working-proficient in just a few days.

Russia is well known worldwide for its strong and deep-rooted mathematical tradition. How does this important tradition affect your product and its features?

A peculiarity of Russian programming is not just coding, but developing of new science-intensive products, and in our solutions we’ve seen that in full for more than 20 years.

a peculiarity of Russian programming is […] developing of new science-intensive products

When ASCON took its earliest steps in 1989 our products were one of the first of their kind in the former Soviet Union market, so our own programmers and technicians had to create everything from scratch. In our CAD solution for 3D parametric design and 2D drafting KOMPAS specialists from our company created all of the parts — from the software’s mathematical core and parametric technologies right up to the ready-to-go system. Now at ASCON we have more than 300 professional programmers and engineers who improve our solutions from version to version with new features developed from within the company — without any outsourcing from other countries.

Entering the US market has always been a difficult task for European companies. What is your strategy to establish ASCON among the major CAD systems in the US?

International business in ASCON and advancement in the US market in comparison with a history of the whole company is young, but work in this direction has been flowing smoothly at a fast pace. We’ve  already received a lot of positive feedback and continue to show promising achievements in this area:

  • our distributors network and availability grow with every year
  • we have good customers and relationships in the US, as well as in Europe and Asia
  • the latest release of KOMPAS-3D V10 is the third version available totally in English, so we’ve improved it considerably since version 8 was launched
  • we have a lot of favorable reports from different test labs (such as a review in Cadalyst)
  • we’ve been constantly arranging press releases, articles, case studies, and tutorials to the most popular US printing and on-line sources
  • participation in the main international fairs brought a lot of fruitful contacts and new partners
  • we launched a discussion forum which made feedback faster and opened an easier communication with our customers to satisfy their needs and wants
  • this year we’ve also opened our Educational program with the main aim of training and popularizing our MCAD software among future specialists.

All of the above and many others activities allow us to feel there is a great potential for ASCON in the US.

The CAD world is now reconsidering the parametric history based approach and exploring the new or revived direct modeling approach. What is ASCON’s strategy for these new technologies

ASCON constantly keeps track of all tendencies in a world of CAD. In our research center we also study abilities of applicability and prospects of usage of direct modeling in development of our Mechanical Computer-Aided Design solution – KOMPAS-3D.

What is the position of ASCON in the Russian CAD market and who are your major competitors?

As I have mentioned above, KOMPAS-3D is a mid-range CAD solution, so we mostly target small and middle-sized industrial enterprises and design bureaus. In Russia and CIS country we are one of the leading CAD developers and vendors. Our solutions are very popular and since the company’s foundation in 1989, ASCON solutions are used at over 40,000 end-user work seats.

In Russia and CIS country we are one of the leading CAD developers

Results of the year 2007 shown that we share the lead with Autodesk in Russia – ASCON holds 20.4% share of the market and Autodesk with 28.8%, all the other world known vendors, as UGS, PTC, Dassault Systems, SolidWorks stand far behind.

Despite PLM being an important part of your product line, it’s probably the least known here in US. Can you quickly describe the strength of the ASCON PLM solutions?

Yes, In Russia and CIS country we are also one of the leading PLM developer and vendor. ASCON product data management solution LOODSMAN:PLM keeps all the information necessary for designing, producing and maintaining the output products by an industrial enterprise. At pre-production stages, the system collects data produced by design and technology units and provides exchange of information between engineering departments. Approved data and documentation are routed to other corporate departments for supply chain management, manufacturing and maintenance of the output products.

I would like to thank Maxim for taking the time to answer my questions. A special thanks also to Irina Voronkina for her valuable support in putting together this interview. If you have any questions for Maxim or for Novedge, please leave a comment below and we will be glad to answer. ASCON CAD systems are available through the Novedge website.

Franco Folini

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