Graphisoft: Budapest-based Company Continues to Innovate

Interview

Huw Roberts

Graphisoft has long been an internationally recognized architectural software company and continues to follow its road to success. The Budapest Business Journal speaks with CEO Huw Roberts about the firm’s past, present, and future plans.

BBJ: Graphisoft has a long history in Hungary and internationally as well. How do you position yourself on the market? What is your market share, and who are your competitors?

Huw Roberts: Graphisoft, founded in 1982, is a genuine Hungarian multinational company, and we are really proud of that fact. We are based here in Budapest, and we are now a global company. We are present in more than 110 markets; we have offices all over the world, we have a global network of sales and business partners worldwide. Our software is also available in 29 different language localized versions.

In terms of market share, we are obviously a very dominant leader here in Hungary, but we are also leading in many markets internationally. Besides Hungary, we are number one in Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Romania, and Switzerland. We are number two in pretty much every other market, including major markets, like the USA, Australia, Canada, South Africa, and many others, like the rest of the European countries.

We benefit from that global market presence and from being in that leadership position because we can take lessons and best practices from different countries and share them with other parts of the world to help us grow everywhere.

In terms of actual numbers of the percentage of the market share, that’s a very tough thing to measure, and it varies from country to country; I think that being in that strong number one or number two position is a better way to think about it.

Graphisoft’s HQ is in the eponymously named Graphisoft Park in Budapest, replete with a statue of another innovator, Steve Jobs.

BBJ: What are your immediate and future goals for your market segment?

HR: We are very excited that we have released the latest versions of our products. Our flagship is Archicad, a building information modeling tool for architects to design buildings of all sizes, types, and scales. It’s also an intelligent 3D model of the building, which helps teams work together on a shared model. Version 25 is the latest model, and this is kind of like a milestone number. We are using this as an opportunity to celebrate the great history we have, our strong position in the world, the great buildings worldwide that have been developed using our software, and the bright future that we have ahead of us.

Concerning our future plans, it’s exciting to see that it continues building on responding to the feedback of architects and engineers around the world. We can focus on making sure that we can make better visualizations of designs, better collaborations among teams, and better documentation and communication of the results of that design process.

Last week we also announced a new program, called Graphisoft Forward, a service relationship with our customers. Architects, customers, and users of our software subscribe to Graphisoft Forward, and in that, they get upgrades, technical support, access to learning, content libraries and addons, and all sorts of other benefits. This is a global program that will help our customers get the most from our software, which is good for them and good for our business.

However, our true goal and mantra are that Archicad just keeps getting better. Our goal is to keep adding more value and more capabilities into the software so it is more useful to people and they buy more of it. We are a company founded in innovation, and we continue to deliver innovation that keeps us a step ahead of the competition, and that’s what’s driving our business to grow.

BBJ: Could you advise small Hungarian companies on how to be successful today in international markets?

HR: Yes, the first piece of advice is kind of simple. Know what your mission is, know what you are trying to achieve and what value it has. And it’s not about how much money you want to make or how many employees you wish to have. It’s about what your purpose is and what you are trying to help someone else to do.

It’s also important to listen to your customers, understand their needs and challenges, get their feedback on your ideas, and bounce your ideas off them before you do all the work to make something. Just immerse yourself in what they are looking for.

Sometimes that is easy, and it’s universal or global, where everybody wants the same thing. But, more often than not, it’s different in different countries. Maybe because of the culture, the language, and the local conditions, standards, equipment, and government regulations.

So you have to understand the customer where they are and in their context to succeed. Often that can be done with partnerships, so it might be appropriate to look for and develop a trusted partner in other markets as a path to grow. I think that advice is good for anybody.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of July 16, 2021.

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