Powering Asia’s growth: meeting the industry’s software solution needs
Asian Power spoke with Bentley Systems, a leader in software engineering and software solutions to discuss Asia’s power industry trends and how their customer preferences changed in the last decade.
Here’s from Bentley Systems global solution executive Mark Biagi:
What makes Asia a place to be for power investments?
Asia is a great place to be for power investments! Quite simply, Asia has the largest untapped potential for the power industry and therefore the highest potential growth for investments. The population in the region is very large and yet many people do not have access to a reliable electricity supply. Take India for example, it’s the fifth largest producer of power in the world and yet per head of population it’s among the world’s lowest. For countries like India to achieve their ambitious industrial growth and standard of living targets they need to improve their power infrastructure. The same applies to many countries throughout Asia.
For Bentley, which supports the power industry through its range of software products for infrastructure engineering and asset lifecycle management, Asia is a region that warrants significant attention. We are already seeing the largest non-organic revenue growth from Asia, which means that we are growing more rapidly and penetrating more new customers and projects in Asia than in other parts of the world. We are doing this across the spectrum of power infrastructure from mining to generation, transmissionand distribution. We provide effective solutions to both owner operators and engineering contractors, supporting the full lifecycle of power infrastructure assets.
Bentley is involved in various ways throughout Asia. Of course different countries are at different stages and have different needs and portfolios of generation types. China is big in everything – thermal power, nuclear, hydropower and renewables. Japan is undergoing a huge transition away from nuclear. South East Asia is mainly thermal power. Australia is bigger on the mining side. South Korea has gone from developing status 30 years ago to exporting its own nuclear technology to the rest of the world. Bentley also supports many of these major equipment vendors in the power industry. For these reasons, Asia is a great place to be for Bentley.
How are preferences of customers in Asia changing in the last ten years?
That’s an interesting question. As a global technology vendor Bentley is in a good position to identify, and in fact needs to understand very well, the different preferences, technology maturity levels and requirements in different industries and regions of the world. It’s difficult to generalize for an industry as broad as power in a region as disparate as Asia, but I think it’s safe to say that automation tools and information technologies have grown in importance greatly over the last ten years. I believe that these changes have been driven less by customer preference as much as by increasing market maturity, globalization, the need for efficiency and industry regulations. In highly regulated and global industries like nuclear, where the systems are so complex and the requirements for robust information management are universal, there is already a significant technology baseline that is common throughout the world. In this case I would say that Asia has not only kept
pace with the rest of the world, but in places like South Korea has actually led the world in the use of engineering information technology. The same can be said for large scale thermal and hydropower projects where there are a group of global EPCs that work on major projects, and they use similar processes whether the projects are in Asia, Middle East or Europe.
The differences exist in some of the regional engineering contractors or state-owned organizations inAsia which have been slower to adapt to new technologies than the international private sector. Again,I don’t think that comes down to preference as much as business drivers.
How do Bentley Systems respond to the growing software engineering and software solution needs of the power industry?
Bentley is a leader in the power industry. We address the overall power industry through a comprehensive portfolio of software solutions that address the requirements of power infrastructure design, construction and lifecycle management. Bentley is constantly evolving and developing new products and technologies to address specific challenges in the power industry.
We use a variety of methods to understand the evolving needs of the power industry. Of course we talk to our clients and understand their businesses. But also we are very active in industry associations like the World Nuclear Association which gives Bentley the opportunity to collaborate with a wider spectrum of organizations – not only Bentley clients – to better understand the industry structures and the real issues. We have a group – called the ‘Solutions’ group – within the Bentley Software organization whose role it is to understand what’s going on in the industries we work in, to understand the needs and to develop Bentley’s strategy for better addressing those requirements. One of the functions of the Solutions group is to engage with professional organizations and to translate that into opportunities that Bentley can address.
We are also in regular communication with other vendors in software categories that are adjacent and complimentary to Bentley’s core business. Through these discussions and partnerships we learn more about industry needs and work to compliment each other’s offerings which often leads to innovation.
How’s your business so far post-financial crisis?
Being a privately-owned global company across a wide range of infrastructure disciplines, Bentley is in the fortunate position of being somewhat insulated from the worst of the financial crisis. Although Bentley is privately owned the company chooses to publish an annual report which shows this year revenues were in the region of $550m. While some specific areas did suffer, the flexible licensing models and global spread has meant that Bentley was able to expand in other areas, resulting in overall continued growing during the GFC. Also, the financial crisis has meant that many countries are embarking on stimulus packages to develop major new infrastructure to keep the workforce active and learning new skills. Clearly Bentley is well placed to address the needs of these large projects. There is a healthy level of competition for the types of software Bentley provides, but so long as we continue to focus on addressing needs of the industry and making our customers more efficient and effective the future looks positive.