Civil Engineering

Bentley Systems Achieves 2012 Growth Target

27 Mar, 2013 By: Cyrena Respini-Irwin

Despite a sluggish global economy, the infrastructure solutions developer continues to expand, particularly in the Middle East and Africa.

During the third annual Bentley Systems Corporate Update conference call, held yesterday, CEO Greg Bentley reported that his company — "the largest dedicated provider of software solutions for sustaining infrastructure" — had achieved its target of 6% organic growth in 2012. This was down from the 10% growth reported for 2011, but an expected result of "the new normal of economic activity in the world," said Greg Bentley. "It's tough to budge that needle, and 6% is pretty good organic growth," he told call participants.

Bentley reported revenues of $550 million in 2012, of which a record 74% came from subscriptions. The company counts more than 1 million users of its applications; that number approaches 2 million when users of Bentley Passports and iWare apps are included, said Greg Bentley. Geographically speaking, growth was strongest in the Middle East and Africa, exceeding 25%.

Appetite for Acquisitions

"Acquisition opportunities come and go," said Greg Bentley, "[but] 2012 was a record investment year." Ivara, InspectTech, SpecWave, and EuResearch were all brought into the fold, providing Bentley with asset performance management, field inspection, structured text authoring, and pressure vessel design capabilities, respectively.

Greg Bentley also touched on the company's most recent acquisition, completed this month: Brazil-based Char Pointer Tecnologia and its topoGRAPH surveying software. TopoGRAPH comprises tools for creating drawings and plans, analyzing terrain models, calculating earthwork volumes, and designing roads and railways. Greg Bentley sees extensive opportunities for updating Brazil's transportation system; he noted that 80% of the country's roads are unpaved. The need for infrastructure improvements has added urgency, as Brazil will soon host the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games.

Taking 3D Farther Afield

Bentley also used the call to announce the release of the Navigator Mobile app for the iPad. "It's navigating 3D models in the field done right," said Greg Bentley. Navigator Mobile enables users such as construction workers, architects, and engineers to navigate 3D architecture, engineering, and construction models using i-models. The app enables users to work online or offline, and to browse project documents in a variety of formats.

"2012 was a year of mainstreaming innovations that support information mobility," Greg Bentley commented. I-models and mobile apps, as well as persistent point clouds, are key to the company's vision of information mobility — which is not an end goal, said Greg Bentley, but rather an enabler of benefits such as better performance and reliability.

The Year to Come

Bentley Systems is setting its sights slightly higher for 2013, increasing expectations to 7% organic growth for the year.

Greg Bentley made it clear that his company does not intend to diversify its offerings in pursuit of nonprofessional users, as Autodesk has done. "Our company is rather a no-drama company when it comes to annual reporting ... you won't hear us say that we've lost interest in what we do and we're now tackling consumer markets and so forth. ... It's applying that investment and invention to industrial use cases that so compels us." He did, however, laud the value of such efforts. "We're not big enough at Bentley Systems to also work on the consumer offerings, but we're glad they're being advanced."

Regarding his company's competition with the AEC segment of Autodesk's business, Greg Bentley commented, "We continue to be a motivated No. 2 in that respect, and close the gap a little bit each year."

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