Saturday, October 10, 2009

An interview with Olin Reams of CS Odessa


Being an information management consultant has its perks, and one of them is creating very meaningful relationships with many software developers, and having access to their excellent products.

They’re all great products for the most part, and some of these great applications just simply stick out in the crowded Visual mapping software arena. CS Odessa’s ConceptDraw line of products, IMO deserves closer attention. ConceptDraw is positioned in a tight group that may be termed the leading pack of Visual mapping applications.

I spoke with Olin Reams recently and asked him to answer a few interview questions relating to his involvement with CS Odessa and the ConceptDraw line of products. Below for your reading pleasure is the Olin Reams interview.

1 Tell us about your involvement and work at CS Odessa?

1.1 I am General Manager in the Americas for CS Odessa; it is my responsibility to build on the success that CS Odessa has experienced in the Americas’ marketplace.

In Software Magazine 2009 survey of software companies we are listed as one of the top 500 software companies for the first time (from a revenue point of view). So we are meeting with the objectives we set for ourselves.

CS Odessa (America's) was formed in 1993 and our very first product was ConceptDraw PRO, our business graphics and diagramming software application for Mac and PC. ConceptDraw PRO is also our best known product but we have a range of products currently: ConceptDraw MINDMAP, that provides mind mapping and visualization of a process, work flow or process; ConceptDraw PROJECT, full-blown project management tool; ConceptDraw Office, a really neat new addition for us that integrates MINDMAP, PROJECT and PRO into one suite of products.

Of course we also have plug-ins for ConceptDraw PRO that are very popular. The ConceptDraw WebWave plug-in is a great tool for web designers and web masters; our ConceptDraw NetDiagrammer plug-in for ConceptDraw PRO is purpose built for IT people who need to document and maintain their infrastructure.

Our products are driven by our customers, which I always felt was a good place to be in.

2 Give us a brief history of the organization?

2.1 CS Odessa (Ukraine) was founded in 1963 by our CEO Gregory Zhukov. Gregory had a vision that there was a need for a company to provide high-value software solutions at a reasonable cost, and that the total cost of ownership was important to our prospective customers.

It is core to our company to provide the same level of product functionality for both Macintosh and PC; we have done this from the very first day. Today there are about 70 of us worldwide, and last year we sold into over 120 countries. In 2009 we made Software Magazines list of 500 largest software companies.

3 List the environments where your products are being used?

3.1 We have customers around the globe and every possible vertical you can think of. Just the other day I was talking to an enthusiastic user of CD Office who owned a large dental practice in the southwest. They felt CD Office was going to be a competitive advantage to them in their business going forward.

Of course our sales extend way beyond the dental market.

We are found in over a 120 countries, in every type of vertical you can think of. Manufacturing, legal, medical, education, government…the list just goes on and on. I believe the reason for this is that our customers see the value exhibited in our products.

4 What are the capabilities of ConceptDraw office?

4.1 Wow. There is a lot of capability in ConceptDraw office.

You can do a range of things from brainstorming to building an organization chart.
You can gather requirements to automatically build a Work Break Down structure.
You can write a document or you can put together technical documentation.

Think of all of the possibilities if you had a mind map front end, a project management engine and a professional rendering tool integrated into an interactive suite.

Our customers are always coming up with new uses for our ConceptDraw Office. They can be very inventive when it comes to how they use it.

5 ConceptDraw office is available on Macintosh and PC, tell us more?

5.1 All of our products run in native mode under both Macintosh OS X and MS Windows, this has been our product offering since day one. The file structure of the products is exactly the same on both Mac and PC, so we make it easy for both platforms to have ground when working together.

We work very hard to maintain the same functionality on both platforms but we still address unique usability items in both worlds. Also we license per user so if it was ever to happen that a single user had a Macintosh and a PC; our license agreement would permit them to install on both.

6 How do you differentiate ConceptDraw products from the other leading visual mapping tools?

6.1 We are very work flow centric. For our customers who want to use our tools in a production environment, this is an ideal trait of our software. Our tag line really reflects what you can accomplish; plan, do and communicate. We are an excellent visual mapping tool with ConceptDraw MINDMAP (ConceptDraw MINDMAP was selected as “Our Pick” by Mac World, March 2009); but then we have other outstanding tools that closely integrate with ConceptDraw MINDMAP and add lots of customer value. All of our products reinforce one another and add value on top of one another.

7 How do you view the benefits of using ConceptDraw products?

7.1 The real value of our products comes from what our customers see as core benefits. The majority of our customers feel that we have a unique solution that adapts to their work flow requirements and makes them more productive then they had been previously. To phrase it more simply we help people accomplish what they need to do, to move their businesses ahead. Business is about accomplishment, ConceptDraw is all about business.

8 You’ve recently released a USB edition of ConceptDraw office: Do you believe the portable approach will be of value?

8.1 We do have this available for Microsoft Windows. It is not a major focus, as this is very specialized technology that has a high value to a small audience. If someone wants it we have it.

9 What are your customers saying about ConceptDraw Office?

9.1 They are very happy ecstatic, I feel the reason for this is that it came from their vision of what could be accomplished with the right tools.

10 What can we expect regarding newer release to market products?

10.1 CS Odessa will continue to innovate, provide demonstrable value and of course listen to our customers. We really do not want to say much about future products, as we feel that our vision is a key market advantage for us. We do have a clear vision that extends for 5 years; we are not just focused on the next release from a planning point of view. We are interested in extending CS Odessa’s ConceptDraw value proposition to a broader and broader market set.

11 Where should a potential user of ConceptDraw Office purchase the software and what’s the cost?

11.1 ConceptDraw Office can be purchased at:

Website: http://www.conceptdraw.com

Americas Sales Office: 877.441.1150 x 3

Reseller Partners: website!!

The list price for ConceptDraw Office is 499 USD; ConceptDraw MINDMAP is 199 USD; ConceptDraw PRO is 249 USD and ConceptDraw PROJECT is 199 USD.

ConceptDraw Office contains our mind mapping, project management, and business graphics products and represents a 148 USD savings over the individual products, plus one benefits in the end-to-end integration of our products.

1 comment:

Kyle McFarlin said...

Wallace,

Thanks for sharing the interview with Olin with us. Olin has one of the sharpest mind in the visual mapping arena and I confess I didn't know as much about his work at CS Odessa as I should have before I read the interview. The company's worldwide reach is impressive and I always get a giant grin when I hear the word 'workflow' emphasized when describing a software suite.