Alexis Vartanian, CTO at TechViz tells us about VR & AR software solutions to display during Covid.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Alexis Vartanian: Fortunately, everyone is doing fine so far. No one close has been affected by COVID, and we haven’t had any cluster in the company. Let’s keep our finger crossed it stays that way!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded TechViz.
Alexis Vartanian: After graduating from Centrale-Supélec in Paris, I took a PhD in computer science, as I was passionate about the 3D display and Virtual Reality. This led me to create a unique technology to display data from any 3D software, in VR, without any conversion. I founded TechViz in 2004 to promote this technology.
How does TechViz innovate?
Alexis Vartanian: Since its inception, TechVIz has been at the forefront of innovation in enterprise VR. The path we have always followed to bring innovations to the market is to work in hand in hand with our most advanced customers to develop new use cases of Virtual Reality. This way, we are sure to develop innovations that actually have an ROI for our clients.
For instance, our latest product, Cloud & Viz, makes it possible to stream CAD data on the cloud to anyone equipped with a VR headset. We started working on this Cloud VR innovation because one of our customers told us: “We love your product, we cannot even remember how we could engineer a new model without it, but it would be incredible if we could share in VR the design of models under development with our overseas subsidiaries”. At first, it seemed a bit far fetched, but we now have a tangible product available.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business?
Alexis Vartanian: For us, COVID is a coin with 2 faces.
On one hand, our business has suffered a great deal, as our customer base has been hardest hit by the crisis: we work with most aeronautics and automotive companies worldwide, and for them, 2020 has been a horrendous year. On top of that, most VR installations were not initially set-up to be mobile. As engineers were asked to work remotely, they could not access their VR installations and as a consequence not use our products.
On the other hand, the situation has stressed the need for advanced remote collaboration tools, which is a huge opportunity for TechViz. Zoom and Teams are nice but not enough, for instance, to make a project review to freeze the design of a new product. You just cannot make such decisions in 2D, while it is 100% feasible in Virtual Reality. Because of this, all our VR meeting and VR collaboration solutions are getting A LOT of traction.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Alexis Vartanian: Obviously, we hadn’t been able to implement the hiring plan we had in mind at the start of 2020. We have had to prioritize where to allocate resources. We have made a choice to preserve R&D as much as possible to protect the future and keep up with our product roadmap.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Alexis Vartanian: TechViz has a global reach, with a turnover evenly spread across all continents. Not being able to visit our customers has been a headache indeed. Like everyone, we have switched to 100% digital customer relationship management. It now works smoothly. Yet, we are looking forward to being able to meet again. We think creativity and innovation need a certain dose of physical contact.