December 06, 2004
Autodesk University 2004 Special Report
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Welcome to GISWeekly! Attendance was up from last year at the 12th Annual Autodesk University held in Las Vegas November 29th-December 3rd, drawing 4400 attendees from around the world. See our coverage on AU in this week's Industry News, and more to come in next week's.
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Susan Smith, Managing Editor
Autodesk University 2004 Special Report
By Susan Smith
Attendance was up from last year at the 12th Annual Autodesk University held in Las Vegas November 29th-December 3rd, drawing 4400 attendees from around the world.
Due to a family emergency, Carl Bass, COO, was unable to be at the conference. Instead, Scott Borduin, Vice President and CTO responsible for the strategy of product development, gave an overview of the company's position in the overall industry. First of all, AutoCAD sales are up more than 20% over last year.
He spoke of the products that are critical for adjacent processes downstream: Inventor, Revit, Autodesk Architectural Desktop, Civil 3D and AutoCAD. Last quarter sales of these products were up 50 %.
Using a flywheel diagram to illustrate his points, Borduin said the company has these major elements: core competencies, democratizing technology, global community, and volume market leadership.
In talking about core technology competence, Borduin said that the way Autodesk innovates is in democratizing technology, or rather, making it available to a lot of people. Products need to be affordable, to learn, to deploy, to adopt, and they need to be low cost and have a rapid return on investment. The company spends a lot of time focusing on openness in data structures, and making the technology easily extensible by developing partners and customers. He noted that the technology has a rapid return on investment and is sold largely to users who use the system, rather than to CEOs and upper management who will purchase an enterprise system. This was an interesting statement, since in
talking about volume market leadership, Borduin said that 98% of Fortune 500 companies are also AutoCAD users. It would appear that many of those companies relied on upper management to make those purchases. Also on that topic, there are 6 million users of AutoCAD worldwide.
Borduin outlined three dominant trends for Autodesk in this decade:
1) Productivity software is hot
-AutoCAD has a new lease in life
2) Model based design (3D)
- New value for traditional customers
3) Lifecycle management
- Cheap ubiquitous digital communication
- New value for new kinds of customers
The company continues to promote a customer focused product development process with:
-Focus on the user's process
-Continued focus on development environments
-Increasing focus on capturing and using design intelligence
Borduin stressed that out of a 40 hour work week, an average user uses AutoCAD products for about 24 hours, and there is a lot of opportunity to develop new products and enhancements. Autodesk is picking themes in the customer environment to identify where the problem areas are.
Areas that customers wanted addressed included:
-2D to 3D or model based design.
-Capturing more intelligence about physical world and the customers work; product is key.
-Faster design time
-Reduction in design error
-Automation of design documentation
-Better analysis and decisions-“computerable information.”
For the Infrastructure Lifecycle Management part of the continuum, Autodesk helps to solve problems by putting tools in the box for free for their current customers. “We want to establish a broad base of customers who are creating aggregated data, products in a Vault, so they have a single point of access,” said Borduin.
Chris Bradshaw, Vice President of Infrastructure Solutions Division (ISD) spoke about the success of that division in the past year. He cited the “create manage share” principle and noted that they are seeing more wins on the manage share side of the business now. Traditionally they saw more on the create end of things. Emergency response technology has been a big draw for new customer segments.
The division is performing well with a strong sales of civil products as well as strong sales from the government sector.
-ISD Q3 FY05 performance up +15% over previous year
-ISD growth came from new seats and strong Civil sales
-Government spending drove record billings in the federal market
-ISD recognized as Oracle 10G adopter of the year
-Working with industry partners to deliver open spatial enterprise standards.
With Oracle putting spatial capabilities into their core product now, interoperability between disparate systems, CAD and GIS, are all possible. Because of the great IT cost savings, productivity gains and new opportunities to be gained by having one central repository of data, a new way of managing data is emerging. The old way was characterized by spatial information silos and disparate data that could not be linked or accessed by many people.
The main challenge to moving ahead with this new paradigm is changing the way the organization fundamentally works or designs.
“We are spending as little time as possible thinking about server side applications. We are focusing on planning, design, maintenance and operations, we are making sure our systems can tie into other systems like customer management systems,” said Bradshaw. Civil 3D, built on top of Map 3D, can write directly to Oracle Spatial. The main challenge is getting engineers to think about putting things in a relational database system.
Infrastructure Lifecycle Management (ILM)
Autodesk did research on how customers feel about terms and concepts, such as “infrastructure lifecycle management.” The company wanted to understand their customers' reaction to the concept of ILM and their reaction to the concept of CAD and GIS integration.
As one might guess, what Autodesk found was that:
-Information lifecycle management (ILM) is not well understood.
-The concept ILM was well understood - once explained it made sense, but was not intuitive. Doesn't resonate as a term.
On the other hand, CAD and GIS integration resonates and customers have clear needs where integrating CAD and GIS are concerned, among them:
-Difficult to move data between different formats systems (i.e. shp, dgn, dwg)
-Important details lost during conversion
-Metadata doesn't translate consistently
-Lots of re-editing of data when moved between systems
-Have to use multiple applications (not always compatible)
-Need to share information has increased between CAD and GIS
-Many workarounds have been done
Lynn Allen, Technical Evangelist for Autodesk, made the opening remarks which focused on the user and the terms “create manage share,” then introduced CEO and President Carol Bartz. Bartz reminded her audience of their importance, stating that “you and your colleagues are responsible for creating billions of products around the world. Look around you - if God didn't make it, it's most likely an Autodesk customer made it. You make the world.”
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-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.
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