Autodesk Bringing Together Design and Make

Autodesk’s President and CEO, Andrew Anagnost, sees big changes for the company in the next five years as it moves from a desktop software company to a “design make” company. The company is revamping its subscription model, moving to fewer, more tightly integrated types of software on cloud-based platform. The company will be more digitized, allowing better insight into workflows for customers and for Autodesk employees. Anagnost also sees Building Information Modeling (BIM) taking on a more critical role through the entire construction process, and the convergence of automated methodologies used in construction and manufacturing. “We’ve been well known as being a desktop software provider with a lot of really strong distribution capabilities,” Anagnost said earlier this year, speaking at the company’s investor day. “But five years from now, people are going to be looking at us as a company that’s really focused on the success of our customers and taking a lot of responsibility for the success of our customers. That’s going to be an inevitable outcome of being tightly integrated with their design and make process.”

In this new “design and make” strategy, Autodesk’s customers will be able to push a button and turn their designs into a set of instructions that can instantly be streamed to an automated factory. Or, on the construction side, push a button and turn their design into a set of constructions that can be used on the construction site. “We’re actually selling outcomes,” said Anagnost. “Not only will people will be paying access through a subscription, they’ll be paying for outcomes to consumption. That is going to be a really significant change,” he said. “It’s also going to mean that we’re going to empower our customers to make a lot more products, make them better with higher quality and reliability and with less negative impact on the world we live in.”

Anagnost is optimistic about the company’s future in part because of the world’s growing population and increased urbanization. “People are going to want more — more buildings, more roads, more infrastructure repairs, more products, and they’re going to want those products to be very, very customized to what they want and how they want to use them,” he said.

The problem in meeting those demands today is one of capacity constraint. “There is not enough people to meet the capacity of what we’re trying to do, Anagnost said. “There’s not enough money and there’s just not enough natural resources to do more.”

The solution? Automation. “If you provide the right kind of automations, you’re going to let people be able to do more, do it better, do it with lower costs per project and per product, with less energy and less use of resources. We believe that this is going to be our new competitive differentiator in this space,” he said.

Anganost also spoke about how what he calls the subscription transition will change in the future. Five years from now, people will still be using Autodesk’s traditional desktop products, such as AutoCAD, Revit and Inventor, but expect big changes in how the products are delivered. “Customers will see a value increase in terms of capability, functionality and value,” said Anganost. In addition to cloud-based platforms, the goal is to apply machine learning in combination with data that customers have agreed to share. Autodesk is employing new types of agents and machine learning/artificial intelligence algorithms into the customer interaction, so low value activities such as requesting a license or reactivating software can be done significantly faster. “That’s allowing us to drive not only efficiency and scale, but a dramatically improved customer experience,” Anganost said. Figure 1 shows the new structure for BIM, and Figure 2 shows the new structure for manufacturing offerings.

Figure 1

Figure 2



Although he expects to happen much sooner than the five year outlook, Anganost also expects the company to fully embrace digitization. “If you want to be a design make provider in the cloud, you have to enable a high degree of self service and visibility to the customer,” he said. “That allows them to understand what they’re doing with their Autodesk products, how they’re using them, and how they can manage their relationship with Autodesk all on their own.”

At the same time, real time insights need to be provide to people inside of Autodesk so they know what are the customers doing, how are they using the products, and how could be helped to be more successful. Anganost envisions a flexible, scalable environment that not only delivers a “great customer experience, but delivers great ability to provide self service to our customers and self-service internally so that we can understand our customers a lot better.”

Another change with the next five years is the application of the building information model across the entire construction process from the start to the finish, similar to what’s already happening in manufacturing. The BIM becomes the record of everything that’s happening. Not just the design decisions, but the decisions that go into how a particular assembly of building components can be disaggregated into parts that can be manufactured and then delivered to a construction site and assembled in a particular sequence. “The building information model is the single source of truth across the entire process,” Anganost said.

In the manufacturing space, the holy grail is to design for manufacturability, which of course is dependent on real-world manufacturing facilities and their constraints. “Instead of somebody trying to create the geometry and shove it into something, the geometry is created to adapt to what they’re already using. This is an important fundamental change,” Anganost said.

Construction and manufacturing are quite different today. Construction is highly flexible, while factories are designed to build a few things really well and pump them out in mass quantities with high quality. “What’s going to happen in the future is construction is going to absorb some of the goodness of manufacturing and become more inflexible in certain processes, and manufacturing is going to absorb some of the goodness of construction and become more flexible. A factory that used to build one thing really well can rotate to build many things well at high quality,” Anganost said. “This fundamental change of these two very seemingly different industries starting to look a lot alike in the way they build things.”

This is something only Autodesk can drive, concluded Anganost. “Not only are we the only company that understands the building information model and the data, but we’re also the only company that simultaneously understands manufacturing, manufacturing processes and manufacturing data flow,” he said.


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