Autodesk University 2013 was a successful event, and we got to witness some great presentations about the changes in the world and how Autodesk plans to be part of the transformation. It’s all about access.

Access to Collaborative Influences

Jeff Kowalski delivered a great presentation on looking out. I am not usually fond of the dog-and-pony show presentations (my short attention span / companies glossing over obvious issues, etc.), however Jeff really did a fine job of relating how looking out has benefitted both imbedded and emerging companies across the world.

Jeff Kowalski Discusses Collaboration at Autodesk University

While many companies are trying to protect their investments by hiding their plans and goals, Jeff pointed out how many companies were being somewhat more open with their ideas, and openly inviting new engineers and designers to help solve problems with their internal team members. GrabCAD has been doing that for some time, using contests to attract talent and provide numerous ways to attack problems.

“No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.”

Autodesk continues to introduce new methods of integrating the collaborative effect across their products, especially the 360 cloud initiatives. The new face of Autodesk 360 reflects the direction they are heading. Those changes should provide more access to collaborative efforts for both companies and individuals alike, as well to expand the reach of those using the traditional engineering workflows such as tools like Autodesk Inventor.

Access to New Design Tools and Methods

Autodesk has expanded their pay-as-you-go solutions to include most of their popular products, which ultimately reaches more customers:

  • where the annual fees were cost prohibitive in a single payment
  • where the need for seats of a product could only be justified for a short period of time
  • where the need for the software is sporadic

Additionally the need for more computing power and the cost of a full time hardware investment have been difficult strategies for medium sized companies trying to compete. Autodesk has mitigated that with not only cloud computing services such as SIM 360 and CAM 360, but now offers SIM 360 with both cloud computing as well as local solving options. This gives companies the option to solve locally when the complexity is not too great, or lay the process off to the cloud solvers when the need rises, thus keeping the cost of cloud solving at a minimum. The strategy also allows companies to more confidently attack problems that became too costly during complex setup phases, where numerous partial results are required prior to solving the entire scope of the model.

Sim 360 Thermal Stress

The latter may also permit some companies to offer their employees SIM 360’s services. The learning curve for early design validation is quite short with SIM 360, and with the desktop only option not soaking up cloud credits, many roadblocks associated with adopting the new tool are removed. Let’s face it, if you wanted your teams to have more static type validation early in the design phase, with the least amount of training requirements and intrusiveness, SIM 360 is the way to go.

My Thoughts

Autodesk has really gone to some effort to help connect their subscribers to what they see as the needs of an evolving world:

  • embracing both additive and subtractive manufacturing technologies, and providing access to these for their subscribers
  • giving more people with new ideas access to capable tools that were out of reach for numerous reasons
  • providing better methods of collaboration, encouraging design teams to reach out to people around the globe in search of ideas to solve various problems, and not hide behind their firewall in order to protect their investments.

The latter is likely to spark new technological advancements where lack of collaboration with new people had stifled a potential new avenue of success.

Collaborative connectivity has been a problem for some time. Services have been emerging that embraced the thoughts of the many, but the services have been sporadic in nature and did not connect well to other processes. What seems to be happening is that companies such as Autodesk are looking at how these can be connected as they evolve, in order to prepare a fluid platform for emerging thinkers to solve problems. A platform that is easily adopted, easily used, and worked well with other collaborative and communicative platforms as they grow in popularity is a serious look at the emerging workforce, and puts Autodesk in a very good place to compete in the radically changing design marketplace.

Note: Autodesk, Inc. and Autodesk User Group International graciously covered portions of the expenses associated with my participation at the event, however in no manner did they influence or suggest any content in this article.