The POV Dispatch is our Autodesk internal newsletter, published monthly, where we discuss the big ideas that are important to us and our customers. It is published by our Corporate Strategy & Engagement (CS&E) team of which Autodesk Labs is a part. Sheila Tolle is Senior Director of eCommerce and Small Business Marketing. Sheila contributed an article about AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT to a recent issue, and with her permission, I thought I would share it with you.
The Role of Horizontal Products in a Cloud/Mobile/Social World
by Sheila Tolle, Senior Director of eCommerce and Small Business Marketing
Since the founding of Autodesk, horizontal products like AutoCAD, and AutoCAD LT have been the foundation of Autodesk's success. Autodesk got its start when the founders thought they would automate the business person's desktop with programs like word processing, spreadsheets, etc. Instead the founding team held the option to either acquire or license an early CAD package. The package was licensed for a royalty, provided a basis for AutoCAD R1, and the rest, as they say, is history. Today AutoCAD remains the primary horizontal product that provides the basis for vertical solutions such as Autodesk AutoCAD Architecture, Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D, and Autodesk AutoCAD Map 3D to name just a few.
On Ramp for New Users
Today AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT are still our largest sources of revenue, and yet in many ways the focus of the company has moved from these key products to things like Consumer and the Cloud. As we move forward into these new realms, as well as others, like Bionano/Life Sciences, how will the role of horizontal products like AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT change to fit the evolving Autodesk portfolio and strategy?
AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT do indeed account for a large portion of our annual revenue. More importantly, many of new professional customers come to Autodesk by starting with one of these products. Rarely does one just start out by buying a suite. AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT are synonymous with Autodesk. They truly reflect our brand. Their widespread popularity is a testament to the raw power of these applications that makes them valuable across the industries we serve.
Our continued R&D investment into AutoCAD now extends to cloud and mobile platforms, making it possible for our customers to access, edit, and share their designs regardless of where they are or what device they are on. These platforms can also bring the power of AutoCAD to many more new customers, helping them more easily participate in design workflows.
AutoCAD 360 Web
The web version of AutoCAD 360 is in beta. This version is optimized for running in a browser. The focus of this offering is to make it a 2D documentation capability that stands on its own as well as a companion to other 3D offerings such as Fusion 360.
AutoCAD 360 Mobile
The mobile solution serves the same function as the web version but is tailored to the mobile experience on a tablet or smart phone. For example, it recognizes gestures that are common to user interfaces on those devices, e.g. pinching to zoom in, and has functionality that a user in the field would require.
AutoCAD 360 Mobile Pro
Whereas the mobile version is free, the pro version is paid for. It offers the ability to handle larger files, more editing features, and additional storage. There are about 10,000 customers on pro today.
These offerings will help us reach new customers because they provide viewing capabilities with light editing. This is perfect for non-design-intensive users. These users tend to be people in the trades — people whose workflow involves designs but who do not get paid to create them. Examples of this are solar panel installers or window installers. The installers get paid to install — not provide the customer with drawings of their installations. With this economic model, the user interface needs to be intuitive because time spent learning is not time spent installing. Since non-design-intensive users lack formal training or education around CAD tools, full AutoCAD would be too powerful and lead to frustration. So AutoCAD 360 Web or Mobile is perfect for these users.
Pilot for Term-Based Licensing
A second way to continue to use AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT to reach new customers in today's world is to augment (not replace) our perpetual licenses with term-based licenses. This approach is perfect for some users due to:
Rather than pay the entire cost of the software up front and then garner work to recoup the investment, the customers are allowed to pay as they go. An added benefit is that the customers can easily pass the cost onto their clients.
As projects come and go, customers can ramp up or down the number of required licenses. Today some customers avoid this cost by having temporary employees get projects completed in less than 30 days using the trial versions of AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT.
The term-based pricing model will be tied to the My Account information managed by Autodesk 360. The rental licenses are currently available with the LT Suites (launched in July) — Inventor LT Suite and Revit LT Suite. This approach will be piloted for AutoCAD LT in the future.
So even in a cloud/mobile/social world, AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT continue to play a role in acquiring new customers. The web and mobile versions offer easier-to-use interfaces that will resonate with a new-to-Autodesk customer. Once these new users are brought into the fold, when they can get comfortable with our products, they can choose to expand their opportunities by upgrading to the appropriate suite. Even as some things change (cloud/mobile/social), some things remain the same (reaching out to potential customers).
Reaching out is alive in the lab.