Autodesk Technologist, Shaan Hurley, is all about the customer. This makes sense since Shaan was a customer before he became an employee. Shaan is based in our Portland office and is spearheading a new program there called Lunch with the Customer.
You know what we say:
Autodesk makes software for people who make things. If you've ever driven a high-performance car, admired a towering skyscraper, used a smartphone, or watched a blockbuster film, chances are you've experienced what millions of Autodesk customers are doing with our software. Autodesk gives you the power to make anything. For more information visit autodesk.com or follow @autodesk.
In the beginning, Autodesk software was used as a documentation tool that allowed people to take action. For example, AutoCAD was used to plot architectural drawings to scale so e-sized plots could be unrolled on the hoods of pickup trucks, and workers with hammers could do the right thing. Though AutoCAD and our other software are still used in this fashion today, our software aims to do more. We're looking to turn data into insights so informed decisions can be made before the action starts. That's why analysis, simulation, scheduling, quality control, and cost estimation are part of our portfolio in addition to the design and make capabilities.
Our portfolio of software serves three industries:
- Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC)
- Product Design and Manufacturing (PD&M)
- Media and Entertainment (M&E)
At Autodesk, we believe that these three industries are converging:
- Autodesk customers who make buildings (AEC) are starting to behave more like customers who make things (PD&M). Whereas buildings used to be one-offs, more and more, parts of buildings (e.g., trusses) are being constructed offsite in environmentally-controlled warehouses, brought to the construction site, and assembled into position. AEC customers are suddenly concerned with mass production and quality control.
- Autodesk customers who make things (PD&M) are starting to make more bespoke items. Instead of setting up huge factories with static assembly lines to make thousands of identical items, manufacturers are becoming more agile, configuring microfactories to make small runs of personalized items (more like one-offs of traditional AEC projects).
- M&E-based tools have been the mainstay for rendering and animation visualization for AEC and PD&M for years. Of late, both AEC and PD&M customers see the benefit in showcasing what they make via Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.
Shaan noted that to serve our customers better, we need to understand more about them. In addition, since the industries are converging, it behooved developers of software for one industry to learn about what customers from other industries do. So he set up Lunch with the Customer as a lunchtime event for Autodesk employees. The goal was to get Autodesk employees and local customers from many industries together to learn together.
Shaan brings in customers who explain:
- Who they are and what they do.
- How they use our tools as well in conjunction with other tools.
- What their challenges in their job and/or industry are.
- How they see their industry changing, for example, offsite manufacturing or changing materials.
- What they need from us. It could be anything from supporting their industry, helping them work with the different data, or ways to allow them to focus on other priorities.
It's a chance for employees to get candid feedback on our software and address the future of the industries we serve together. As such, Lunch with the Customer is an open lunch session where Autodesk employees and customers can learn more about each other. Autodesk employees get to know a customer willing to speak with them (perhaps from another industry than the one that they are supporting) and may see a similarity, convergence, and potential shared-solution. Customers come away with a better understanding of where Autodesk software is headed.
Shaan has hosted two events so far featuring Architecture, Engineering & Construction customer, Phil Miller of Fortis Construction, and Media & Entertainment customer, Fred Ruff, of Refuge VFX. The Lunch with the Customer sessions are the first Tuesday of every month, so I am sure that the Portland employees have lots more to look forward to (in addition to the lunch provided by Autodesk VP of Business Strategy and Marketing for Design and Manufacturing, Greg Fallon — thanks, Greg).
Conversations are alive in the lab.