I log in all the time. At work, I log into my PC and Microsoft Teams using my Autodesk domain user name and password. At home, I log into Spotify, Netflix, eTrade, Bank of America, and Amazon. As a result of logging in, these systems know who I am and tailor the experience to me.
One of the most powerful outcomes to emerge with software subscription models is the concept that everyone is a named user. Subscribers are logged in whenever they use software, and every subsequent action or event is captured as a data element that is associated with that user. Those users are also connected to projects and to companies. Individual users, their teams, their companies, and the whole ecosystem become smarter as insights from this data are associated and applied.
For years, software companies viewed their business mostly through a product data lens, focused on the data their products generate. Autodesk was no different. We were focused on product because of the designs, physical structures, and tangible products that data ultimately creates. Despite this wealth of product data used to create the world around us, many of our customers aren't certain which team member made which edits to their shared design or project. Autodesk doesn't know who is making these changes either. To date, like many companies, we also tracked customers as serial numbers, not as individual users.
We have to invert our thinking. We must know our individual users first and foremost. Then, we can log product and usage data back to that named user and their customer data, and in doing so, provide valuable insights to individual users, wherever they go, whatever solutions they use. We will be able to enable better collaboration. Every system we build must start with knowing the user. We then associate every event and bit of data back to that individual. Without knowing who is making which edits, our customers face the increased chance of inefficiency, error, confusion, and loss of control. Ensuring all data is associated to a user is the proper foundation for collaboration, access, and permissions.
Software engineers (like me) can easily relate to the collaborative benefits of a named user model in their everyday work using GitHub. Engineers log into GitHub as named users. GitHub offers the distributed version control and source code management functionality of Git, an open-source system that helps track changes in source code during development. Designed for coordinating work among programmers, GitHub captures code, documentation, and comments for scrum teams and the larger Autodesk engineering community. GitHub offers access control, workflows, tools, and automations to support collaborative coding. It strives for speed, data integrity, and support for distributed, non-linear workflows. GitHub did all this by building a platform that relies on a named user model where members are known actors in the system.
For those of you who remember software engineering before collaborative version control (like me), what was that like? Imagine how much more effective you are now, working on a team with GitHub to accelerate, trace, and record your collective progress. Our customers deserve the same advantages to work collectively, and they will only obtain that when everyone is a named user. Just as every software engineer can see new changes, download them, and contribute in GitHub — our Revit, Inventor, and Maya users increasingly want the same.
Autodesk already has examples of what this looks like for our customers. An AutoCAD user can log in from anywhere, and her work follows her. She can easily go from her desktop workstation to her tablet at home without interruption. Her project and her design libraries follow her. We are learning just how important this capability is as our customers shift from office to home due to the pandemic.
Starting this year, AutoCAD and many of our collaborative cloud-based solutions will help users collaborate more effectively. Just like GitHub and a shared piece of code, they will be able to see who is making edits to a shared AutoCAD drawing. This is all the more important today, where projects have complicated team structures with a mix of contractors, subcontractors, owners, and government agencies. As remote work and virtual collaboration increase, there will be massive increases in the number of customers who are trying to work this way. We must ensure we can meet that need.
For these customers, controlling access to portions of the data model becomes critical. This is impossible if you don't know who the user is. Customers want to manage users on projects, create teams with the right access to shared intellectual property, and do this across the many different types of users.
We are also in the process of connecting our customers to their usage data with compelling benefits for both users and the business owner. For example, next year AutoCAD will share usage data that helps each user improve performance, compare skills with peers, and collaborate more effectively. What's more, the Autodesk Learning Engine, currently piloting in Fusion 360 and a concept we want to extend to all of our products, requires a named user model. If we are going to offer users learning paths that are tailored to their unique skill levels, we need to know who each individual is.
Business owners will see tremendous value as well from usage data tied to specific users. When everyone is a named user, owners have complete visibility into how employees are using the software they have purchased the right to use. They can optimize licensing and make the right investment decisions for their business. They will be better able to forecast future needs and growth. They can easily add users to different teams and projects. They will have tighter control over data and security because they can more easily remove named users who leave a project or leave the company.
With named users, we can also consider the usage of our help systems, forums, and knowledge network. This assists us in understanding what questions our customers have and anticipating their needs. We can analyze these questions across similar users or industries. Our customer success consultants can use this data to better understand each individual and business we serve. They can then develop seminars to address our customer's questions, such as the recent seminars on remote working.
We know that "with great power comes great responsibility." With named users, we have the opportunity to gain tremendous insights into our customers. We must protect their confidential data, offer robust privacy controls, treat data ethically, and maintain their trust every day. Trust is hard to win but easy to lose. We don't sell their data. That's not our business model. We use customer data to help individuals and companies perform their jobs better. That differentiates Autodesk.
A named user model offers benefits that include uncovering errors during the design phase instead of during production, faster time to market, safer work sites, and reliable data access controls. Our design-and-make customers deserve the speed, data integrity, and support for distributed, non-linear workflows that users of GitHub enjoy today. They should be able to collaborate on designs, construction projects, manufacturing, and media production across projects. Our customers deserve software that knows who they are.
Identification is alive in the lab.