Yes, I know it seems like "all Autodesk, all the time", but 10,000 people really do have
While I didn’t connect with all 10,000 — not by a long shot — I did talk with perhaps a
dozen attendees at Autodesk Manufacturing’s keynote session about the "digital
prototyping" workflow and the Autodesk products that support this concept. This is not in
any way a scientific survey, but I did learn a number of interesting things:
1. Of the dozen or so people spoke with, only 4 were Inventor users. The rest used
AutoCAD and were not clear about how this vision applies to them. Most agreed that it
seemed like a good idea, but for someone else.
2. The Inventor users were most struck by the exploded view shown in the Manufacturing
keynote presentation — it was visual, easily understood by the audience and had obvious
benefit within and outside the design/engineering realm. So that part of the digital
prototyping vision resonated well with the people I spoke with, and can perhaps be
leveraged as a way of moving outwards from design.
3. These same folks didn’t see usefulness in the industrial design app shown during the
session. It was a very quick movie, and perhaps this wasn’t the right crowd (after all, these
folks were mostly detail designers), but the idea of starting at that point in the design
process to create a single set of data blew right past this audience.
4. The very few people I spoke with who were aware of the "product lifecycle management"
concept felt that it was much too large for them — they had neither the resources (time,
money, people), nor the corporate desire to build a system to manage their design
processes. Autodesk’s "digital prototyping" concept seems less intimidating since it’s not
tied to databases and backoffice systems.
Bottom line: The people I spoke with were mildly enthusiastic about Autodesk’s "digital
prototyping" vision. Everyone was willing to see what happens next, in terms of products,
further outreach by Autodesk and the next few product releases — but no one I spoke with
was rushing out to buy anything or implement a new design process.
Autodesk clearly has to do a lot of work to educate its users about the utility of eventually
migrating to a workflow that begins somewhere (maybe styling, maybe not), creating a
model that is passed through the various design stages, analysis and manufacturing. This
will resonate with some users but clearly not with all — but perhaps it will with the
managers of these users.