There are several aspects to a design technology platform. On the one hand, design enables people to experience things before they actually turn into reality; on the other hand, it allows users to make ‘what if ’ decisions by giving them the ability to look at the available options or generate new options and thus make better decisions. Another important aspect is that the platform makes it possible for many people to come on board as it is not just about technology but also about making sure that it is inclusive of all the people that need to come together to make critical decisions.
User-driven technology strategy
We plan our strategy after taking into account the users’ perspective rather than our company’s perspective; this makes it easier for the users to acquire and use our software. Besides, we try and contextualise geospatial information for users in the industry. What has been nice to watch in the last four-five years is that geospatial information is getting democratised. We are all familiar with driving directions and traffic updates as a single consumer. Companies have the same need as they want information residing in a specialist environment to be accessible to people in the enterprise through the appropriate tool. For example, the HR professional in an enterprise would want to look at all his assets. Similarly, we want to let the designers and engineers in that organisation to seamlessly access information.
We are taking a BIM process and exposing geospatial information through it to make it accessible and seamless. Thus, our customers will no longer have this CAD in GIS but it is just that the information is accessible through the tool much like when you are looking at driving directions but you do not even have to think about how you provide location information.
CAD and BIM are two sides of the same coin, but simply belong to different generations. People understand CAD as describing geometry and BIM as describing geometry plus all the information about objects that you are working with. While we do not plan to use GIS traditionally, we are certainly going to expose the data that people have inside the BIM or CAD tools and in that sense these two worlds are coming together.
What we have learnt through all these years is that the customers use multiple tools from multiple vendors. And if we can work together better, then the customers will use us for the right task. We want to help the customers have a more seamless experience of exchanging data while using different tools.
Interoperability and design standards
Interoperability is both very important and unimportant. While it is extremely important that the users are able to use whatever data that they need, it is not important at all to try and solve the problem from the 1980s which relates to the classic file format. In a new world, we have to make that completely transparent to the users through things like disoriented architecture and open standards. For example, there are ways in which I can use the Google Web service without ever having to understand the way they have stored their data. Thus, interoperability is very important to solve the customer problems but it is not important to solve it the way we had thought about it in the 1980s, which was trying to read another file format.
Customised apps in virtual gaming
The demand for customised apps means that the users want an experience that is tailored to the needs of their company. That is always going to be true and thus we all have to adhere to providing APIs and good tools for people to build custom apps. Games that children play are a great example of that, many companies want to solve practical business problems with that approach. There are car companies that want to have a new car model through a very realistic experience, literally to the point where you could sit inside the car and see what it would look like. Virtual gaming is an inevitable next step in our gallery because we have always seen the physical and digital worlds collide.
The cloud revolution
Thirty years ago, Autodesk was founded against the backdrop of the PC revolution. The PC gave a platform for small and medium-size businesses to adopt computing for a variety of purposes. I see the same thing happening again with cloud. Everyone has a mobile device now, which gives us the ability to reach millions of mobile users by building software that empowers those people, just like we did in the PC era. Therefore, we are strategically building professional tools for mobile devices and are also building consumer design tools.