Autodesk Inc, the design software manufacturer, is launching a two-pronged drive to harness new business by offering more design products in selected vertical markets and trying to access the untapped sector of PC-based amateur designers. In its chosen vertical sector, the mechanical engineering market, the San Rafael, California company is readying a mechanical package, code-named […]
Autodesk Inc, the design software manufacturer, is launching a two-pronged drive to harness new business by offering more design products in selected vertical markets and trying to access the untapped sector of PC-based amateur designers.
In its chosen vertical sector, the mechanical engineering market, the San Rafael, California company is readying a mechanical package, code-named Rubicon, which will appear next month. It is aimed at the solo engineer market, and will be priced at between $4,000 to $5,000.
It is the company’s third product in the mechanical engineering software space, joining Mechanical 2000 and Mechanical Desktop. It differs from the other two by being specifically designed for this sector. Rubicon’s code will not be based on that of AutoCAD, the company’s flagship product. Many of Autodesk’s other products are merely duplications of that 15-year-old engine, customized for a particular sector.
Autodesk is trying to plumb a more horizontal, less qualified designer market, by reducing the complexity of developing new products, chiefly through object-oriented technology, and making them easier for users. The ‘heads up’ format offers an interface in which information about objects is available on screen. A rectangle which might once have represented a door, for example, is now an ‘object’ aware of its identity and its relationship with hinges, clearance space and a wall which will accommodate it. This data will be offered to architects, for example, with obvious benefits.
Autodesk aims to enable non-designers to use design products for projects such as designing the configuration of a kitchen or the internal walls of a warehouse. Everything is designed, says CEO Carol Bartz. Customers are interested in selecting and designing the things around them, she argues.
Bartz gives an example of the increasing ease of use. Robertson Ceco, a US firm selling metal warehouses, found that customers wanted to choose specific designs. By training salesmen to use Autodesk technology, the sales reps can now offer, in real time, customized warehouses with features that the customer has selected on the rep’s laptop.
Previously, the company would have sold software only to the architectural design division of the Lisbon Expo last year. But it actually sold a range of design-related tools across the whole organization, such as visualization and facilities management software. These enabled administrators to sell space in the buildings before they were built, and to arrange the premises in the most efficient and cost-effective way.
Spreading the use of design tools down the skill spectrum clearly expands the potential market. Autodesk president Eric Herr describes this as a critical business assumption central to the company’s strategy. The target is to put computer-aided design (CAD) onto the PC and concentrate on shifting maximum product numbers.