From Numbers to Names: The Importance of Knowing Your Customers

Categories: Our Company

Recently, we announced we are replacing plans based on serial numbers with plans based on users, and built for people. A few customers have asked for more detail on why we made these changes, so I’d like to explain how this change delivers a better experience for customers.

Leading Technology Companies are Built Around Named Users

Consumer companies were first to recognize the importance of knowing users as individuals. Netflix, Spotify, Google, and Amazon have all developed personalized experiences and recommendations drawn from user insights. For example, Amazon can anticipate and respond immediately to customer needs, giving them a distinct advantage over traditional big box retailers who may know inventory, but not individual customers.

Enterprise software companies like Microsoft, Adobe, Slack, Workday, and Salesforce, and their customers, realize the value of named users, too – whether through automated tasks, personalized learning, or collaboration. Microsoft can identify patterns in a user’s work and prompt the user when it can automate a task. For example, if I create a PowerPoint file, Microsoft lets me jointly edit the presentation with my team and then asks me if I want to share that file with the meeting attendees.

Autodesk Has Not Been Standing Still

For decades, Autodesk identified our customers as serial numbers, not people. By helping customers move to subscription over the last several years, we have been able to know and serve customers as individuals and deliver the value they increasingly expect.

And customers are seeing the benefits. Today, approximately 80 percent of Autodesk customers are accessing our software on a named user plan.

How Do Named Users Benefit Everyone?

Individual Users  

When everyone is a named user, each person has dedicated access to the software they need, wherever they are. For example, desktop AutoCAD users can move from a PC at the office to a web-based or mobile version at home, without interruption. Their projects and design libraries are available, regardless of where or how they access. Plus, they will be able to see who made edits to these files, helping them collaborate and get to better outcomes, faster.

We can also offer more personalized learning. For example, in Fusion 360, named users can open their customized learning panel and explore learning pathways. Users can view the profile of a mechanical engineer and the skills this discipline typically requires. Then, Fusion 360 can share a checklist of tasks to complete in order to achieve Autodesk Generative Design Recognition. In the future, we plan to extend this functionality across more products, to help individual users get the skills they need to compete and thrive.

Business Owners and IT Managers

When everyone is a named user, business owners and IT managers will have visibility into how employees are using the software they’ve invested in. Usage data helps customers make smarter decisions for their company. Licensing can be optimized, and future needs will be easier to predict.

Consider this example from a customer who recently got visibility to their data through usage reporting: they noticed that one office has revenue per head of $100,000, while another office the same size had revenue per head of $130,000. Through usage data, they saw the more productive office uses 70 percent Civil 3D/Infraworks and 30 percent AutoCAD, while the less profitable office was the opposite. They change the tool ratio, and six months later, revenue per head for both offices are $130,000. The business is now making an extra $3M annually in profit, without buying any additional software.

“Before [usage reporting], I relied on tribal knowledge to understand what products people needed. Now I can make data driven decisions instead of just educated hunches.” – Jisell, CAD Administrator

Historically, some IT managers were worried a named user model might increase their administration overhead. We listened to this feedback and have invested in tools that make it easier to manage users. Plus, business owners and IT managers will be able to identify their power users who can help educate other employees to increase overall productivity.

User management highlights another advantage of a named user model. Security and data protection will be enhanced because all users are identified. It will be easy to turn access on or off when employees leave your company or move between projects.

Names, Not Numbers 

Last year, our CEO Andrew Anagnost said, “I think Silicon Valley is at its best when it treats its end user like a customer and not a product.”

When we know who our customers are, we can deliver more personal, relevant experiences and insights. We can provide usage data to optimize their software investment and find new opportunities to grow. Simply put, we can better serve our customers when we treat them as people, not just serial numbers.

Update: March 13, 2020 

With the coronavirus (COVID-19) affecting communities, families, and people around the world, this is a difficult time for all of us. At Autodesk, our priority remains the health and wellbeing of our customers, partners, and employees. We are also working to ensure our customers have reliable access to their software and Autodesk support. 

For our customers and partners, we are committed to minimizing disruption to your business as you adjust to these challenging and changing circumstances. We will extend the ability to purchase new multi-user subscription plans to August 7, 2020 and move their retirement to August 7, 2022. While we communicated that we would begin transitioning customers to named user starting May 7, 2020, we do not want to introduce a change at a time when business-as-usual is hard enough. You can find more information about this change here.