MegaBot, Star Wars and Las Vegas: Autodesk University 2014


We’ve attended tradeshows for the last 20 years and I have to say Autodesk University 2014 in Las Vegas was a great one! This year was all about the cloud, 3D printing and integration, and AU provided the perfect stage. I had the privilege of manning the eQuorum booth, showcasing our innovative document management solutions and how we integrate with Autodesk products.

To say there was a crowd would be putting it lightly. I observed 10,000 CAD minded attendees walk by enjoying all kinds of activities, bites and libations. The hub of the conference was the exhibit hall, so if you wanted to get to the perfectly placed chocolate chip cookie table you passed by the eQuorum booth (thank you AU).

Autodesk University 2014

Social media played a huge role this year. AU sponsored a scavenger hunt where you had to find and post specific targets around the show. You tweet, you win! The winner posted pictures of a 3D printer in action, a robotic arm creating art and Star Wars origami. I think I favored the 13- foot, 7,000 pound MegaBot.

The theme this year was moving to the cloud… and as we all know Autodesk is certainly at the forefront. Their 360 products: A360, Fusion 360 and BIM 360 were all showcased.

We all heard about Autodesk’s move to subscription pricing where you can subscribe to all AutoDesk products for one price on any machine or platform. Similar to the move to the cloud, subscription pricing is generating major interest among many of the larger software providers. I think users might take a while to get used to this like they did when many software companies moved to named user pricing from concurrent. It definitely fits better with a cloud application and software companies can better forecast revenue with subscription based pricing. It is here to stay.

Integration was everywhere! Most all of the vendors, including eQuorum, are integrated with AutoDesk products. AutoDesk certainly has a strong partner organization and assists greatly with integration into their product suite. On the other hand, as we embrace BIM and Revit we are definitely going to see difficulty in interfacing with some of the applications that provide similar functionality. As software vendors try to grab more of the enterprise pie they walk a fine line between being very open and still having a proprietary application. In the end, those providing the functionality users want will win. In terms of collaboration, BIM and Revit are moving in the right direction. It is to be seen if they can convince large groups of their users to follow.

The conference buzz words were 3D printing. It was discussed in many of the sessions and booths as additive manufacturing is gaining ground in a big way. The CAD system remains the main link to 3D printing with its ability to output STL files. As we see greater use of 3D printing in; houses, medical, and low volume production, we will see an increased need for CAD models and CAD expertise. UPS is even testing 3D printing at their local stores. Imagine needing a small knob or part for something in your home. It will soon be commonplace to design it yourself with minimal training and have it printed down the street.

Our booth was next to the A360 booth where AutoDesk was demonstrating virtual reality (VR). You could actually walk through a building panorama wearing special goggles and view architectural interiors and Fusion models. This has so many applications as they perfect the technology.

Most of the attendees we talked to were interested in tools to make their job easier, including: integrated applications with AutoDesk products help users search, collaborate, design and share CAD models and other documents. Most AutoDesk users had a plan to move to Revit and embrace BIM. Users were going at varying degrees of speed but we noted a lot of people still in the 2D world. As with all CAD applications, a very small percentage of users utilize the advanced functionality of their systems. It takes disruptive or game changing technology to wake these users up to what is available. As we see more collaboration and creative use of these tools, we will see growing adoption.

AutoDesk University and similar events help to grow awareness of the possibilities available. So push the envelope, use your free A360 pass and collaborate with someone.

All in all there were a lot of great ideas and food shared and we are only scratching the surface on the technology available to us. We are looking forward to attending AutoDesk University 2015 and moving the needle toward cloud applications, subscription pricing, social media and further integration.

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