Autodesk Responds to Revit Customers' Concerns31 Jul, 2020 By: Cadalyst Staff
The developer of the building information modeling (BIM) software addresses criticisms leveled by architects who are frustrated by rising costs, licensing changes, and other issues.
Autodesk responded today to the complaints of a group of 25 architectural design firms that took the software company to task in an open letter to Autodesk President and CEO Andrew Anagnost. Spearheaded by Iain Godwin of Godwin Consulting, the letter was based on a June survey of IT directors and digital design leaders in firms that use Autodesk Revit, including Zaha Hadid Architects and Richard Rogers, Stirk, Harbour + Partners. The firms reportedly use more than 5,000 seats of Revit in total, to the tune of $22 million over the past five years.
According to Godwin’s press release, the letter “comes as a reaction to years of successive Autodesk development and business decisions which have frustrated its most advanced customers. These firms are at the leading edge of BIM adoption, pushing the use of 3D in design through to fabrication and now feel hampered by lack of development, all while the cost of ownership increases.”
Primary concerns cited in the letter include:
Stagnating development. The complainants are concerned by the lack of a progressive overall development plan, and a paucity of productivity improvements. “Most practices think that the platform is not meeting current industry requirements,” the letter reported. “Every day digital design leaders around the world wrestle with software which at its core is twenty years old and incapable of the potential of multicore computing and graphics power designed to process within today's real and virtual workstations. Project productivity in architectural and engineering practices is hit daily because of the lack of scalability and product performance, which then requires sophisticated and practice-specific ‘work arounds.’”
Rising costs and shifting licensing strategy. Firms have reportedly experienced cost increases of as much as 70% over the past five years of using Revit. Complaints included the rapid evolution of Autodesk licensing models in recent years, causing companies to juggle individual product licenses, suites, collections, and named-user licenses. Also cited were “aggressive sales tactics in enterprise licensing.”
Collaboration and interoperability problems. “Project design outcomes thrive on ever‐increasing collaboration between different design disciplines requiring many forms of data interoperability between software platforms as well as compliance to international data standards,” the letter stated. “It is essential to effect better interoperability between Autodesk products as well as with the rest of the industry.”
“A Reply to Our Customers’ Open Letter on Autodesk Revit” was written by Amy Bunszel, who, as senior vice president of Design and Creation Products, manages product strategy and execution for Revit, among other products. She opened by thanking the customers who wrote the letter and said, “while we don’t agree with everything in the letter, we are committed to listening.”
Reallocating development resources. Regarding the customers’ development concerns, Bunszel said that “we spend a substantial percentage of our development resources every year focused on quality and performance in Revit” but acknowledged that Autodesk has “underinvested in architectural modeling functionality in recent years.” Explaining the development tradeoffs that led to this situation, she said that product development was shifted to focus on the needs of engineering and construction customers, with the goal of enabling all major stakeholders to participate in the BIM process: “The result of this was a slowdown in development on core architectural modeling capabilities.”
To address the development deficit, Autodesk increased investment and resources for Revit architectural capabilities at the end of last year, Bunszel said. She noted that it will take more time for the impact of increased investment in architectural capabilities to be fully realized, and that progress will be communicated via the Revit Public Roadmap.
Costs and license model changes. Bunszel pointed out that licensing model changes were due to Autodesk’s transformation into a subscription-based company, and that “we’ve done our best to balance” licensing changes with enhanced value (with additions such as product usage reporting) and license trade-in offers. She also noted something that the architectural firms have likely taken into account: “There are also positive business drivers that will naturally increase customers’ costs over time — such as adding more subscriptions as their company grows, moving to BIM, and upgrading to industry collections to advance the skills of their employees.”
Improving interoperability and collaboration. “We believe opening up access to the Revit engine and data through Forge web-based APIs will enable new, targeted tools to be created to serve the industry,” Bunszel said. She acknowledged the need for better connections among Autodesk’s own products and said, “We have recently shipped better interoperability between Civil 3D and Revit, Revit and Inventor, SketchUp and Revit, and are actively working on improving data flows with these and other products.” Autodesk has enabled multi-user authoring within and across firms with BIM 360 Design and Revit Cloud Worksharing, Bunszel reported.
Listening to more customers. Autodesk has re-opened its annual global Revit satisfaction survey, which normally goes to a random sampling, to all customers. This survey is optionally anonymous.