I have been invited to attend an Autodesk Cam Customer Advisory Meeting at IMTS this year. Before I get into that though just some reflections on events of the past few years.
Dealing with different companies is an interesting thing and how they interact with customers varies wildly. I remember the days of Solid Edge where bloggers and those fellow travelers of SE who were fans of the product were pretty well ignored. Now I don’t mean important people did not listen and do the right things I mean the corporate money never reached out past the SEU events to the outside world.
After each SE University in years gone by when Karsten was in charge there was a by invite only meeting after all the official events were over. He collected important users to sit in a round table and talk about what was most important with the community and as users regarding the state of the software namely SE.
To the best of my knowledge there was never any aid provided to any SE bloggers to be there although one year a couple of SW bloggers were there with some pretty sad results. And of course people like Ralph Grabowski as industry analysts and commentators were assisted in being there. People who agreed to run a session and after being approved to do so were given a free pass to the University but I don’t know if anything else was covered.
I remember sitting in Kris Kasperzak’s office one day in Huntsville before he moved on to the NX darkside. I was trying to get him to see the logic in paying the way for friendly voices from the user/blogger community to have their expenses covered if they wished to go. It was not for me as I was paying my own way but it was to try to open the door for others who would presumably write favorable things about SE. I knew some that I had in mind who would have.
Kris was a good litmus test for prevailing mindset and thoughts of Siemens type corporate management. His reply after politely listening was that it was just to expensive to do that. Now I figure by that point in time I had hundreds of hours into promoting SE and the community for which I had never received a penny. I worked out a deal for SE before I was a blogger and paid for it all along out of my pocket. I paid my way to the SEU’s where I spent the majority of my time talking to these industry analyst reporter types and meeting with SE people. I might get to three or four sessions. I did it because I believed in SE and wanted to see it take its proper place in the scheme of things.
His reply was pretty humorous to me later that same year as I find out that out of approximately 500 people who showed up only 174, if I remember right, were actual SE users. The rest were mostly Siemens employees who did nothing and were going to do nothing to promote SE and they did not use the program to earn a living. You SE programmers in Huntsville know I am not talking about you guys. I am not talking about direct SE employees who had a future in part staked out on the success of SE. I am talking about purely wasted dollars spent on Siemens people who were paid to have a good time to fill a room up for publicity purposes. That must have been what the Kasperzak etal mindset considered a wise use of funds.
Perhaps it is a form of benign insanity to do such a thankless thing as blogging out of loyalty and regard for a software program. For some reason CAD CAM software excites people and creates followers and many of us each year look with anticipation to see and use what is new. Some companies get that and others don’t. I do know that over the last five years most bloggers that did so out of their own pockets in regard for a product are gone. Today the vast majority, I mean like 95%+ as far as I can tell, are VAR or software authoring company employees. This result directly parallels the perceived and actual regard software authoring companies have for their users is my guess.
I have no idea what to expect here nor what the potential results may be. I don’t know how assiduously Autodesk pursues responding to customer opinions. For instance the subscription policy now in place is a direct slap in the face of users first, customers first and they choose what they want. It is a repudiation of the idea that quality should sell your product and the installation of a top down CPA MBA dictatorship meant solely to increase unavoidable costs to all who enter into this dark world. It has no regard for users other than as ATM’s.
So it is with some surprise I receive an invite and expenses covered and find out that there are those from as far away as Denmark with the same invite. Apparently someone is serious about finding out what CAM users think. I know some of the invitees and they are loyal users with however some unpleasant things to say. Kind of like me.
I don’t know how successful this subs paradigm is working out for Autodesk and we will never know until time reveals their reported income and from whence it was derived. Of course manipulative CPA MBA dollar experts would never put a spin on anything don’t you know but still truth will eke out.
At the very least I can say that Autodesk CAM is willing to listen and pay to listen to customers. SE would listen but only if you were willing to pay to be listened to.
Hoping for the best and that this is a harbinger of good things to come.