India is a great microcosm of global trends that we see

In an exclusive tete-a-tete with DQ Channels, Steve Blum, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Sales and Services, Autodesk talks about his company’s strategic vision.

What are the priorities in Autodesk’s channel roadmap for 2016-17 in India?

Historically, the channel has been a key part of our go to market strategy. We do business in a number of countries around the world and each and every day our partners are out representing Autodesk. We commend them for the service that they provide to the millions of customers that we have. One of the unique aspects of Autodesk is that we are providing services from the largest enterprises around the world to even individual users and makers. So we cover a large user base when compared to any other company in the industry, overall and that kind of coverage around the world requires lots of sales and technical people to ensure that our end customers are highly successful with the software. Our channel is very important to us overall. We have been working on a business model transition over the last few years, in fact we have moved from the traditional model of selling perpetual licenses with maintenance attached to selling product subscriptions; term based access to our software. We ended the sale of our individual products of perpetual licenses to our software at the end of our fourth quarter of our last fiscal year. Our partners have been critical towards helping us manage through that transition. Since our partners sell more product subscriptions than any other part of our business overall and they have been critical to our transition. Furthermore, moving to this new radical revenue business model overall. By the way we have multiple types of partners; we have VARs that work through VADs here in India. In some parts of the world we have e-stores or volume channel partners. For instance, one of our volume channel partners in India is Amazon with whom we have just initiated a business relationship with. Also, in parts of the world, we do transactions direct. Specifically it is over our named accounts in mature markets. So we have a very diverse go to market options such as working directly with the end customer. Working through our VARs and VADs which is where a majority of our business goes, volume channel partners like Amazon or even engaging with customers directly through an e-store. So that is the global view. It is a consistent approach that we have this year and next year and we do not anticipate fundamental shifts or changes. The only challenge is collaborating with our partners and helping them manage the transition to the business model shift. Especially since it impacts cash flows for a one year window of time.

Could you expound upon your partner channel framework and major account programme in India?

India is a great microcosm of global trends that we see. Due to our new strategy we are getting TAM expansion within our existing base. We have also introduced cloud based offerings that are solving new problems in totally different ways; For instance, our product Fusion 360 is only such cloud based solution for front and back manufacturing. The Fusion 360 API offers scaffolding for a platform that integrates design, manufacturing, and supply chain. It is a product innovation platform and that is the key term. It is here that we see the entire manufacturing industry being disrupted and changing; for the full integration of mechanical design, conceptual design, simulation, CAM and even with generate design all on a platform with PLM and even connections to IoT. All of this within a solitary platform and this did not exist before. These offerings are giving our partners opportunities to solve problems in unique ways and meet the needs of people that we did not even have a solution for in the past. The TAM expansion is really the core of why we have made all these changes and have been investing so heavily in cloud.

What would be the focal point of emphasis for the Autodesk GTM pitch for enterprise System Integrators to their customers in India?

As we are reaching new customers and bring in new offerings. Ensuring that the customers are successful in using the offerings is a critical element of success for us. We are relying on our partners to do that overall and one of the benefits of our partner network. While we cannot directly get through our end users and service their needs but through our partners we can absolutely do that. We are providing them with partner enablement training in order for them to deliver adoption and effective use services to customers overall. It is a critical component of our success going forward. So we are working with educational institutions at the front end of our process and are having partners focus on providing the customer success oriented adoption services to help commercial firms have success in using these offerings.

What are some of the best practices deployed in Autodesk’s channel strategy?

Our partners shape our partner framework and we do this on a global basis. However, we have local advisory boards and we have a meeting with the India partner advisory board soon. Ostensibly, we have a very collaborative relationship with our partners. Our partners to a very large extent around the world have built their businesses around the Autodesk business and so we have joint goals, common goals and we collaborate. So that is a best practice. Many companies have to fight for mindshare with their partners overall and they do everything to be remembered. Our partners are pretty much dedicated extensions of Autodesk overall. So we do not have to spend time trying to earn their mindshare. We spend time collaborating on strategy and market expansion opportunities and things like that. However, when it comes to new offerings we need to do the heavy lifting in bringing those offerings to market and dry scale them to business so that our partners can take them and drive them to the masses. So a lot of the work that we are doing in Fusion is an example of the work that has been done by a lot of folks on Pradeep’s team for example. Now, the goal is that we actually scale this and we sell everything to our partners; the partners should be able to learn with us as we go. There is also a cost of introducing new offerings to the marketplace. For the most expensive time for a new product is at the very beginning; It is only when you achieve market adoption and you , scale your sales place, delivery adoption and it is easier to implement through our partners and we are doing a lot of work to develop those practices and passing them to our partners overall. I consider that a best practice and the collaborative approach that we take.


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