Why don’t you trust Autodesk?

As I mentioned earlier, any company that wants to move its customers to the Cloud is going to need the trust of those customers. Three months ago, I started a poll to try to get some measure of how trustworthy you consider Autodesk to be, in terms of doing the right thing by its customers. The results of that poll look pretty awful for Autodesk. Right from the start, the distrusters have outnumbered the trusters by three to one, with the current results showing an overwhelming majority of respondents (77%) not trusting Autodesk.

Why? What has Autodesk done in the past, or is doing now, that leads people to this level of distrust? If you have voted in this poll, I’d like to know your reasons, so please add your comments whichever way you voted. If you think there’s an issue with the question wording and/or its simple Yes/No choice, feel free to say so.

There will be a number of people who have an inherent distrust of corporations, so as a control I’ve added a number of polls to try to see how much that influences the results. There are near-identical polls for a wide range of different corporations. There’s a poll for an on-line retailer and Cloud service provider (Amazon), one for a computer and gadget maker (Apple), one for another CAD company (Bricsys, makers of Bricscad), one for a maker of cars, motorbikes etc. (Honda), and one for a traditional retailer (Target). I’ll be interested to see how trustworthy you consider those corporations to be, and how they compare to Autodesk.

27 comments to Why don’t you trust Autodesk?

  • ralphg

    For me, the fundamental problem is the number of software products Autodesk has dropped in its 25-year history — even popular ones, like Generic CADD and Actrix. The only software you can trust is the one that’s installed on your computer with a permanent license. Sure, eventually it will go obsolete, but only when you decide to move on, and not when the software company make the decision.

    Google has been bugging me for months to switch to the new look on cloud-based GMail, which is a worse than the current look. One day, they will remotely throw the switch against my wishes, and I’ll be stuck with a less-productive interface not of my choosing. That’s a problem.

  • I second Ralph on his comment. I don’t distrust Autodesk. It’s not a question of trust. It’s a question of human nature, it’s willing to improve, even for things wich do not need to. Unfortunately, improving means changing and changing is the ennemy of trust. Would you trust someone who’s going to change your way of doing things for something better when you have not being asked what better means for you? Le mieux est bien souvent l’ennemi du bien.

  • Dean

    Unwillingness to change seems to be the dominant reason judging by the two posts so far: that attitude is what relegates many of my colleagues into dead-end jobs, with dead-end companies who’s client base is shrinking because their companies are also stuck with the same mindset.
    More work for the rest of us is my attitude, I telish taking away clients from such companies and individuals by displaying our ability to change, adapt, and staying current in providing the best service to them.
    Watch out you 77%-ers out their, I am after your clients next: and stealing what talented staff you have left that feel handicapped by your attitude. 2012 is going to be a great year.

  • I am not against change, I am against changing for something I do not need or something “offered” to me for obscure reasons. I am talking here about the professional domain, not about philosophy. In the philosophical domain, I am for perpetual change and experiment. And about our professional successes, Ralph and me are rather ok, thanks!

  • Dean

    Software changes don’t take place on a vacuum at any software company, none. They all add features and abilities based of user feedback, market research, alpha and beta testing, and more.
    If your only exposure to changes in the software you critically need for business is only revealed to you at that software’s release, then you are not actively participating in the process.
    Same is true if you find yourself using a deadend software like Citrix and such: the writing is usually on the wall way before the plug is pulled. You just have to participate.

    We are all busy, so that’s no excuse for inactivity.

    • ralphg

      Dean makes the optimistic assumption that all change is for the better, and that anything newer is superior than everything older.

      I am not resistant to change; I am resistant to change being imposed on me before it proves itself worthwhile. The newly-added bugs and crashes in a software upgrade are not superior to the previous bug-free, crash-free version, and I find remarkable that anyone should hold such a belief.

  • Matt Lombard

    Change for the sake of change at a corporate level is something you have to inherently mistrust, because there is no such thing. Corporations are not altruistic, and they are not going to change randomly or just to benefit you. The benefit to them has to be bigger than the benefit to you, or they wouldn’t do it. It’s just the way business works. So you have to examine every change more critically than just with the belief that “change is good”. You have to look at a ratio of Change per Benefit.

    And then that only measures your trust of their intentions. Do you really believe that Autodesk (or any CAD vendor) has more skill in implementing cloud solutions than Amazon, Google, or any of the other cloud pillars that have been mercilessly hacked by organizations who are maybe not even interested in the data, but interested in demonstrating that there is no such thing as online data security? How much do you trust their competence against a real threat?

    And then you have to look at if the cloud really benefits you. Does it really benefit you for your CAD activities? For some people the answers are yes, but those are probably large organizations with international design operations. For me, I use cloud tools for stuff I want to give away, but not for large data, and certainly not for anything I want to keep private, and have dependable access to.

  • Dave Ault

    Funny how people who just want tools that work reliably and securely are regarded by some. Even stranger is the idea that tools that no one asked for are to have value and worth over those of genuine productivity that have been requested, sometimes for years to no avail.

    I find that these who boast of being on the cutting edge quite often fall into two categories. A, intend to derive income in some form or fashion from sales or support of this cool new stuff or B, kids who work somewhere who don’t have to pay the bills and sit behind a desk with no responsibility busy making time to tweet for hours a day.

  • I’m not sure how much of this ‘change’ discussion is relevant to the question I asked, but it’s interesting anyway.

  • R. Paul Waddington

    Change is not a factor in my trust (huge lack of) in Autodesk.
    Autodesk’s management, more specifically, the individuals who comprise Autodesk and its dealer base are the reason I do not trust Autodesk.
    Autodesk’s trust issues start and end with people who simply do not have the skill or capability to engage with customers concerning issues which are of extreme importance.
    Autodesk’s management squandered the trust they had in earlier times and to a man & woman should be ashamed of themselves. Autodesk lost my trust through compounded management stupidity. They simply failed to behave as responsible corporate citizens; a far more serious problem than that of product problems or change.
    No spectacular product or service from Autodesk would restore my trust in the individuals who are the management and sales of Autodesk.
    Trust is a gift, it must be earned, valued and nurtured. Companies don’t do that individuals do and, when they cannot – as is the case with Autodesk management, staff and dealers – Autodesk, the entity, is not trusted!
    Happy to expand if your game ;-)

  • Steve, I think the link to your original question is the link between trust and change. I used to be an AutoCAD user, an early adopter of Mechanical Desktop 1.1, moving up from R12. It was a cool idea, but an awful implementation. After that, it was hard for me to trust a company that put out software that bad.

    Love the polls, by the way. Not sure what it all means, but it’s cool to see the differences in responses.

  • R. Paul Waddington

    In the market place Mechanical Desktops biggest problem was a dealer channel who just simply didn’t understand what they had in front of them and Autodesk who had nobody in place to adequately support a product of that type.
    That was compounded by market place participants hammered by rapidly changing products, meaning many product virtues were simply overlooked because people were, so busy, looking for the “next big thing” before fully understanding what they had available. We and some of our customers had great success with MDT and Autodesk crapped all over us but that was not the cause of my loss of trust in Autodesk.
    That situation, to me, is part of business. Similar could have happened with a piece of machinery purchased or a car which turns out to be a lemon. It does not automatically follow I would loose trust in an organization or their management for having provided a faulty product.
    What erodes trust in a company is how the management, staff and sales people handle the person/customer when a change, product or problem adversely affects their business and they need helping.
    Autodesk lost my trust because the management and staff failed to respond professionally to problems their company created!
    A similar problem can be followed right now just by reading Matt Lombard’s blog. The management at SolidWorks, if they have any respect for their customer, customers and product should have weighed into Matt’s problem with hours of him publishing his first comment. SolidWorks World is in full flight and blind Freddie can see what value to the Solidworks organization management intervention would be returned in trust, good will and product development.
    Steve was correct when he said he could substitute “Autodesk” for “SolidWorks”. Solidworks management loose if they don’t respond to Matt. Matt’s customers, SolidWorks and their customers win with improved product if management respond sensibly – it would also restore a degree of Trust in the organization as well.
    Autodesk “lost” MDT when it stupidly chased SolidWorks with Inventor. MDT and Inventor provided the foundation on which we got to watch how inadequate Autodesk management were in handling a “complex but not difficult” situation and in doing so lost a great measure of customer trust. In Matt’s issue now we can watch Solidworks management repeating Autodesk’s mistakes; I just love the irony :-)
    Would I consider switching from Inventor & AutoCAD to Solidworks based on what I am witnessing? Go figure!
    What trust do CAD users have in the management and staff (not their products) of Solidedge/Siemens, I wonder?

  • Chris Cowgill

    I have issues trusting a company that says it listens to its customers, but time and time again shows that it really isnt listening by introducing features that dont work, features that only partially work, revised features that are new and improved that actually provide less functionality than their predecessor, and features that reduce productivity and that only a very small select group of users actually would ever find useful.

    • Chris, while I don’t take issue with your comments, if they are directed towards Autodesk (I assume so), I must also say they aren’t very specific. Would you care to elaborate? I think this is the point of the topic in question.

      • Chris Cowgill

        Not necessarily directly at Autodesk, although they do apply. The help system is one, content explorer, several others that do not work like one would think they should. I would like to elaborate and be more specific, but I dont think I can.

  • Rex

    They redesigned their interface with their menus gobbling the top of the screen instead of the sides at a time when monitors were all moving to a wide screen format. Rocket scientists need not apply.

  • Mr. J.:

    I trust Autodesk to do what’s best for Autodesk, and for their shareholders. Their ‘subscription’ business model is a prime example that demonstrates Autodesk’s priorities: Shareholders come first, every single time. We the paying customers do not need a new release of software every year, (though we will take any free updates that patch programming problems), so who beneifts the most form the subscription service? The whole point of that model is to maintain the revenue stream – period. I’m quite sure that all users would simply prefer solid software that is released every four years – this would also likely make the programmers much more satisfied with their own handiwork.

    Rest assured, Autodesk is pushing the cloud to benefit their shareholders, not the paying end-user. Trust in that.

  • S Lafleur

    There are companies I trust, albeit with sceptical eyes open, and companies, like Autodesk, that I used to trust, but have grown to trust much less, if at all. Back in the old days, when they (and all of us old-timers) were new to PC-based CAD, AutoDesk seemed more trustworthy. There was a “we’re all in this together” feeling about it. Back then, changes to the software were viewed by many as good and were actual improvements. They made some missteps (ACAD v13, anyone?), but quickly rectified them (I think v14 was proof of that). Then they grew, and grew and everything that made them good and trustworthy went to hell, in my opinion. Upgrading has become painful, rather than something to look forward to. How much trouble will it be to upgrade this time, whilst also trying to maintain productivity? I’m not averse to change, but stupid change-for-change-sake is a waste of time and money. Why did they redesign the icons – may as well change the alphabet, while you’re at it. And ribbons? really? I don’t like them in Word or Excel, either, though in AutoCAD I can change back to classic, at least.

  • I know this is an old post, but I am trying to catch up. .-) My trust of Autodesk was already on rocky ground, for all the reasons mentioned above. However, after going through an audit, any trust I had left is gone. When the lead person conducting the audit is a salesman who makes commission, it feels very much like getting ‘protection’ from the mafia.

    • R. Paul Waddington

      Anthony, I would like to know more about the process you went through. If you are at liberty to pass on the details please contact me via phone or email.
      Thank you R. Paul Waddington.

  • Kim Bruns

    I used to love and trust Autodesk. I’ve been using AutoCAD since Rel. 9. They used to put out a quality product. Now it seems all they care about is $$$.

    This annual prescription cycle has resulted in a bulkier, buggier product with little bang for the buck. I’ve begged their people to just spend one version and clean the code and make it more efficient. They don’t do it.

    The cui, you think they would’ve fixed that by now after seven versions. It’s still has issues.

    I could go on but they don’t listen.

    Sorry about the tirade.

  • James Maeding

    This thread is over but maybe Steve will see this post.
    The implied point in the question is if we trust Autodesk to have some kind of balanced relationship with us. Only problem is, they do not know which of us to trust, in order to define what is good and bad behavior. Instead, there is some kind of conservatism going on that makes it hard to get people to believe you know your stuff. Why would anyone at Autodesk reach out to me to understand my claims of some feature not working, if the end result will be them feeling bad about the feature. We can’t have that, then the marketing people may lose confidence and only claim each release raises productivity by 30% instead of 40%. The individuals at Adesk are top notch people, but as a group, magical things happen and our input seems to transform somehow. So I trust individuals at Autodesk, but not the final actions of the company.

  • Chris Wade

    It boils down to this:

    “You hereby grant Autodesk (or warrant that the licensor of such rights has expressly granted) a perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, royalty-free, paid-up, worldwide, sublicensable (through multiple tiers) license to store, display, reproduce, modify, use and transmit Your Content, and further waive “moral” rights or other rights with respect to attribution of authorship or integrity of Your Content that You may have under any applicable law and under any legal theory.”

    Section 2.2 of http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/item?siteID=123112&id=17784802

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