[Editor’s note: we begin our preview of this exclusive at the mid-way point of the full article, which is available inside Xpresso.]
However, the origins of the letter, precede the British user groups’ efforts. It has come to the attention of Architosh, through Iain Godwin, that a group of Australian and New Zealand architecture firms reached out to Autodesk with their own letter six years ago. With the British group’s message gaining global attention, other individuals are bringing out their “non-open” letters to Autodesk that failed to bring about the change this same letter is mainly asking for.
Tim Waldock, a Revit consultant at RevitCat published on LinkedIn his story about a 2014 letter sent to Autodesk’s Sales Director for the Asia Pacific. “We feel that the value for the money that we have been spending on the software subscriptions has been diminishing steadily, most noticeably in the last 2 or 3 years. We also feel that the annual enhancements to the software are not being sufficiently driven by existing user requirements—it appears that marketing-driven changes are much more dominant,” the letter reads.
Our goal with Revit has always been to maximize the value it brings to the AEC market, and to do that we must enable all major stakeholders to participate in the BIM process.
And just before the British group published its open letter late in July, a group of South African firms got together and requested a session with the local Autodesk representative to express similar concerns. That session was granted, escalated to a senior executive from Autodesk in Barcelona, and those concerns shared. But in both cases prior to the British group’s letter, Autodesk is said to have failed to honestly respond in both the manner and expectation the groups desired.
A Marriage on the Rocks
With such inadequate response taken in the past, the British group—even with carrying the weight of globally famous marquee design firms like Zaha Hadid Architects—sought this time to make their letter not just public but to get signatories to tell parts of their story to the press. There’s a real sense of urgency and criticality developing this time, and Godwin denies that it is not just about a group of firms that underappreciate what they have and are always complaining.
“I’m a glass-half-full type of person,” he says. “But people’s concerns are real. If [Autodesk] management doesn’t see people’s perceptions, then you have to bring that to their attention, don’t you?”
Ana Matic, Director of Digital Development at Scott Brownrigg, a London based firm with offices across the UK, plus New York, Singapore, and Amsterdam, characterized her firm’s relationship with Autodesk and Revit as a kind of marriage. Scott Brownrigg is an original signatory.
This is the sort of pre-counseling type of letter, the one that says ‘we might need some mediation here?’
“I tend to say it’s a marriage…you know because it’s a very long commitment once you get into a relationship like this with Autodesk,” she says. “It’s not like something where you can just dip in and out; you are making a commitment, and that commitment is long term.” She explained that for Scott Brownrigg, it’s a long-term relationship because there is a significant investment in setting everything up and training people, but also long term because their projects can last five, six, seven, eight, or even nine years.
I asked her if this relationship is like a marriage, what type of letter is the new open letter? Is it the threat-of-breaking-up type of letter, the pre-divorce letter? “No,” she says. “This is the sort of pre-counseling type of letter, the one that says ‘we might need some mediation here?'”