When Tech Soft 3D first started reselling Autodesk platforms back in 2010, we knew the concept of rapid development platforms seemed like a good idea on paper. Importantly, these OEM products perfectly suited a particular type of development team: companies that wanted to make full-scale stand-alone options that extend the value of their Autodesk plug-ins based on a trusted, well-developed platform. The promise of OEM development is that it would enable ISV’s to reach more end users through cost-effective pricing and specialized functionality.
Two and half years and many customers later, and we now have plenty of real data on how this new twist on Autodesk development is yielding big results. While our findings certainly don’t contradict our initial expectations, they provide a broader, nuanced perspective. Here are three unexpected benefits we discovered.
Extreme Resource Savings
Clearly, one of the implicit benefits of using software components like pre-built Autodesk platforms is it shifts the burden of re-creating pre-existing, well-tested code. This frees valuable resources to pinpoint the focus on development that builds value and differentiates their offerings. But in fact, this benefit extends beyond the initial development period and into long-term product maintenance. For example, our customer FabCAD (read customer story) was further able to streamline by operating without a technical support team. It turned out that the inherent reliability of building on Autodesk technology, perfected by millions of Autodesk development hours, meant there was simply no need. Translation: enormous cost savings and happier customers. Another customer, PROCAD (read customer story) used its time and development savings to so thoroughly scope its customers’ needs, the next version of its SpoolCAD software will address almost all customer-requested functionality.
Dramatically Fast Development
Anyone involved in product development knows the excruciating reality of development setbacks. Beyond the frustrations and lost revenue, a real long-term competitive advantage can be gained by faster releases and adjustments to market changes. Autodesk OEM products whittle development periods from extended months (or years) to a compact period over a couple of months or even weeks. Take our customer MiTek, for example (read customer story). They were able to quickly deliver the first object-oriented timber frame detailing software on the UK market by building on AutoCAD OEM. Of course, being first isn’t everything. But Autodesk technology allowed MiTek to interface with other CAD users in the supply chain and for the first time deliver traditional carpentry tools to customers in mainland Europe, giving them the leading market position from day one. Market leaders are very often the first to market, and the time-to-market benefit Autodesk OEM delivers can be the difference between establishing yourself as a leader or being forever an also-ran.
Better Distribution Potential
One reason Autodesk platforms are advantageous is that tailored, stand-alone products are an easier sell to smaller, niche industries often priced out of full-blown CAD systems. One of the great things we’ve learned is that this method of all-in-one technology not only appeals to certain end users: it fits well within certain distribution channels. Take FabCAD (mentioned above), a software provider to the ornamental metal and fencing industries. Distributors of building materials that are not equipped to sell full seats of AutoCAD can now easily sell the simple, market-specific FabCAD software conveniently alongside the actual building materials, increasing FabCAD’s exposure and reach.