Autodesk looks to ramp up services for its channel

Callan Carpenter

Callan Carpenter, vice president of global services at Autodesk.

Autodesk is ramping up its focus on services, assigning Callan Carpenter, formerly vice president of global subscriptions and support, its new vice president of global services, and introducing an in-house consulting arm that will largely work with the company’s channel partners.

Carpenter said the new group aims to offer a “much more integrated solution” to the end user, offering analysis, custom development and implementation services, part of a bid to solidify the enterprise end of its business.

“We wok up to the fact that lot of our business comes from enterprise customers, but our sales model is very middle-market – we had a blind spot in the enterprise,” he said. “We don’t really have a legacy of coming to the enterprise as a provider of solutions, of which software is a component but not the be-all-and-end-all.”

As a result, Carpenter said, although the company’s software is on many PCs at many large customers, the company is not well-represented on the CIO’s list of major vendors. So while the company clearly wants to keep its midmarket base, it’s looking to expand its services presence to make it more strategic to enterprise customers.

While Carpenter is realistic about the company’s services goals – he quips that Autodesk “is a long way from becoming Oracle” when it comes to services – the expansion is a major part of the company’s strategy to from from its current $2 billion (U.S.) per year business to $3 or $4 billion.

“We’re unique in being a $2 billion software company without a services business,” he said.

The company is clearly including its solution provider partners along for the ride. Alice Polk, director of the partner services program at Autodesk, said the company has already made packages of services, and training on how to deliver them, to the company’s solution providers. That can include intellectual property, training, and repeatable solutions that have come out of the consulting group but can be resold. Polk’s group is also going after the major system integrators to continue its enterprise push.

The company has done consulting services for about six years, but Carpenter said that group has been largely “in the shadows,” used for training and deal enablement. Now, in many cases, Autodesk will lead with services – with the solution rather than with the tools that make that solution possible.

For Cansel, a Burnaby, BC-based Autodesk partner, services currently make up about 10 per cent of its revenues with the vendor. But Stephen Fletcher, vice president for the Western Region at Cansel, says the company’s goal is to get that figure to about 25 per cent. He applauds the work the software vendor is going in helping to make services more accessible to the channel.

“It’s a huge growth potential, and we’ve done what we can internally,” Fletcher said. “We need some help to make it happen.”

Fletcher said Autodesk has helped his company build out its services by making Autodesk consultants available to come out on calls or to work on projects and by “assisting with the price tag on that,” something that’s key for Cansel, which sees the opportunity in services, but does not yet want to invest in bringing on additional technical resources. Fletcher said Cansel will likely add a project manager to help the services side of the business, and is eyeing adding a developer, looking to build out its custom software operations.

Carpenter didn’t offer specific growth goals for the services business, saying that Autodesk’s goal is “to grow the business as far and as fast and as broad as we can build the business case for,” but did stress that the company’s channel remains key in making that strategy happen, and stands to profit from that growth.

“We think that, at the end of the day, if we’re doing $X in services, our ecosystem is going to do some big multiplier on X if this plays out the way we think it’s going to play out.”