Autodesk Simplifies Channel Program At Partner Summit


"We want our partners to change from industry expertise to customer expertise. That's tough because most of our partners have strong vertical expertise," said Steve Blum, senior vice president of sales for the Americas, explaining Autodesk's greatly simplified partner tiering and authorization structures.

Autodesk formerly required reseller partners to be authorized for each of its dozens of software products, but will now issue broad authorizations in each of three major product categories " Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC); Manufacturing; and Media and Entertainment.

The vendor's partners will now be authorized to sell "complete industry solutions to users of Autodesk software, further broadening the scope of offerings available to customers," Blum said. He added that the new authorization structure reflects Autodesk's strategy of shifting partners' long-standing focus on building expert solutions for specific industry verticals to a more "customer-centric" approach.

"We want our partners to change from industry expertise to customer expertise. That's tough because most of our partners have strong vertical expertise. But those verticals are blurring, so we're becoming more customer-centric in our focus," Blum said, giving the example of AutoCAD users in the Manufacturing sector building products like windows and doors that must be designed in close consultation with their counterparts in the AEC vertical.

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Autodesk is also getting on board with a popular tiering format in the IT industry that brands resellers as either Gold, Silver or Bronze partners. Blum called the new, simplified partner tiers "a long time coming" and help partners move towards "providing end-to-end solutions, beyond just design." He said a fourth, Platinum tier would be added to the mix in the coming months.

Autodesk's main agenda with its new channel initiatives -- which also include more online training availability -- is simplification, Blum said.

"We are not the easiest company to do business with. So we're focused on simplifying. Where complexity didn't exist, we added it, we used to say," he said.

The changes to the Autodesk Partner Program were welcomed by Jeff Gravatte, president of Alexandria, Va.-based CADD Microsystems, winner of Autodesk's Reseller Partner of the Year award for 2009.

"I think Autodesk in the past has gone through many iterations of certifications and the qualifications we've needed to reach to have authorization to conduct our business, and that took a lot of time, a lot of paperwork in order to qualify for those programs, and today that's all changed," he said.

Autodesk's global partner channel includes 1,900 reseller partners, 3,300 developer partners and 1,900 authorized training centers, about half of which are run by channel partners themselves, according to Blum. The company also counts 9 million registered users of Autodesk software and more than 750,000 customers worldwide.