Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Interview – Jim Quanci

At AEC DevCamp I was fortunate to be able to interview Jim Quanci, Director of Autodesk Developer Network (ADN). I sat down with him at lunch and discussed some questions I came up with. Over the past 19 years Jim has worked with Autodesk’s technology software partners. Previously he worked for Sun Microsystems and GE. He mentioned he worked with 1/2” tape to store CAD data. I couldn’t imagine working that way.

In the Civil Engineering community I tend to see an overall reluctance with the acceptance of third party applications to facilitate a person’s job. I explained how I often hear or read complaints of individuals not wanting to purchase third party software. He recognizes the problem as ongoing and there is a attempt to include information on add on products in the promotional material. I felt the overall goal, though not always included, of the Autodesk strategy is to include the basic functionality and have third party developers fill in the void.

Throughout the DevCamp I noticed a different attitude of the Autodesk ADN employees that I don’t normally receive through the normal Autodesk channels. He indicated Autodesk isn’t structured for one on one interaction and relies heavily on the reseller network. Autodesk ADN is able to provide more personalized interaction because providing customization services Autodesk is able to leverage the one person to affect many. Additionally if a person does join ADN the support can provide the company a competitive advantage by helping them build an application themselves.

One example of this I observed at DevCamp was a program a colleague created, along with others, for his company. The program incorporated Civil 3D objects, Excel Spreadsheets and a link between them. The program was set up to match the existing workflow of spreadsheets and tie it directly into the Civil 3D model. The program appears to have created a competitive advantage for the company since they are able to go from design to plans in a shorter time.

Finally I asked him if Autodesk has a sense of humor. He indicated that definitely yes Autodesk has a sense of humor and attempts to not take itself too seriously. He related a story that Carl Bass, CEO of Autodesk, often tells. Carl tells of a story of getting letters from an “owner” of Autodesk. Every so often the person would write demanding Carl do a better job and if he failed the person would fire him, since he owned Autodesk. After a while the person sent a letter explaining to Carl that he had been fired. I think the story does relate from the top that Autodesk does have a sense of humor. (Another interview on Carl may be found here in which he relates the story.)

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