Autodesk’s platform play, explained

Autodesk has helped bring the industrial world into the future, but with Forge -- its cloud development platform -- it’s giving companies the tools to build the future themselves.

Autodesk’s move to the cloud has already been credited with pulling the industrial world into the future.

Now, the company is giving those same companies the tools to build the future themselves.

We spoke with Autodesk CEO Andrew Anagnost about the company’s big bet on Forge, its cloud development platform.

First — what the heck is a cloud development platform?

Forge is powered by APIs, which are best described as software intermediaries that allow 2 applications to talk to each other.

Autodesk has long offered its own applications to customers, but with Forge, it’s taking a page out of Amazon’s AWS playbook, allowing 3rd parties to build apps on top of Autodesk products.

The biggest implication, according to Anagnost, is that companies will be able to build verticalized applications that serve more specific needs than Autodesk’s core products.

Some examples include:

  • Digital Twins: Moicon uses Forge to build digital twins for manufacturing companies — giving more visibility into factory operations and allowing teams to boost performance
  • Integrating AR & VR: Resolve uses Forge to combine 3D design models with VR, where construction teams can hold immersive meetings to improve designs

As more companies use Forge…

… the platform will offer customers more features and more ways to tailor Autodesk’s software to specific projects or outcomes.

In other words, Autodesk’s platform play could soon become just as important as its move to the cloud.

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