Autodesk’s State of Design & Make Report


With 2024 predicted to be the ‘Year of AI’, Autodesk’s State of Design & Make Report finds designers and engineers feeling positive about the technology and confident about harnessing its powers, writes Stephen Hooper

Autodesk’s annual State of Design & Make report has just been released and contains a lot of good news. Increasing adoption and growing trust in artificial intelligence (AI), tied to confidence in resilience and optimism across design and make industries are the top findings.

These are based on surveys and interviews of 5,399 global business leaders, futurists and experts in product design, manufacturing, architecture, engineering and construction, as well as the digital arts. These industries collectively employ almost 300 million people and are projected to have a global value of $30 trillion by 2027.

It’s no surprise that AI is a leading digital transformation tactic across our industries, but what Autodesk’s data reveals is that trust in AI is exceptionally high. Companies are leveraging AI to increase productivity and automate mundane, repetitive tasks. Importantly, they predict it will help with crucial design decisions in the future. It’s changing the way businesses operate, enhancing creativity, promoting novel design solutions and fostering sustainability – and yet, we’re still only seeing the start of its powers.

The report reveals that 79% of respondents believe AI will make their industry more creative, and 78% feel it will enhance their industry. This aligns with another key finding of the report: a surge in confidence among industry leaders about resilience of their companies, with 73% of respondents saying they believe they are more ready to handle unexpected changes.

This confidence is especially pronounced among digitally mature companies – those further along in their digital transformation journeys. While more than half of the companies surveyed state that they are nearing or have achieved their goal of incorporating AI, the report highlights that business leaders recognise we are still far from realising its full potential.

Sustainability goals

In the realm of sustainability, many companies have integrated AI into their operations to boost productivity and align their businesses with sustainability goals. Changing attitudes are a significant driver of this progress.

Leaders state they recognise that both customers and employees, particularly younger entrants to the workforce, are having a growing impact on the decisions leaders are making. Individuals appear to be make career decisions, as well as buying decisions, based on their understanding of a company’s stance on sustainability.

An impressive 97% of companies say they have taken action to improve sustainability, investing in energy efficiency, materials reduction and other processes.

Companies that fail to make meaningful sustainability commitments risk falling behind competitors whose values resonate better with their employees and customers.

With 87% of industry professionals agreeing that improving sustainability practices is good for long-term business success, the message seems to be that not doing so puts brand loyalty, product sales, as well as talent recruitment and retention, in jeopardy.

Time to upskill

Which leads us to another, related topic the report highlights: talent development remains a critical aspect of growth.

About half of industry professionals cite access to skilled talent as a barrier to their company’s growth. Upskilling resources and continuous learning remain essential for businesses of all sizes.

AI shows up in the upskilling category as well, with companies prioritising the ability to work with AI, design using digital tools, and software development/ programming as critical talents in the workforce of today and tomorrow.

And while 77% of companies consider upskilling important, there is a worrisome gap in delivery, with only 38% saying their companies possess the necessary skills and resources to design training programmes.

Autodesk’s 2024 State of Design & Make report paints a picture of several interconnected industries that are increasingly confident, forward-looking, and ready to embrace the future.

Technologies like AI that are in the market now, as well as those emerging soon, will increase efficiencies and help address some of these challenges, getting us away from repetitive tasks and analogue processes. Autodesk’s investments in cloud and automation reflect our commitment to leading our customers in their digital transformation journeys.

That said, the challenges of change and improvement, in order to stay competitive, usually go far beyond what the IT department alone can deliver and that shows up throughout the report’s findings.

Cultural and philosophical change, getting beyond the “That’s the way we’ve always done it” mindset, or seeing sustainability goals and profitability as complementary, are parts of the alchemy here. I’m elated to see recognition of that coming through in our research.

About the author:

Stephen Hooper is VP of Design and Manufacturing at Autodesk.

Over the course of two decades, he has successfully equipped manufacturers with the capabilities they need to thrive and is currently delivering on the company’s promise of a converged design and manufacturing platform.

This article first appeared in DEVELOP3D Magazine

DEVELOP3D is a publication dedicated to product design + development, from concept to manufacture and the technologies behind it all.

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