Autodesk History and Culture:
Autodesk, Inc., a leader in 3D design software and services, brings a special magic to the drawing table. Since its inception in 1982 with flagship product, AutoCAD, the company has proliferated into a breadth of 3D computer aided design tools that awe and inspire both creative and technical talent.
Autodesk's influence in the industry is fostered by leading architects and engineers shaping the future of seismic impacts like the East Bay Bridge in San Francisco. In art and entertainment, digital artists and designers, prototyping cinematic art and digital media effects have resulted in the last 16 Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects.
Such progress and support for many through learning is currently the focus of social collaboration at Autodesk. Victor Solano, Sr. Manager of Learning Experience & Frameworks, is behind the learning design project, Autodesk WikiHelp community, and is spearheading a new concept of open learning through empowerment.
Autodesk’s Deeply Rooted User Communities:
The tribes of Autodesk users are known to share their work for the collective good. Open learning serves as a repository for student learning as well as design professionals sharing ideas and creative genius.
Users help each other solve problems through user generated content, already deeply rooted in Autodesk's 300+ blogs, social media, and discussion forums.
In fact, community engagement at its best is experienced through the largest Autodesk User Group International (AUGI) of over 200,000 members. The Autodesk University annual events also draw thousands of attendees to Las Vegas where its guiding theme is users learning from each other and exploring new challenges.
Autodesk’s Game Changer - Product Help with Community Knowledge:
Striking a humorous chord, Victor begs the question "Could we have Help pages talk?" Take a look at any traditional Help system--the pages are static, lacking any verve of interactive experience.
In building a use case, Autodesk explored new ways to learn and share information through focus groups and customer surveys. New generations of learning methods, new tools and platforms were needed to give users connectivity and access to more enriched content.
WikiHelp is now launched to give users the ability to edit or add new pages, upload videos, comment, and add tags in the community. Community moderators and user experience curators show up to lend their support. Victor set the stage, "We give users a voice in a published fashion."
Inside many Autodesk products, such as Revit, Inventor, and Creative Finishing, when users press F1 or the Help button for contextual help, the user path is automatically directed to Autodesk WikiHelp, introducing users to the community that is now offered in 14 languages.
Autodesk Examples – Designers Know Best:
Because Autodesk’s challenge is supporting the long tail of users, in digital speak, referring to the depth of product end uses, Autodesk seeks to delight customers through user experiences. In the words of digital creative agency executive and Autodesk user, storytelling and experiences ignites the fire for people to share and engage in the digital world.
In the WikiHelp community, Autodesk’s Inventor users and the company’s Manufacturing Learning Experience Team exchange valuable comments and conversation. Troubleshooting among a handful of users uncovered an error, the Close option of the Line command was disabled over existing lines that was corrected in product knowledge and the product. Inventor, a popular mechanical design product line of 3D mechanical design tools, received a boost from these product users, who cheered and enjoyed a glorious moment of their discovery.
Another active community is surrounding Revit, an architecture building design application, built for building information modeling (BIM), a highly demanded skill. In the WikiHelp, a knowledgeable user describes water management design constraints in a company produced video--fabricating to see that the finished design works before an actual installation--saving time, budget, and rework.
Autodesk WikiHelp Benchmarks – The Buzz of Beehive Search and Interactivity:
Beehive Search, Autodesk's customized algorithm cultivates for relevancy among all content sources: Help pages, videos, discussion forums, support knowledgebase, community websites, and blogs.
In front of the WikiHelp, top contributors are awarded points. The thumbs up symbol, representing "kudos" to the Contributor and Distinguished Contributor are awarded by site moderators. The relationship between user interest and comments supported in the community is further recognized for Valued Mentor and Distinguished Mentor roles. Video fests and contest prizes are awarded at times to generate awareness and encourage new users or partners to participate in the community.
As a newer community compared to others on Autodesk.com, WikiHelp is expected to grow over time. In the last year, the Autodesk domain tracked a whopping 21.2 million page views, including 2.3 million unique visitors, some spending as much as 5 minutes at a time. Ever greater results are shown in the 53% percent return rate for visitors.
Most people agree that the content has value only as much as the users find value and satisfy their goals. Victor added, "We often need that feedback loop to provide the actual value." And for involving the Autodesk user community in this learning experience and letting users speak out, the Manufacturing Learning Experience team, headed by Kristen Kent, won the Touchstone Distinguished Award by the Society for Technical Communication (STC) for the Autodesk Inventor WikiHelp.
So if you stop to think, when technologies integrate right, there are dynamic results. Imagine then the voice of millions of users sharing in open learning, what the Autodesk WikiHelp community is designed for.