Autodesk are a Californian software publisher with the core business of developing commercial computer-aided design (CAD) software. Starting with AutoCAD, they have gone on to develop specialized applications targeted at individual fields in design and architecture, such as Revit (construction), Moldflow (production) and Maya (graphics and effects for entertainment media). Their products have become industry standards in many of these fields.
Recently, in line with many other big software producers, Autodesk have made the leap to offering their products via a software-as-a-service (SAAS) model. This means they now have access to a far larger volume and richer variety of data on how their customers use their products.
Before the arrival of SAAS, companies which developed software had access to relatively little information about how it was used. Usually the only channels for gathering feedback were customer surveys and feedback forms included in physical product packaging. However, software developers were always aware that only a relatively small section of the user base would ever use these. This would be particularly true if everything were going well: realistically, how often do you bother to contact a business whose services you are happy with simply to congratulate them on a job well done?
Of course, just because the software was working fine and the customer ...