Graebert was one of the first companies to offer free access to its cloud-based tools with a program offering free access to Ares Kudo until the end of May. The company has decided to continue the program through June allowing anyone who wants to test out, play around with, use Ares Kudo CAD, can do so until the end of June. After that, Graebert will continue to offer a free 6-month license to people who have tried out Ares Kudo in the first half of 2020, with the one requirement that they share feedback to help improve the product.
Graebert’s experiment by offering free access to Kudo during the initial stages of the pandemic lockdown has been instructive. The company saw the move as a way of helping people work remotely as well as attracting new users to the program and although they did find some people who were interested in using the product in those early days, some people were hesitant to switch tools on a temporary basis. Even more intriguing, the company did hear from customers who said they were evaluating the tools with the idea of making changes once their workforces were back at their desks and working normally or perhaps working the new norm.
The executives at Graebert realized that people needed a longer evaluation period, which is why they started their focus group program.
As we have seen all across the design and engineering landscape, customers are understanding firsthand the value of cloud-based workflows and remote computing. And, probably more important, they’re learning that the systems they may have had in place for emergencies were not really suitable for mass deployments. Most notably, many companies are seeing the VPNs (virtual private networks) they have set up for traveling and remote employees breakdown under the stress of too much traffic. For some smaller companies, setting up VPNs represent an added layer of complexity for a situation the whole world devoutly hopes is temporary.
Graebert’s Cedric Desbordes, business development, and marketing director told us, when we checked in with him, that the company has learned a lot about how their users deploy software and negotiate technology shifts. He noted that large companies, with IT staff, tended to be putting all their efforts into keeping operations as stable as possible during the shutdown. Although deploying Kudo, or allowing their users to deploy Kudo would be simple, during the shutdown they didn’t want to do anything to destabilize users. However, Desbordes says they heard from some companies who were very interested in Kudo “for the day after.”
In contrast to VPNs, the cloud tools many companies have been using for certain situations are working seamlessly. These include tools like Box, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive that people have gradually incorporated into their workflow without even thinking about it. Yet, they’re finding these tools to be working seamlessly.
Desbordes tells us that the experience has encouraged Graebert. The company believes it will be easier to sell the benefits of their Trinity system, which includes Ares Commander for desktop CAD, Kudo for the cloud, and Ares Touch for mobile devices. In addition, he says, they’re helping their larger companies with workarounds, offering time-limited licenses of Ares Commander to replace network licenses of Commander or maybe AutoCAD that were locked to their computers at the office.
For SMBs, the equation is even more straightforward. Cloud-based systems are simple to deploy. Desbordes notes as well, that with the shutdowns, some small companies are experiencing immediate financial shortfalls, which is making a solution like Kudo or even Ares Commander, in general, much more attractive, even when it’s time to pay up.
Ares Kudo is $99 per year per user. The Trinity system of Commander, Touch, and Kudo is $250 per year. Graebert is now positioning their talks as a resource to “reboot” business after the crisis is over