International 3D design and engineering software company Autodesk has announced a huge shift in its channel sales strategy, doing away with its regional channel sales teams and instead creating a worldwide channel sales team that will be headed by Autodesk's current Vice President of Channel Sales in the Americas Bill Griffin. The announcement was made at the 2011 Autodesk Channel Summit in San Francisco April 14.

"It's a further commitment that Autodesk is making to expanding our partners' businesses going forward," said Autodesk Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Services Steve Blum during a press conference announcing the change, which is being made to simplify the way Autodesk runs its partner tiering structure. Currently, Autodesk requires VARs to become individually authorized in each of Autodesk's current software products. Under the new plan, however, the company is broadening its authorizations to just three areas: Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC); Manufacturing; and Media and Entertainment.

"We're trying to reduce the cost to sell and deploy," said Autodesk Vice President, CAD/CAE Manufacturing Solutions Andrew Anagnost. "When you deploy products, we're going to package them up. In the end, we are trying to create a new value for customers and a competitive advantage for resellers by allowing them to offer something others do not."

Several of Autodesk's current channel leaders will be assuming new roles within the new channel sales team. Ray Savona, currently vice president Global Channels, will fill the newly created position of vice president of EMEA channel sales team. Gary Smith, currently senior director, VAR Channel, will become Senior Director of America's Channel Sales and Denis Branthonne, who currently holds the position of regional director, ANZ & ASEAN, will become vice president of the APAC channel sales team.

The announcement was made shortly after the Autodesk VAR Advisory Council meeting San Francisco, where Smith said the council was very optimistic about the immediate market future for Autdesk's products. "They were asked, 'What do you see in the immediate future?'," he said. "They're very bullish. They're looking to expand business."

As part of its channel redesign, Autodesk also revamped its tiering structure and added a fourth, Platinum tier.

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