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What’s Shaping Business Decisions in 2023? An Autodesk Report

By June 29, 2023September 9th, 2023No Comments

In their 2023 State of Design and Make, Autodesk shares the most pressing issues shaping today’s business decisions. Based on surveys and interviews of more than 2,500 “leaders, futurists, and experts,” the report offers insight into how industries that design and make places, objects, and experiences are approaching the future—in particular, how they’re adapting to an accelerating rate of change and trying to transform at a rapid pace. Autodesk’s goal is to help leaders make informed, strategic decisions about where to focus their attention in the next three years.

Autodesk partnered with Ipsos, a global leader in research and insights, to query leaders in different industries, different geographic locations, and different company sizes. The good news is that while it’s no surprise the future feels more uncertain than ever—after a global pandemic, supply chain issues, energy and refugee crises, wars, inflation, and more—most leaders and experts feel prepared to handle global changes in the future. Respondents identified three clear drivers of change that are not only influencing today’s business decisions, but are also likely to keep shaping them in the immediate or long-term future.

The Digital Transformation

Undergoing—or continuing—a digital transformation remains hugely important to companies around the world, in every industry. In fact, Autodesk points out, “Digital maturity appears to be correlated with how well-prepared companies are to handle change.” What companies are looking for is resilience in the face of continued uncertainty, and both digitization (making analog information digital) and digitalization (moving processes into digital technologies) seem to be the key.

Respondents identify the top three benefits of a digital transformation as reduced costs, increased innovation and better ideas, and the ability to launch products and services more quickly. While many companies surveyed indicated their future success would depend on digital tools, the more digitally mature the company, the more they are planning to add new services and markets. In addition, companies with more digital maturity are much more likely to increase investments over the next three years than those with less digital maturity.

The Talent Challenge

Data has always been a critical tool to drive business decisions, and with a digital transformation, there’s more data available than ever. Managing it can be harder than collecting it, and so can knowing exactly what to gather and how to mine it. As one customer interviewed by Autodesk said, “We have access to a lot of potentially high-value data. The challenge for organizations and the industry will be how we collectively create standards and a consistent approach to realizing that value.”

While a digital transformation is critical to all companies, the top reported challenge—across all industries, geographic locations, and sizes—was attracting and retaining talent. Again, digitally mature companies are doing the most to solve talent challenges, though companies of all sizes and in all locations are experiencing the same shortage. Per Autodesk, the talent challenge is leading to everything from project delays to missed corporate goals, with 64% saying “access to skilled employees presents a barrier to business growth.” A lack of the right talent means more companies are choosing to upskill their existing employees—in other words, filling the talent gap with training.

Companies now need to understand that the idea of rapid change affects more than just the marketplace for products and services—the workforce is evolving just as quickly, according to 72% of respondents who said “the workforce has evolved more in the past three years than it did over the previous 25.” Interestingly, the digital transformation enables employee flexibility every bit as much as it impacts business decisions, because survey responses indicate that remote work and a focus on sustainability are important tools for attracting and retaining the talent companies need.

The Emphasis on Sustainability

And employees aren’t the only ones pressuring companies to act on sustainability. Autodesk says 82% of respondents feel pressure from customers “to pursue and achieve sustainability goals,” while 74% feel it from investors, and 72% from employees. Even given those numbers, however, most leaders and experts say sustainability isn’t one of their top challenges, though most admit it’s important—a mandate now, instead of the nice-to-have it’s been for a decade.

Larger companies seem to be making more headway on sustainability-focused changes than small- and medium-sized companies, which may have to do in part with capacity and resources to implement and track sustainability initiatives. But overall, 94% of respondents said they “expect their industry/organization to make sustainability-focused changes in the coming years.”


Clearly, business resilience (via a digital transformation), talent, and sustainability aren’t siloed concepts. They work together, and companies that understand and lean into that synergy will be the most able to prepare for success and take charge of their futures in an unpredictable world. As Autodesk puts it, “While business leaders and experts expect to encounter increased uncertainty in the coming years, the exceptional challenges they’ve already faced will help them prepare for any future.”

For more survey results and insights, read the full 2023 State of Design and Make report.

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