Industry report reveals growing confidence in resilience and optimism toward AI


Nearly 5,400 global business leaders, futurists and experts across the design and make industries have shared insights and solutions in Autodesk’s second annual survey results.

Leaders from industries that design and make places, objects and experiences are far more confident about their companies’ resilience than last year and have a surprisingly high level of trust in AI, according to the 2024 State of Design & Make report released by Autodesk.

They largely see AI as a current tool rather than a futuristic pipe dream, leading to increased investment as they chase the promise of greater productivity and improved sustainability.

Design and make industries – architecture, engineering and construction, design and manufacturing and media and entertainment – employ nearly 300m people worldwide and by 2027 will represent $30 trillion in value globally. Autodesk’s second annual report reveals the issues and sentiments these industries are facing, with the goal of helping leaders chart a path to the future.

Key report takeaways:

With optimism returning, digitisation has reached a tipping point: Leaders feel their companies are far more resilient than last year, as digitally mature companies report even greater success. 73% of companies believe they are prepared to handle unforeseen economic or geopolitical changes – up 14 points from 2023.

Trust in AI is on the rise: More than 76% say they trust AI for their industry. Many have embraced AI to enhance productivity, become more efficient and to better achieve sustainability goals.

Perception of AI progress is high: More than half of companies say they are approaching or have already achieved their goal of incorporating AI. While AI adoption is high, there is still a long way to go to maximise AI’s potential.

Upskilling becomes a necessity as tech skillsets expand: With nearly half of industry professionals saying that access to skilled talent is a barrier to their companies’ growth, upskilling and continuous learning emerge as essential programmes for companies large and small.

Companies who don’t meaningfully commit to sustainability will be left behind: Nearly all companies say they have taken actions to improve their sustainability, but without meaningful commitments, companies across industries risk being left behind by competitors whose values are in line with those of their employees and customers.

“While capacity and economic constraints have dominated industry conversations, it’s not surprising to see increased trust and optimism in AI, digital transformation and sustainability, as our customers aim to be more efficient and cost-effective,” said Andrew Anagnost, president and CEO of Autodesk. “As the world confronts unprecedented challenges, technology is our most powerful tool for designing and making a better world for all,” he said.

The rise of AI in design and make

As trust in technology is growing, AI is shaping business transformation across industries. Businesses are using AI to increase productivity and automate work and leaders predict that generative AI will help people make crucial design decisions about physical products, buildings and digital assets in the next several years.

  • 79% of respondents say AI will make their industry more creative.
  • 78% say AI will enhance their industry, with the same number saying they are confident their company will make the right decisions regarding AI.
  • 72% say their organisations have increased spending on AI and emerging technology in the past three years.
  • 77% state they will continue to invest in AI and emerging technology in the next three years.
    39% stating AI will help automate mundane, repetitive tasks.
  • 35% say AI will supplement a skills gap.

Sustainability commitments are key to company success

Changing attitudes around sustainability are driving progress, with leaders investing in energy efficiency, materials reduction, and more sustainable processes.

Nearly all companies surveyed (97%) have taken actions to improve their sustainability. 87% of industry professionals believe improving sustainability practices is a good long-term business decision and 78% say they are proud of their company’s sustainability efforts. 69% say sustainability is good for short-term business success, up 25% from last year’s report.

Companies are focused on upskilling in three areas

The top three digital skills companies are looking for include the ability to work with AI, digital design and software development/programming. This is a result of high costs forcing companies to become more economic, however, as workforces tighten, the skills and technical education that employees possess are falling short of meeting essential business needs.

Around 71% of respondents consider digital maturity a top attractor of talent while 41% say the ability to implement/work with AI is the top technical skill companies will be prioritising for hiring decisions over the next three years. 77% of companies consider upskilling and training important, yet only 38% have the necessary skills and resources to design internal training programmes. 43% of industry professionals say that access to skilled talent is a barrier to their companies’ growth.

Click here to view the complete findings of the 2024 State of Design & Make report.