The Early Years: Globalization
In 1996 NAAUG changed its name to AUGI. Then in 1997, in order to be true to its new name, Donnia Tabor-Hanson and her administration worked on developing new international resources for the membership - not the least of which was the AUGI website. Many efforts were made to add international resources to the website and encourage international user group events. SIGs were broadened into "Industry Groups" (IGs) to parallel Autodesk's changing internal structure, enabling AUGI to dedicate time and resources to specialized fields and gain financial support from Autodesk's vertical market groups. Publicity for the organization increased dramatically, and Autodesk employees seemed more informed than ever of AUGI's existence and purpose. David Bradford and his marketing group at Autodesk were tremendously supportive of AUGI as it took on the massive goal of becoming a truly international organization.
The annual general meeting that year was amazingly entertaining. Members of the Board worked very hard to provide those AUGI members who attended an open night of free rides and food at a major theme park, a week packed with highly technical information about the toughest/roughest version of AutoCAD ever created (Release 13), a wonderfully successful yo-yo competition and the largest annual general meeting ever staged. This was a year of more innovations including high discounts on the new Autodesk University Event (Autodesk Design World), the AUGI Gauge (a utility which could measure the performance of the latest Release of AutoCAD with prior releases), and events throughout the country as well as a restructuring of board meetings using conference calling to reduce costs. CADENCE author, Autodesk University faculty member, Autodesk Trainer, and long time supporter of NAAUG/AUGI Lynn Allen also came onboard this year as the new Manager of User Group Services (yay!).
From his first day as President in 1998, Don Spencer's main focus was to get AUGI into the software. AUGI had depended on literature (brochures) included in most Autodesk software boxes to get the word out that the organization existed, but too many users never saw the boxes of software. The only common denominator every Autodesk product user in the world had was the software itself. So the Board of Directors worked feverishly to get each Autodesk product to integrate AUGI representation in the software. It happened, and AutoCAD 2000 beta was shipped January 1999 with AUGI represented in the Help Pulldown.
The Board also examined several revolutionary changes in the organization's structure including a website membership level, regular surveys throughout the year, a continuous Wish List process through the website, which was implemented primarily through David Harrington's efforts, total involvement on the beta programs (500 AUGI members were shipped the AutoCAD 2000 beta product), four road shows throughout the country, one road show in Canada and three in Latin America (the organization's first true international events). President Don Spencer and User Group Manager Lynn Allen traveled to Europe to meet with the officers of several European user groups in an effort to establish AUGI relations. This term went rather smoothly, all things considered, and a big part of that had been due to the fact that Release 14 had been pure joy to work with and Autodesk has done well by it (as has AUGI).
1999 brought more change. Ten years after AUGI was formed, the organization managed to gain its budgetary independence through the help of Autodesk and the Board of Directors. Still financially supported by Autodesk, third-party developers, and by membership dues, the Board of Directors worked with Autodesk's legal department this year to set up AUGI as a financially independent organization truly in control of its budget.
This action enabled the organization to tightly control its expenses, allocate funds ahead of time for programs such as the AUGI Training Program (for the first year ever, it compensated its teachers and staff), the Annual Productivity CD ROM, the quarterly published newsletterWorldView, and the website expenses and the software necessary to run it. In addition, AUGI was able to employ some of its volunteers for the heavier workloads such as managing the website and handling shipping for membership tangibles.
One note this term was the fact that AUGI introduced a free, web-level membership so that anyone (regardless of where they lived, who they worked for, or what kind of budget they had) could benefit from AUGI's most popular resources and programs, thus finally conquering AUGI's last major international hurdle: differing economies of scale for its international members.
The organization also redesigned its website for the first time in three years. A new "entrance" to the website made joining the organization easier, and several online databases were developed for maintaining the membership, the AUGI Technical Guilds, and Mailing Lists, the official Local User Group directory, and the Career Corner (resumes, job opportunities and promotions for members) and surveys. Moving into our 10th year with some major achievements ensured that AUGI was making progress.