CAD is boring… because CAD is alone!

I was reading an interview with Chris Williams about his new product, Vuuch, on NOVEDGE. Chris said that “the CAD world is boring…”. But I’m wondering why? I thought that the data management world (PDM, ERP) is more boring since it’s all about grids of data.  But CAD? This is about really great pictures of nice cars, executive jets, incredible yachts, etc… then I started to realize what happened. I think CAD developed as a very deep silo, from the user standpoint as well as from the organizational standpoint. CAD does not allow people to expose everything that CAD creates to the outside i.e. the engineering world. As you know, almost everything from the design world ends up in PDF format. Because CAD doesn’t exist in the outside world, a lot of intelligence, information, design content just dead after result of CAD goes to outside world.

I think that association with MRP/MRP II systems is very appropriated in this context. In the beginning of MRP, the scope of MRP was to manage manufacturing materials. Beyond MRPII, was the idea of managing a wider scope of data – materials, finance and resources. The shift from MRP to MRPII allowed the connection of these three data silos together. Future transformation from MRPII to ERP added additional scopes of data and processes beyond manufacturing to be integrated all together.

So, what I see as the fundamental goal is to allow CAD content to be available in various forms outside of the design space. CAD silos need to be connected to other aspects of engineering and non-engineering activities. This will build more business value around CAD and ultimately create more value for organizations and users. I think this space is open for disruptive innovative technologies that will make changes in this space similar to introduction of parametric modeling in CAD, creating of 3D CAD on top of Windows, and some others. Today’s design content requires modernization, using more efficient and cheap technologies that will link the outside world to CAD.

Clayton M. Christensen, author of “The Innovator’s Dilemma” shows that sustained innovation, even funded by billion dollar research budgets, only enables leading companies to survive as long as no disruptive technology suddenly appears to upset the corporate apple-cart. I believe that new PLM, Digital Prototyping, BIM or any other technologies that will come to this space need to be more social, more open and more reliable compared to what we have today. And… CAD 2.0 or PLM 3.0, or whatever TLA (three letter acronym) product will be developed in today’s world, in my opinion, will definitely not be boring…

Check out Ivan Sutherland’s movie on Sketchpad. How do you feel when you look at your 15 year old computer today? Funny, isn’t it? I’m sure that CAD/PLM of today will appear just as funny in the future as the CAD of 25 years ago seems today.


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  • CORRECTION, it was NOVEDGE that said CAD is boring… not me. I love CAD! If Franco thinks CAD is boring I wonder what he thinks about PDM?

  • Sorry, Chris. I see it your mutual agreement with Franco :)… Regards, Oleg.

  • I confirm that the quote “boring CAD” is mine.
    Why CAD is boring? Because it’s a slow market where evolution is extremely gradual.
    We replace our car every 3-5 years, our sell phone every 2 years, etc. Those replacement cycles crate great good opportunities for innovators. If they can convince us that their product is reasonably better than the one we are replacing we switch!
    With CAD it’s a completely different game.

    Switching CAD platform is an incredibly complex and expensive process. Design and manufacturing companies are considering a platform switch only if they see a very significant improvement in performance and a reduction of costs.
    This leaves very few opportunities for innovators, and make the CAD market a boring place where changes comes at a geological pace.

  • I see CAD very closed space. Everything you create in CAD will remain in the CAD system you use. Output PDF for manufacturing and for archive of released documents in ERP system is a small fraction of CAD work. Potentially CAD content is very rich and contains a lot of information that we cannot leverage today. At the same time this content is very locked on particular CAD system. Last create situation you described – “Switching CAD platform is an incredibly complex and expensive process. Design and manufacturing companies are considering a platform switch only if they see a very significant improvement in performance and a reduction of costs”.

    So, getting back to my point – to unlock CAD content in various ways should be ultimate goal of next engineering and enterprise systems for manufacturing companies.

  • CAD is interesting from users point of view, may be resellers finding it boring. But working on CAD application is better job then other engineering fields.
    Evalution is slow and we can’t change CAD tools every year As cost, learnig,and implimentation is difficult. But most of the time upgrade to new versions, whre CAD designers enjoy working on new features till next release!

  • Sachin, Thanks for comment! Do you see value in expansion of CAD related information outside of engineering desks? Regards, Oleg

  • yes, i do appreciate with your views and there is need for expansion, new technologies, most important is “being social” will definitely be more interesting.
    Thanks for Sketchpad movie.

  • Sachin, You are welcome! Good to have you here for blogging.

  • Thanks

  • CADWatcher

    From Franco:

    “We replace our car every 3-5 years, our sell phone every 2 years, etc.”

    I like the “sell” / “cell” phone mistake, it tells so much…

    Interesting debate, anyway.