I had chance to read CIMData paper figured out interesting facts related to the future trajectory of Autodesk as a PLM provider. You can read the paper on this link (Note, you need to be registered on CIMData site, but registration is free). In this paper, CIMData explains their vision on how they see Autodesk is going to transform from the vendor providing mostly tools used in many departments into an organization into something that allows to CIMData to include Autodesk into line of what they called “PLM mind share leaders”. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts on this topic as well as dreams about possible future trajectories of something I called – PLM for Individuals.
Autodesk and PLM
My pre-assumption for many years was that Autodesk is distant from association of their products with PLM acronym. At the same time, many of their tools used to build PLM strategy for many customers in the world. During all that time, I think, the question of Autodesk association with PLM was just about marketing. Autodesk successfully positioned themselves as a provider of tools and even put it as a differentiations of their strategy. You can take a look on the famous Carl Bass anti-PLM rap. So, what is going on now? Some undergoing processes are convincing Autodesk to change their state of mind as a provider of tools towards something different. So, what happened?
Facebook, Connected World and File-based collaboration.
For many years, the ultimate mechanism to connect people was… “the file”. In the past, people in the organizations were able to exchange files for different purposes of design, planning, manufacturing. Availability of email with growing capacity of attachments just pushed forward need for more advanced collaborative solutions. So, Autodesk, successfully continue to run file-oriented-tool-focused business. There is no worry at all. However, change came from the outside. Huge adoption of internet in consumer space and, finally, social networks ended up successful ‘file-based” collaboration story. The same individuals in the organization that were perfectly happy with communication using files said – why life is so good in Facebook and bad on my working desk? Why should I stack with Outlook sending big attachments or uploading to the ftp site, when I can share on Facebook and/or other places?
Personally, I don’t see Autodesk is jumping in the existing PLM runaway. On the bright side of PLM, today, is understanding of problem and companies’ need to build a framework or platforms that allow them to run product development, manufacturing. PLM supposed to connect all product-related dots in the enterprise. Autodesk is not there and, at the time that PLM buzz is moving to PLM 2.0, there is no need to join PLM club…
PLM for Individuals and Integrated World
So, what is the alternative? In the world that moving into the direction of social connection, I’d expect Autodesk to use “social integration” as a primary driver for integration of their tools inside and outside of the organizations. Connections between people can be much stronger than the “single data model” promoted by mind-share PLM vendors. Autodesk definitely can take their chance to outperform social innovation and social product development proposed by PLM vendors because of their agility.
Integrate or Die?
In my view, internet finally shifted minds of many people in an organization that change is going to happen. People will move their consumer’s habits into organizational work spaces and look how they can use better tools and experience for their work. There is no way for Autodesk to go with files for the next decade. I think, this is a major observation that stroke CIMData analysts to think about possible Autodesk movement to PLM.
What is my conclusion today? I’d not run fast to think that moving to PLM road is the only one possibility for Autodesk. My bet is on social networks, communication and internet technologies that will position Autodesk in PLM 2.0 (or whatever, we call it). I think, it will be very interesting run and challenge.
Just my thoughts…