FREE and COOL Trends in CAD/PLM

FREE and COOL Trends in CAD/PLM

I want to propose an unusual theme for our PLM discussion. Let’s talk about trends related to manufacturing and software development. Few months ago, I prompted about “Free” as a best future price. If you haven’t chance to see this post, you can find it here. During the past years, we can see significant changes in the market about how people are looking on consuming products and software. It drove me to think about two major trends we can observe these days: FREE and COOL.

FREE Trend
I think, Free became much stronger for the past few years. Internet played a massive role to the transition of market to different variants of “Free Models”. The biggest driver, in my view, is that Internet made a lot of things available for much lower cost. It is related to the ability to provide services, long tail market, freemium business models. If I’m looking on the software market, Free trend, developed a massive awareness toward “free software”. Google as an absolute leader in providing various types of free software and services created the perception for increased availability of “software for free” and alternative business models for business software.

COOL Trend
This is another, opposite to free trend. Market of “cool stuff” is growing and manufacturers of the product and services on this market drive significant attention. People want to use cool gadgets, software and other products. Part of this “cool” trend is increased interest to the market of custom-developed products, etc. It is absolutely clear, that manufacturers of cool stuff (doesn’t matter computer devices, other products or software) are getting increased market share and exposure. What is adjusted to the “cool stuff” is also premium price for all these products. The obvious leader of “cool” trend for me is Apple .

CAD and PLM Market
Now let’s back to CAD/PLM. On one side, everything that related to CAD and 3D is obviously and absolutely COOL! The potential of 3D is huge and software manufacturers drive people to additional exposure of cool 3D stuff. When it comes to the combination with cool devices (such as Apple computers) we can see a magnification of “coolness effect”. On the other side, market of enterprise software impacted by a significant influence of free business models. “Open Source”, not efficiency of today’s software production, deployment and maintenance, high cost of custom implementations and adjustments. Enterprises are looking for alternatives to today’s business models and Free drives their attention. Enterprise PLM is definitely impacted from this trend.

So, what do think? What will be leading trend for tomorrow’s CAD/PLM? Cool or Free? If you are listening to the company like Dassault Systems, cool is a clear leader. On the other side, Aras, providing free license (or open source) drives increased attention from customers and analysts in PLM domain. What will be the final combination of cool and free? I think we are going to discover it during the next few years and this is going to be COOL and FREE show :)…

Just my thoughts. What is your opinion? Are you on the FREE or COOL side of the world?
Best, Oleg



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  • I think we will move towards the COOL trend in CAD/PLM.
    The FREE trend in terms of open PLM software etc will also gain momentum however I am not sure if it would sustain and moreover biggies like the Dassault Systems will ensure that COOL becomes cooler 🙂

  • Manoj Nair

    I think Google not only have free stuff…but they have free stuff that is cool as well….its gets cooler at a price….this model suits everyone’s bill…As companies are driven by numbers (read profits) open source alternatives will definitly gain momentum…now before investing I personally look for open source alternative to the same (FYI…Dia is a cool alternative to MS Visio)…I believe Google has shown that Business Models can be build wherein free cool stuff can still make a company the No. 1 in whatever it does…So nothing should be different from a CAD/PLM perspective as consumers will always be looking for value for each $$$$ thats spend

  • Manoj, Thanks for your comment! I think, we will see more and more “alternatives” in business models (you are right, Google proved it big time). We will see lots of smaller, but also very efficient models and CAD/PLM will be an interesting place to play with that. And yes, agree, when it is free, chances to become also cool are bigger. So, FREE+COOL also works. Best, Oleg

  • Lokendra, DS proved their consistency and commitments to the “cool 3D stuff”. Agree, it will even cooler in the future… Thanks for your comments! Best, Oleg

  • If you are cool you are not free and if you are free you are not cool? Certainly this is true al la DS… Is free really free? I do not think so. Remember there is no free lunch. At the end of the day someone is paying. Another thing to think about – Is free a bubble like over priced housing? In my thinking the enterprise does not value free and actually they fear free. The issue for the enterprise is not how much they pay, but rather what value they get. This is even true for consumers. You are happy to pay if you get value, even if the value is social points for having the newest overpriced cool new gadget. Look at the iPhone, very cool, very expensive, locked into a poor network provider and very much a fashion accessory.

    3D CAD is certainly cool and certainly not free. That said the coolness has chilled over the last 5 years as nothing has really happened that is new. Maybe cloud based CAD or MAC based CAD will again make it cool or maybe less restricted modeling functionality will be the next cool CAD feature? So we all agree CAD is cool, but what do we think about data management? Is PDM cool? I think most would agree this is like carrying an old flip phone. Boring! OK so maybe PDM was a bore, but of course PLM is the bling on PDM. Right? Or is PLM like WAVE and the iSlab, more high priced hype?

  • Chris, Thanks for your thoughts! Certainly, if you are cool, you can allow to be very expensive. Your example with iPhone is an excellent one. I believe, for CAD, development is not linear and five years you are talking about is the time CAD vendors may use to develop a new “game changing strategy”. In my view, “direct modeling” was one of them. So, what about data management? It is certainly boring, for the moment. PLM, in the way it was developed for the last 5-8 years, was about how to sell “cooler enterprise PDM” with an extreme focus on value. Do you think it was successful? I can see some movements towards cooler features of PLM (i.e. Visualization, downstream apps), but this is not the game changer in my view. Best, Oleg

  • Manuel

    I think CAD/PLM will be on the cool side. I fear accepting free stuff at enterprise level, because the maintenance is not promised and one-day the product will be discontinued, thus we will back on square-1.

    If you talk to mid-size companies, they are ready to spend extra $$ to bring in cool plm pkgs, only that they can rely on it for future improvements in framework.
    (or) the FREE should be backed by a strong company. say Eclipse is backed by many large corp such as IBM, Oracle(now).
    If you take any free PLM, do they have a strong back-up? can they promise full support. until this remains a question, freemium (as you put in previous posts) is not an option for PLM.
    Just my thoughts

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  • I am not sure you can make the current PLM solutions cool. The issue is the core of the platform is just not cool and the core concept is not cool. Adding features to try and make it cools seems akin to putting lipstick on a pig

  • Chris, LOL… I love this pic. However, it was a time when CAD wasn’t as cool as it today? 2D drawings, no visualization, photo realistic images, etc… Does it make sense? Why not? Best, Oleg

  • Manuel, Thanks for comment. I can understand, why the cool side is more attractive to CAD/PLM. I think, this is because it is naturally fitting to what CAD/PLM is doing today. CAD/PLM wants to be cool and re-confirm the ability for expensive licenses/maintenance/services. Today, instead of COOL, vendors are selling “VALUE”. As soon as it works, it is ok. However, the biggest problem of today’s PLM (may be not CAD) is low user acceptance and market share. To change this trend, FREE can be a probably easier way to do. Just my thoughts… Best, Oleg

  • Herve


  • Herve, It is good to have you on PLM Think Tank! Thank you for formula proposal. However, I’m not buying it as CHEAP. But, I thought about this again and concluded that right representation will be FREE x COOL = HUGE VALUE. And VALUE normally means $$$. I think, consumer space is full of examples of free stuff, which is extremely cool. Does it make sense? Thanks for your comment! Best, Oleg

  • Herve

    Not so sure about the value. Value means what you’re ready to pay for. I’m not sure you’re ready to pay for free stuff.

  • Herve, I agree, once you made something free, you cannot ask people to pay for that. However, the combination of FREE and COOL is interesting, in my view. FREE has enormous value in achievements of market share. FREE is not requiring “valuation”. It removes a barrier from people to valuate “worth” before buying. On the other side, significant market share unlocks new values. For example, collecting of people’s behavior, statistical data, data collected by people, etc. Now, when you got something due to FREE you shift to COOL side. Does it make sense to you? Best, Oleg

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