Autodesk, Data Management and “Why PLM?” Question

Autodesk, Data Management and “Why PLM?” Question

I read one of the latest VEKTORRUM re-posts about Autodesk and PLM. Navigate your browser to the following link and read the original article from 2007. According to the article – ” There are “more pragmatic, more digestible approaches” to solving engineering data management issues than PLM, he [Carl Bass] said”. It made me think more about Autodesk, data management and PLM strategies.


Let’s start from the history. Autodesk has a long history of data management solutions. It contains multiple products. Some of them were developed by Autodesk and for some of them Autodesk partnering with other companies. The most notable Document and Workflow Management system in early 1990s was Autodesk Workcenter (Google is tracking the following link on Autodesk Workcenter). I had a chance to work on few Autodesk Workcenter implementations, so I had my own Workcenter implementation memories going back in 1994-1995. The next big Autodesk data management project was Motiva PDM. Autodesk made a significant investment into Motiva project in the end of 1990s. You can track the following KMWord article – Autodesk and Motiva to Collaborate for PDM. Both, Workcenter and Motiva development were discontinued.

In the beginning of 2000s Autodesk acquired company truEInnovation. The original product truEVault was a foundation of existing Autodesk Vault. This is the Wikipedia quote:

Autodesk Vault was initially known as truEVault; part of an acquisition from a company called truEInnovations, Inc. based in Eagan, Minnesota. truEInnovations was started by two entrepreneurs, Brian Roepke and Dean Brisson in 1999. The company was founded on the basis of bringing a more affordable tool for managing engineering data to the market.

After the asset acquisition of truEInnovations by Autodesk in 2003, Autodesk began to further the integration of the product into the manufacturing product line, starting with Autodesk Inventor.

Autodesk’s Data Management Foundation

For the moment, Autodesk Vault is the foundation of all Autodesk Data Management products. After latest re-branding, Autodesk Vault is a family of PDM products providing a wide range of capabilities started from files vaulting and expanded into areas of Bill of Material Management and Engineering Change Management.

Autodesk is intensively working to provide additional data management features and functions. You can see a short video of Brian Roepke about Autodesk Vault 2011:.

In the following video you can see a new Autodesk Vault 2011 integration with Inventor.

In my view, some of them are very similar to features presented by DS 3DLive and Siemens 3DHD products. See my post – 3DLive, 3DHD, 3D and UI efficiency.

Autodesk and PLM

Steve Wolf of Cyon Research recently published an article on COFES Blog – Who Needs PLM? (). In this article, Steve discussing the latest Autodesk financial results and

The following quote represents Steve’s comparison between Autodesk and other PLM-associated companies.

What’s interesting about Autodesk’s success is that the company’s products consist almost entirely of single-user desktop tools that engineers use to do their jobs faster. Relatively little of Autodesk’s income comes from what its rivals call “product lifecycle management” (PLM) software that combines engineering applications with fiendishly complex enterprise-level software for managing engineering data.

A different opinion presented by CIMData in their latest research paper focusing on how Autodesk will evolve into full-scope PLM provider. I had a chance to discuss this CIMData research before on my blog. This is the PLM think tank link. Take a look on the interesting quote from CIMData website:

… perspective on the transition that Autodesk is executing to transform itself from a supplier of individual PLM-focused point solutions to a supplier of industry-focused solutions that can be the fundamental platform for a company’s overall PLM strategy.

What is my conclusion? I think, Autodesk is going on a very narrow bridge and trying to connect customer’s demands to have a rich scope of data management functions and integration with design tools like Autodesk Inventor. At the same time, Autodesk is trying to avoid getting into positioning data management as a “PLM strategy”. The ugly truth, in my view, is that users are less interested in the TLAs these days and more thinking about products, functions and usability. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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  • Vuuch

    Steve points out that individual user productivity solutions are improving at a rate much higher than PLM based tools. IMHO this should be of no surprise. The entire industry has been created on user productivity tools and PLM simply not a individual productivity solution. CAD makes a user productive where PLM is about making processes productive (release, eco, etc). This value creation difference is core to why users accept CAD and embrace the use of it and even build careers around a specific CAD system and why the same people despise the use of PLM. And with respect to build a career around PLM, the only people who do this are IT/implementation types, not users.

  • beyondplm

    Chris, Thanks for the comment. I agree. The “end-user productivity” was an excellent driver and, as you stated, the whole industry was built on this. Companies are selling productivity solutions to end users. PDM was always considered as something that damage productivity. Therefore, end-users dump it out all the time. PLM focus on business processes was a try to replicate ERP success in selling solution to CxO and not to end users. Best, Oleg