How CAD collaboration can avoid competition with OneDrive?

How CAD collaboration can avoid competition with OneDrive?

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Collaboration is the name of the game today for many vendors. CAD and PLM vendors are included. Cloud technology is opening many new capabilities to collaborate and it is captured by existing players and newcomers. Sometimes, it happens so fast that it even create an internal competition. Image and Data Manager article Is OneDrive for Business the SharePoint alternative? speaks about interesting transformation that happens these days around file collaboration using Microsoft family of product. We knew about SharePoint capabilities to collaborate and share content (files). However, the new born child – OneDrive is growing fast and potentially can capture some spaces occupied by SharePoint today. I liked the following passage explaining how OneDrive takes on SharePoint:

OneDrive has a very simple interface (one that has been simplified further with recent updates). So it’s easy to upload your files and share them. You can also sync to all your devices, desktop, tablet, smartphone, giving you direct access to your content when you are online or offline. You even have mobile apps for iOS, Android, Windows 8 and Windows RT.

OneDrive even has this cool feature that allows you to grab a file from your PC even if you haven’t uploaded it to OneDrive. You have to turn that feature on, but it’s pretty nice to have.

SharePoint’s interface is OK, but it’s the subject of much debate. It’s not very intuitive to use and requires a fair amount of planning and organizing to get it set up in a way that’s easy for people to understand. Getting access to SharePoint on mobile devices has been spotty at best. Access via mobile (tablet or smartphone) has improved a lot with SharePoint 2013, but for those on SharePoint 2010, the story is not so good.

What I learned from this article is that file sharing, collaboration space is getting busy and competitive. Which brings me back to the discussion about specialized CAD collaboration tools. It made me think about some strategies CAD collaboration tools can use in order to avoid frontal competition with OneDrive, Dropbox and other file sharing and sync tools.

The name for this game is “layers”. Creating of layered architecture will allow to CAD collaboration tools to store data using OneDrive (or other storage and share service) and, at the same time, enhance it with the data layer providing rich access to CAD specific content, viewer and other CAD data relationships. Think about it in a similar way how Google organized information from web for you. You are not necessarily store data on websites and other locations. Nevertheless Google gives you easy access to this information via different services. The basic service is search. Enhanced services can provide a specific vertical slices of information (think about Google Flight as an example).

What is my conclusion? To separate vertical application and horizontal services is getting more and more important. It was true in the past to build right enterprise architecture, but it is getting even more important in the era of cloud services. To be successful, cloud vendors will have to learn how to recombine and reuse technologies provided by different players. File Share and Synchronization is a very good examples to start with. For CAD vendors it means to learn how to share data on OneDrive or Dropbox, but at the same time to provide vertical experience specific for CAD content. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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  • OneDrive is a threat to SharePoint only in the sense that it is an easier alternative to create a landfill of documents. Which despite its change management features, is incidentally how many enterprises end up using SharePoint – first as an intranet platform, and second as a landfill.

    We’re entering into an unprecedented problem – the rise of cloud sharing services should be a silo killer, and in some environments it certainly has been. But with the growing abundance and diversity of non-interoperable sharing platforms data is getting re-silo’d in an entirely different way – with a capacity to create landfills like never before. And it’s such a large and diverse landfill that ordinary search is insufficient.

    That’s where I feel you are exactly right about layering. Right now all the attention is at the bottom storage layer (e.g. look at how many devices I can sync!). The next step is moving on to actually doing something about those landfills. I wrote about this a while back: http://eng-eng.com/digital-landfill-3-0/

  • beyondplm

    Ed, you are right. Cloud sharing won’t kill “silos”. Even worse, we will see more silos, because of cloud file sharing complexity. It will take (optimistically :)) next 3-5 years to organize cloud data sharing in a way that will break silos.

  • I have a hunch there will be a silo killer beginning this year… stay tuned. : )

  • beyondplm

    Ha! I’m always tuned… :). From my experience, this industry is slow.