Engineers are not asking about cloud and it’s okay..

Engineers are not asking about cloud and it’s okay..


I like surveys. They can help you to discover what people think and motivate to make analysis. My attention was caught by a survey Worldwide CAD Trends done by British-based Business Advantage. This year it surveyed 635 CAD managers and users in several countries. Thanks upFront.Ezine article The state of MCAD industry 2015, which skimmed results of the survey. You can see the visualization (a-la Gartner Quadrant) below

The state of MCAD industry 2015

The following passage is outlining the results:

The results are shocking: Highly-hyped technologies — like cloud-based CAD, virtual reality, and pay-as-you-go monthly subscriptions — suffer from low use and low importance. Few design firms care about them, let alone use them. The media darling, 3D printing, fares better by making it into the Emerging category. Newer technology, like mobile CAD, just gets its nose into the all-important Leading category, while 3D modeling blows away everything else.

I’ve been writing about cloud and implication of these technologies on CAD, PDM, PLM for the last few years. So, probably my blog is one of these that created a hype around “cloud based” technologies? I thought, this survey is a good opportunity to discuss it. So, how important is “cloud” for engineers and other end users?

Digital disruption

The conversations about digital disruption is one I’d like to start with. Fortune article IBM: Modernize your business or risk being Uber-ized put an interesting perspective on transformation in the industry. It is impossible to keep status-quo when your business can be potentially disrupted by digital transformation and data technologies. So, big blue is concerned Here is my favorite passage:

Big Blue executives took the stage at an IBM conference in Las Vegas on Monday to urge companies to undergo a so-called “digital transformation”. “You better figure it out, because there’s an Uber out there that’s already figured it out,” warned Glen Finch, IBM’s global leader of big data and analytics. When talking to customers, Finch said he’s noticed that companies are worried about more nimble startups like Uber overtaking their business. Uber, of course, has upended the taxi industry, which was seen as being slow to counter its fast-rising rival.

SolidWorks 2016 – technology and productivity

In light of digital transformation, it is interesting to see how Dassault Systemes, one of the top leaders in CAD/PLM market segment is reacting. Recent announcement about SolidWorks 2016 is a good example. Dassault is actually adapting by allowing SolidWorks 2016 to run in a browser. SolidWorks is using platform for that. The following article by can bring additional details – SOLIDWORKS 2016 All About Productivity and Technology.

“I am spending 80 percent of my time on the road, all over the world,” says Bassi. “I talk with lots of people and I see there is a mutual love. There isn’t another word. It’s love. We understand very well what makes people successful and productive,” says Bassi. “Every time we disconnect with that thinking we make mistakes. [But now] I hope we are connected.

“It’s not only the technology, though that is critical,” he says. “SOLIDWORKS Online shows we are changing our way of thinking. Our way of relating to customers with easier access, faster access and more flexibility. Today it isn’t easy to get SOLIDWORKS. You have to deal with VARs, licenses, CD installs, and computer hardware,” said Bassi. That is why Bassi believes that SOLIDWORKS online is a good step forward. It empowers as many people as possible with CAD technology.”

No one wanted faster horses, they wanted less horseshit

So, engineers are asking about 3D modeling and not about cloud. Does it mean cloud technology is irrelevant? The famous Henry Ford statement about faster horses is a good example. The following article by HelloErik blog can bring an interesting perspective and explanations – No one said they wanted faster horses, they wanted less horseshit. The real problem of horses wasn’t about speed. It was about flies, disease, smell, dried manure dust, soaked manure mire, cruelty to horses, horse related traffic deaths. Another problem was inefficiency.

Believe it or not, there was a time when there were so many horses that it was part of the 1898 International Urban Planning Conference summit in New York. There were a lot of problems with horses that were reaching a tipping point of inefficiency. Something had to be done, but talking to the “users” about solutions wasn’t going to solve anything – looking at the pain was.

The real problem of Henry Ford was actually different than creating faster horses. It was about manufacturing efficiency and cost.

Henry Ford was trying to solve the high cost of automobiles through assembly lines, interchangeable parts, and financing. If that was the case, the problem he seemed to be solving wasn’t really about horses, but people of the time might have thought he was. Or better, they might have seen it as a car problem; cars are too expensive. Instead of focusing on the problems with manure removal machines, Ford instead solved it, intentionally or not, by bringing the automobile to the common person. This could be considered parallel innovation and revolution. It is the parallel innovation that attacked and began to solve the real pain of the problem.

Cloud technologies – cost and efficiency

I picked the following slide last week during Jon Hirschtick’s presentation at TEC Talk in Boston.



There are two things cloud technology are going to change – cost and efficiency. CAD, PDM, PLM are expensive, the ROI is slow, the mistakes are happening because of misalignment of CAD versions, poor data management and long implementation cycles. Can engineers perform their work now? Yes, they can. Is it possible to make their work more efficient? I guess, cloud technologies have a chance to make this change happen. But a single engineer in an large organization often is not responsible for data management, work organization and IT. Primary responsibility of engineer is to design – hence the quest for better 3D design technology. The hope of engineers from IT and vendors to solve it.

What is my conclusion? Do not get confused by “engineers are not asking for cloud CAD” survey results. Cloud is about business efficiency, speed and cost of software. New technologies will disrupt the formula of software businesses. Existing CAD and PLM vendors will have to adapt or they risk being Uber-ized. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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