Do you remember the time when the term “dot-com company” was booming around? Getting back to late 1990s, so called dot.com or “internet companies” were around to attract people using internet access. After stock market crash around a year 2000, most of these companies dropped “.com” suffix from their names. Fast forward 20 years – it is unusual to see a business that is not connecting to customers using internet and websites.
Few days ago, I came across a very interesting article – The Deployment Age. It is a bit long, but worth reading. The article speaks about theory of technological revolution.
[It] describes the path a technological revolution, like the Industrial Revolution, takes and the social, economic and institutional changes that go along with it. The jury is still out on the theory, and there are plenty of reasons to doubt it. But if it successfully predicts what happens over the next ten years it will have in good part proved its power.
Prediction is a tough job, but I found some thoughts and conclusion resonating. I captured the following diagram that demonstrates and compare cycles of technological development.
The interesting conclusion about ICT (Information and communication technology) revolution. The conclusion is that we are moving into “deployment age” of ICT. You can see some characteristics of what is typical for deployment period.
What does it mean for software companies and how to adjust development and marketing strategies?
Stop considering the technology a feature. Using the technology where it fits is no longer a feature, it’s a requirement. Connecting a thermostat to the Internet wirelessly is awesome, but calling it an Internet-enabled thermostat will start to be like calling a vacuum cleaner an electricity-enabled broom. And if your thermostat does not connect to the Internet, it will be bought only by retro-chic hipsters. But if you use ICT in your product, it needs to be seamless. Your users shouldn’t need an instruction manual. Don’t scrimp on user interface and user experience design.
The technology becomes ubiquitous, as noted, but innovation itself becomes ubiquitous. The deployment age is not an age of exploration, it’s an age of extending the paradigm into all parts of society. What people want to do with the technology is pretty clear, and the technology’s improvement trajectory is pretty clear.
The article was really resonating with my earlier blog this week – How to change PLM user experience. The idea of coming from user experience to technology is absolutely right approach. But if we took a look on examples of companies in CAD / PLM development, we can clearly can see some differences.
The example of PTC innovating in parametric feature-based 3D modeling is one of them. PTC clearly made huge progress in 3D modeling. But, Solidworks leveraged PTC technologies in full also deploying it to a maturing Windows platform back in 1995. The transparency of technology was clear and Solidworks focused primarily on user experience.
The recent example of “cloud” and PLM is another one to mention. Hosting was a technology that developed for the last 10-15 years and it came to some level of maturity – AWS is the best example for that. Cloud PLM was a way to leverage technology to host PLM environment in different forms and approaches. The clear goal is to eliminate IT complexity, speed up ROI and ultimately decrease TCO. However, not everything is going well with cloud PLM, in my view, because cloud is not a differentiator during the “deployment age”.
As we can see, most of CAD and PLM vendors today are gravitating towards cloud technologies and checking options how to differentiate their products. The last thing is complicated. Cloud itself is not something that can create differentiation. We can often see marketing controversy, which is not helpful either. User experience, efficiency and cost are critical. Users don’t care how PLM vendor is hosting its products, but how easy to implement it and what is the cost. The same about CAD systems – does it have right features, performs well and has the right cost?
What is my conclusion? The challenge for most of CAD and PLM companies today is stop marketing ‘technology’ and shift their focus into deployment of technologies to support new type of products and business models. It could be free products for some segment of the market, no installation, easy upgrade or implementation. But it is clearly not a word “cloud” which will differentiate product for customers. So, it is a time to drop “.cloud” suffix from CAD and PLM marketing. Just my thoughts..