Modern manufacturing world is all about communication and networking. Companies are hiring engineers all over the world. Contractors and suppliers are global. Assembly shops are often located close to the distribution and customers. To design and manufacturing efficiently, manufacturing companies need to learn to communicate. And it means tools. What was possible using phones and faxes in the past is changing nowadays.
I captured two interesting charts. Growth of VoIP vs TDB (aka PBX business)
… growth of Skype vs International calls.
The trend is pretty clear – modern communication tools are wining and there is no surprise here. Which raises an interesting question of who will provide these services and how companies will be collaborate and communicate in these scenarios.
You probably heard about Unified communications – a concept of integrating of different communication tools such as phones, instant messaging, mobility, audio and video in a central communication system. This is not a new thing.
But here is a new thing I learned called UCaaS – unified communication as a service. The idea is simple. Similar to IaaS, SaaS and other domains, UC is visualizing and becomes available as a service. Read this article to learn more.
UCaaS vendors are increasingly adding communications platform as a service (CPaaS) capabilities and application programming interfaces (APIs) to their cloud platforms. Customers can use CPaaS capabilities and APIs to embed cloud-based communication features into their business applications and workflows.
UCaaS vendors range from providers that sell directly to organizations, such as RingCentral, 8×8 Inc. and Microsoft, to third-party cloud service providers, such as Verizon, AT&T and BT.
You can ask me – why should I care? Here is the thing, communication is good when it is integrated. It was the main point of integrating chats, calls and video communication. Context is a king and everyone wants to communicate with the context of a specific data. This is a place where specialized software platforms are increasing their presence.
Social business collaboration stories are 5 years old, but it doesn’t make them old. These features are growing slow, but steady. I can bring many examples of these collaborative tools – almost all CAD and PLM companies are supporting such type of collaboration.
Here is an example of Aras Visual Collaboration:
Onshape recently came with new Enterprise subscription, which includes many interesting features. Among them, social collaborative activity feed, which gives you kind of Facebook on 3D CAD steroids.
And of course, everyone knows Slack, which is an absolutely great way to chat and communicate.
It made me think about trajectory of communication tools in CAD and PLM packages. As much as companies like to have a unified collaboration, these PLM and CAD tools are pretty much in isolation. Would it worth exploring communication beyond what is possible to realize the need to provide more sophisticated and advanced communication tools?
And this is a place to integrate with UCaaS tools. It can be a crazy thing for on premise CAD and PLM dinosaurs, but nimble and agile cloud tools have a chance to flourish based on such bundle.
What is my conclusion? The need for communication and collaboration in context is huge. In the recent past, these areas aren’t consolidated and lived by themselves. An interesting play is coming now with new tools and techniques. Cloud CAD, PDM, PLM and other tools managing engineering and manufacturing data can explore a potential of service provided by UCaaS to make their tools more attractive an save on communication silos. Just my thoughts…
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Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.