Why engineering technology has 10 years adoption cycle?

Why engineering technology has 10 years adoption cycle?

I’m relaxing in sunny Tel-Aviv, removing jet lag and preparing for coming working week here. For those of you not aware, Sunday is actually working day in Israel opposite to Friday, so it is a bit confusing shift after U.S. During my travel time from Boston, I had an opportunity to catch up on my social stream. Some of news made me think about adoption of new technologies in engineering and manufacturing software.

The article I stumble upon was Cadalyst review of SolidEdge University 2013. Navigate your browser here to get some additional information. The topic that caught my attention was related to SolidEdge partnership with GrabCAD. GrabCAD (well known as open engineering portal) is recently getting lot of traction by making announcement about partnership with Autodesk and Siemens. Here is the passage in the article I specially liked:

…the company announced it has become the first to partner with the open engineering web site GrabCAD to facilitate real-time model sharing and review on the cloud for those users who want it. Users will be able to upload files directly from Solid Edge ST6 to GrabCAD Workbench, controlling access as they see fit.

One of the latest GrabCAD moves was introduction of GrabCAD Workbench – secured environment for collaboration using private and public cloud environment. Here is how GrabCAD workbench defined on GrabCAD website:

GrabCAD Workbench is built from the ground up for CAD. We display all major CAD files right in the browser, no special software required. View the design in 3D, explore exploded and section views, and “pin” comments and markups right on the model. Uploads are easy – just drag and drop the full folder structure and we do the rest. 

You can get more detailed list of features here. GrabCAD features are including – viewer for CAD files, easy upload, notification, automatic revision control, versions backup and security encryption.

There is something that struck me when I was reading about Workbench features. It reminded me one of projects I was working on back 10 years ago – mySmarTeam (later re-branded as Enovia Community Workspace). I googled old SmarTeam announcement from earlier 2000s. Navigate to this link to read more. Here are few passages from that old press release:

mySmarTeam.com enables product teams to form virtual development communities and instantly share product related information with the different parties involved in the product design and change process, including customers, suppliers, partners, purchasing agents, outsource manufacturing, sales, and marketing. mySmarTeam.com is a user-friendly, browser-based project management environment, that allows product development teams to store, search, view, download and review product specifications and configurations, CAD drawings, Bills of Material, and any other type of documents on the web.  Because it is based on the powerful SmarTeam PDM engine, mySmarTeam.com provides functionality for managing product revisions such as check-in, check-out and release, version control, and organizing projects into folders.

According to Avichay Nissenbaum, vice president of product marketing for SmarTeam, “Portals such as mySmarTeam.com provide an affordable, convenient way of expanding the use of PDM to numerous such groups who otherwise might not have on-line access to information. The ability to create a community around an area of interest, expose the appropriate data to that community with the proper security measures, will dramatically reduce errors, speed response time to market requirements, resolve customer issues, and overall time to market.”

Avichay’s statement about community around area of interest was the most remarkable. Isn’t it what we are doing now, 10 years later with social tools and social networks?

Speaking about technology adoption cycle and in a spirit of Sunday, I want to point you on another interesting article – The Long Boom: A History of the Future, 1980 – 2020 by Peter Schwartz and Peter Leyden. Navigate your browser to this link to read more. The article speaks about different trends and trajectories of economical and technological development. One of them is related to the birth of networking economy. Here is the passage I found amazingly match to what happened with engineering and manufacturing collaborative tools:

Research by a few economists, like Stanford University’s Paul Romer, suggests that fundamentally new technologies generally don’t become productive until a generation after their introduction, the time it takes for people to really learn how to use them in new ways. Sure enough, about a generation after the introduction of personal computers in the workplace, work processes begin mutating enough to take full advantage of the tool. Soon after, economists figure out how to accurately measure the true gains in productivity – and take into account the nebulous concept of improvement in quality rather than just quantity.

What is my conclusion? There are lots of changes and innovation these days in enterprise environment. Businesses and customers are looking how to improve their productivity, reduce cost and optimize for new business realities. However, you need to be aware about adoption cycle and be prepared for that. Here is my recommendation for all PLM / PDM innovators these days –  go and review 10 years old projects. I’m sure you will find something that can be ready for adoptions these days. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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