I attended Autodesk University 2016 opening keynote yesterday. 10’000 people crowd, crazy loud music and future vision of engineering software. Autodesk CTO Jeff Kowalski and CEO Carl Bass kicked it off sharing perspective on future trends and opportunities of technologies and engineering software future.
The following 2 topics caught my special attention Machine Learning and Software for Teams
Machine Learning and Artifical Intelligence
These days we can observe an accelerated interest into AI research and machine learning development. A growing capability to crunch a massive amount of data is one of the key driving forces behind that. The idea of Autodesk to feed network of computers with information about 3D models and get insight and essence of the designs engineers work and use it for optimal design and planning. Jeff brought few examples of projects Autodesk CTO office made using this approach and the outcome – optimal design forms, materials selection and planning. Carl Bass continued the story discussing how Machine Learning can be used as a software approach for the future design automation.
The central part of this model – Design Graph can recognize he design based on shape and show the designer all things that look like and related to it. If designer selects bolt, software show him nuts and washers. Software also can make a good guess about designer will do next.
Software for Teams
According to Carl Bass, old paradigm of engineering software was to develop software for individual engineers and designers. Nothing wrong with that – most of engineering software today is exactly like that helping engineers to perform 3D design, simulations, CNC machining, etc. However, the new paradigm is coming – software for teams. It brings 2 important elements – collaboration and shared data. Autodesk is looking into the way to develop software capable to communicate changes, anticipate needs and react on changing environment. This is the main charter behind cloud tools Autodesk is developing today. Sharing data is a central element of “software for teams” approach helping users to work around a specific context and actions.
What is my conclusion? I will use Carl Bass analogy of automotive industry. There are companies and cars that define the industry vision for the next 10 years. Take Mercedes Benz S-class as an example. The features you can see in that car will be available in an average mainstream car in 10 years. Autodesk keynote reminded me a bit of the same. We see an unprecedented level innovation coming into engineering software these days. At the same time, many companies are struggling for a very basic functions that can improve their work every day. How to keep the balance? This is a question to ask industry strategists and analysts. 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.