Community sourced data will fuel the future of engineering and manufacturing systems

Community sourced data will fuel the future of engineering and manufacturing systems


Data is the next oil. The last decade of software development demonstrated huge potential of data driven approach in many industry domains. Internet, search, marketing, car navigation – the number of examples is literally overwhelming.

CAD and PLM software vendors are looking how to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to improve future performance of their tools. During the past AU2016 in Las Vegas, Autodesk CEO, Carl Bass and CTO Jeff Kowalski took a good portion of main keynote presentation speaking about how future engineering tools will enjoy the power of so-called design graph.

Medium article Kickstarter Tech Predictions for 2017 brings some interesting perspective on a future of tech and makers universe. One of the trends is very much connected to the topic of machine learning and AI. What is important it speaks about practical use cases how AI can be filled by data collectively owned by community, companies or individuals. Here is an interesting passage:

Collective intelligence and community-sourced data. But artificial intelligence can only do so much. Actual human brains are still pretty useful, especially when lots of them work together. Blubel, Oombrella, and Wynd are connected devices that collect info from individual users about safe routes for bikers, hyper-local weather conditions, and air quality, respectively, pooling these distributed data points to make the whole system smarter. We expect to see designers and users continue to embrace this kind of transparent, purposeful approach to gathering data, especially as the increasingly porous boundaries between our online and physical lives stoke concerns about personal privacy and data harvesting.

It made me think about how future engineering software will be able to take advantage of data owned by manufacturing companies today. I’m not thinking about IP and confidential product design information. I’m thinking about information that shared by all manufacturing companies. An average manufacturing companies provides enough information about their product, component base, suppliers, etc. that can be gathered, analyzed and used. This information is either public and can be disclosed by the company to their software providers under certain conditions. We can expect tools capable to go beyond company database boundary by providing intelligence that never being possible before the internet era.

What is my conclusion? Engineering software vendors actively debated “community and collaboration” software for the past decade. Although collaboration looks like an obvious value of community based software, the reality might be different. The real value of community software will be to collect information and fuel future collective intelligence and machine learning algorithms. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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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.


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