I attended Autodesk University AU2018 earlier this week in Las Vegas. An annual Autodesk extravaganza gathered 11,000 people under a single roof of Sands Expo convention center in Venetian Hotel Las Vegas. If you’ve been there before, you know the size and scale of AU. You pic your slice of AU and focus on it. Don’t try to absorb everything.
My focus this year was about DevCon and Autodesk Forge. Autodesk is building a platform for applications. The process started almost a decade ago with first Autodesk projects to build a new platform to replace AutoCAD. It started from a first AutoCAD in the cloud and then expanded into different applications and systems.
The following slide can give you some idea about Autodesk platform development.
The central word in Autodesk Forge DevCon was “data”. After building many applications, Autodesk realized that applications matter much less than data they manage. And actually data has a significant impact and value. The more data we have – better for customers. Autodesk has a long history of data separation between multiple applications and files. Comparing to other CAD and PLM vendors, I can see Autodesk case as a very extreme to demand of data consolidation.
The way to break the walls for Autodesk is to create a data platform. Code name UDP (unified data platform
In the following few slides you can see a remarkable effort of presenting both architecture and mechanical data using the same model. Even it makes total sense to me, not many application vendors in CAD eco-system has the same option. Many others are limited to mechanical, construction, electronic
The most interesting part is about applications role. They are currently much less important for Autodesk.
What is my conclusion? Engineering (CAD and PLM) vendors are all moving to platforms, but each vendor does it from his own technical and apps space. A starting point for CAD/PLM vendors is their existing PDM system. It is a legacy and burden. Autodesk is unique, since it relies on their applications to do a job. Therefore, I can see Autodesk Unified Data Platform (UDP) as a very strategic development for Autodesk existence as a platform vendor. It takes time and Autodesk will need to go faster to catch up with other PLM vendors working and modifying existing data management solutions. There is no way to touch this development for the moment, but I look forward to do it sooner than later. Just my thoughts…
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