Autodesk Data Management and PLM Transformation

Autodesk Data Management and PLM Transformation

I’ve been following the Autodesk platform and PLM development for many years. Autodesk was the first large company that endorsed and adopted public cloud services to develop PLM almost a decade ago. A lot of changes happened since that time and I’m always watching with a high level of curiosity about what is next in the Autodesk PLM transformation.

PLM is a Data Management, Not an App

To catch up on my recent articles, please check out these links- What is next for Autodesk PLM in 2018? and What can be next for Autodesk PLM from 2019? Autodesk put a focus on data management and inner development of Autodesk Forge platform  The power of the Autodesk Forge platform combined with Fusion360 and other tools integrated together is a strong foundation for PLM-related development at Autodesk. Placing the data in the center can create a strong differentiation for future product data management development at Autodesk. According to Autodesk CEO, Andrew Anagnost, back at AU2018, PLM is more a production information model and not an application add-on on top of the cloud.

My attention was caught by the article – Mastering Fusion360 data management published by Stephen Hooper, General Management, and VP of Fusion 360. The article speaks about how Autodesk is planning to deliver in the future of product information for Fusion 360. More specifically, it is called the Product Information Model (PIM). The following passage gives you an idea of where Fusion360 goes.

In the current Fusion 360 experience, saving changes you’ve made to your Fusion 360 designs still require you to explicitly click the save icon for the save to occur. This was the conventional way of desktop computing, but 21st-century data management should be instantaneous. It should be seamless, always consolidating changes, always there for you. That’s why we’re currently working on a project we are calling the Fusion 360 Product Information Model (PIM). It is the foundation of cloud data for Fusion 360 moving forward and runs on Forge, the Autodesk cloud developer platform. We recently highlighted a few data management projects in our roadmap update blog post, and they are all intertwined with PIM, contributing to it as well as benefiting from the fruits of this strategy.

Fusion 360 is being architected like this to help achieve the end goal of true design collaboration and a seamless data management experience. PIM enables multiple people to work across designs and manufacturing data simultaneously, knowing exactly who is working on what, without any risk of stepping on each other’s toes. We haven’t yet exposed the full range of capabilities that PIM supports, as the Fusion 360 data model evolves rapidly, but we are continually migrating more and more of the information needed to make your data run smoothly in a PIM.

What is interesting is that Fusion360 will be even more based on data management capabilities of the Forge platform, but will provide a set of services making data and design changes even more integrated together.

PLM and BIM on the same platform?

My special interest in Autodesk data management development is also driven by the fact Autodesk’s significant market presence in BIM makes an opportunity for the same platform to serve both markets.

If you’ve been following a recent Open Letter of customers to Autodesk, you can find interesting the answer to the letter provided by Autodesk CEO, Andrew Anagnost. Check this out – Autodesk and Architecture Industry (). My favorite passage was about data management and a platform for BIM.

Autodesk made the important decision to dramatically increase our investment in the construction side of AEC at the same time we were changing our business model to subscription. We believe this investment will benefit architects over the long term. That said, we have now turned our attention to defining and building out a new platform for AEC based on an evolution of BIM centered on a common data environment. We are committed to the idea of new, highly collaborative, and outcome-driven design solutions for the AEC industry.

It made me think about my old article – PLM vs BIM – common or different? The notion of a common data environment for BIM and data management for Fusion360 made me think that Autodesk is surely coming to a mature foundation capable of handling architecture,  manufacturing, and construction data under the same cloud platform foundation.

What is my conclusion?

I can see an interesting step in Autodesk PLM development – to move from isolated PLM application to a broad vision of data management to support design data. Such a strategy provides tons of advantages by allowing to provide a strong data foundation for design data and broad range interfaces to expand solutions with SaaS applications providing specialized solutions for solving specific business problems. It can be an interesting turn for Autodesk to deliver an open PLM foundation to compete with growing competition from Dassault, PTC, and Siemens investing in their own SaaS development. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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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