Earlier this week, I spent time online watching AU2020 tracks and presentations. The event this year was completely virtual, which unfortunately won’t allow us to meet live people and have great conversations. On the other hand, you can get a front-row on every session, rewind, and watch it again. And no travel headaches.
I still cannot say what I like more, virtual AU or in-person AU, I was able to gather some interesting data points about what is next for Autodesk in design, manufacturing, data management, PDM and PLM. I want to start from some of my previous articles, so it will give you a context of my thoughts and conclusions. Check these articles:
What can be next for Autodesk PLM?
Where does Autodesk Fusion360 is going?
Autodesk Data Management and PLM transformations.
How Autodesk plans to connect multiple generations of CAD, PDM, and PLM products together.
Today I want to share my thoughts and observations about Autodesk data management strategy and news I’ve heard during AU2020 presentations earlier this week.
There are three main topics to outline what I can see as Autodesk strategy in design and manufacturing, which includes tools like Autodesk Fusion360, Autodesk Inventor, Autodesk Vault, Fusion Lifecycle, and few others – (1) Common Data Model; (2) Data Handover Workflows and (3) Multi-disciplinary collaboration.
Common Data Model
Autodesk is building a foundation to make data flowing between applications, files, and tools. It is a long process and the foundation of the common data model is using the Autodesk Forge platform, which provides the infrastructure to connect existing and new applications.
Data Handover Workflows
Autodesk customers are using multiple tools. Some of them are coming from Autodesk and some others from partners and competitors. To ensure data can flow, Autodesk is focusing on how to support data handover between applications and tools.
Modern products are complex and data combine multiple elements (disciplines). Mechanical, electronics, software. To bring people on the same page, the new manufacturing collaborative platform keeps multiple elements and tools connected together under the common Autodesk Fusion 360 umbrella.
Here are a few examples about products I captured.
Integrated AutoCAD and Inventor data flow.
Autodesk Vault Mobile release
Multi-disciplinary design collaboration in Fusion 360
Release Management using Fusion Lifecycle in Fusion 360
Autodesk Forge Visualization Platform
These three elements of Autodesk’s strategic approach made me think about what will be a critical thing to make such a strategy efficient and able to compete in the market of digital tools for design and manufacturing. A single version of the truth is still a fundamental element that drives the value proposition of PLM tools and also drives the digital transformation in the industry. While all CAD/PLM vendors sell a single source and version of the truth, the accents can be different and the outcome can be different too. Companies with old mature client-server platforms are focusing on how to make their platforms not stack in the past. Newcomers in this PLM world and especially new SaaS PLMs targeting large enterprise customers are looking at how to get needed critical mass and jump to scale and functions.
Which strategy will allow building a sustainable online platform? In my view, the most important thing to support digital product development strategy is to provide a scalable and growing platform to capture and develop data about products, companies, their connections, and relationships. It is a very hard task because it cannot be done overnight. There are no shortcuts in buildings SaaS platform. It takes time. If you look back, you can see how digital platforms were growing and collected information to help their customers. I think the same will happen with new cloud product development platforms. I think Autodesk has some interesting strategies connecting multiple applications. Still, the foundation of the platform and collaboration tools is the place that can provide a critical element to bring all users, teams, companies on the same page in a digital form.
What is my conclusion?
I found Autodesk’s data management strategy very interesting and growing in the right direction for the last several years. Autodesk Forge is becoming a strong foundation as a data platform and the Autodesk team is placing a lot of focus on connecting existing and new applications. However, to make a shift from “multiple integrated tools” into an “integrated platform” requires creating a critical set of data modeling and collaboration tools to connect people, applications, and processes. To have such a core function is important to compete with other PLM players in the market. Just my thoughts…
Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing a digital network platform that manages product data and connects manufacturers and their supply chain networks.