Despite Marketing Hype, CAD Users Adopt New Technologies Cautiously

14 Apr, 2015 By: Robert Green

CAD Manager Column: Find out which technologies are being adopted at a faster rate.

I often participate in conversations with other CAD managers about the adoption of new technology. One of the topics that often comes up is exactly how far along everyone is with implementing new tools such as cloud-based CAD, building information modeling (BIM), pay-for-service software, etc. After all, we all read about these trendy technologies, so we logically wonder how widely adopted they are.

The interesting thing about these conversations is that they invariably lead us all to agree that the euphoric hype we read about doesn't match the reality we see in our offices. We are often left scratching our heads, wondering why the companies we work with seem so far behind the market buzz. Is it just that our companies that are slow to adopt new technology, or is the phenomenon more widespread?

Market Data

In the past two weeks, two very interesting pieces of industry news came out that validate the theory that technology adoption occurs much more slowly than PR agencies and software companies would have us believe.

The first is the Business Advantage Group's 2015 Worldwide CAD Trends Survey report (see also Business Advantage CAD Trends Survey Results). CAD professionals can download a freely accessible, high-level report of the results using this link.

The survey evaluated professionals' awareness and use of various technologies including 3D modeling, BIM, and 3D printing. Image courtesy of the Business Advantage Group.
The survey evaluated professionals' awareness and use of various technologies including 3D modeling, BIM, and 3D printing. Image courtesy of the Business Advantage Group.

According to the company, the survey was completed by 635 professionals from around the world in various disciplines during late 2014. It covers 15 technology categories, including 3D modeling, BIM, cloud-based CAD, simulation, 3D printing, open-source CAD, and augmented/virtual reality computing. The topics are ranked by awareness, importance, and current and intended adoption to reveal their trends and growth potential, including comparison to the prior year's survey results.

One of the most interesting conclusions from the survey was a division of technologies that have above-average adoption (those that are enjoying success in the market) versus technologies that have below-average adoption (those that aren't gaining much market traction).

As most of my CAD manager acquaintances and I have discussed, the types of technologies we see being adopted (as seen in the first column of the table below) are shown to have above-average adoption rates in the CAD Trends 2015 survey. But the really interesting things to note are the highly hyped technologies that aren't enjoying widespread adoption, as seen in the right-hand column below.


Widely Used ToolsTools Not in Wide Use
3D modeling/BIM Outsourcing of Labor
Simulation/analysis Cloud Based CAD
Product data management (PDM) Open Source/Free CAD Software
Product lifecycle management (PLM)     Pay-as-you-go purchase plans (software rental)    
Mobile CAD tools 3D Printing


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About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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