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.

The Planning Angle

One of the great things that CAD managers can derive from this report is a sense of what's hot and what's not so they can better plan and budget. Or, as Chris Turner, CEO and managing director of Business Advantage says, "Knowing about your target market trends is vital for future planning of any business. This annual CAD Trends survey is designed to assist CAD, CAM, CAE, PDM, and PLM users and software companies with their planning for 2015 and beyond."

The planning process that many CAD managers can take advantage of goes something like this:

Gauge how well your company uses/implements the technologies listed in the "Widely Used Tools" column. If your company is doing nothing in these technology areas, it may signal an area of concern that requires attention for your company to catch up.

Gauge how well your company uses/implements the technologies in the "Not in Wide Use" column. If your company is way ahead of the marketplace in some areas, it may signal an advantage your company can take advantage of. On the other hand, if your company isn't yet using a technology that only 8% or 10% of the marketplace has adopted, there is probably no cause for concern.

Adjust budgets accordingly. If it becomes obvious that your company is far behind normal technology adoption rates, it may be time to reallocate your technology budget to bring your company up to speed.

Obviously it requires some subjective assessment on your part to gauge how well your company is doing in any given category, so it is worthwhile to get others in your company to help you arrive at a consensus view. You can do this easily by sending a copy of the survey with a brief e-mail asking others' opinions. You may be surprised at the range of responses you receive.

CAD Data from Autodesk

Scanning through the 3D modeling, simulation, and BIM categories of the survey indicates that of all companies surveyed, 77%, 40%, and 21%, respectively, have actually adopted software in those categories. Based on these statistics, we can certainly conclude that 3D is in wide use, but is not nearly ubiquitous.

As I was pondering these numbers, another interesting piece of CAD technology adoption data became available. A press briefing I attended given by Autodesk to introduce its new 2016 AutoCAD products presented some statistics about Autodesk customers' use of AutoCAD (which is mainly a 2D tool). The graphic below was presented, showing that fully 52% of the software sets of Autodesk products in the construction services market are AutoCAD-based.

More than half of Autodesk's construction industry software users are still reliant on AutoCAD-based tools. Image courtesy of Autodesk.
More than half of Autodesk's construction industry software users are still reliant on AutoCAD-based tools. Image courtesy of Autodesk.

So if your company is still using AutoCAD on a substantial portion of your construction-based projects rather than an exclusively BIM-focused approach, it turns out that you aren't alone! Many CAD managers I talk with have suspected as much, but getting the data directly from with the horse's mouth confirms it.

Summing Up

If you have any involvement in implementing new software technology, budgeting, or prioritizing the software products your company uses on projects, I highly recommend you download the survey report and scan through it. You may find out that your company isn't as far behind the technology curve as you may have thought. And as you get others in your company to look over the survey, use it as a way to start an honest conversation about which technologies you really need to pursue.

What are your impressions of this survey? E-mail me and let me know. Until next time.

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About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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