CAD Manager's Newsletter (#345)

10 Jun, 2015 By: Robert Green

Cloud-Based CAD — The Predictions and the Reality

A recent survey by the Business Advantage Group highlights the gap between forecasts and real-world adoption rates.

Several of the CAD management sessions I've taught recently have spawned extended conversations about cloud-based CAD technology adoption, and I've been quite surprised by how negatively my colleagues feel about cloud-based systems. Coincidentally, I also received a news release from the Business Advantage Group at about the same time, announcing the release of results from its Worldwide CAD Trends 2015 survey that delved into some very interesting statistics about CAD in the cloud.

In this edition of the CAD Manager’s Newsletter, I'll discuss some of the statistics presented in the survey and provide some conclusions based on my conversations with CAD managers.

What Does the Survey Data Reveal?

For the purposes of the survey, Business Advantage Group used this description of cloud-based CAD: "Rather than software being deployed and used locally, cloud-based solutions enable the software to be loaded and run somewhere else, but be accessible anywhere with an Internet connection." (This definition will be important to consider in an upcoming section, so keep it in mind as you read the survey results.)

In the graphic you see below, the actual usage of cloud-based CAD systems is broken down by AEC and manufacturing industry segments for the past two years, and then in terms of forecasted usage over the next two years. The extremely low adoption rate — 7% and 8% in 2014 and 2015, respectively — is generally representative of what I see in the field with my clients.

Hopping forward to the forecasted usage in the next year shows a large jump in usage, with 3–5 year projections showing more moderate, but still substantial, growth. It's important to note that the survey states that forecasted CAD-in-the-cloud usage statistics are derived from asking 635 engineers, designers, and general software users their opinions — not by compiling data from IT/engineering/CAD management personnel, who are more likely to influence actual implementation.

Seeing the forecasts for cloud-based CAD usage in this study made me wonder about the forecasts for past years. According to the survey results, growth for cloud-based CAD did not meet predictions last year:

The 100%+ growth predicted last year was not achieved in 2014 and this held true across all sectors. Cloud-based CAD has seen low overall growth during the past year (7% to 8%). However, there were significant differences in growth across sectors. The AEC sector saw 22% growth over last year (usage increased from 9% to 11%) whilst manufacturing did not show any change over the previous year.

Another way to put this is that the same companies that predicted a doubling in growth of cloud-based CAD tools only saw an 11% increase at best — with many experiencing less than that. This makes me wonder how much growth will actually be seen in coming years. (I suspect it will be much lower than forecast.)

Why the Disconnect?

The survey spelled out some additional data points and conclusions that are very telling about why the predicted adoption of cloud-based CAD has been higher than the actual adoption rate:

Awareness: Cloud-based CAD has "high awareness" (51%) among CAD users, managers, and executives, and offers new business and delivery models for CAD, CAM, CAE, product data management (PDM), and product lifecycle management (PLM) software companies.

Importance: Compared to a number of the other trends, cloud-based CAD earned a relatively low importance ranking (with a mean score of 4 out of 10). This may indicate that sufficient return on investment isn't yet obvious to all users. Importance varies by sector, with AEC users rating this trend at 4.3 out of 10 and manufacturing users rating it at 3.7 out of 10. At the present time, cloud-based CAD appears to be more important to AEC users, where the greater need for "mobility" within the AEC sector contributes to the higher importance rating. Read more »

:: CAD Manager's Toolbox

Find the Next Member of Your CAD Team

A member of my Facebook CAD Manager's Unite! Group recently posed the following question to the group:

"Where do you go to find CAD hires? I am pretty sick of the Craigslist route. I need entry-level AutoCAD and MicroStation users. Local college is very little help. They do have a CAD program, but haven't really sent anyone our way. What are your resources?"

Here are some of the great tips/tricks that popped up from various group members:

  • We get some good leads from our reseller. They tend to know who's looking, who's good at the job, or know someone who is trying to break into the industry and just needs a chance. In my opinion, we've had better luck going that route than using headhunters and employment agencies.
  • We've even hired some people off the street, had them take a beginner's AutoCAD class with the reseller, then put them right to work, teaching them the rest on the job.
  • LinkedIn has a great search capability and it has a ton of staffing agencies.
  • Word of mouth — I am friends with other CAD managers, architects, and engineers and we keep each other informed. If we have to lay someone off, we'll pass the word around to help them get a new job. It is a pretty good network.
  • Autodesk User Group International (AUGI) forums don't allow any type of solicitation, but there is a career service they offer as well as a listing of members in the directory who are looking for work.
  • Develop relationships with your community college and tech schools. We have some great hires from the tech school. Start with the instructor that teaches your particular discipline. We also get hires from our web site, tech agencies, and the local building information modeling (BIM) users group.

Read more »

Do you have a helpful tip, recommendation, or question for the CAD Manager's Newsletter? Send it to me at If I use your tip in the newsletter, you'll receive a Cadalyst prize!

:: Resources

AMD Expands Website with High-Performance Computing Resources
AMD has added a new section to its website with information about the company's efforts to support high-performance computing (HPC), including upcoming events, customer highlights, and other related information. The site also provides links to hardware system companies that enable HPC in the datacenter and other environments.

ZWSOFT Users Can Access TraceParts 3D CAD Library
ZWSOFT, a publisher of 2D/3D industrial drawing software, has partnered with TraceParts, a provider of 3D digital content, to provide access to more than 100 million 3D models certified by industrial suppliers. ZW3D CAD users can now download and insert CAD models of components from manufacturers' catalogs in the TraceParts CAD library into their ZW3D files.

Report: Global Engineering Market to Grow 12.4% Through 2022
A research study published by Research & Markets estimates the global engineering software market was valued at $19.98 billion in 2014 and is forecast to grow 12.4% from 2015 to 2022. The study, entitled "Engineering Software (CAD, CAM, CAE, AEC, and EDA) Market — Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends, and Forecast, 2014–2022," is available for purchase.

HellermannTyton Releases 3D and 2D CAD Product Data for Cable Management
HellermannTyton, a manufacturer of cable and wire products, has created an electronic product catalog with downloadable 2D and 3D CAD data for the company's cable ties and fixings and cable protection products. Engineers can view and download the CAD models of the products via the CADENAS PARTcommunity 3D web viewer on the company's website.

SolidThinking Offers Additive Manufacturing On-Demand Webinar
SolidThinking is offering its "Create Radically Better Products with Design Optimization and Metal 3D Printing" webinar for on-demand viewing to users who register. According to the company, the webinar discusses the use of the company's Inspire and Evolve software for additive manufacturing. Additionally, 3D Systems, a consumer and industrial 3D printing and manufacturing solutions provider, explains how the resulting part designs can be manufactured using metal 3D printing.

:: Events

Build More Competitive Products with 3D Product-centric Design
June 10, 2015
11 a.m. PT
This Zuken webinar will introduce the product-centric design process and provide a demonstration. Read more »

The State of Spatial Data: AMA with the Co-Founders of Safe Software
June 10, 2015
11 a.m. ET
Join Safe Software founders for an "ask me anything" (AMA) webinar and get their take on the geospatial industry, top data challenges, running a company, and anything else that webinar attendees want to ask. Read more »

Innovation in the Digital Age
July 25, 2015
11 a.m. ET
This CIMdata webinar will describe use cases appropriate for product lifecycle management (PLM) and collaborative innovation. Read more »

Conquering the Chaos: How BIM Can Help Improve Project Coordination
June 25, 2015
11 a.m. ET
This Autodesk building information modeling (BIM) webinar will discuss how Autodesk BIM 360 and Autodesk Navisworks 2016 can help manage cross-discipline project teams. Read more »

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Certificate Program
September 21–25, 2015
Boston, Massachusetts
This program, available in three- and five-day versions, prepares PLM professionals to address the challenges commonly faced in PLM strategy development and implementation. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to

:: What's New at

AutoCAD Video Tip: The Fastest Way to Set Your Favorite Object Snaps
We work with object snaps (osnaps) all day long — why not master the art of setting them at lightning speed? Lynn Allen shows you a super shortcut to switching your object snap settings in a jiffy. Watch the video »

Modo 901 Expands the 3D Content Creation Universe
Enhancements to The Foundry's latest release include the incorporation of MeshFusion, which was formerly a plugin. Read more »

Learning Curve Tutorial: Still Looking at 3D in AutoCAD
Use the ViewProj and ViewSection commands to create 2D views of your models. Read more »

How Workstation Design Affects CAD Performance
What factors shape the indispensable hardware that makes CAD possible — and how do those choices ultimately impact CAD users? Read more »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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