CAD Management Predictions for 2015

28 Jan, 2015 By: Robert Green

During the next year, you'll see a variety of technology trends in your workplace. What will happen with BIM, the cloud, and more?

Now that we've all had a few weeks to settle into the New Year, many of us are pondering what challenges we'll face in the year ahead. Unfortunately, nobody exactly knows what to expect, and that leaves us to wrack our brains to forecast what's coming as best we can.

In this edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I want to share some of my CAD technology predictions that I'm using to plan 2015 for my business, in hopes they may help you plan your year as well. After all, if we know what to expect, we have a much better chance of success! Here goes.

Trends to Watch For

Of course, trying to forecast the future isn't a precise science, but here are my top picks for trends of 2015:

  • building information modeling (BIM) penetrates the rest of the AEC world
  • cloud hype goes away
  • hardware technology is stable, and even less expensive
  • software upgrades are put on hold
  • file security makes a comeback
  • process takes on new importance.

How have I determined these trends, you ask? I synthesize information from a variety of sources, including:

  • interviews conducted with software industry personnel
  • experience with my clients
  • conversations with IT and CAD managers around the U.S.
  • conversations with hundreds of users at Autodesk University
  • good old gut feelings.

Let's examine each of these trends in a bit more detail.

BIM Penetrates the Rest of the AEC World

While there has been much discussion about BIM over the past few years, it has only been adopted by bigger firms that work on large, multidisciplinary projects where BIM is currently required. In contrast, if you talk to a small architecture firm, subcontractor, or a specialty construction firm that erects strip malls, builds small schools, or renovates existing buildings, and you find that BIM is still conspicuously absent. I believe that will change this year, as BIM reaches those smaller firms as well.

During the past few years, the questions I've fielded from smaller companies about BIM were more theoretical — typically centering on costs, hardware, and training requirements. Now their questions concern practical, nuts-and-bolts issues regarding how to perform specific tasks — such as discipline coordination, exchanging, and software version interoperability. The change in questions signals to me that smaller companies aren't just kicking the tires but are beginning to work with BIM information.

In 2015 you will no longer be able to avoid BIM, even if you're a small firm or a subcontractor to larger ones. It appears the tipping point has been reached and the movement to BIM for construction industries can no longer be reversed — much like when CAD overtook drafting boards.

Cloud Hype Goes Away

I can't think of anything that has been more heavily hyped in the past two years than the cloud. It seems like every software company has a cloud version of its product — and pushes it at us whether we want it or not. In addition to cloud software, we have cloud storage, cloud collaboration, and cloud file management. This year, I predict that the uncomfortable realities of cloud technology will set in. The downside of working in a cloud environment comprises many pitfalls, including:

  • slow file transport speeds
  • user-supplied devices (tablets/phones) editing (and possibly corrupting) files
  • loss of file versions via copying
  • ambiguous security controls
  • different software licensing procedures.

Now that companies are dealing with the reality of working in the cloud, they've begun to take a slower approach toward moving their data or changing their work methods.

In 2015, the magical perception of the cloud will give way to practical reality, and cloud implementation and migration will be much more cautious and based on actual work metrics — thank goodness!

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About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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Re: CAD Management Predictions for 2015
by: schuletw
February 24, 2015 - 3:37pm
Finally, we can get our head out of the clouds. I thought I was missing something because I truly couldn't find a valid use for the cloud as we have a database and everyone on the network can access it. The only thing I have ever used the cloud for was to replace the FTP sites. Thanks for the predictions.
Re: CAD Management Predictions for 2015
by: caddcop
March 11, 2015 - 8:00am
Regarding Software Upgrades. We use the subscription model for our two main CADD platforms which would allow us to upgrade any time a new version is released. However compatibility with client software is what generally drives our upgrade path. As a Civil shop, the migration of the design software has also resulted in a reluctance to move to newer versions. This was originally a problem on the Autodesk side as Land Desktop was frozen at the 2009 version. But now, Bentley has started their Open Roads product line which is slowly replacing their other three Civil products. Certain portions of it are compatible forward and backwards, while other parts are not. It will require a real leap of faith (or client requirement) for us to upgrade. And for other software, like Office, we often upgrade only when a new PC is ordered since Microsoft has made it possible to open the newer files with the older versions, or to retain the files in the earlier version. Larger firms may be better able to absorb the hidden costs of moving forward. Eventually, one hopes the newer releases also increase productivity, but there is an up front cost to deal with before the downstream benefits can be enjoyed.

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