CAD Management Predictions for 2016

12 Jan, 2016 By: Robert Green

CAD Manager Column: Which trends should you keep an eye on in the coming year, and how should you adapt to them?

Welcome to 2016! Now that the New Year has arrived, I’ll continue my annual tradition of sharing predictions for how CAD market trends will change in the coming year. I’ll also discuss some ways CAD managers can accommodate those changes.

My methodology for determining market trends isn’t scientific, but it draws on a number of perspectives and solid sources of first-hand experience, including:

  • Interviews conducted with software industry personnel
  • Experience with my clients
  • Feedback from readers of the CAD Manager’s Newsletter
  • Feedback from members of the CAD Managers Unite! Facebook group
  • Conversations with IT and CAD managers around the U.S.
  • Conversations with hundreds of CAD users at Autodesk University.

Let’s have a look at the trends I think should be on your radar screen in 2016. Here goes.

Trends to Watch For

Of course, forecasting the future is never an entirely accurate undertaking, but here’s what I expect will happen in 2016:

  • Cloud skepticism grows
  • Information security becomes paramount
  • Building information modeling (BIM) continues to solidify
  • Hardware storage speeds jump
  • CAD upgrades become sluggish
  • Optimization is key to success.

Let’s dig into each trend in more detail, with an eye toward why the trend is developing and how CAD managers may need to adjust their strategies.

Cloud Skepticism Will Grow

Cloud hype has been thick for the last few years. In fact, the haze of jargon and exaggerated marketing claims has been so overbearing that it is sometimes hard to tell what “the cloud” actually means. In the past year, however, that’s become more clear, with cloud-based software being defined in one of the following ways:

  • Software whose licenses are locally installed, but are controlled from a cloud-based account (such as Autodesk 360 or Microsoft’s Office 365) – this is sometimes called rental software.
  • Software that is entirely installed and maintained on a remote server (for example, Autodesk’s BIM 360 Glue).

Whether software is licensed from the cloud or totally cloud-based, the feedback I hear from clients and readers alike points to a growing skepticism regarding cloud-based software. The key points of contention include:

  • Lack of perpetual usage rights. In contrast to a perpetual license, the software becomes unusable if the rental fee is not paid.
  • Lack of continuity. What if the software company goes out of business or stops supporting a product?
  • Lack of security. How can anyone be certain that cloud-based data is really secure from theft?
  • Lack of administrative control. How can departing or rogue employees be prevented from accessing data?

To be fair, not all these issues are shared by all software packages, but the perception of these problems is causing many companies to analyze any move to cloud-based software very closely. Rather than a stampede to the cloud, it seems that 2016 may be the year when companies openly question whether cloud-based software tools actually make sense for their businesses.

Information Security Becomes Paramount

For many of the reasons indicated in the cloud comments above, companies are becoming much more aware of the need to protect their information from hacking or theft. In fact, this topic is now of prime concern to senior management teams, not just IT departments.

Key technology factors driving the newfound emphasis on information security include the following:

  • The proliferation of tablets and phones running apps that can access crucial company data — including CAD files.
  • Widely publicized hacking of cloud accounts ranging from iCloud to Dropbox and beyond.
  • The possibility for file loss when any employee accessing Dropbox or OneDrive from their phone can delete files at any time.
  • The possibility of data theft should an employee tablet containing CAD data be left behind at an airport or technical conference.

The more time executive management teams spend thinking about these types of scenarios, the more likely they are to limit the use of portable devices and less-than-secure apps that can’t be tightly controlled by IT policy. So even though we’ll continue to see an abundance of cool new CAD-enabled apps for our tablets and phones, 2016 may be the year that your company tightens security so you can’t use them.

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About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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Re: CAD Management Predictions for 2016
by: Cyruss
January 13, 2016 - 4:52pm
Robert, I think you are right on all accounts. Cloud based software and storage is absolutely forbidden at my company. Perpetual licenses are a must, could you imagine stopping design or manufacturing if finance misses a payment on an invoice for software? Administrative control is also a problem, as a CAD manager of a large multisite company I am not informed when people leave the company and it is hard to maintain a list of people that have access to our current software support and downloads. For 2016 we are focusing mainly on our PLM solution and CAD station upgrades. Cloud integration is not even on our list.
Re: CAD Management Predictions for 2016
by: jmaeding
January 13, 2016 - 7:05pm
In civil engineering, there is no BIM yet, as many of the things that look like BIM, such as pipe networks that are part based, are useless for the design phase. The items that might be close to BIM, like Civil3D corridors, are really complicated to use for real roads so get avoided by much of the industry. I could go on and on, but what is happening is the large companies are giving up on the hard software problems, and shooting for the low fruit in civil at least.
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