Manager's VPOINT30 Nov, 2003 By: Cadalyst Staff
CAD Manager Survey, part 2.
In last month's edition of Manager's VPOINT, I began to examine the CAD Manager 2003 survey by looking at hard data such as job titles, average salaries, and staff size. This month I examine trends in software and technology use.
PRIMARY CAD PLATFORMSIn this survey, I asked respondents to indicate their primary CAD system because of the unmistakable trend toward multiple CAD systems in the design office. As in past surveys, Autodesk products dominate, making up a combined 85% of all primary CAD system responses. Interestingly enough, this market share is somewhat less than the 91% garnered in the last CAD manager survey conducted in late 2001.
Studying the survey data, I can see that:
- the trend toward replacing AutoCAD with more powerful, industry-specific CAD platforms has gathered real momentum, even though these platforms are more expensive than AutoCAD.
- this change has occurred during a period of recession in which very low levels of spending on software upgrades have been observed.
Even though software companies haven't done well in the past few years, they did indeed make progress in moving out of the basic CAD business into more expensive vertical applications.
EVOLUTION, NOT REVOLUTION
It's interesting that as companies replace plain AutoCAD with more powerful application software, virtually all have done so with another Autodesk product. More specifically, they've purchased Autodesk products that use the DWG file format (the Desktop series products) far more than products such as Revit and Inventor. The degree of penetration for alternate file formats such as Revit and Inventor is far below that of key Autodesk competitor SolidWorks, yet it outpaces former rival Pro/ENGINEER.
This trend toward upgrading to products that use the time-tested DWG format leads me to believe that customers are hesitant to get too far away from the core AutoCAD file format. This is logical given that most companies are more comfortable with evolutionary rather than revolutionary change.
No matter how much money is spent on marketing products such as Revit, Inventor, and SolidWorks that use non-DWG formats, the marketplace still votes to play it safe with DWG-based files.
THE HYBRID OFFICE
During the past year, I've noted that more offices run a 2D primary system (such as AutoCAD) with a 3D-enabled secondary CAD system. This multisystem or hybrid-office environment has real impact for CAD managers who now must support multiple CAD packages. With the
As you can see from Table 2, roughly 57% of survey respondents identify their company as being totally or mainly 2D. Not coincidentally, the share of offices that identify strongly with 2D methodologies almost exactly mirrors the percentage that use AutoCAD as the primary CAD system.
Though very few companies purport to be totally 3D, the number evaluating 3D has increased to 26%. I don't have historical numbers to compare to these results, but I view the Evaluating 3D percentage as proof that 3D methodologies are gaining acceptance as they are tested and proven in actual use.
- CAD managers aren't satisfied with what their CAD packages can do in the "out of the box" state, or they wouldn't be learning how to customize their systems.
- AutoLISP is not dead-not by a long shot. In fact, it gains ground even as AutoCAD loses ground in percentage of primary CAD seats. (Note to Autodesk: Don't kill AutoLISP!)
- Visual BASIC has made the move into mainstream acceptance (crossing the magic 25% threshold) by the CAD managers who have to support CAD systems.
Even as CAD management has become less of a full-time endeavor, CAD managers have become even more technical. More and more, CAD managers are taking matters into their own hands and programming the kinds of custom tools they need to make their users more productive.
THE FULL STORY
Due to space restrictions, I've analyzed only a small portion of the data I collected in the CAD Manager's 2003 survey. Use these results to gauge where your company fits in the software and technology spectrum and how your skill set compares with those of other CAD managers.
I invite you to stop by my Web site for a complete rundown of the survey data. E-mail any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.