New yearHope you’re enjoying your year-end holidays! Skiing? Sunning? Playing? We’re still trying to unplug (but failing miserably) and recharge (naps, lots of naps) before 2014 arrives, so this blog is going to be short and sweet.

2013 was a year when some of the disparate parts of our PLMish universe started to gel. It was a big year so now that there’s been a bit of time to reflect, here are a couple of my year-end musings:

  1. Don’t underestimate Autodesk and its market influence. Yes, the company can present a confusing picture, but customers are starting to pay attention to its cloud strategy. Not cloud for the CAE types and others used to relying on remote CPUs for daily life, but for those who like the work-anywhere/collaborative/new-licensing models/new devices aspect of CAD. Plain old CAD. Reimagined. If Autodesk does this right (and it may just be), this will ripple across users and markets through 2014.
  2. “Cloud” is coming to mean many, smaller app chunks and that’s OK. We talked about this at COFES a couple of years ago and it’s finally starting to happen: monolithic, ginormous CAD apps in the cloud won’t work for the myriad reasons we’ve hashed to death so developers and buyers are increasingly looking at smaller, focused apps for very specific functions (priced accordingly).
  3. To some, “cloud” also means laser point clouds or other reality capture artifacts. Vendors are pushing the envelope in using these data types for modeling from an as-built state; users are figuring out how they can leverage them in their workflows. We’re at the early stages but 2013 really saw building momentum.
  4. Flexibility is where it’s at. To buy a short-term license if that better suits workloads, to shift product licenses à la Bentley as a project matures from concept to detail, to start work on a desktop PC and review it on a tablet, to start in one CAD package and perhaps finish or collaborate in another … We don’t work the way we did just 10 years ago and the PLMish world is slowly catching up.
  5. The 2D/3D thing is becoming less relevant. A couple of times a year, I am asked about how many 2D users are out there, ripe for migration to 3D. The reality is that some people are very happy in 2D, don’t need full-up, traditional 3D and can’t afford to learn it. The smaller, lighter apps coming onto the market are perfect for them — some 3D, easier to learn, lots of drawing capability. The lines are blurring.
  6. We’ve still got so much headroom in CAE –and there is so much innovation happening in algorithms, computing and usability– that we’re very far from done. Yes, the big vendors continue to get bigger, but there are many small companies spinning out of universities or taking advantage of open source building blocks to commercialize advances in atom-level chemical and biological modeling, multiphysics, geology — you name it. Exciting times.

2013 was also the year CAM came into its own, the year PLM vendors started to make more sense (looking at you, Dassault Systèmes and PTC), the year plant design CAx stepped up its game, Siemens came out of the shadows (a bit and then a bit more) …

2014 is going to be incredibly exciting and I hope you’re resting up to get ready.

From us to you, Happy New Year!

But if you can’t unplug, tell us in the comments: what was most significant to you, PLM-wise, in 2013? What do you hope for in 2014?