I was in Paris last week as a member of the press....okay, so I'm a PR chick, right? So here's why. In my complex whirlwind life, I also happen to be publisher of some publications and blogs as a part-owner of another company - something which confuses many. I am fortunate to have an editor-in-chief who fully understands the meaning of conflicts and has a hard-written policy to avoid them. My role in the publications is money and infrastructure...something that takes a lot more of my night-time hours than it should. I write the occasional article but am banned from referring to clients, both past and present, without disclosure.
As part of CADCAMNETtv, I was at the Autodesk Manufacturing Media Summit, which was a nice tangle of US and European press in a single location. That location just happened to be on the doorstep of another major CAD vendor, Dassault Systemes. During the event, Autodesk expanded on its recently announced 'Digital Prototyping' strategy for its MCAD users.
Digital Prototyping is the word Autodesk has coined as the non-PLM person's PLM. Something that has a granularity of function targeted at 'the other 80%'. It is presented as a way to prove a new product, prototype it digitally, fully simulate it digitally and manufacture it digitally, prior to committing to the production line. Attached to that is enhanced versions of its ProductStream product for managing the data and documents around the product.
But the reason I am writing about this, is that Autodesk is doing what it has always been good at - taking a technology idea and giving it the top 80% functionality at 20% of the price. Digital Prototyping is no different. It takes the idea of 'expensive' out of PLM and brings it down to all those other users.
What the event did do is get the editors' tongues wagging. Many, but not all, agreed that Digital Prototyping has a chance of succeeding. More importantly, it started discussions going as to why PLM works, why it does not, and what the alternative is.
Caption: Ralph Grabowski, Randall Newton and (far right,) Martyn Day, look thoughtful during the Autodesk event.
Is presenting an alternative view of life a workable strategy? Absolutely. And Autodesk pulled it off well with confident presentations, great demos and a workable flow of good french wine to bring the feeling back to one's legs after a day of sitting. I am betting that the volume on this issue has not even started to get loud, and that after this event you will see 'Digital prototyping' everywhere in the CAD editorial columns.