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New Survey Reveals Strong Surge of Interest in CAD Data Management

Synergis Software

Synergis Software

A new survey of CAD users reveals strong interest in both first-time and increased use of PDM (product data management) technology. Only 3D modeling and simulation rate higher as areas of emphasis for short-term spending.

The data comes from Business Advantage (BA), global software and IT research specialist. The results are based on interviews with 635 CAD using firms of all sizes on three continents in manufacturing, AEC, and allied disciplines. It covers 15 primary trends of interest to engineering and construction, including 3D Modeling, Building Information Modeling (BIM), Cloud Based CAD, Simulation, PDM, PLM, 3D Printing, Augmented/Virtual/Reality Computing, and more. The trends are ranked by awareness, importance, current and intended adoption to reveal their trends and growth potential, including comparison to the prior year survey results.


An overview of survey results from the Business Advantage report Global CAD Trends

(Chart courtesy of Business Advantage)

The survey shows PDM in the top three trends for above average adoption. PDM actual growth in 2014 was more than double BA’s prediction; 21% growth is expected this year, and 39% growth is expected in the next 3-5 years.

One question asked respondents to rank the importance of the 15 CAD trends to their company. PDM came in second, just behind 3D Modeling, as most important.  When comparing perceived importance to current usage, PDM was one of only six trends to rate as “Leading,” where high importance and high usage converge.  Only 3D Modeling and Simulation rated higher.


PDM was one of only six trends to rate as Leading in a four-quadrant ranking.

(Chart courtesy of Business Advantage)

BA notes that the increased interest in PDM makes it “an increasingly important area in today’s market, with growing importance and usage.” The Manufacturing sector currently dominates in PDM usage, but the survey also claims PDM use in AEC will nearly double in the next 3-5 years.

So, what does this data mean? When I look at the Importance/Usage quadrant above, I see the results of a sorting process taking place in engineering firms around the globe. Some technologies are interesting, but not yet ripe for deployment, and others are seen as key drivers of new efficiency worth the investment. Only 3D Modeling, Simulation, PDM, Mobile Access to CAD, BIM, and PLM make it into the Leading category. These are the technologies manufacturing and AEC engineering firms are now using and intend to spend more on. The general consensus is: for these technologies, the value proposition is mature.

Other trends from the report you might find interesting:

  • Growth of 3D Modeling in AEC is predicted to be up to 4 times greater than in Manufacturing
  • Simulation adoption was more than double last year’s prediction; AEC Simulation usage predicted to grow by 58% in 3-5 years
  • Concurrent Engineering predicted to grow 32% this year, 63% in 3-5 years
  • BIM growth lower than predicted last year but 45% predicted in AEC for next 3-5 years
  • Mobile CAD usage highest in North America but highest 3-5 year growth expected in Asia/Pacific
  • 3D Printing to grow 50% this year, 39% in Manufacturing, 110% in AEC, usage to more than double in 3-5 years
  • Cloud based CAD usage predicted to double this year and triple in 3-5 years – highest in AEC.

You can read more about the Business Advantage report and get a copy of the summary.

Randall S. Newton is the principal analyst and managing director at Consilia Vektor, a consulting firm serving the engineering software industry. He has been directly involved in engineering software in a number of roles since 1985.

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