Carl Bass of Autodesk, it’s CEO, opens up in a blog post about the rationale behind the company’s rather young Fusion product line, in particular discussing Fusion 360 in detail from the perspective of how it reflects how Autodesk sees the changing realities of the product development world.
Bass says its customers and their workflow environments have radically changed, particularly with respect to teamwork, communication, and geography. Recognizing that teams developing products have gone global in a big way, he lays out the virtues of Fusion 360’s built-in collaboration technologies. And he also explains that the world of LANs, firewalls, and identical workstations [in cubbies…no doubt!] is aging and being replaced by cloud computing and a wide variety of devices that are both mobile and increasingly powerful.
Bass says something really important in this blog posts that I think Architosh readers ought to hear. And it applies to markets far beyond product and industrial design. He mentions that for many years competition in software CAD products was centered on quality. But today “quality products are table stakes” he says. In other words, today’s CAD market is flooded with quality products. In tomorrow’s market the winners will be those who “focus on innovation and shortening time to market,” in other words, process innovation.
Process innovation is the opening many have been looking for in the engineering software markets, to better establish a foothold, to land a beachhead, and to just plain compete vigorously by solving long-standing problems. In many ways Bass’ comments and position about Fusion is as “startup like” as, say, a company like Lagoa. The CAD markets have been relying, too much or too long, on fortifying the digitalization of existent analog workflow models, rather than solving real pain points. It’s something more akin to selling the market vitamins rather than aspirin.
Monocultures are Dead—In CAD Too
This means Fusion 360 is built for the future from the perspective of responding to the next generation and how, as a group, they expect technology to work for them. In essence, Fusion 360 is built for and around web technologies like WebGL, giving it accessibility on broad platforms (unlike the PC Windows-only monoculture of the aging CAD world).
To be fair when one talks about monocultures in the sense above it’s about how a culture or enterprise sector built itself up around some core and limited common assumptions (technology platforms or otherwise). To be open was always expensive. The prevailing thought was (still is in many quarters) “why develop this for that platform? Don’t unless you really have to.” From a software developer’s perspective, adding complexity is typically adding costs.
Now we have companies touting their offerings’ ability to run everywhere. We really can thank the iPhone and then the iPad for that, but today it’s so much more and growing. And this is going to be good for the end user. Us.