PLM App Store. Not a dream. Reality…

App Store. These two words changed our life for the last few years. You have a problem? We have an app for this. Apple and other companies came to that space and we have millions of apps solving our everyday problems. The situation is different in engineering, manufacturing and enterprise. Actually, was different…

Two years ago, I came with the following post – PLM Enterprise App Store: Bad Idea or Future Promise? The article discussed pros and cons of the model of App Store for enterprise. The promise of App stores was clear. It was hard to see how fast the model of app stores will evolve for engineering, manufacturing and enterprise communities. My main conclusion was reflecting the early stage of app store development and potential problems app store can solve. Here is the passage:

We are still in a very early beginning with regards to the adoption of cloud and enterprise app store. The current experiments made by vendors are interesting and requires learning and analyzes. However, what is clear to me that rebranding of existing products into App Store won’t solve existing problems of PLM software. I think changes need to happen with regards to how Apps (or product components) are communicating, interacting with people, exchanging data, etc.. In my view, it is too early to say something specific about how fast it will happen. We are going to learn many lessons on that way.

Fast forward into 2013. App store is not dream anymore. We can see it happens in many places. Today I wanted to come with two examples of app stores – PLM360 App Store and GrabCAD engineering apps. My opinion is obviously biased, but I found these two mostly relevant for engineering and manufacturing these days.

PLM 360 App Store

The idea of PLM360 app store is to provide a collaborative environment for processes that can be configured in a granular way. Navigate to Autodesk launches PLM360 App store to read more. The following video is self-explaining.

GrabCAD Engineering Apps

GrabCAD is a company I’m following quite long time. You probably remember one of my first blog posts about GrabCAD – Marketplaces and Engineering software published in 2010. Here is my conclusion back 3 years ago:

GrabCAD gives us some example about how to introduce a new eco-system for engineers. Together with few other examples, I can see a definite trend towards re-organizing engineering work into market place or network of engineering services. It will allow to get out of the local design places and propose their services on a global scale. There are many un-answered questions, such as IP protection, handling of proprietary information, security, licensing, models re-use and other. However, I see it as an interesting experiment.

Yesterday GrabCAD announced a major partnership with Autodesk, which will allow to GrabCAD to provide an access to Autodesk cloud tools – AutoCAD 360 and Fusion 360. Navigate here to see the current state of GrabCAD App Store. The combination of mainstream 2D tool like AutoCAD and 3D cloud design software like Fusion 360 can provide a critical mass for engineers to the job. GrabCAD Workbench provides a collaborative portal to share data between engineering including viewer. You probably remember my first experiments with GrabCAD workbench. The time came to continue the experiment with more tools. On the following video you can see Carl Bass (Autodesk CEO) and Hardi Meybaum (GrabCAD CEO) are collaborating using both Fusion 360 and AutoCAD 360 on GrabCAD.

What is my conclusion? Today we can see a first examples of real engineering and enterprise PLM app stores. What was a complete dream 3-4 years ago is a reality today. It is still new and unusual. However, I can see a community of new engineers excited and thrilled by the opportunity to use design, collaboration and lifecycle management tools coming from the cloud. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Disclosure: As Autodesk employee, I understand that my opinion about Fusion 360 and PLM can be unintentionally biased. Nevertheless, I believe the topic itself is very important, so I decided to share my thoughts anyway.

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