Not long ago I was talking with Al Dean from DEVELOP3D, they of the cool print magazine and great annual event. I was describing what some of our customers were building with our technology and he exclaimed, “Tech Soft 3D is basically the canary in the coal mine. By knowing what you’re doing on behalf of your customers, you can predict what kinds of applications will be coming out over the next 12-18 months!”
He’s right. While we don’t think about it on a daily basis, we really are a bellwether of sorts. We gain insight from working with ISV’s in the early stages of their next-generation development.
This came up again just a week ago at SolidWorks World, when a senior executive from an engineering software company asked me, “Will the world of engineering software really shift to cloud and mobile platforms or is it just the latest fad that will fade?”
I was pretty shocked, because to us the answer is obvious: the shift to cloud and mobile is real. While it’s clear the big CAD/PLM players are all talking about building cloud-based solutions, there is also lots of innovation from new players. Let me throw some numbers at you.
In a given year, we license our various HOOPS toolkit technologies to about 40 companies that are developing new applications. Over the past 18 months, that’s 60 new applications in development, of which 45 (fully 75%) were being built for mobile or web environments. That’s a substantial shift. Some of those we can mention include SolidWorks, GrabCAD, Aras PLM, Kenesto, TeamPlatform (now 3D Systems), Solair, EcoDomus, Actify, Directworks, Lagoa, KISTERS, IronCAD and Asite.
Something is indeed happening, folks, and it is happening fast. In fact, the last time we saw a shift of this magnitude was in the mid-1990s (yes, my memory stretches back that far), when the UNIX application development suddenly declined sharply and virtually every one of our new customers was building applications for Windows.
So, if you are wondering whether the move toward web/mobile is real, consider that most of the new applications currently under development are betting on just that.