Insights into the Future from Engineering Sofware Users

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A quick peek into some research on … the priorities, plans, views, and economic outlooks of companies that use engineering software. The survey-based study, published last night by Cyon Research, paints a very interesting picture of how manufacturers plan to invest and leverage engineering software (and related hardware) in the near future. Cyon Research 2009 SurveyI have had the opportunity to review and comment on the report during its development, and one thing that continuously struck me is not just how useful the published insights on the future of engineering software are, but the richness and depth of the information that the Cyon team couldn’t fit into the report.

The Research

The research spanned companies that use CAD, PLM, CAE, and other technical software, and included responses from almost 600 people. The report breaks down into a number of major categories, including:

  • Purchasing plans, policies, and priorities
  • Hardware refresh rate
  • Financial outlook
  • How companies differentiate themselves
  • Engineering software selection criteria
  • Views and plans on new releases from major software vendors (Dassault, Autodesk, Siemens)

In addition there are some interesting portions on who controls the BOM (and age-old question) and some insight into the relationship between CAE application usage and other engineering software used. The report contains a tremendous amount of information, with a number of very interesting charts. Plan to spend some time reading it if you have the opportunity, there is a lot to dig into.

Key Takeaways

There is far too much for me to give justice to in this space, but I will try to point out some of the more interesting things I learned from the report:

  • Some companies have cut spending on engineering software – 29% of respondents indicated that they cut spending in the first half of 2009, with further cuts expected but at a slowing pace (for example 19% in first half of 2010). Note that these are likely in addition to cuts made in earlier budgets, so the total number that have reduced budgets from 2008 levels is probably higher.
  • Many companies are playing “wait and see” –  42% are “considering or about to cut” spending if their business conditions worsen. This is what Cyon calls the “overhang” of the cuts, which includes the potential for further reductions dependent on the general economic conditions.
  • Companies are planning to pick up spending (when they can) – in the words of the report, “The bright spot here is the longer-term outlook, 2010 and 2011, for increased spending in the purchases of design, analysis, and data management software.”
  • Companies still have an appetite for improved solutions – the report gives details on the planned adoption of new technologies (V6 from Dassault Systemes, Inventor Fusion from Autodesk, and Sychronous Technology from Siemens PLM). I can’t share specifics, but across the board there are plans to implement the new solutions, although more Autodesk users say it is “too early to tell” given the maturity of the solution at this point.

Implications for Manufacturers

There are some valuable insights for manufacturers in this report to compare their strategies with their peers and competitors. The report provides some interesting detail on specific industries and their behavior, particularly on how each industry reported they plan to compete (product quality was the most commonly targeted differentiator overall, but this varied widely by industry).

I think this report is potentially even more valuable for software vendors.  The research gives them insight into what is important to their customers, and how they are planning to spend their money. For software companies, this can provide them with invaluable input into where they should focus their efforts to best serve their customers, particularly at a time when many are considering reductions in spending.

So that was a quick peek into some recent research on the viewpoint from engineering software users, I hope you found it interesting. Does the research reflect reality? Do you see it differently? Let us know what it looks like from your perspective.