Social Product Development

Thursday, March 4, 2010

DE Picks Pro/ENGINEER and Social Product Development

Desktop Engineering recently chose Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0 as its Pick of the Week. While this is exciting news in its own right, I was interested to read Tony Lockwood’s additional commentary on the topic of social product development. He nicely sums up PTC’s efforts and vision in his closing paragraph; “Back in 1987, PTC changed engineering with its introduction of parametric editing. It took a while for the community to really embrace its new way of doing things. Instant messaging, Wiki-like functionality, and on the fly collaboration will also take time to worm into your workflow. When they do, and when everybody else does as PTC did, you'll wonder how the process ever worked without it”

After 25 years in the CAD business, there are still only a handful of technology leaps that stand out in my mind. The obvious ones are the shift from 2D to 3D, the introduction of parametric modeling, and the move from UNIX to Windows, which has made 3D CAD so ubiquitous today. Along the way, other advancements have added to productivity and the importance of CAD, but they haven’t fundamentally changed the way businesses use the software.

I believe we are ready for, and on the verge of, the next leap. Manufacturing companies are realizing they can get more from their CAD software. It’s no longer just a 3D modeler; it’s a mission critical tool. The explosion of social media clearly demonstrates an appetite for making information sharing easy and accessible. The trick for product development is to learn from this, while retaining the control and discipline that is necessary to design and engineer world-class, quality products.

I’m convinced PTC is well on the way to doing this, and agree with Tony’s prediction “…history may also record that social design engineering was the real news in version 5.0.”

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