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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

The big five design technologies

December 1st, 2009 by Susan Smith

At this morning’s Autodesk University General Session/Welcome Address Keynote event, one of the first things I heard an attendee say: “I’m one of thousands of architects in San Francisco looking for a job.”

This was followed by Autodesk evangelist Lynn Allen announcing an Elvis clone singing an Elvis song with Autodesk-centric lyrics about a disclaimer that new products discussed are not intended as promises of products to come. No photo-taking was allowed at this event, which was rather unusual.

Then CEO Carl Bass said that he was encouraged by “signs that the economy is getting better.”

He added that in talking to customers around world they say their primary challenge is in trying to stay competitive. Because of the tough economy and more complex projects, customers need to work more efficiently.

Using a timeline, Bass showed how successful technologies move from impossible to impractical, then possible, then to expected and finally to required in a continuum. He pointed out that flying was considered impossible except by those like Leonardo Da Vinci. It’s required in today’s society. Timing of the technology is a critical factor, if it’s too early, it won’t be embraced, people aren’t ready for it; if it’s too late, it misses the boat. He gave the example of the Newton PDA which was ahead of its time, while now it’s almost required that everyone have a mobile phone with a lot of features. In this continuum there is a sweet spot.

Five design capabilities or technologies are currently moving from impractical into the sweet spot, said Bass:

Exploration, analysis, storytelling, collaboration, and access.

The technological development accelerating these technologies is cloud computing – or web based computing, which is “becoming as cheap and reliable as electricity, so we can take greater advantage of computing power,” said Bass. It is a very big platform shift, and he said a shift like this comes along every ten to 20 years – that changes the way we use computers and do design and engineering work.

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