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Expert Interview with Kathleen Maher of Jon Peddie Research On CAD Trends

Posted by mediashower1

Feb 16, 2015 10:26:01 AM

CAD trendsCAD Software is not just for engineers and architects anymore. The field is opening up, with promising new innovations in 3D printing and computer graphics to name a few.

Jon Peddie Research has been keeping tabs on the computer graphics industry for over 35 years, sharing valuable expertise, insight, and market research for a number of industries.

Jon Peddie Research's Vice President and Editor-In-Chief Kathleen Maher took a moment to tell us a bit about the company, watching the computer graphics industry change for decades, and what those changes could mean for CAD users.

For people who haven't visited your site, can you introduce yourself? When did Jon Peddie Research get started? Where are you based out of? What inspired you to start your own company?

Jon Peddie Research is a well-established research firm based in Tiburon, California. We are technically oriented and focus on computer graphics. Our current business was founded in 2000, but the core of Jon Peddie Research has been tracking computer graphics for 35 years. We published our first reports on the graphics industry in 1986. In 1995, we introduced our definitive study on 3D graphics chips, now called Market Watch, and followed up with a continuing series of studies on the visualization, content creation, and CAD software markets. See a list of our publications here.

Who is your main clientele, and what are some of the different ways JPR fills their needs?

Our services are business to business, and our clients are primarily executives in computer technology companies, investors, and startup companies. We advise and educate our customers on the basics of graphics technology as well as the advanced trends that are transforming computing in general. We are often called upon to advise companies on their strategies, new products, and product introductions. We are sometimes asked to evaluate companies and perform "reality checks" on market strategies.

One of the services that Jon Peddie Research offers is comprehensive analysis reports on a variety of topics. What are some of the areas that you go over in these reports? How are they useful for the companies?

We have market reports in hardware and software. Our reports on graphics hardware reports include:

  • Market Watch, our report on graphics chips and technologies
  • Add-in-Board report, which provides market and segment information on the AIBs being built using new GPUs
  • Workstation report, our report (refreshed quarterly) that covers the CPUs, GPUs, new machines, and vendors in the workstation market
  • The Game series of reports, which track the machines being used by gamers and the trends influencing the game market

All of these reports provide market data, sizing, market share information, forecasts and detailed information about the technology. These reports provide our clients with a clear idea of the targeted markets, the opportunities, their size, and information on emerging adjacent markets.

On the software side, our market reports track the growth of resource-demanding applications including CAD, modeling, animation, video, and entertainment content creation. Similar to the hardware reports, we including technology overviews, market size including market share, and forecasts.

Our clients subscribe to these reports for a thorough view of the markets they are interested in or markets they might want to move into. In addition, clients often ask for customized data not contained in the reports. We can fulfill these requests, and we offer various levels of subscription and retainer relationships to our clients.

Another service is Jon Peddie's Tech Watch. Can you tell us a bit about that program? What are some reasons why people might want to sign up?

Tech Watch is our broadest report, but it is not a publication. It is a subscription service which includes an ongoing, flexible retainer benefit that can be customized according to the customer's interests and requirements. The Tech Watch report is published twice monthly, and it is designed to provide a knowledgeable and opinionated view of the technology industry as a whole. We concentrate on graphics related fields, but we are not restricted to them. We include in-depth coverage of news, trade shows, conferences, briefings, financial reports, and product reviews.

Retainer clients are free to call upon us for any information they need. Consultation is provided on an hourly basis. If we have the required information, retainer clients can have it as part of their relationship with us. If the request requires additional work, we can prorate it according to our clients' level of subscription.

You keep a close eye on tech trends. What have been some recent hot topics for CAD engineers?

The CAD industry is a leading indicator for many things, including technology and world economies. CAD engineers tend to be early adopters. As a result, we see an interest in adapting mobile tools for use in engineering both in the field and in the office. One of the most interesting trends has been the relatively fast acceptance of the cloud and virtualization technologies. Companies that recognized the interest engineers would show in these technologies have benefitted at the expense of those slower to move.

Another interesting aspect worth mentioning is that people working in the CAD fields - like designers, architects, analysts, etc. - have long been using advanced visualization techniques including 3D visualization, CAVEs, very large format displays, etc. Virtual reality is not a new trend in CAD; it has always been used. (For more on this, see the answer to the last question on predictions for 2015).

JPR wrote an 80-page study on the CAD industry back in 2012. What were a few things you found when putting that report together, and how has the situation changed since you wrote the book?

We have been publishing the CAD report since 2000. The most recent CAD report is being written as we speak.

To look back, in 2012 the recession was still affecting CAD-related businesses. At the time of publication, we were expecting the negative forces of recession to recede at a faster pace. It was disappointing that it took until 2014 for real growth to take hold and show up consistently across segments. (Luckily, we were conservative in our forecasts.)

There are many evident changes, including much broader adoption of 3D technology and the serious challenge being offered by low-cost CAD and free 2D CAD programs. We will have a great deal more to say on this subject in a short time.

You wrote that in the third quarter of 2014, CAD workstations sales rose 4.7% since the same quarter the previous year. What are some reasons for this rise in sales?

The PC market in general has weathered some very "interesting times." Low-cost machines, tablets, and ARM-based notebooks have all confused the PC market and caused a drop in shipments for traditional notebooks and desktop machines. The workstation market has seen a much more stable environment for several reasons. Primarily, customers who require stability, accuracy, power, and support usually choose workstations. That did not change during the recession. In addition, the allure of mobile devices like tablets and ARM-based notebooks might induce workstation users to buy the product as an additional device, but never as a replacement. In contrast, some PC users could see a use case for switching.

The workstation market did see some slowdown as a result of the recession, but not as much as PCs did; and when the market began to pick up, workstation sales rebounded faster and stronger. If anything, sales did not so much contract as buying cycles expanded. Customers waited longer to buy new machines.

What are some things people should consider when looking to get their first CAD workstation? Have you found that particular companies suit particular needs?

This is a difficult question to answer concisely. The workstation report goes into a great deal of depth about the different companies involved in the market as well as the technology.

The workstation market leaders are extremely well-matched in terms of features and prices. Each may have some stylistic differences and customers may have personal preferences, especially when it comes to mobile workstations and displays for desktops. Customers interested in buying a workstation should be most interested in support options, price/performance ratios, and ISV support. In addition to the Jon Peddie Research site and our reports, the SPEC organization provides valuable comparison data on workstation performance. Also, of course, the leading workstation OEMs provide information on ISV relationships and support options.

What are some of the topics you cover in your workstation report, and how is this useful for the companies?

The Workstation Report is one of our most in depth reports, and includes information about the CPUs, GPUs, and the workstation vendors and their models. Regular updates are published quarterly. A TOC of the report is available on the Jon Peddie Research site.

With the trends and statistics you've analyzed, do you have any predictions for 2015 for the CAD industry?

2015 is a year for growth for CAD. The segment hardest hit by the recession was AEC and it was remarkably slow to recover. We are seeing strong new growth in the fields related to architecture and construction, propelled in no small part by the retooling done by the CAD vendors' customers. The use of BIM has gotten a boost as more customers demand it and more providers adopt it.

Manufacture is likewise, growing and there are exciting new workflows emerging as PLM and Design become more integrated and projects are addressed in a holistic way.

The process of modeling itself is undergoing a dramatic transformation as technologies like photogrammetry become easier as a result of powerful processors, low cost scanners and cameras; and aerial capture is becoming the source of integrated data for CAD.

On another front, the use of sensor data is changing the way projects are designed, built, and maintained. Quite a few companies are interested in helping design the burgeoning Internet of Things from the things themselves to the systems that support them.

Any period after a recession brings significant inflection points. This was a particularly long and painful recession, but the resurgence promises to bring significant change and growth. Not all of the inflection points we see coming will help the incumbents. For the long term, we think there might be changes to the long-established status quo of CAD companies. New companies are appearing on the horizon.

Jon Peddie Research believes we will look back on 2015 as the start of significant industry shifts in CAD.

For more updates from Jon Peddie Research, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter.

Topics: Workstations, CAD

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