As the cloud becomes more powerful and mature, it offers more and more value for the manufacturing and AEC industries. Still, they are slow in adopting the cloud. In the latest live webinar organized by AMC Bridge, a trusted partner in digital transformation for engineering, manufacturing, and construction, industry veterans discussed the benefits and challenges of moving to the cloud to explore if and when engineering industries would follow the cloud trend.

On June 24, 2021, AMC Bridge gathered a great line-up of experts to discuss when manufacturing and AEC would embrace the cloud for engineering data and software. During the hour-long webinar moderated by Jim Brown, Founder and President of Tech-Clarity, Igor Tsinman, President of AMC Bridge, Marc Lind, Sr. Vice President, Strategy of ARAS, Lynn Allen, Global Technology Evangelist of Dassault Systèmes, and Oleg Shilovitsky, Co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM, shared their opinions and observations regarding trends related to the adoption of cloud technologies for these markets. The webinar also included polls to garner insights into the current status of cloud adoption among attendees.

In the highlights below, we provide the main points of the discussion and an overview of the poll results. You may also watch the recording of the event at the following link.

What is the current trend?

In the early days, as the cloud was becoming more popular, it was common to hear that “manufacturing companies will never ever put engineering information on the cloud.” That is clearly no longer the case. The technology continues to improve, and the level of comfort people have with the cloud technology is growing rapidly.

Reflecting on AMC Bridge projects, Igor Tsinman observes, “Now we see a lot of projects in the industry where cloud is the essential part. In fact, almost every project that we’ve got has a cloud component. The last ten years have been an especially intense time for the cloud to penetrate the AEC industry.”

Indeed, the trend has shifted to a cloud-first conversation. Today people are actively seeking cloud solutions as opposed to resisting them. It has even become more typical for companies to ask about cloud products first, and many of them have cloud initiatives. To a great extent, the attitude has changed once the benefits of using the cloud have become more easily identifiable. Infrastructure, collaboration, data migration and access to superior computing power are just a few advantages lying on the surface. Thus, people are more and more ready to move to the cloud or, at the very least, explore cloud-based options.

What was the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic?

The benefits of cloud technology have become particularly apparent as the pandemic hit the world. Most companies have switched from in-person to remote environments or a hybrid of remote and on-premise working conditions. Pressure on data availability and management has become a key requirement in these environments, and is a requirement that the cloud has proven more than capable of satisfying. In many ways, the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of cloud technology and has driven demand for augmented security and safety.

What are some of the key benefits of the cloud?

On top of the obvious, data availability and data sharing on a massive scale, the cloud has much more to offer. For example, access to high-performance computing is now available to every company, not only to wealthiest companies. With the cloud, companies are not limited by the hardware they can afford. They are able to leverage the cloud as a supercomputer. Furthermore, using the cloud, they do not need to install and maintain individual servers or applications — cloud providers have that aspect covered.

Another remarkable aspect of the cloud is the ability to access and process huge amounts of intelligence. The cloud can gather and process tons of information about users, products, and so much more, as well as provide the critical information back to the companies faster and more efficiently than traditional means.

With specific regard to the engineering industry, the cloud also provides access to high end simulations that were previously much too expensive and unattainable. Companies no longer need to hire specialists or purchase expensive applications. The result is faster time to market and better products.

Are cloud security risks and functionality limitations as critical as they seem?

In the past, much of the reticence around the cloud adoption concerned perceived security risks. While security is still a topic of discussion, it is generally accepted now that the cloud is actually more secure than on-premise data storage. The key is to understand and accommodate the security requirements of the client.

Limited product functionality in the cloud that used to be a stumbling block is also a thing of the past. On the one hand, the cloud has matured enough to significantly expand its capabilities and accommodate the functional requirements of many products. On the other hand, while moving to the cloud, many companies have discovered that much of their desktop functionality is seldom used. Thus, going to the cloud, the company may be extending product functionality rather than limiting it.

What does the poll say?

The observations above are consistent with the poll held during the webinar. As the discussion progressed, the audience was asked to share:

  1. Where they are in their cloud journey for engineering software and data.
  2. How much functionality their company is willing to trade off to take advantage of cloud benefits.
  3. Their company’s cloud strategy for adopting engineering software and data.

Two-thirds of the audience is either partly or completely cloud-enabled, while those planning to move to the cloud are in the single-digit minority.

Companies are also more comfortable sacrificing functionality (59%) in favor of using cloud tools than in the beginning when they were very reluctant to sacrifice functionality at all.

Regarding the cloud strategy, 36% will only use or prefer the cloud, while 39% prefer the cloud but will use the most capable product. The rest of the respondents are willing to consider cloud solutions, although not as the preferred choice.

Is the industry ready?

So, the use of cloud technology is on the rise, even if some companies, particularly in the AEC industry, are reluctant to move away from the power of their desktop machines and often favor using local power to avoid relying on their internet connectivity. However, the benefits of the cloud are undeniable, and the adoption process will be smoother once companies are able to evaluate the real value of cloud technology for their environment. Apart from near-limitless collaboration and data sharing, one thing to consider is the enabling potential of the cloud for business. What used to be inaccessible due to logistics, price, or both, the cloud has made available even for start-ups and small and medium companies.

At any rate, the cloud is already there; it’s unavoidable and ubiquitous. As Dassault Systemes’ Lynn Allen noted, “No matter how your company feels about using cloud applications, whether they are against it or in favor of it, one thing is certain—every company is using the cloud, somewhere, somehow.” And while the AEC market is slower to adopt new technology, it is proving to be more and more open to the benefits of the cloud.

For more information on how AMC Bridge enables cloud technologies for their clients in the architecture, engineering, and construction industries, surf our website, particularly the News, Case Studies, and Labs sections.

To keep track of similar webinars, conferences, and meet-ups, please follow our events calendar.

About AMC Bridge

With 20+ years of experience and unmatched industry expertise, AMC Bridge enables digital transformation for clients in engineering, manufacturing, and AEC industries. We do it by creating custom software solutions that eliminate data silos, connect complex applications, unlock and promote internal innovation, and democratize cutting-edge technologies.

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