Most of this week I’ve been attending one of the most interesting meetings of my year. Each year, the Autodesk Plant team invites in about a dozen people from the Plant industry to discuss strategic goals and direction. We call this our Plant Strategic Advisory Board meeting, and this year was a mix of Owner Operators, people from Construction, and people from Engineering firms, making for an interesting mix of viewpoints. The attendees, hailing from 6 different countries, came together at our San Francisco office to talk about where we want to be in 3 years, 5 years, 10 years from now.
This meeting is great, as we all get to step back from our day to day jobs and think about the future. We get time to reflect on how technology trends will affect the plant industry. We start with big ideas – such as if computing power is unlimited & free, and available everywhere – what will that bring us?
Last year members were quite skeptical of cloud computing and SaaS; this year they understand that there are real benefits and the risks can be managed. Last years meeting there was a lot of concern and unwillingness to trust Plant data to “the Cloud”. This year, there was more concern about which cloud, and how to keep running if there is network interruption from a backhoe cutting through the T1 line. (hey, it happens)
Another hot topic this year was around augmented reality – previous thoughts that it was “just a gimmick” gave way to some wows about how useful it could be. If we could project a model of an proposed design atop what is really there, say on an ipad right there in the construction site – wouldn’t that rock as a communication tool?
Still synthesizing the feedback and organizing my notes. So much to think about, my brain is fried. Yet at the same time energized by the interesting things to come.