Everyone knows what kind of a year 2020 was, which humbles people like myself when asked to make industry predictions for the upcoming year. Even so, we’ve been through enough “forced change” early on, and “new norms” have started to take shape, that I feel there are a few things I can predict for 2021.
Working From Home Will Stick
Before the pandemic, many companies were already starting to employ people from their homes; 2020 accelerated that evolution out of necessity. Companies that originally resisted work from home (WFH) — but were forced to adopt it — found there were many benefits, and are already implementing WFH in their long-term plans. For our industry, that means distributed data access becomes more important, but we are seeing that offline capabilities are also still needed — especially for those workers in remote areas without highly-reliable and speedy Internet access.
For those with good Internet access, or occasional access, the ability to do real-time collaboration is a powerful draw that will push the adoption of CAD-friendly tools in that space. All of this will change the nature of human resources and employment opportunities, and physical location will become less important when hiring white collar team members.
Additive Manufacturing Will Accelerate
The benefits of additive manufacturing (more commonly known as 3D printing) are now largely self-evident in the traditional manufacturing enterprise, but with the geographic distribution of the engineering and design workforce, additive manufacturing will reach into more spaces. Prototyping at home will bring entry-level machines to individual designers. Corporate “maker space” geographic hubs may spring up, using repurposed or downsized office spaces.
Partnership Becomes More Important
As technology and features converge across software brands, and as we move from disparate applications to integrated platforms, support and service will be the driver of successful technology adoption. Companies will place greater emphasis on the competence and availability of their vendors, making the competition among technology providers less about software and more about service quality.
No matter what comes to pass in 2021, I think we can all agree that it simply must be a better year than the last, and new opportunities will likely present themselves that we have not seen before.
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