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The Future of Design Is Connectivity

Image courtesy of Yagi Stiudio for Getty Images Design future.jpg
From suppliers to customers and out into the field with users, the future of design is a story of connectivity and shared data.

Georgia Tech says that the role of industrial design going forward is to humanize connections between people and technology. “Through purposeful integration of aesthetic, functional, utilitarian, economic, sustainable, social, and cognitive considerations, we need to prepare the new design generation with the tools to develop thoughtful solutions.”

This is very close to the ideas proliferating through 3DEXPERIENCE World this year. We sat down with Milos Zupanski, senior director of role portfolio management at SOLIDWORKS to get his view of the future of design.

Design News: Where do you see design going in the next few years?

Milos Zupanski: The first thing is to stay collected and stay together. With our announcement of the cloud platform, SOLIDWORKS is moving in the direction of connectivity. Design is spreading and reaching across many areas of the product lifecycle. Since design is early in the lifecycle, it’s critical that design is involved in the supply chain, inside a team collaborating with suppliers, partners, manufacturers, and customers. Our customers are shifting from delivering products to delivering an experience. Last year we had a team that was trying to make all of their customers feel like superheroes.

DN: So you’re suggesting a future where companies work more closely with suppliers?

Milos Zupanski: Yes. We’re talking about a new layer of collaboration. Depending on the relationship already, we expect that to build up. It can be complex or simple. Small companies don’t necessarily have controlled suppliers. Larger companies have a more established process with specific guidelines for suppliers. Communicating those guidelines is critical, and sticking to those guidelines is critical. Every company is looking to cut costs and get to market quicker. You improve that connection and analyze the data while you move forward.

DN: Will companies share more data with suppliers in the future?

Milos Zupanski: That’s easier to do now. With our platform, we’ve established the links. We bring data to the surface and help people develop knowledge and know-how from their own data. Whether you’re talking about design or manufacturing, there is a set of data entities created. People can use that to create deliverables with outcomes.

DN: So data is key in connecting with partners along the product lifecycle.

Milos Zupanski: Everybody creates the data: design data, design and manufacturing data, it’s just a lot of data. The platform keeps all of the data, and it can be analyzed so the customer can do better next time. The data offers development and know-how. The product developers have the data but not the know-how. When that data comes to the surface, you can use it to avoid late changes, which are expensive. Insights like that push the changes earlier in the process. Also, it can help change other aspects of the design process. The data belongs to the customer, but we help them derive knowledge from the data.

DN: How will you improve the connection to customers in the future?

Milos Zupanski: We see that some product producers are involving the customer more early in the process. They can include the customer user experience as well. Take the data from the field usage of the product. Data about the usage of the product and the way the user interacts with the product can help companies improve the products over time. In the future, we will be able to facilitate the data exchange and analyze the data.

DN: Sounds like an extended digital twin.

Milos Zupanski: The EU 2025 program is looking at taking certain aspects of the design into a digital passport. The passport will contain all of the data. Companies can learn from that data. This is not just a matter of traceability, but it’s also a way to understand usage.

DN: Do you expect SOLIDWORKS to be able to help with analyzing that collected data?

Milos Zupanski: One of our directions going forward is to take your data and analyze it. The business model is still developing. We are planning to enter data analytics. The platform enables us to do it. If I have the info on your ideas and how you developed them, we could help overcome any trouble in the development.

For a variety of reasons, some customers are more interested in this and others are less interested. Some people feel resistance to artificial intelligence. We believe it will help you build a better future. Particularly interested sectors include aerospace, defense, and automotive.

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