Last August, Autodesk acquired SeeControl, a San Francisco-based company with a cloud-hosted IoT platform. Commenting on the acquisition, Amar Hanspal, Autodesk senior VP of information modeling and platform products, said, “The acquisition of SeeControl is the first step in Autodesk’s ongoing efforts to develop new technologies and solutions that will help our customers leverage the Internet of Things (IoT).”
This week, SeeControl returns as Autodesk Fusion Connect, a “100% no-coding IoT cloud platform.” The company is also rebranding PLM 360 as Autodesk Fusion Lifecycle. Both complement Autodesk Fusion 360, the company’s all-encompassing cloud-powered suite.
Fusion 360 includes 3D CAD modeling, simulation, and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) features. Fusion Lifecycle comprises a series of modules for managing bill of materials (BOM), engineering changes, quality, cost, supplier collaboration, and more. The new addition, Fusion Connect, gives IoT product developers a way to “connect, analyze, and manage their products,” according to Autodesk.
Ron Locklin, Autodesk’s director of business development for Fusion Lifecycle, said, “Both Autodesk Fusion Lifecycle and Fusion Connect are existing products, but they’re now dramatically enhanced. Fusion Connect captures, analyzes, and manages performance data, so you can improve your design. It monitors products remotely. It can eve push out new features over the internet. The fundamental mission for Fusion Connect is to identify failures before they occur.”
Autodesk’s rival PTC has also carved out IoT territories with its ThingWorx software suite. In the latest announcement, PTC introduced ThingWorx Analytics, which includes features to monitor, predict, and optimize connected devices. (For more, read “IoT World 2016: Using Artificial Intelligence to Harvest Business Intelligence.“)
Since connected devices are quipped with sensors, the data output from IoT products is expected to be exponentially greater than mechanical product data. Hence, automatic monitoring, analysis, and predictive alerts are considered essential features of IoT product-development platforms.
IoT devices, Locklin pointed out, “transforms business models” with their “products as a service model.”
With IoT products, the sales accounts for merely a fraction of the revenues. A larger share of the profits stream in over the lifespan of the products from add-ons, accessories, services, maintenance fees, and part replacements.
When the product was SeeControl, it targeted industrial machinery and specialty vehicles. Rebranded as part of the Autodesk portfolio, Fusion Connect can begin targeting additional markets.
Autodesk Fusion 360 is sold as subscription. So is Autodesk Fusion Lifecycle. Autodesk Fusion Connect, on the other hand, is offered under a different model. “The cost is calculated based on the number of devices you’re collecting data from,” explained Locklin.
Around the time it purchased SeeControl, Autodesk also bought the Chicago-based Configure One, which offers enterprise software to configure products.