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A Transformers Future to Consider

Tags WATT, Internet of Things, Value Chain, Added Value

If you are a large organization, you divide and conquer. If you are smaller, you adjust to remain the grease between the wheels. Organizational divide and conquer purportedly makes dealing with all the varied responsibilities and specific accountabilities for all the groups of people and individuals in question more manageable. It certainly provides more statistical comparators. Comparisons may often be invalid by definition, but that is a whole other debate.

A New World Order

Is this metric-optimized and socialized corporate order the New World Order? We certainly get a lot of spun propaganda flung at us about it one way or another.

Secular corporate humanism is the en vogue philosophy of the present. Few people recognize it’s been tried before. In these first years of the 21st century the philosophy has spread rapidly from and into our institutions. Whether the philosophy is truly human and/or actually produces humane results is another question entirely.

If customer service in the new economy is any indication, we have problems. The humanist core of order and a Rule of Law based on expressed and implied intention should give us pause. Historically, these forms of thinking often do not turn out well for the most of us.

Civil 3D Land

What does the ongoing war of managed right and responsibility have to do with us in AutoCAD Civil 3D land? Frankly, a lot. All around us the corporate wars of influence are in play. You don’t have to be an historical student of Autodesk, Bentley, ESRI, etc. to live with the daily after effects.

Behind the scenes technology innovations you may believe have nothing to do with your current work are already in play and will directly affect us whether we like it or not. I’ve written previously about the Phone Lords and the Cloud Wars as have many others more in touch with the technology beat than I. The iPhone and Moto X announcement weeks seemed the time to chat about these things.

I say Autodesk is a big Gorilla, but Autodesk lives in a world of T-Rexes. Some of these roam in packs.

Personally I’m a systems geek because that is the weird (or at least not too common) way I think. I became a data geek because digital information is everywhere; I became a neuroscience people geek because people matter most of all in any system. People are the reason for the season because they overcome in the face if the unexpected or wickedness or not.


CUSP is an interesting but little, known book with interesting roots. Someone could make it into a bang-up SyFi action thriller series, but no one asks me.
You got to love a tale that literally moves the Sun.
Did you notice Autodesk bought a film and game workflow management engine recently?
Bob! Is the sun moving? Bob?

If you’re one of those larger organizations, you’ve moved or you’re moving to some Open Storage model. The economics make too much sense. This is, even if potential solar CME events keep you awake at night as the enterprise systems administrator or CTO.

Systems to Systems

“Here’s our open schema. Please use it.” is the mantra of the 2010’s. These are geo aware by definition. They must answer the “where are our people?”, “where are our customers?”, and “where is our gear” questions. The other most important point to note is that these kind of questions require systems talking to systems.

As a practical matter, are these “open” GIS systems the same as storing a system itself?

A bunch of discrete feature records connected by GUIDs and indexes is not exactly the same thing as a system. Sorry, I do recognize I may seem to be picking on some systems unfairly, but please bear with me while I try to get to a point.

In practical AutoCAD Civil 3D terms, you can’t really externalize your Main Street Corridor bucket or your Site Parcel buckets at this point in time. What’s a bucket? These collectors (buckets) are Autodesk’s Proprietary create and edit storage models and the properties that drive them. You can dumb down and publish the parts and pieces which is enough. Or is it?

See the Civil Lobotomy for Points and related posts for an example.

Systems Lobotomy

Let’s say tomorrow you have a contract request to publish your survey data and roadway alignment data to ESRIs Local Government Model – one of those open schemas. Presently, it really isn’t up to the task of storing an alignment except as primitive geometry parts. However, we should realize in there it may be able to do more with your model parts by classification. You don’t care about postal addresses on you new alignment, but many people will.
This is part of why survey and civil engineering professionals love and hate GIS. The GIS folks can store it sure, but it’s not the same thing when it comes back. Historically, it’s probably been dumbed down while being improved by added value.

Companies like Safe Software (aka FME) do a reasonable job of this sort of conversion thing. With the vendors, FME and like applications are a love-hate thing too. XML and it’s little brother geoJason are the growing rage for good reason.

Are they a fallacious terror of the software giants? You might take a few minutes to read up and understand how FME does the conversion magic.

Actually, storing your finished corridor model in a modern “system” isn’t the real technical problem. Most of these “systems” could store the binary data. This issue is useful query feedback from that binary in the other system.

Are We There Yet?

Should the storage providers or rather those that want access pay for this query privilege? I think so. How would Autodesk charge for this privilege? A privilege it is - It is their intellectual capital that makes the corridor model useful as an output. The storage system could potentially add linked value of its own as I already said.

This concept of Shared Added Value becomes the issue. Open systems, structures, and processes (the old word for workflows) foster and promote the potential added value. From the larger vendors perspective (I use the vendor word loosely), this means building and managing identifiable Value Chains.
What the heck is a Value Chain?
Kim Kardashian is a Value Chain and maybe not much else.

I’m not sure we really get it that the app and cloud trends will make this sort of intelligent systems “translator” or “transformer” access tools a new marketplace. We are talking about economic “invisible hand” effects after all. Hard to see doesn’t make for less opportunity. It will take a bit.

We’ve only just started with model- based software. We currently have little or nothing to do with what we call Big Data. You can be certain that will change. I contend it will change in unexpected ways.

BIM is Value Chain not End Game

We can and know how to charge for systems talking to systems. It’s how your phone works after all. True, you may not like the recurring bills, but we gladly seem to embrace the need for the service.
These are conjoined and disparate services.
She manages pictures and he could care less. The Phone Lords’ service works for both because it is not one thing but many.

Where’s the meaning and mean$ in this growing mayhem for us – the design professionals?

Maybe we can best answer part of that by metaphorical example.

A few years ago I joked that at MoreCompetency we’d constructed the new iPOD

Intelligent Publish On Demand

I employed a play on words in an attempt to demonstrate that the Internet of Things isn’t so much about the “smart” things but the value chain around those things.

We do standards tools and services for AutoCAD Civil 3D. These are systems, structures, resources, and Style tools to make AutoCAD Civil 3D a better more facile Production Solution. What we can do may make little or no sense if your firm is the member of only one or two simple Value Chains.

Every new customer eventually asks, “Why don’t you charge more for this? It saved us a bundle.”

I smile and answer,

“My friend, we are both the grease between the wheels. To experience real added value is important. Tell someone.”

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