Now I’m a big believer in technology, but when Autodesk told me that they can create custom integrations between their Fusion Configure product and almost any ERP, MRP or SFA solution, I was skeptical. I was skeptical primarily because I’ve done a lot of integrations between those outside systems and automation or PLM. One thing that you learn about working with those enterprise systems is that no two are ever alike. So, needless to say, when I went to training, I was prepared for the typical, “well, you can do it with no programming, but if you need anything customized, then that will require code. And yes, everything that you will want to do is considered custom.”

But it turns out that all of the Java books that I was cramming on the plane ride to Autodesk’s Configure One development centered turned out to be unnecessary. Concept Connect Advanced really recognizes that the integration between two systems is really a communication process or a series of processes. With that in mind, they built a development environment that truly resembles a workflow modeler more than anything else.

The collection of tools within the Concept Connect Advanced toolbox provide all the tools that you need to pull any information that you need from the CPQ sales order or sales quote, to process or reformat that data in any way that you might need and then communicate with the external systems in any of a variety of ways. Take these components, drag-and-drop them, configure them and connect them and you have your workflow to connect Fusion Configure to JD Edwards, NetSuite, Salesforce.com, or whatever target system you need to bring into the mix.

And yes, for you hardcore coders that think that a solution can’t work unless it involves Visual Studio, yes, you can do programming, too. You can create your own components and code rules and actions all throughout the process.

CPQ focuses on being a front-end tool aimed at being an integral part of the presales and sales process. But just as you wouldn’t use a dishwasher to wash your dishes and your clothes, CPQ provides the tools to which it excels and works with ERP and SFA to let them leverage the advantages of their skillset. For decades, we’ve seen companies try to create a product with every module that you could possibly need, but they would just become a Jack of all trades and master of only one or two. The weak link in the seamless solution has always been easily connecting best-in-class tools from different vendors. Autodesk’s Concept Connect and Connect Advanced may not be the silver bullet, but they are certainly launching strong projectiles in the right direction.