What capabilities must a product have to be part of this projected explosion? The industry itself seems to have already defined the important elements of such a product. According to analysts, consultants, and CEO's of Fortune 100 companies, to even begin to address this requirement a system must include:
The modeling technology required here represents a litany of terms which most of us can recite flawlessly in our sleep. It includes Solids Modeling with NURBS, supporting non-manifold topologies. Feature-based modeling is also becoming an important weapon in this battle of buzz-words.
Another battle is being fought between those who favor the parametric approach (PTC) or the variational approach (SDRC). Having any sort of capability here, however, is becoming absolutely necessary even to play in the same field as these vendors. Based upon previous buzz-word wars I have seen, we should expect to see an industry-wide mad rush to place this capability, or something resembling it, on the feature list of every CAD/CAM product.
This is a much more difficult goal to achieve than the others because it doesn't depend so much on raw technology, as it does on applications such as FEM/FEA being integrated within the design process. What most systems lack is an interactive method to model, mesh, analyze, and re-model a mechanical part. This capability would provide those who offered it a great advantage in the market.