Why is Interoperability Important in Design?

Emily Suzuki December 20, 2020 2 min read

The ability of one object to work with another is essential — we see the need for it in group projects, workplace settings, even among family environments. When our tools and technology work together to interpret, use, and exchange data seamlessly, (known as interoperability) everyone benefits as a result. 

Of course, this is true across many industries. In healthcare, interoperability might refer to a system used to access patient data, health data, and clinical data across a variety of clinics, hospitals, and healthcare organizations. In an airport, the term could refer to an airplane that automatically opens a gate on the runway. And in your home, it may even be the music player’s ability to play a music file unprompted.

Interoperability is crucial to the collaborative process of design. Most software is designed independently of other software or relevant tools, which means it can be difficult to integrate. True interoperability relies on a more holistic view of design and tool usage, including data transfer and access, security, and overall communication. 

Truly interoperable tools have easy to use interfaces that work seamlessly with other systems without restriction — sounds easy, right?

Why has interoperability remained relevant?

No matter the industry, interoperability remains relevant. When systems communicate with each other, they achieve better results. In healthcare, interoperability can lead to a higher quality of care, since providers receive all of the information. Consumer applications can provide better user experiences, a result of addressing the whole picture. 

Interoperability leads to increased efficiency because it eliminates repetition and shifts control to all members of a design team, freeing up resources in the process. The wide availability of accurate information decreases the likelihood of mistakes and can even subsequently save on costs. 

Today’s products are incredibly complex, consisting of a variety of electronics in multiple areas of specialty. One designer or engineer isn’t necessarily the right person for each component, which is why interoperability is so crucial to the production of quality products. 


Maximizing product outcome through collaboration

Often, people attempt to perform tasks by focusing on finding the perfect tool for the job — which is essential, but a bit of an oversimplification. While the right tool can be essential, often there is no exact tool. Instead, designers work with an assortment of tools that ideally work together, allowing the full exchange of information.

Encouraging collaboration through workflow and compatibility 

Everyone benefits when companies design tool suites that are intentionally interoperational, encouraging collaboration through open workflows and extensive compatibility. End products turn out better and more cost-efficient, which is a net positive to the entire world. On a smaller scale, individual designers work more efficiently, making fewer mistakes throughout. 

As teams and resulting projects become more complex, it will become essential for companies to begin or continue working together to ensure the development of more interoperable tool suites. 

Autodesk is committed to offering tools that maximize product outcomes through collaboration. Fusion 360 is one example of an interoperable, as its cloud platform encourages streamlined collaboration and it offers many possibilities within one software, including design, engineering, electronics, and manufacturing.


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