Cloud PLM and SaaS sales mindset

May 22, 2015

cloud-plm-sales

I want to talk about PLM sales today. If you want to succeed in sales, a mindset is a right starting point. But, enterprise sales needs a special mindset. PLM sales is very special case. These days SaaS / cloud software is setting new rules for enterprise software. How does it influence and change PLM sales? What advantages cloud PLM can get compared to a traditional PLM products and sales model?

Few days ago, I posted about how to stop blaming engineers for PLM sales problems? In my view, engineers are on average bad sales people. Therefore, to put engineers in the spot of selling PLM and blame them for wrong articulation of PLM value is a bad idea. There are thousands of books and article on the topic of how to sell to enterprise organizations. It is a good reading for coming Memorial Day long weekend. Today, I want to talk about cloud PLM sales – a new category that has a chance to change the way we sell PLM.

I can see two aspects of cloud PLM sales. First is related to a new reality of our world – internet, online connectivity, social networks, virality. How does it help to sell PLM? It certainly helps to create a new level of awareness about what your product does. If you didn’t setup your product twitter account, blog and other social channel, do it now! But, it doesn’t change a fundamentals. Despite all social channels, selling to enterprise is still very much old-schoolers game. In my view, there is no PLM vendors that discovered a new way to sell PLM until now. You can read more in my earlier post – PLM, Viral Sales and Enterprise Old Schoolers.

Second aspect is related to the fact how PLM companies are managing enterprise sales process and new business models. My attention caught the A16Z blog post – If SaaS products sell themselves, why do we need sales? The article gives you an excellent perspective on the details of sales process. I like the comparison of enterprise sales to the process of getting a bill passed in Congress. Certainly true. Although PLM is not a new category in the market, I would consider PLM sales challenge to create a unique value for every customer as something real PLM vendors are facing every day. PLM sales are competing with many other activities in manufacturing companies and it is literally hard to take it through the all three steps of decision process – why to buy PLM, why to buy PLM from a specific vendor and why to buy PLM now.

SaaS sales are facing the same level of sales difficulties. At the same time I’ve been thinking how cloud PLM can get some advantages over a traditional PLM product sales. And the point of "customer facing activity" form A16Z blog is clearly resonating here. This is a passage to pay attention in my view:

SaaS is a winner-take-all market involving a “land-and-expand” sales strategy. However, landing doesn’t necessarily mean expanding and winning. Staffing your startup with customer-facing resources — professional services, customer support, etc. — at this stage is an investment that will pay off not only in expanding your footprint inside that account, but in building the most powerful sales tool there is: a good reference. And while new clients are great, the best place to sell something is where you’ve already sold something.

You may ask me how is that related? Here is the thing… Landing should be an easy process in SaaS PLM compared to a traditional PLM sales process. And this is where cloud PLM can provide a clear differentiation. A traditional PLM approach is to sell on a premise of changing the way customer is doing business and manage product development processes. When it is done, you can setup PLM system and prove it. But it is a very lengthy process. Opposite to that, you can think about cloud PLM first sale as a "land" process. Do it for the most painful problem customer has. This is why PLM sales should be more technical. Land it to the customer for a cost of zero dollars. After all, you can leverage elasticity of the cloud as a biggest advantage. After you done, work on expand option. New subscription business models will help you to provide a new way for customer – pay per use.

What is my conclusion? Moving to the cloud, doesn’t mean PLM can sell itself. After earlier attempts, it looks like wrong sales strategy. At the same time, landing small feature to solve the most painful problem for a customer can be a right step to start. The challenge is to have enough customer facing resources that can help to discover it and land an initial solution with very low cost and super fast ROI. In my view, it is a completely different mindset from what we had before in PLM and enterprise. It is a time for PLM vendors to retool sales teams with new skills. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Kittisak at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Why PLM is failing to manage multi-disciplinary BOM?

May 21, 2015

high-tech-electronic

Products are getting complex these days. Look on every small electronic gadget in your hands. It is actually combined from multiple pieces – mechanical parts, plastics, electronic and software. Traditionally you are using separate tools to design these parts – MCAD, PCB design, software tools. Then it gets tricky a bit – you need to put together right information about the product, manage changes, coordinate with suppliers, etc. PLM tools are here to help. But, for some reasons, it is a difficult problem to handle.

Engineering.com article In High-Tech Electronics, Managing Three Lifecycles As One is a New Key to Product Development by Laila Hirr speaks exactly about that problem. Here is my favorite passage from the article explaining the problem:

HTE’s need for PLM is straightforward—a firmer grasp of the information generated before and during product development and subsequently “in the field.” Many information needs go unmet when products go into assembly operations of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and built into other manufacturers’ components in complex supply chains. Users and system integrators may also be slow to share information.

For many reasons, PLM has repeatedly fallen short in this industrial sector. At CIMdata, the reason we see most often is a lack of integration with the full information set that defines the product. Achieving this integration is a multidisciplinary challenge and in PLM’s twenty-plus year history with the high tech industry, the challenge has yet to be resolved. This largely accounts for the scarcity of compelling PLM successes in HTE and the ongoing skepticism about PLM.

Article speaks about absence of integration between tools and dependencies on homegrown spreadsheets to manage bill of materials and change. Which made me think about core problem in PLM tools – management of multi-disciplinary BOM. I addressed this problem in the keynote presentation at ProSTEP iViP Symposium few weeks ago – PLM and ERP: separated by a common Bill of Materials (BOM). PLM systems today are addressing BOM management. Most of them are taking an approach to manage multiple bill of materials view. However, these tools are not efficient enough to manage a BOM which contains mechanical, electronic and software pieces together. The complexity of BOM is driven by multiple disciplines, change management and product lifecycle as I presented on the following slide

bom-complexity-1

What is my conclusion? Technical difficulties and disagreement between people often can lead to problems in establishment of cohesive BOM management solutions. PLM fails to provide a way to manage multi-disciplinary BOM and changes. High-tech and electronic industry is specific because of high diversity of design tools – mechanical, electronic, software. PLM tools are not integrated well with design tool, which leads to poor BOM management. There are several reasons why it happens – limits of BOM management tools, complexity of integrations between design tools provided by multiple suppliers, UI complexity. Just my thoughts..

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Toa55 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 


Active Workspace: The transformation of search user experience

May 21, 2015

To access product information is one of the most important roles of PLM system. Time ago, organizing data in folders was good enough solution. Not anymore. Google changed the way we think about accessing information. Searching engineering and manufacturing software is tricky. There are many things that influencing the way you search for information – access rights, context, dependencies. The following picture summarizes top obstacles in finding information according to the Enterprise Search and Findability Survey 2013 published by FINDWISE.

enterprise-search-europe-2013-2-1024x700

I wrote few posts about search in PLM in the past. Navigate to one of them to read more – PLM search and findability. For the last few years, PLM vendors put significant focus on improvements of user experience and search functions. There are examples of search driven user interfaces in Aras PLM, Autodesk PLM360, Dassault / EXALEAD and others.

Earlier this week at Siemens PLM connection in Dallas, I had a chance to watch newest updates Teamcenter team made around Active Workspace. The first time product was presented back in 2011. Here is my original post about that- Siemens Active Workspace: PLM next big thing. Since that time, product evolved into rich user experience focusing on providing role-based, information search and navigation client. Siemens PLM Active Workspace is available in a browser and provides a way to search, filter and visualize information. In the example below, you can see an interesting combination of search, filtering and bar-chart visualization.

active-workspace-1

Product information is usually intertwined with many dependencies. The following example shows the ability to navigate between interconnected pieces of information.

active-workspace-2

The same UI is providing an access to the viewer.

active-workspace-4

One of the new functions I found is an access to the information such as Bill of Material in a spreadsheet-like way with the ability dynamically select column, filter and sort.

active-workspace-5

And finally you can annotate and comment on the pieces of information together with other people. It can give you some sort of social experience

active-workspace-6

Search became the most important element of UI when it comes to access of complex information. Search is playing a significant role in the transformation of PLM user experience towards more simple and intuitive UI. Many users will appreciate a better search driven navigation. PLM vendors are paying more attention to search and you can find search functions in other PLM systems too. At the same time, Active Workspace is probably the latest example of search-driven UI in PLM.

What is my conclusion? I found interesting the evolution of Active Workspace for the last 4 years since it was originally presented. The UI became completely webish, many new functions were added. However, the core function of search-driven user experience is there and it provides differentiation to traditional folder-based navigation and browsing interfaces. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Bill of Materials (BOM) and product lifecycle open loops

May 19, 2015

integration-loop-bom

It is hard overestimate the importance of Bill of Materials for product development. In my keynote at ProSTEP iViP symposium in Stuttgart earlier this month I’ve been sharing my thoughts why developing of single BOM across multiple disciplines in critical for organization. I wanted to bring few examples that can demonstrate why having a single BOM strategy can bring benefits to product development and manufacturing organization.

Earlier today, at Siemens PLM connection event in Dallas, I captured the following slide demonstrating an integrated approach in design, manufacturing, planning and production. What is really interesting is how as-design, as-planned and as-build views in PLM are integrated with design, manufacturing, planning and production.

integrated-bom-plm-mes-mom

Few days ago, I the following article by 3D CAD World article caught my attention – Progress in closing the product lifecycle’s loops  by Peter Bilello, president of CIMdata. The article speaks about the importance of collaboration across diverse enterprise groups.

For many years, the PLM industry has greatly benefited from a steady stream of improvements in collaboration among ever more diverse enterprise groups—in data interoperability, for example, and in the transparency of workflows and processes. The development, manufacture and support of globally competitive new products are, however, still hamstrung by the remaining open loops new and old.

Later in the article it came to the topic I was looking for – Bill of Materials. According to article, BOM is a biggest remaining challenge to make integration running smooth. Here is the passage, which explains that.

Between engineering, manufacturing and finance, a big remaining challenge is the bill of materials (BOM) in its many forms—the as-designed BOM, the as-engineered BOM, the as-manufactured BOM, and so on. Generated and managed with PLM and often executed by enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, BOMs themselves are loop closers. PLM-ERP connectivity and interoperability are steadily improving, but some open-loop issues are resolved only after time consuming face-to-face meetings.

What is my conclusion? Single BOM could be a great thing if vendors will figure out how to implement that. As you can learn from Biello’s article, PLM-ERP has open-loop issue and BOM is a tool to close that. However, companies are concerned about bringing single BOM strategy since it can raise lot of organizational challenges for them. At the same time, the demand for better integration and collaboration can put companies in front of decision to bring single BOM to close open loops between engineering, manufacturing and production anyway. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 


May 19, 2015

plmconx-2015

Siemens PLM connection 2015 is taking place in Dallas this week. Thanks for Siemens PLM inviting me, I had a chance to attend the conference this week. More posts and thoughts will come, but today, I want to give you some of my notes from the opening day of the conference with keynote from Chuck Grindstaff and several other presentations made by Siemens PLM folks and customers.

First, about the community of PLM connection. Combined from customer and managed by separate board, it represents multiple industries. However, as you can see it from the picture below, the dominant 70% is covered by three main industries – aerospace & defense, automotive and industrial machinery. No surprise here…. if you think about established PLM customer community – these are industries are mostly engaged in PLM use and implementations. The interesting news is to see reps from other industries too.

keynote-1

The main message I captured from Chuck Grindstaff’s keynote is about smart products and how it will impact the manufacturing. In my view, the main point is that we are not separating products into large and small anymore. What we called in the past small and simple products are not simple. Any product today is a combination of multi-disciplinary technologies: advanced materials, electronic and software.

keynote-2

Separate note about cloud. Siemens PLM was long time silent about cloud technologies. Not anymore. Cloud messages were sent during keynote and other sessions. Initial Siemens PLM cloud strategy was IaaS and Amazon. I covered it in my earlier posts. The thing I captured yesterday is the work Microsoft and Siemens PLM is doing to certify Teamcenter and other products to be used on Azure cloud. I guess more to watch here in the coming months.

keynote-3

Another interesting topic I picked up was about cloud services and big data. These days product data is getting more in focus. I lives everywhere – in design, manufacturing records, sensors and many other places. To bring data together, connect it semantically and make available via search-like interface is an opportunity many companies are pursuing these days.

Siemens PLM new cloud services organization is up to the goal. I’ve been listening to Steve Bashada’s  presentation speaking about the work they do following the acquisition of Omneo, which come to Siemens PLM as part of Camstar acquisition. The following pictures can give you an idea of what Siemens is planning and I’m sure will follow this up in my future posts. They are currently working with Dell and few other companies on the solution covering engineering and manufacturing product data intelligence cases.

bd-1

bd-2

I was super excited to listen to Jay Rogers, CEO and co-founder of Local Motors. Not aware about Local Motors? You should close your knowledge gap asap. Why? Because Local Motors is on the mission towards next industrial revolution. Imagine you have an idea for product, push a button and…. yes, you engage in the community of people designing, engineering and manufacturing it. It comes as a smart network of people involved into design, manufacturing and distribution of the product. New materials, new manufacturing processes- agile, collaborative and what is most important – quick and efficient. Local Motors can deliver products with 5x less time and 100x less cost.

lm-0

lm-2

lm-3

Siemens PLM discussion about Manufacturing Operation Management gave me an addition perspective on how to make more efficient production. It is about connecting engineering and manufacturing together. In a nutshell, unified manufacturing backbone connects production, quality, logistic and maintenance. It is all impossible without tight connection with PLM backbone and integrating product views – multiple bill of materials, bill of process, electronic and software related information.

mom-0

mom-1

mom-2

The final presentation I was watching was by Craig Brown, leading PLM at General Motors. The main topic is how to deliver connected, contextual experience among all products involved into design, productions and maintenance of GM cars.

gm-0

gm-1

My special attention was caught by the work GM is doing integrating multiple tools including TeamCenter using LinkedData technologies. The most resonating message – use web technology for data management and integration into enterprise.

gm-2

What is my conclusion? We are getting in the era of smart products, which will create even more data management challenges for manufacturing companies and PLM vendors. It will come from diverse sides – community based design and collaboration, agile engineering to manufacturing processes, smart manufacturing and production. Existing tools will not be replaced overnight, therefore an ability to co-exist will be demanded by PLM vendors and their customers. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM without buzzwords

May 17, 2015

buzzwords

I’m in Dallas, TX for the next few days to attend Siemens PLM Connection 2015 conference. Teamcenter is one of the oldest brands in PLM software and I’m looking forward to learn more about that. One of the things that concerning me in PLM industry is a lack of differentiations. If you remember, my post few weeks ago – PLM and VC firms are facing the same problems – lack of differentiation. On my way to Dallas, I downloaded Siemens PLM Connection agenda here. What surprised me is that it wasn’t overloaded with modern buzzwords. Maybe it is just old fashion. Who knows… I’m still not sure if I like it or not. But sometimes, too many buzzwords are creating bad feeling before the event. You probably remember my blog post following CIMdata forum in Ann Arbor – Cloud is not the way to re-think PLM. Then what?

In my view, we are paying to much attention to trends and the opportunities behind applying buzzwords to describe what we do. Earlier today, I was listening to This week in Startups video with Peter Thiel. The video is a bit long and probably not relevant in all parts for PLM community. However, one part, which is related to “trends and buzzwords” is must see to every person involved in PLM development.

The passage that caught my attention was about buzzwords and trends. Here are notes from the video- you can see them here.

Peter is always skeptical of sectors and trends.People always ask him what trends he sees for the future, and he never likes the question because he is not a prophet and doesn’t think the future is fixed in that sort of way. All trends are overrated. For example – healthcare, IT, location software, etc – these are all somewhat overrated.SaaS is pretty badly overrated. And if you hear the words big data and cloud computing you need to run away as fast as you possibly can. Conversely, the things that are underrated are the things that have no buzzwords and don’t fit in to any pre-existing categories. Here is the statement where proliferation of buzzwords is going to extreme – “I’m building a mobile platform for SaaS enterprises to do big data in the cloud.

What is my conclusion? We need to remove buzzwords from the lexicon of PLM applications. Many of the things PLM industry does is badly and deeply engaged with TLAs and buzzwords. I can see in the future engineering and manufacturing software without buzzword thinking about differentiations. Companies that will be able to runaway from buzzwords, will be winning future PLM competition game. It will probably include removing of “PLM” buzzword too. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 


How to stop blaming engineers for PLM sales problems

May 16, 2015

Plm-technology-matters

It is hard to sell PLM. Sigh… Even today. Even with all modern open source, cloud, browser, web, mobile, big data, SaaS, PaaS, IaaS and other cool product and technological buzzwords. How to get PLM right? Startups and large companies are trying to bring new ideas and products to the market in hope to make it different. I certainly can confirm that modern PLM systems are better in many ways than what we had 10-15 years ago. They are nicer, faster, more flexible, better integrated and better equipment to deal with problems manufacturing companies have today.

Here is the point. They are better…. Which brings me back to the the sales dispute about difference between vitamins and painkillers in PLM. Analysts and industry pundits are trying to find the reason why is so hard to sell PLM. A very respectful PLM analyst and my good blogging buddy Chad Jackson of Lifecycle Insights came with an interesting research related to that. Navigate to his article to read more – Engineering’s struggle to justify technology. His main point – engineers aren’t good at justifying technology investments. As a result of that, engineers just cannot sell these great technologies to CxO executives. Here is the passage from Chad’s blog:

Engineers aren’t good at justifying technology investments. I wish it wasn’t true. But in my mind, the findings prove it. The technologies aren’t lacking. Otherwise, technology capabilities would rise to the top of these lists. They don’t. If there was a problem with the underlying value proposition of these technologies, then that would bear out. However, as seen in a post I published last week, the value of some of these technologies is high. To me, the failing lies in the inability to justify these tools.

chad-jackson-plm-challenges

In the conclusion, Chad stated clear that price is also not an issue with regards to the problem related to engineering software sales. It all connected to the ability of engineers to justify the value of the technologies.

Pricing, in my opinion, is not the culprit for these issues. It lies in the difficulty that engineering has in justifying the technologies they need. Engineer’s decisions directly affect company profitability ever single day. Understand that connection and engineers should be able to easily justify their technology needs.

Well… I feel bad for engineers. At least for some of them that struggles to implement complex PLM systems. Certainly, if technological value is clear and price is not an issue, then to sell PLM should be an easy deal to make. But it is not… Which takes me back in my mind into product and technology. I’m sure you remember an earlier attempt of Microsoft to develop tablet computer. If not, the picture above can remind you Microsoft tablets circa 2002. The technology was right and all buttons were in place. However, something was missed. And Steve Jobs iPad circa 2010 confirmed that it was about technology and products. And Bill Gates confirmed Apple did something different. Here is a passage from BI article:

Last July, during an interview with Charlie Rose, Bill Gates explained that Jobs “did some things better than I did. His timing in terms of when it came out, the engineering work, just the package that was put together. The tablets we had done before, weren’t as thin, they weren’t as attractive.”

What is my conclusion? Engineers are easy target to blame. It sounds like product and technologies are right, price is perfect, value proposition is articulated in a most clear way, but… customers are not buying. Yes, it could be about market and prices. Maybe market is not ready for PLM or many be prices are too high or too low. I was in the situation once when customer didn’t recognize the value of PLM product because price was too low. But I doubt, this is a case with PLM systems today. Getting back to the product, we need need to think how to make it more attractive? It is certainly the moment to look again on product and technology. Just in case. Maybe there is still a small chance PLM vendors missed something. Just my thoughts….

Best, Oleg


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 276 other followers