PLM Prompt: Explore Search Results with Google Wonder Wheel

June 23, 2009

To discover infornmation and search results is always Interesting problem. Especially when you deal with big amount of data. Short note on additional way to do it in Google you may find interesting – Google experiement with Wonder Wheel. You can access this option from search results -> Show Options -> Wonder Wheel. Take a look on pictures and video below.

What do you think? Do you like this option for our field?

Google Wonder Wheel - Regular Search

Google Wonder Wheel - Regular Search

Google Wonder Wheel - Video Search

Google Wonder Wheel - Video Search

Who wants to manage Product Data?

June 23, 2009

One of the ambitious goals PLM puts in front of strategists, implementors and developers is to manage a product lifecycle from early on (requirements, initial product designs) and until the end of product lifecycle towards manufacturing, supply chain and disposal processes. At first glance, it sounds like a great idea, as it looks like PLM is on a fundamentally unique track of providing this solution to a customer…. but, here is the problem. I think that PLM is not really unique when it comes to the company’s landscape, and there are many different systems in organization claim to manage product data.

So, I decided to cluster a few tools from different areas to outline who are these “PLM” competitors to data in an organization. So far, I found five fundamental product domains.

  1. Content Management. This is company document storage. Most of the companies in this area are working primarily on documents, the ability to put them on the shelf, manage their access and lifecycles.  Since most of product lifecycle information in the end becomes a “document”  I’d put this companies on ‘Red Alert J…
  2. ERP /MRP. This is a traditional neighbor and competitor. PLM and ERP/MRP have been “competing” against each other for many years. I discussed this issue many times on blog. I don’t predict a “system expansion”. Many ERP vendors have a solution with a specific PLM flavor. We can see them and what they offer on the market.  These systems can evolve and claim to manage even more product data in the future.
  3. Business Process Management. This is a newly emerged trend. In my view, the BPM market is relatively small in manufacturing, and therefore BPM tools will feel they need to work out their potential in  PLM cases as well.
  4. MDM – Master Data Management has a relatively good adoption rate by big enterprise customers. In my view, as MDM cannot scale down, I’d provide limited importance to being able to compete with PLM. Indeed, we need to pay specific attention when we plan for enterprise PLM.
  5. Collaboration Tools and Applications. Hot topic. People are looking how to collaborate better. Various collaboration tools are looking at how to improve data management solutions too. With the introduction of Google Wave and the expanded future offering of MS SharePoint 2010, collaboration tools definitely can expand their offering to a more specific PLM space. There is a potential danger from the low end.

So, how will PLM be able to compete with these systems successfully?  This is a big question – which is why I’m asking for your advice and feedback here, as well as find out what else you have in mind.

How to Extend PLM Reach – Process vs. Content?

June 22, 2009

I was reading a review <PLM Extends Reach in Product Development> over the weekend. My short conclusion – PLM is growing, expanding its horizons and reach in different areas of product development. Jill Jusko quoted many analysts from Forrester and CIMData, as well as vendors such as PTC. They explained how PLM is growing in different areas of corporate activities (such as social collaboration and the product value chain). So, I tried to figure out where we need to go and how to prioritize PLM development to reach a wider audience with a Product Lifecycle Management solution.

My conclusion actually was very short, so I’d like share it with you: PLM has two major opportunities to reach within and beyond the organization:

(1)    To extend Content

(2)    To extend Processes

I will try to explain what I mean. With my very pragmatic state of mind, I tried to analyze the current PLM organizational positions. PLM providers with roots in design and 3D (and this is the majority of PLM mind-shares) are deeply engaged in the business of CAD modeling and 3D. So, PLM of these companies do well in initial product creation. But what happens afterwards? In most of the cases, 3D is going to die. Most of the information is translated into PDF, paper and/or other alternatives to original 3D. Therefore, the 3D PLM content will disappear. This is definitely a bad situation for PLM providers. So, regarding my first clause – to extend PLM reach – companies need to invest more in content-availability. As soon as this is done, more people will be able to leverage original valuable PLM 3D information. In parallel, we have an alternative – processes. Many companies, including PLM vendors, and especially their ERP patrons, involved in different areas, are encouraging customers to share their process difficulties. So, this alternative is to transform business processes and implement various initiatives (from complex business orchestrations, and down to workflow automation). In my opinion, this is definitely a second option for extending PLM reach.

What is my short conclusion? I’m  a believer in data. In my view, data is much important compared to process. So, I’d expect that extending PLM successfully would start  when the PLM system gains more share from the PLM data (content) management extension. Extending capabilities to manage, share and collaborate on more data will  ultimately pave a successful path for manufacturing companies.

PLM Prompt: SolidWorks Sustainability Xpress will embed more lifecycle data in CAD

June 22, 2009

Another interesting blog post this morning about SolidWorks Sustainability Xpress coming soon on SolidWorks Labs. You can see video. What impressed me 1/ immersive data integration into SolidWorks CAD environment; 2/ ability to analyze full lifecycle of product from designer standpoint. There are some Product Lifecycle Management roots in this story well translated for SolidWorks user. What is confusing a little is that part of video demo run on Mac OS…

Will be interested to hear your voices? Do you see more designer support data came integrated into CAD environment?

PLM Prompt: Google Fusion Tables – PLM on Steroids?

June 22, 2009

Short note this morning. I was impressed to see Google Labs product – Google Fusion Tables. This is Google’s experimental data management system on cloud. You can upload your data, filter, visualize (i.e. Map) on Google map and collaborate with other people…

Sampe of uploaded data

Visualize table data on map

Sounds interesting? I think so…

Google Version of CAD Interoperability Story

June 19, 2009

I’m going back to talking about the CAD interoperability story, inspired by some interesting experience with Google Apps and Microsoft Word. My previous take on CAD interoperability in <Top Five Disappointing PLM Technologies> follows:

#3 – CAD Interoperability — The inability of CAD vendors to agree on how to exchange models continues to affect people in the industry. You can see people spending their entire lives translating files from one CAD to another. You can still find “translation departments” in organizations. Quite a large amount of companies in our industry still focuses primarily on interoperability. So far, it looks like this problem will still be with us for awhile…

Based on comments and discussion following this post, I got the impression that although there is no agreement on how to resolve this topic by vendors, but there are solutions in the field. There are companies and toolkits providing solutions for converting one CAD format to another.

So, what is the Google story? This is quite simple – Google continues to add format support to their Google Apps. With this announcement, Google is supporting Microsoft Office 2007 formats. So, from now on, docx and xlsx formats are supported. MS PowerPoint 2007 is still on-going. Together with the already supported, range of file formats including .doc, .odt, .xls, .ods, .ppt, .csv, .html, .txt, .rtf, and others,  I can use Google Apps for a wide array of use cases without going to MS Office.

So, why have I decided to come back to this topic? The answer is simple – I was impressed by how Google Apps are solving interoperability problems related to MS office. This is seamless and does not hurt me as a user. Therefore, as I said – we need to learn and reuse this experience. My summary on this isL

  1. Use a seamless way of converting and keeping track of document (and/or models, in the case of CAD)
  2. Focus on the browser as the key tool to deliver user experience. Users love everything that comes in a browser, and we’ll see more examples of user experience dedicated to specific browsers.

I believe that the solution for this problem is also in the hands of companies providing CAD Viewer solutions. I’d be very interesting to learn and hear about your experience in the field of seamless user experience and interoperability in the CAD area.

Just my thoughts,


PLM Prompt: SolidWorks and CAD on Cloud – No Need for Open/CheckIn/Out…

June 18, 2009

Short note following Devon Sowel blog about SolidWorks on Cloud/SaaS plans. This is good continutation to thoughts and discussion started earlier on <CAD- the future of collaborative modeling>. SolidWorks already made first try of Drawing Now on Cloud.

SolidWorks Labs Drawing Now

SolidWorks Labs Drawing Now

So, CAD on Cloud SaaS will finaly release you from PDM’s File Open/Check-In/Check-Out hassle.

What do you think?

My Slice of PLM Single Version of Truth

June 18, 2009

I have a crazy idea to discuss today. I’d like to talk about a topic that we like very much and that is often discussed when we mention PLM. The topic is a “single version of the truth”. In my opinion, in many cases, we do present it as being obvious.. Yes, the fundamental intention of Product Lifecycle is to cover a product from the initial concept up until the product is manufactured, released, supported and recycled. So, having a unified way to manage product, processes, and resources is one of the most important ideas concerning PLM.

Today’s enterprises are becoming very dynamic: changes are happening all the time; companies are working with a wide range of suppliers for different purposes. How can PLM provide affordable and scalable solutions for such a dynamic eco-system? This creates a lot of challenges for a company providing product data and lifecycle management solutions. How you can get everybody synchronized in the way you do business processes, and how can you keep your PLM systems up-to-date in this environment?

So, I came to a working conclusion that I’d like to discuss. My point is that in today’s enterprise eco-system, you cannot demand people to agree about how to manage your product data and processes. Ah… I know, it sounds bad, but bear with me for few more minutes, don’t close this post:)… I think today’s data management is too complex to allow large organizations to agree on a single way to do business and implement a PLM system to follow this agreement. This task is too complex and too long. You won’t be able to finish this task and you will have to start with new one! So, this is probably the most fundamental problem in today’s system implementations. It’s too long and too expensive since we are trying (and we need) to agree on how to implement the systems.

Here’s my 5-point view on the subject as follows:

  1. Organizations and systems are too complex to agree on PLM related data, processes and best practices.
  2. Successful PLM implementations need to focus on how to manage ongoing system changes.
  3. Best practices and processes in an organization will be a result of multiple changes and improvements in the PLM system implementation.
  4. The system needs to keep track of all changes
  5. We need to have very a flexible PLM system, and I don’t believe we have one yet.

What’s my conclusion? I was reading Jos Voskuil’s blog post about PLM ROI yesterday and thought about why ROI for PLM is not obvious. My take on this today is that, probably, as our implementations are still too big and too complex, people see this as very big and fundamental investment. So, they need to double-check themselves with many calculations around ROI. Allowing ongoing changes and modifications of PLM systems will make implementation simpler and ROI calculations easier…

So, don’t keep quiet… I know you won’t all agree with each other – but let me know what you think.

PLM Prompt: How do you keep PLM up to date?

June 17, 2009

I had chace to read today Forrester Report “The State of Enterprise Software 2009” by Heidi Lo, R “Ray” Wang, and Jean-Pierre Garbani.

The State of the art enterprise 2009

What made me worry? The following are three top software initiatives in organizations -

(1) Updating apps,

(2) Consolidating or rationalizing enterprise apps

(3) Deployment and use of collaboration technologies.

My point is that to change or update today’s PLM implementation is not a simple task.  If do not provide easy way to handle our PLM initiatives, we’ll become leagcy and will be “rationalized”…

What is your view on this?

when it comes to importance, with more than one-quarter (26%) of firms saying that updating and
modernizing key legacy apps is very important.

Future PLM face to face: Open Source vs. Cloud

June 17, 2009

I was thinking about future options for PLM in today’s computing environment. In this fast moving world, there are two spaces that not widely experienced by the creators of PLM software. I’m referring to (1) Open Source; (2) Cloud Services. Using some legendary analogies, I can align each of these options as the role of David in his fight against Goliath. Both of them can be considered definitely as weak characters facing  enterprise giants. The PLM community has two clear representatives of both OSS and On-Demand options (Aras and Arena Solutions). So, I want to analyze and discuss – from your standpoint, what is the more appropriate option for the future of PLM?

Cloud Software and Services

In my view, cloud computing definitely shows a very promising future as a software model. Providers of cloud software can provide two big advantages – work better at a lower cost. At the same time, potential users of clouds have consistent concerns such as lack of control, security and, lack of flexibility, the latter being of particular concern for PLM. Still, time is still needed to create established communities around the upcoming cloud services and platforms. These will include infrastructure, management, research and development. Some of them are showing progress but they are very far from being mature. Future investment in cloud data centers can make this faster. In the PLM eco-system, the only company that has created a long-running Cloud-based offering is Arena Solution. However, in my view, they haven’t developed a real economy of scale on the cloud. Together with traditional security concerns and the significant lack of integration with existing enterprise and design software, Arena wasn’t able to scale up and compete with existing PLM kings, in my view.

Open Source

I already discussed Open Source Software for PLM in one of my previous posts < Open Source: Is the Game Changing for PLM? >. Open Source can provide two major advantages for PLM implementation compared to what we have today in PLM – a low entry cost and significant flexibility. These advantages need to address the regular concerns of enterprises in front of open source software such as certification, legal issues etc.  Therefore, I see Aras’s experience in open source as something very interesting, and it requires future investigation and learning.

Alternative Combination: Open Source on Cloud

Of course, this discussion is not complete without discussing the combination of Open Source and Clouds (with Open Source running on a Cloud). I have to say that today’s cloud services software, especially in the consumer domain, is pretty much based on OSS.   The so- called “LAMP stack” is one of the most used combination of open source infrastructure. What will happen in the future when enterprise PLM providers (ERP and dedicated PLM vendors) start moving towards one of these options? This is still not clear.

So, I’m very interested to hear your voices. Pros and Cons? What is your winning option?


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