PLM Prompt: BI on Cloud. Should PLM follow?

July 31, 2009

Coming question from Business Intelligence space. There are already several companies dealing with cloud BI Pentaho, Good Data Corp. and some others. At the same time, as it appeared in Computerworld, Microsoft is postponing their plans for BI on a cloud until 2013. It initially announced as Windows Azure Services, now will be postponed until a next version of Office.

MS BI on cloud

Just end of week thoughts.. PLM is about a single version of truth. How do you think BI fits this space? Alternatively, how PLM fits BI space?

Best, Oleg

3D Perspectives: How we can search and tag rich media and 3D?

July 31, 2009

My new blog post of DS 3D Perspectives Blog. From 1998 searches circa to Search Media, Tag Results, View Examples.





PLM Transformation: Easy, No; Costly, Yes.

July 31, 2009

For the last weeks, I have chance to speak with few of my colleagues about PLM implementations and technologies in different contexts. The main point of these conversations was about how to make PLM implementation easy. Few interesting blog posts related to this topic – “A PLM Success Story with ROI” by Jos Voskuil and “Why is implementing PLM Hard” by Jim Brown. Few days ago I wrote about how to move PLM to mainstream. However, my take in this post was mostly about technologies, Jim and some of my other blogging colleagues raised valid question – PLM is about people and organizational transformation and therefore, it cannot be easy. This is about change! Change is hard… So, my thoughts today are about to analyze what PLM transformation mean from both sides – technological and organizational.

Here is my short conclusion about main factors that make PLM transformation to be a very not trivial task in organization.

New operational environment for many people in organization

In most of the cases introduction of PLM systems bring new environment to users. New data and process tools, viewing software etc. PLM environment normally combined from few connected pieces – Product, Process and Organization related. Because of complex dependencies existing between these pieces, resulting environment is not easy. So what we have in organization – confused customers and increased training budgets. A key conclusion – PLM needs to look for Trojan horse that will help them to come easy for organization.

Complexity of Infrastructure and Implementation

PLM naturally positioned in the middle of everything in organization. Allowing to connect requirement and design, design and manufacturing, supply chains, PLM position as a system that needs to have quite heavy integration portion with other systems. We know, integration work in enterprise is complicated, painful and very expensive if you start touching main enterprise systems such as CRM, ERP, SCM and some others. So, in many cases PLM stacks in the middle of these integrations and requires significant effort and resources to move it forward to completion. What is possible to improve in this integration journey? My recommendation is to make your integration project part of other projects that bring value. Even if you 100% sure you need to integrate two systems to work together, never start this task alone. You will be going to an endless process of integration. Instead of this approach, make integration to achieve a specific task and show result values. Integration technologies are very painful, don’t try to re-invent a wheel. You will not change “the integration kingdom”. So keep your budgets here.

Changes in Processes

This is another painful point. When we start PLM journey we are always saying – we are going to change how people work, improve it, optimize it. This initial value proposition sounds great and can be appreciated by many stakeholders. However, as soon as people start this process of change they face so many organizational problems and obstacle that they either going for the next 1-2-year  discussion, about how they need to work in organization or try to implement processes that have relatively low maturity. Result is obvious – drain of resources and people dissatisfaction. Meantime you spent your PLM $$$ and what is mostly important credit to make PLM implementation successful. My recommendation here – keep focus and boundary.

Content Transformation

This is last, but not least. In many cases PLM system comes in place where different legacy systems or just handmade processes worked. As a result organization faced huge requirement to transform a lot of organizational content – metadata, document, process information etc. to a new system. This legacy data imports are also not simple. People worried when their data moved, they not always can find it. Also, organization has a tendency to get rid of what they don’t need at the same time. My conclusion, be prepared to import legacy content and handle it initially in your system.

So, what is my conclusion? PLM is a not easy task. If you don’t plan it properly, you can stack many times on your way to transform company to the future way to develop and support a product. As soon as you will get there you will enjoy benefits, but transformation will be not easy and costly. You will ask me – what to do? My short answer – plan it before, have a good team of people committed to making it happen and go!

PS. I tried not to talk about technologies in this post. Technologies can be helpful, but sometimes you need to see beyond magic PLM technologies. So I did and I hope you’ll do so. I’m open to discussions and feedbacks.

Best, Oleg

PLM Prompt: SharePoint FAST Social Move

July 30, 2009

Short prompt – Steve Letford, technical solution specialist in Microsoft New Zealand mentioned that FAST Search Technologies will be mated with SharePoint for social networking. Looking on coming SharePoint 2010 it sounds like interesting statement. FAST, acquired by Microsoft in the beginning of the last year was targeted to reinforce Enterprise Search domain (also part of SharePoint). It will be interesting to see what will be meaning of social networking in context of SharePoint. In my view, it will make SharePoint even stronger, comapred to what exists today.

In parallel, it will need to compete or co-exist with some PLM initiatives such as Social Product Development and Social Innovation announced earlier this year by PTC and DS.

What do you think about it?

PLM problem with mail – final sentence?

July 30, 2009

There are numerous ways in which people changed way they communicate for the last decades. Email is definitely one of them. Email came to our life in the end of 80s last century and fundamentally changed communication between people and social groups. Despite significant challenges, email brings huge rational in the way people communicate. Email becomes very popular also in business eco-system. These days you almost cannot imagine organization working without an email system. Email resolved lots of communication and logistical problem between people working in different departments and locations.

At the same time email brings a lot of challenges. Email overflow, tracking of mails, threads – these are the most significant email challenges that comes together with email when you apply it in the space of business collaboration. Product Lifecycle Management is not exclusion in this business collaboration. PLM is heavily relies on collaboration and communication and therefore question of email came very soon to the level of how PLM need to re-use, ignore or improve email capabilities. So far, PLM, in my view, have long love and hate relationships with email systems. From side of the advantages, email can significantly improve communication of people as part of collaborative business processes proposed by PLM systems. From the other side, complexity of email communication kills and people stack in the end with inability to resolve email overflow and other peoples.

There are few interesting trends and examples I see in how companies use (or ignore) email systems. Some of them I’d like to discuss more in deep.

Unified communication concept and SharePoint

Micorsoft takes unified communication as an extreme version of messaging and collaboration between people. By enabling multiple ways to communicate, Microsoft breaks email communication into pieces and allows people not to be locked in their communication on email only. SharePoint makes future, even deeper, step in messaging and mail collaboration by allowing to post mail (message) to folders and workspaces in SharePoint. Combined with Unified communication it creates interesting environment for collaboration. Main disadvantage in  my view is removal of “single focal point”, which significant point of success for current mail-based collaboration.


3DLive Collaborative Environment

Dassault Systems introduced new collaborative environment (3DLive) about 2 years ago. This tool (as well as future coming V6 capabilities) provides people with capability to work directly with people and eliminate email communication. With his own pros and cons, this is very interesting approach.


Google Wave

Redefine email. This is Google Wave mission. By focusing on two most significant pains with regards to email – collaborative work and structured messages, Google Wave predicts change in the way people communicate today. This is still in the future.


At the same time, there are quite many examples of tools and systems lately introduced on the market that focuses on pain relief for disappointed email users. I’d like to feature two of them – Vuuch and ShareFlow.

Vuuch, a new “design discussion” tool, is focusing on how possible to bring relevant context into discussion between designers and engineers and, by doing that, improve way for designer and engineers will communicate. Significant advantage of Vuuch, as I see them, will be eliminating  need to follow complicated email threads. I see it as very interesting experiment and innovative development.


ShareFlow from Zenbe, this is another example of “follow email pain” strategy. Their value proposition came from the point where to use email is next to impossible. ShareFlow product is promoted to become email problem solver.


I understand that it’s almost impossible to cover all possible and impossible combinations of mail usage and also solutions. I’d not be able to cover all. I’m looking forward to your questions and discussions.

Best, Oleg

PLM Prompt: PLM User Interface – Don’t make me think!

July 29, 2009

Thinking in loud. I’m looking over many user interfaces of PLM systems and reading Don’t make me think. Why every PLM/PDM system is so complex?


My observations (not scientific, of course):

1. 50% of User Interface features are not in use.

2. Every system I use, demanded at least 30% bigger monitor.

3. You need to read manual to understand how it works.

So, my short conclusion we need to scale UI back.

PLM OnDemand Services

July 29, 2009

SaaS, On Demand, Cloud Services… Who is not speaking about these cool future capabilities these days. So, I was thinking what will be future of PLM On Demand. If you feel yourself not familiar with SaaS concepts, I’d recommend you to check this excellent video:

History of PLM related on demand services included few companies and products such as Arena Solutions (former, Windchill hosted by IBM and Agile Advantage. Regardless to what was success of these PLM on demand initiatives, I see them as a significant try to build hosted services available to a wide user audience. They presented first PLM trial on the SaaS/On Demand roadmap. Outside of PLM, amount of SaaS products is significantly bigger. From famous and to many half-known and unknown products and companies building solution on top of available web platforms.

Looking back on what was done before in PLM products on demand, I see one common characteristic. All these products have tried to build solid product offering hosted for use on a web platform, (or how we call it today on the cloud). In my view, it was straightforward replication of software concepts developed as part of PLM portfolio for the last 10-15 year. However, how these concepts fit our today understanding of web as a platform. Or, saying differently, should we take a proven concept of packaged application development for PLM and apply it to the field of SaaS or OnDemand Application?

When I’m looking on the SaaS definitions and SOA, I can see trend toward more granular service development. These services are not necessarily providing an end-to-end business process or functionality, but provide a piece of functionality you can do plug-in and use in your product, another service or just implementation in the field. This is something that looks like an a little bit different concept. Instead of development fully featured packages, we will provide a set of services that can be plumbed together by solution providers, service companies or even end users. Such approach can be very beneficial, especially when you think how to provide mixed set of products, application and services in organization. Part of them will be introduced as traditional packaged applications and part of them will be a new set of PLM cloud services.

Following such conceptual idea, what type of services I can imagine? In my view first set of services need to focus on particular functionality and not on something that store/manage product IP. Since organizations are very sensitive in the way they perceive “cloud” together with ability to infringe their IP, to provide services that allow to work on IP located inside of companies will lower entrance barrier to these applications. My suggestion to the first set of services will be around viewing and different types of collaborations such as co-editing, review. Another interesting approach can be set of process applications (i.e. for change management) especially in case of multiple application environment.

Unfortunately, I didn’t find any example of such services in company portfolios today. Nevertheless, I wanted to present you an idea of composition between on premise application and cloud services. Please, take a look on the following, very impressive, in my view, example of combination of CRM-type of application and Google Map services.

I’d be interested to discuss your ideas about how you see possible to introduce cloud services for different PLM domains and how possible to introduce it in your organization.

Thank you, Oleg


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