PLM Prompt: 3D Publishing, CAD and Online Google Graphic…

December 31, 2009

The idea of 3D publishing isn’t new. For the last few years we had chance to see multiple examples of how CAD and PLM companies focused on this space by creating and acquiring products that can publish complicated 3D models in the way humans outside of engineering will be able to adopt it. PTC Arbotext, 3DVIA Composer, Autodesk Inventor Publisher- these are only few examples of these products.

The following Google SketchUp blog drove my attention with information about how possible to use SketchUp 7 Layout to create Web ready images. Take a look on video.

I think CAD/PLM vendors need to watch this space. With connection to Google 3D Warehouse, it can be targeted towards some Adobe 3D PDF features or even higher end CAD/PLM  . I’m expecting to see some news in this space in coming 2010.

How do you like it? What do you think?

Happy New Year!
Best, Oleg

How To Visualize PLM Excels using Microsoft Pivot?

December 30, 2009

If you haven’t had chance to see Microsoft Live Lab Pivot project, please do. I found this approach as somewhat very interesting. The idea of data visualization is not new. However, the key question is how to make it simple? My view is that “collections” of data are a very strong and simple presentation abstraction worked well in many cases such as – SharePoint lists, Excel and many others. You can see trends towards simplification of user experience in Facebook and Twitter too.

When Pivot is still prototype and Lab product, I bet play around can give you couple of fresh ideas of what you can do with your PDM/PLM experience. The biggest amount of engineering data today is concentrated in what I’m calling “Corporate Strategic Excels”. So, maybe Pivot will be the right way to present Engineering and Product Excels to us?

What do you think?

Best, Oleg

New Year Wishes to PLM Industry in 2010.

December 29, 2009

We are very close to the New Year Eve and this is time to come prepared with your wishes in the New Year. 2009 was the year of confusion – new economical reality, declining revenues, new type of competition, new social software trends. So, I’m sure some lesson learned in 2009 and this is a time to dream about our next year promises, plans and deliveries.

1. Check old small problems. We are running too fast forward to the new horizons. However, look in the back mirror. How many small problems we left. I think we are coming to the new world and solving small painful problems will have a huge value. So, check your backlogs. All issues are there and waiting for the time we solve them.

2. Think about openness as a business. Issue of openness is one that always come when you talk about problems in PLM industry. It comes as a requirement that never satisfied on the industry level. What I want to say is that I wish the industry will build a business case around openness. And if, there is an opportunity, we will find a solution to make it happen.

3. Use Social Media to speak with customers. I think social networking gives a unique opportunity to connect to customers. We should not be afraid doing so. To benefit customers and ourselves in what we are doing.

I wish you ever success in 2010! We will continue blogging and discussing PLM topics together.

Best, Oleg

Top Five PLM Software Challenges for 2010s

December 27, 2009

We are coming to the new decade, and I found interesting to drop my thoughts related to what I’d expect in 2010s from Product Lifecycle Management. I think last 10 years were the period of initial introducing of PLM concepts on the market. Initial came in early 2000s as a transformation of Engineering Data Management and Product Data Management, PLM emerged as an integrated information oriented approach to manage a product lifecycle.

1.  Find Simple Solution for Complex PLM Problems. Most of the people in the industry today agreed about the need to manage a product lifecycle. However, opinions about what should be a way to do so are very different. This is in my view the biggest PLM problem today. PLM considered as a complex, expensive, service-depended software initiative. Established PLM brands as well as newcomers are trying to explode complexity of PLM. I think it will be the biggest challenges PLM companies will try to resolve in coming years.

2. Explore New Business Models
. Life is going to be different in the next ten years in everything that related to business models. PLM will not be able to continue existing business model with mostly direct sales, heavy reliance on the service offering by partners and marathon of new product releases with new features. What will come next? Open Source, Online / SaaS services or maybe even “Free” options. Time will show…

3. Processes beyond Engineering. PLM is very much about what engineering is doing. Most of products became mature in design and engineering. At the same time, there is no significant presence of PLM products related to disciplines outside of R&D departments.

4. Internet Technologies Adoption.
Majority of PLM systems was created based on previously available EDM/PDM and CAD products. Some of the products related to ERP offering inherited lots of ERP technologies. However, nature of PLM products drives Product Lifecycle Management into areas where Internet technologies demonstrated clear differentiation – scale of data management, integration, collaboration, information sharing. PLM needs to stand in front of complicated decisions about how to adopt various internet technologies to keep tecnological leadership.

5. Develop Open Strategies.
For the long period of time CAD (and PLM too) considered as not open products. This is come initially from low interest to share product data information, integration, etc. In my view, current status quo served as very bad characteristics of CAD and PLM software. I think, many organizations these days understand it and require a change in existing CAD/PLM products.

So, these are my 2010s predictions, and I’m looking forward to you comments and thoughts.

Best, Oleg

Happy Holidays!

December 25, 2009

Dear Friends!

Seasons Greetings from Daily PLM Think Tank!

I wish you great Holidays and Happy New Year!

Best, Oleg

Will Mashups Grow Up In PLM?

December 23, 2009

Short prompt to think about before Holiday break. Mashups. First coming to us with the world of Web 2.0 and dynamic web site content, mashup becomes an interesting function in many web applications. I think mashups are still very tiny business industry, but this technology was very successful in my view for some of applications like Google Map and not only.

Here is Wikipedia definition of Mashup:
In web development, a mashup is a web page or application that combines data or functionality from two or more external sources to create a new service. The term mashup implies easy, fast integration, frequently using open APIs and data sources to produce results that were not the original reason for producing the raw source data. An example of a mashup is the use of cartographic data to add location information to real estate data, thereby creating a new and distinct web API that was not originally provided by either source.

You can find some interesting ideas related to Enterprise Mashups and development around that in the recently created Open Mashup Alliance. Take a look on the following white paper:

So, my question today is as following. How do you see Mashup advantages in building of product data services and improvement of PLM applications? In my view, the technological foundation of mashups can be an interesting choice when moving PLM application to become more open and available in the way of online services.

Just my thoughts.

Why Do We Need PLM to Control Product Cost?

December 22, 2009

I’d like to continue discussing topics that create maximum confusion between PLM marketing and reality. Today, I want to talk about one, that probably in the top list of all manufacturers – product cost. Yes, you want it down, no doubt. If you will talk to PLM marketers, they will all tell – PLM is the way to go. However, how magically it will happen? Why PLM can help you manage cost? How practically it will happen? I decided to discover the potential answers on these questions today…

Let me think about a traditional manufacturing environment that is not going to implement “PLM strategies”, but indeed is looking how to decrease cost of their products. The most reasonable approach is to ask different business units to develop their cost saving programs- R&D, Manufacturing, Supply Chain, Support. I believe, these organizations will be able to deliver decent results. Now, depends on manufacturing type, they have various chances to be successful. For the long run, the company manufacturing the same (or similar) products will be able to optimize cost of products. Their best chance to do so, will be for mass-manufacturing products. Within the time, all functional areas will be optimized and learn from the experience how to manage product costs for what they are doing. There are two potential problems in this approach. First is the time scale and the second production volume. What does it mean?

Time Scale in Manufacturing
With a significant time period, your manufacturing organization has a good chance to develop reasonable good product cost practices. Designers will find optimal solutions, right suppliers will be designated and subcontracted, manufacturing facilities will be optimized, etc.

Production Volume
The previous assumption of time scale will be working if you will continue to manufacture big series of products. With growing number of manufactured items, your product cost will go down.

What is the problem with such assumptions? The only one, in my view. This is less and less happening in modern manufacturing. Market demanding customization in production and due to that time and product volume is going down. So, manufacturers need to manage very flexible practices in their environment to maintain balance between production volume, time and cost.

Now, I want to get to my original question. How PLM can help? PLM is managing product data and processes. How product cost will be resulted from that? My answer – PLM need to facilitate cross-functional IT functions in the organization. Your functional domains are separate. Most of the systems in today’s IT are department oriented and rarely have global organizational exposure.  PLM need to make a success in cross-functional data and processes management. This will be a key for PLM success in the organization. And this is still not happenings…

What do you think about that?
Best, Oleg

Can I Report to My PLM from Audi A8 via Google?

December 21, 2009

A very short prompt this early European morning. Google is coming to the next Audi A8. Take a look on the nice photos on Google’s blog.

This is what written in the blog:

To help you figure out where you want to go and how to get there, we’ve also brought Google Maps and Local Search into the A8, and linking it to your desk. You can send business listings directly from Google Maps to your car: search for an address at your desk, send it to the car, and by the time you go to the parking lot your car will know where to go. While in the car, you can use Google Local Search in the same rich quality as at your desk. Imagine you get hungry on the way or want to find a cinema – simply perform a live Google search on your car navigation system and immediately get up-to-date, rich and relevant results.

Now my question is quite simple. Google might collect information about users of A8. So, if you will be driving your next A8, in potential, all systems can report about their performance via the Google’s board navigation system. As you can see on the picture, systems are online… Ha! Don’t you think it will be just cool?

Holiday Greetings!
Best, Oleg

Large Monolithic PLM Implementations Are a Thing of the Past

December 20, 2009

Continue my last week post about how to make next PLM implementation simpler, I decided to put some ideas towards how the next PLM implementations will look like.

PLM vendors are making huge efforts to simplify PLM deployment and make implementation simpler. Despite that, in my view, typical PLM implementation is still combined from three typical steps: a significant planning effort, deployment of software and additional customization and adaptation services. These steps make implementation expensive. Talking with PLM specialists and consultants you will learn the most important PLM activities are related to good planning upfront, methodologies and clarification of what organization need and how to math organizational needs to capabilities of the system. Gaps are covered by services.  It looks like a deadly connected circle. How we can break it?

I think many of PLM vendors and implementers made a misinterpretation of out-of-the box terms. What is currently proposed in PLM “out-of-the-box” package is an effort to create “standard PLM”. What you can hear around is additional activities how possible to create typical industry implementations, OEM/supplier oriented typical implementation, etc.

In my view, this is a dead-end in PLM evolution. Such efforts will be endless similar to multiple standard activities in product development. The main reason for that is because manufacturing these days need to be more agile, lean and dynamic to sustain in their business and making profit. When such fundamental for their product development system like PLM becomes “typical”, you cannot expect them to be dynamic, lean and efficient at the same time.

What is a possible solution? I think software vendors need to learn again lessons from 15-20 years back. In beginning of 90th, few companies were doing PDM. Such projects were considered as luxury, needed by big organizations only. PDM budgets started at six digits numbers and requires major involvement of software vendor, custom software builds and long project implementation time line. However, in the middle and end of 90th we had chance to see a strong trend towards flexible data models, inexpensive Windows based systems and as a result lower entry barrier for PDM implementation.

My conclusion today. Vendors need to leave magic-out-of-the-box marketing efforts and depart to the new station where we’ll able to find new engineering solution for old problem. Future systems will be adaptive, will not require a significant effort to deploy and implement.

Just my thoughts. YMMV…
Best, Oleg

How to Simplify My Next PLM Implementation?

December 18, 2009

Siemens’s blog post by Nik Pakvasa and following discussion drove me to put my thoughts in the this direction- how to make next move in my PLM implementation easier? The complexity of PLM implementation is one of the fundamental problems that prevents Product Lifecycle Management industry from mainstream expansion and deployment. When a customer likes all ideas related to how keep track of data and processes about products and around, the implementation becomes a nightmare. PLM vendors did a lot on the way to simplify products and their deployment by providing packaged out-of-the-box implementations, best (or useful) practices related to data models and process implementations. However, the better solution is definitely required.

Business is very dynamic these days. Customers challenged by competition, cost, need to adapt their business processes to the new conditions of business, etc. All these put a fundamental requirement for change in business systems, and PLM is standing first, in my view, in the line of these changes. Whatever happens – outsourcing, optimizing manufacturing or design process changes, the ability to adapt PLM system to the “next PLM implementation” becomes fundamental. However, most of them are not as simple as we want.

If you are looking on additional information about this topic, I can also advise you fresh CIMData paper analyzing customer migration challenges based on their experience with three Siemens PLM customers. Note, you need to make a registration on Siemens PLM web site to get access.

My analyzes shows three most important reasons why “my next PLM implementation” is always complex.

1. Insufficient flexibility of PLM systems. For the first time, you may think I’m kidding, right? In most of the cases, the perception of PLM system is that this is a very flexible outfit. However, if you will take a closer look, many of PLM systems have no consistent flexibility that customers can rely on for many years. Next big things, new releases, improved functionality,  new technologies – all these can create a very complex situation for customers.

2. High level of customization activities. This is a very typical for industry. Each PLM implementation contains a significant amount of services that include system configuration, adding of functionality, integration with customer’s systems like ERP and others. The amount of such implementations is so significant that becomes one of the key questions when the customer want to change/move existing implementation. Amount of testing and adaptation that need to be done make this project very complicated.

3. Lack of standardization activities in PLM-related industry space. Standardization is a very expensive activity. My best take on standards is as following: Standards like toothbrushes – everybody needs’em, but nobody wants to use somebody else…  If we can imaging that level of standardization in PLM space can be improved, reliance on these standards can be great help.

I want to say few words also about “out-of-the-box” (OOTB). It presented as the universal hammer to solve the problem of PLM implementation, OOTB is a Trojan Horse in PLM industry town. In my view, OOTB provides a simple answer on how to implement PLM system fast for the first time. At the same time, OOTB is not providing any advantages in simplification of my next PLM implementation step. OOTB should come in balance with flexibility and system openness – this is the only way to get PLM to the next level of maturity in implementation.

So, what are my recommendations today?

1. Invest in PLM system openness and flexibility
2. Simplify your customization functionally and technologically.
3. Plan small steps in your PLM implementation journey.
4. Sponsor standardization activity – this is future health of the industry.

Just my thought.
Best, Oleg


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