Mini PLM and Google Shared Spaces

December 22, 2010

Google Wave gone. Developers moved to Facebook. Nevertheless, Google comes with an interesting Labs project Google Shared Space. You can get more info on the Shared Space wiki pages. In addition, navigate your browser to the following two articles – PC Mag: Google Shared Space Gadgets Use Wave Technology and Google has a new social experience. The technology of usage widget code written for Google Wave without actually trying to achieve to grandiose Wave goal of re-inventing email made me think about some similar experience happens in PLM world these days.

Re-packaging and Mini PLM

I’ve wrote about re-packaging few days ago. I can see Google Wave morphed and re-packaged into SharedSpace. I can even see a repackaging formula: Google Wave – Email Replacement = Google Shared Space. As a consequence of this can come with something that can provide useful PLM-related features without building huge PLM building. PLM vendors were under immersive stress to provide the best integrated environment. Mindshare PLM vendors spent enormous budgets working on vertically integrated solutions. At the same time, Daimler situation presented some weak points of proprietary integrations and client adoption.

Applificiation and Google Wave Widgets

Take a look on the list of Google Shared Space widgets. I found it interesting. Using imagination, you can think about how to utilize them for product development tasks, voting, business process planning, etc.

I made a try with a glimpse of BPMN process. You can see, it resulted in a process I can share with other people using Google, Facebook or Twitter accounts.

What is my conclusion? The consumerization of IT – this is a process we will be watching very intensively for the next decade. It will result in multiple morphing of existing solutions into something that will remind consumer web, but will provide a value for enterprise organizations. Google SharedSpace experiment with widgets is a good try. I’m not sure what success it will bring to Google. Data is a missing point when you move SharedSpace story to an enterprise environment.

Best, Oleg


Less Services. More PLM…

December 21, 2010

I’ve been discussing with colleagues Gartner’s Predict 2011: Manufacturer Revamp and Enhance Product Lifecycle Management strategies. Without Gartner’s subscription, you cannot get the document. The short passage on Gartner’s website says: Manufacturers are demanding that PLM software vendors deliver more value for the price in 2011. Top priorities include licensing models that enable lower spending and an increased ability to support software and electronics as part of manufactured products.

Customization Problem

In the beginning of the year, I wrote the following post – Is PLM customization a data management titanic. It seems to me, the customization is a biggest problem of PLM implementations today. Everybody understood, customization has a severe impact on PLM value proposition for the short term. Customer is required to make such a customization to make PLM system up and running.

Services Dependencies

Another aspect of a customization problem is long term dependencies on consulting and services. Companies are not able to maintain their implementations and required to have long term commitment with consulting companies. Which makes a solution even more problematic.

What is my conclusion? Gartner predicts vendors will be enforced to lower price in order to justify the need of customers to spend money on customization and support services. Make sense to me. At the same time, it creates opportunities for horizontal platforms and other alternative solutions. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Engineering and Social Dashboards

December 21, 2010

I found an interesting article in San-Francisco Gate about Dashboards- “Introducing Netvibes Dashboard Intelligence Solutions: Business Intelligence Reinvented for the Real-Time Web.” I spent some time watching Netvibies video.

Dashboards
The dashboard approach can simplify information consumption. This approach is interesting and you can digest a bigger amount of valuable information in a much easier way. Dashboard is a popular view in engineering software. To provide one, you usually need to spend lots of time to prepare, test, program, etc. To automate this process, can be an interesting solution.

Social
The unique aspect of Netvibes approach is to focus on social information. These days we are overloaded with the amount of information flowing inside of organization. To be able to categorize and present it to a user is what actually needed.

Tagging
Netvibes is using the technology called “SmartTagging” to process social information. An interesting aspect of this approach is how to mix automatictagging with an ability of users to add additional ones.

What is my conclusion? We produce a lot of information inside of outside of organization. How to digest it? Netvibes provide an interesting approach. Do you think a similar approach can work in other applications? I think yes. However, the process to prepare a dashboard for a particular type of data can be long and cumbersome. Not sure I agree with the approach Netvibes is taking. However, this is the place to innovate. Just my view…

Best, Oleg


PLM and Cloud – Hold the Promise?

December 18, 2010

Cloud is trending. This is not a first time I’m touching the topic of cloud. During the past days, I had lots of healthy debates about different topics around PLM, Technologies and Innovation. Surprisingly, the topic of SaaS and Cloud didn’t come much into this discussion. Israel wasn’t cloudy during the day of COFES Israel event. Maybe it was a reason. Who knows? Autodesk R&D Israel and Dassault Solidworks presentations mentioned the influence of cloud, but only from the standpoint of mobility and device diversification. Originally, I wanted to spend some time speaking with PLM+ in Israel – a startup company working on a new on-demand solution for PLM. Unfortunately, a startup business and events are not always going together. I decided to spend some time and out my thoughts about PLM, Cloud, On-Demand and market demands.

PLM and Enterprise Software

What happens with enterprise software these days. Think about 2000s. The corporate life in 2010 is not much different from how it was in 2000. Multiple applications, interoperability problem, tons of Excel files and people who need to get a job done. Back in 2001, companies accepted long roadmaps. It is a different story now. Two factors become the most critical in Enterprise Software – the cost of implementation and cost of change. Another thing is a demand for simplicity. Simple is always winning. The last ten years of consumer software revolution created a huge demand for a change in enterprise software. PLM is strongly associated with two words – complex and expensive. Mindshare PLM leaders as well as smaller PLM vendors are reacting. You can see PTC Creo, Aras Open Source and some other initiatives are trying to break a perception of complex and expensive PLM software. It is also interesting to see how Autodesk is making an effort to solve PLM problems without calling themselves PLM.

PLM and Cloud Promise

People have different understanding of what cloud means. I can probably break it into three main category. 1- Software available from the cloud (i.e. Salesforce). 2- Access to data anywhere (i.e. Dropbox). 3- Elastic computational power (i.e. AWS). I can see companies are trying to embrace cloud technologies. They do it differently. Software access for the cloud is a place where companies are hold the promise (i.e. Dassault cloud offering planned in 2011) or experimenting with tools (i.e. Autodesk Lab projects, including acquisition of Israeli Visual Tao and creating AutoCAD WS). The security conversation is dominant when you are talking about data on the cloud. The advantages of data access are obvious. However, regulation and company concerns, even if it looks like a red-herring, are still dominant in these discussions.

Cloud and Cost

Will cloud solution be cheaper? This is an answer press, analysts and users are trying to get from vendors. However, there is no straightforward answer on the side of vendors. I think, one of the main reasons is a very unclear situation related to the marginal cost of cloud services. Big cloud players, such as IBM, Amazon, HP, Google and IBM are playing with buzzwords- cloud servers, private cloud, data centers. Software vendors are experimenting with all of them. I don’t see much clarity in this space.

PLM and SaaS

If you think, about PLM and SaaS (or OnDemand), you need to put your hands on the experience of Arena Solution. Re-branded bom.com, started during the late 1990s, Arena is providing PLM on demand solution for the last decade. One of their struggles was to provide an appropriate connection to design systems. As a result they focus on industries less dependent on heavy CAD experience. PTC and IBM also made some experiments in this space. I found interesting to learn about Autodesk BuzzSaw experience (even if this not presented as PLM solution, the SaaS experience is interesting). To analyze the advantages of PLM on Demand, I’d suggest to think about the potential benefits of SaaS and try to apply it into PLM space.

Anywhere access - this is an obvious benefit. Gmail is a good analogy. Is it possible to have an access to a corporate application using VPN tunnels and other channels? I think, yes. So, it will not play as a significant differentiation factor, especially for big companies.

No capital investment and cost - this is a big thing. The usage of a subscription model is a significant financial benefit. However, only if it comes to a comparable cost to a solution to be implemented on a premise. Companies will be easy to make their own calculations and decision about buy vs. rent.

Monthly payment obligation – this benefit is only true if you make a monthly contract. Many SaaS/OnDemand solutions, in fact, are signing yearly contracts. In this case, the benefit of payment is diminished within the time. In addition, data is another element that can decrease an effect of “pay-as-you-go” solution. If you decide to move, you need to keep an existing system at least until you transfer all your data between systems. SaaS/OnDeman model is also a potential data locker with a more complicated way to access the data for export/import purposes.

Faster implementation – most of SaaS solutions are very simple. Therefore, fast implementation speed is obvious. However, it is complicated in PLM. Nobody is running their manufacturing shop in the same way. The ability to provide a match to customer needs is a key. The balance of flexibility and OOTB solution is an easy, but a very complicated answer. OOTB decreases a potential list of customers. Flexibility can also increase an overal solution cost.

Scale-Up and Efficiency - this is an obvious benefit for companies that have no abilities to invest in data centers and hosted servers. The ability to raise a number of users can be a nice feature. However, the question of cost will be probably a key one to decide if it is worthwhile.

What is my conclusion? Cloud is an interesting these days. It provides a multi-dimensional opportunity for customers and business to optimize the solution. Can it solve main problems of manufacturing companies looking how to get the job done? Probably yes. However, not in a straightforward way. I can see a cloud as a very dynamic place. To be able to provide a solution fast, react on customer feedback is probably one of the key factors to success in this space. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM Innovation and Packaging Trajectories

December 18, 2010

Innovation is a popular word these days. It sounds modern and trending. Everybody wants to jump to this bandwagon. I found myself reading and listening a lot about innovation during last time. The best book, I can recommend you is Peter Druker’s bestseller – Innovation and Entrepreneurship. It was re-printed many times. You can buy one on Amazon for a price less than one buck. However, the book is exceptional.

I spent Thursday listening and talking about innovation in engineering software during COFES Israel Forum in Hilton Tel-Aviv. You can get an idea about who attended by navigating your browser to COFES Israelwebsite. Brian Shepherd of PTC brought the idea of packaging in PLM. It made me think about some interesting trajectories related to the innovation in general and more specifically in PLM.

Packaging and Roles

The idea is to split application into pieces and providing different applications to people in a company. It sounds to me as a blend of the old “role-based” portfolio and trending App Store ideas. The fundamentals of this model are very healthy, in my view. However, the execution of this “re-packaging” is mostly important. The ability of apps for inter-play and exchange information is one of the most critical aspects. The second will be usage of heterogeneous Apps coming from different vendors. As you can see the backside of flexible packaging is the same data problem. PTC has something called Common Data Model. You can listen Mike Campbell of PTC is speaking here about Creo Common Data Model. It will be interesting to see how it will be different from Dassault V6 platform.

Enterprise Open Source

Another idea how to charge people for PLM in a less painful manner. Aras Corp. is leading this PLM innovation. You can get PLM software for free – no associated license cost. However, you will be able to get extra services by paying maintenance, subscription and services. This model, re-package a very complicated PLM sales process as well lower entry barrier. An additional aspect of this innovation is to prove software maturity by enabling people to run free download and evaluation. The last is only half true, in my view. Yes, you can download for free. However, your organization time is not free. In most of the situations, you can have a free PLM software for evaluation from other PLM vendors.

Services

This business model started many years ago as ASP model. Later, it was renamed as “on-demand” and SaaS. Now this model is associated with so called “cloud” platforms. The leader of SaaS offering, San-Francisco based Salesforce.comis selling the software by charging service money per month/year contracts. PLM early innovators in this space is bom.com (later re-branded as Arena Solutions). To sell services is an interesting approach and provide some financial benefits. However, PLM by nature removes one of the most strong advantages of SaaS model – flexibility to stop service at any time. At the time your data will be locked into PLM database, you need to pay to both providers until you will transfer your assets in an alternative system.

What is my conclusion? Reading the same book by Peter Druker, you can find, innovation may happen in different places. Product, Technology, Services, Business Processes, Logistic and Business Model. Edward Lewis from Hollywood fairy tale Pretty Woman is buying up businesses to break them up and sell them off in piece with a profit. It is hard to sell large PLM Platform these days. PLM vendors are trying to find an alternative model, which will be more successful in 2010s. Services, Open Source, Re-packging – all these models have one single root – to find an appropriate way to match customer needs and product offering. The innovation is in a business model. However, the simplicity of products is probably the key to success.

Best, Oleg


PLM and COFES Israel: People Just Want to Drink a Beer!

December 18, 2010

Last three days I spent my time with COFES Israel. Navigate your browser to the following link to see agenda and people attended the event. The main topic of the event was about Software for Engineering and Innovation. Videos and presentations from the event will be available later. Two days before early COFES attendees from outside of Israel had a chance to visit Israeli companies and office of some foreign companies located in Israel such as Microsoft Israeli R&D Center in Herzlia,IBM Israel Lab in Haifa.

I visited Israeli company OptiTex providing CAD and manufacturing solutions for textile and fashion industry. Spend some time on their website with such a great set of examples of their technological innovation. I specially liked the red dancing dress by OptiTex.

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Andreas Vlahinos of Advanced Engineering Solutions presented some interesting statistics and visualization showing income per person comparison and growth between Israel and USA for the last seventy years.

Fielder Hiss of Dassault SolidWorks spoke about platform shifts, predictive computing and sustainability. The following slide definitely shows you the inside preparation of SolidWorks to run their product on any device.

I gave my top rank to the slide from the presentation of Brian Shepher of PTC. The complexity is one of the biggest problems of PLM. However, like Brian said – people just want to drink a beer. In my translation – people just want to get a job done.

PTC has some ideas about how to change the status quo. Their new Creo products supposed to solve this problem in the future. Navigate to the following link to read my thoughts about PTC Creo.

I’m going to give some additional thoughts later today about PLM innovation inspiring talks I had during this week in Israel. Best, Oleg


CAD, PLM and Pragmatic Cloud: Do Less

December 15, 2010

The conversations about future CAD and PLM solutions is not a new thing these days. I decided to re-read some of my previous writing about cloud and find it interesting in today’s context: Where is PLM shortcut to the cloud? You can read one more blog post – Putting your design on the cloud.

Earlier today, I had a chance to see a short presentation by Tal Weiss of Autodesk. Tal made it during my visit Autodesk R&D office in Tel-Aviv. It was part of my COFES Israel program today. Tal and his wiz team was part of acquisition Autodesk made to find a new and promissing technology in the cloudy space.

The presentation made me think about what I called in this post – Pragmatic Cloud. At the time industry is waiting for big game-changing technologies and product to come, I found that CAD and PLM vendors are started to introduce some solutions, slowly and quietly. I wanted to mention few of them.

Autodesk WS

Autodesk is doing some impressive job by introducing multiple apps that can be available from the cloud. Autodesk WS is one of them. According to Tal, the mission is simple – to make AutoCAD drawing available form the cloud for everybody. You can see the following video of Autodesk WS to get an impression.
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Also, you can see a pic of Tal during his presentation in Autodesk R&D Israel office today.

Dassault 3DVIA Mobile

Another “almost cloud” solution. Dassault released 3DVIA Mobile App for iPad. It was available long time as iPhone app. Now it was shifted. This is a small step into the direction to make CATIA and SolidWorks informtion available separately from the desktop / laptop.

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I’m still waiting to see some major cloud announcements from DS on the coming SolidWorks World 2011 in San-Antonio in six weeks.

Teamcenter for iPad

Another app that presented some mobility and disconnected data access. TeamCenter App for iPad. The application is actually made by TeamCenter partner- BCT Technology AG. You can see an impressive video below.

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PTC on the Cloud Map

I didn’t find any cloud and/or mobile app available for PTC products. I found PTC behaves with a high level of ignorance in the “cloud” space. The latest thing, I’ve heard from PTC is that cloud is a delivery mechanism and it will be available to PTC customers when they will ask for that.

What is my conclusion? I think, “do less” and “do small” is a right strategy to adopt the cloud. The Autodesk seems to me mostly prepared for that. Cloud, Web, Mobile – all these things are very “tool oriented” today. So, to have some pragmatic tools, can be a good starting point. Just my opinion…

Best, Oleg


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