Will Google Docs Goes 3D?

February 28, 2011

Few days ago, I attended webinar One the Edge with Cadalyst – MCAD Smackdown: Direct vs .Parametric CAD. Navigate to the following link to listed the recorded podcast. An interesting comment was made by one of the attendees during the conversation about what is the better 3D option – 2D simply works. Yes, 2D works and surprisingly drives more attentions nowadays. My hunch, the reason why it happens is simple- mainstream. The same reason why DS just released DraftSight 2D CAD package to be available for free download.

I read Google Docs blog few days ago – 12 new formats in Google Docs Viewer. Here is the list:

  • Microsoft Excel (.XLS and .XLSX)
  • Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 / 2010 (.PPTX)
  • Apple Pages (.PAGES)
  • Adobe Illustrator (.AI)
  • Adobe Photoshop (.PSD)
  • Autodesk AutoCad (.DXF)
  • Scalable Vector Graphics (.SVG)
  • PostScript (.EPS, .PS)
  • TrueType (.TTF)
  • XML Paper Specification (.XPS)

Autodesk DXF format exists for years and used by many people to exchange 2D information. By supporting this and some other image formats Google Docs put additional stakes into the future of Google Docs as a mainstream collaborative tool in manufacturing and construction.

What is my take? Google’s target is to serve "individuals" with best tools. Everybody considers Google as a "consumer oriented" company. However, thinking about individual consumers, they can work in manufacturing companies too. To provide them with productivity tools helping them to get a job done can be an interesting option… Do you think, Google will add 3D format support to their viewer? A good question to ask. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM Platform Wars: Who is Right or Who is Left?

February 25, 2011

CAD and PLM world is extremely competitive. The decision process in the manufacturing industry is not fast. Companies are spending significant budgets evaluating tools, benchmarking, comparing and, in the end of this process, supposed to make a right decision about what tools to use. During the last couple of months, I observed a growing amount of announcements made by PLM companies informing about "yet another major company" making a right choice by selecting a CAD or PLM system from a specific vendor.

Just few examples from Joe Brakai’s article: Industry on the Move — The Quest for Effective Global Product Lifecycle Management. PTC announcement about Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors Corporation (HKMC) about selection of PTC’sWindchill as its enterprise PLM software. Siemens PLM Software announced that Aston Martin is selecting the Siemens’NX CAD software for design and engineering, and Teamcenter PLM software to manage product and process information. Two months before, Daimler AG, selected NX as a corporate CAD Software standard. Earlier, Chryslerselected Teamcenter as its corporate-wide PLM software. Two months before, Volvo Group has adopted PTC’s Windchill. Here is my favorite passage from Joe’s article:

OEMs are realizing that the traditional heterogeneous and fragmented product lifecycle management environment, even when compromised of excellent tools, is unable to provide the level of visibility, manageability, and fidelity of decision-making required, and are taking steps to migrate to a design and manufacturing environment capable of supporting a global platform strategy. This environment must be standard-based and open in order to facilitate a single source of all data for design, manufacturing and supply chain processes across vehicle design and manufacturing programs.

Another interesting publication is Automotive Sector Ground Zero for PLM Battles by Beth Stackpole of Design News. Beth is discussing the same announcements made by PLM and major automotive vendors. However, I found the following passage interesting.

The automotive sector, which has a deep roots in evolving PLM software and practices, is shaping up as a fresh battleground for the major vendors in this category with all touting recent customer wins that play up their strengths and cement their positions as core development platforms for next-generation vehicles.

My best read about PLM movement in the automotive world is Al Dean’s article in Develop 3D – All Change in the Automotive World. I recommend you to have a read. Some of final Al’s thoughts struck me to think about V6 innovation.

There have been three pretty big moves away from Dassault or a decision to not take on Enovia during benchmarks. With a two year benchmark cycle being common, one has to wonder if there’s a link back to the launch of V6? A curious thing indeed.

In my view, V6 created disruption, innovation and challenge at the same time. The bundling of CATIA into Enovia V6 is creating a lot of possibilities that never been available before from the standpoint of collaborative design and data management. Initial introduction of the systems raised a lot of IT questions that need to be resolved.

What is my conclusion? I wanted to remind wise and relevant words of Bertrand Russell: “War does not determine who is right – only who is left”. The war between PLM platforms can become a disaster for customers. Customers are spending million of dollars investing money in "unbreakable closed platforms". Each of these systems contains lots of data, which has much bigger value compared to the software that eventually will be re-written every 5-10 years. I think, openness wins for a long run. In my view, PLM companies are only playing with openness. Who will take it seriously first? This might be a company that is left after the battle? Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM Practice in Building Industry?

February 23, 2011

I read TechCrunch publication New York City To Put QR Codes On All Building Permits By 2013 this morning. This publication made me think about some common approaches that can be used in PLM and BIM software. Time ago, I had a chance to share my thoughts about PLM and BIM similarity. According to TechCrucnh:

Smartphone users who scan a QR code on a construction permit in New York, according to a press release from the mayor’s office, will get “details about the ongoing project – including the approved scope of work, identities of the property owner and job applicant, other approved projects associated with the permit, [and] complaints and violations related to the location.”

The QR codes will link users to a mobile version of the Department of Buildings Information System, and will give them the option to click a link that will initiate a phone call to the city’s 311 phone service, where they can register a complaint about noise, safety or other concerns.

What is my conclusion? Using Serial Numbers is a common approach in manufacturing industry for years. It seems to me building industry is trying to adopt some practices from manufacturing. QR Code is not much different from S/N. Last month, during SolidWorks World 2011, Dassault SolidWorks made an announcement about future products in building industry. It makes sense to re-use some manufacturing experience DS in manufacturing. Autodesk and Bentley Systemsare long time players in this space. Will PLM roots help DS to take some portion of construction market? A good question.

Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


CRM and PLM: Same Challenges?

February 23, 2011

A lot of things happen these days in the enterprise software market. It is interesting sometime to watch the life in PLM neighborhood. CRM is one of them. I watched a video interview with Brad Wilson, General Manager of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, to discuss the state of the CRM software market. This video is one of the multiple episodes published onERP and more yesterday. Watch the video and make your opinion.

Brad mentioned 4 things that that challenging Microsoft CRM these days: 1/ offering of full suite of products, 2/ flexible configuration and customization, 3/ improved user experience and 4/ product affordability. I found these top 4 things very complimentary to PLM trends. Some of them like improved user experience and product affordability are in the list of customer’s communities for years. Flexible configuration and customization is another one that on top of PLM requirements for many years.

What is my conclusion? I can see these challenges as a common problem in enterprise software. The complexity is growing and old ways to solve problems might fail. In my view, to grow the portfolio, increase flexibility and hope for affordability – it is simple doesn’t work together. Granular applications and openness are the way to produce affordable tools to solve business problems. Just my opinion…

Best, Oleg


Search Based App and PLM Innovation

February 21, 2011

Picture-91.pngThe following article in E-Commerce Times written by Paul Doscher of Exalead USA caught my attention this morning. Navigate your browser to the following link and read Search Based Applications: Smoke and Mirrors or Real Innovation. Exalead is an enterprise search outfit snatched by Dassault Systems in 2010. DS paid €135 million for Exalead technology and the concept of Search Based Applications (SBA). I had a chance to put some of my initial thoughts related to the DS-Exalead last year in my post – PLM Lifelike Search Injection. The E-Commerce article made me think again about how Search Based Applications (SBA) can change current PLM trajectories.

Search Based Apps: The Next Step in Enterprise Search

Mr. Doscher quote IDC’s Sue Feldman definition of what is Search Based Applications from IDC 2010 report: "They (SBA) deliver a purpose-designed user interface tailored to support a particular task or workflow. Examples of such search-based applications include e-discovery applications, search marketing/advertising dashboards, government intelligence analysts’ workstations, specialized life sciences research software, e-commerce merchandising workbenches, and premium publishing subscriber portals in financial services or healthcare." Later in the article, Mr. Doscher analyzes different aspects of SBAs and why they will case a shift in enterprise information processes. He defines SBA as a right tool and specifically focuses on semantic processing of data.

I found these analyzes reasonable. The traditional enterprise search results presented as a "laundry-list" became obsolete in my eyes already 3-5 years ago. Tailored SBA will provide a clear differentiation. Amount of data in enterprise organization coming from multiple systems is a reality of every manufacturing company.

If you are interested to learn more about Search Based Apps, I can recommend you to read the following book- Search Based Application by Greg Grefenstette published earlier this year.

PLM+Search=SBA?

In my view, all PLM vendors are facing a significant need to introduce the next innovative shift for their customers. The competition between PLM mind share vendors becomes stronger. Introducing of new platforms (Dassault V6, Siemens PLM TeamCenter, Creo), last announcements made by PLM companies in automotive sector and others – all evidence of strong competition in this domain. I can imagine information processing technologies can provide a significant interest of PLM vendors. All of them already tried to crack an enterprise search box by partnering or OEMing technologies from vendors like Endeca, Autonomy or Microsoft SharePoint. The interesting turn in adopting search technologies is in ability to provide new ways to analyze information.

Does SBA Solves PLM Problems?

I can identify two major problems in Product Lifecycle Management: absolute complexity of application and extremely high cost of change. What SBA and search technologies can bring to PLM in order to solve these problems. I can see some positive elements here- search can make information available. Search technologies can bring more efficient data processing techniques. From this side, search technologies are an absolute advantage, and I’m sure DS will leverage it in their future applications. However, I’m doubting SBA can solve the problem of PLM complexity. If I follow Sue Feldman, SBAs are tailored applications – "a purpose-designed user interface tailored to support a particular task or workflow". From this standpoint SBAs will open a next round of PLM customization and implementation. Each customer will potentially introduce a new set of requirements. From the demos presented on Exalead website, I learned that each SBA was actually developed to satisfy needs of a specific customer.

What is my conclusion? Search technologies are providing a clear advantage in future development of product lifecycle management. I can see a good chance for DS to improve their V6 platform by injecting Exalead stuff inside. At the same time, I don’t see SBA solving key problems of PLM such as complexity and implementation cost. Ownership of these technologies can provide some competitive advantages to Dassault. Other vendors can move to expanding partnership with other search vendors or using open source search technologies such as Lucene/Solr. Manufacturing companies of all sizes will be still interested in how to simplify products and make their next implementation for lower cost. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Freebie


PLM Migration to… Text?

February 21, 2011

Sometime data management Q&A looks funny. World Online Review published the following solution on the request about how to migrate data into the text. Hit thislink to read a simple instruction:

1. In sql enter the command SQL>spool
Then enter the required select statment.The entire output is
transfered into the speficied file.The file’s default extension
is LST.Then enter SQL>spool off
2.You can also transfer the contents using utl_file utility.

Migration of PDM/PLM environment is a very complicated task. It is not as funny and simple like SQL recommendation. Think about the option to spool data out of PLM system and get it back in another system. Sounds complicated? However, wait a minute and think one more time… Data is in your PDM Oracle database. You just spool data out of your database. Do you think it is wrong? Not as wrong as you are thinking now. Just my thoughts, of course… YMMV.

Best, Oleg


PLM and Social Technologies Dating?

February 18, 2011

In my view, Salesforce.com has been discovered a significant bias towards collaboration and collaborative software. Since last year Salesforce made strong focus on development and acquiring of collaborative technologies. Dimdim andManymoon are just two latest examples of Salesforce acquisitions. I read the following article on Read Write Web blogSalesforce.com and Facebook Strengthen Ties Through Force.com Platform. I found this passage interesting:

Provide Technical design, configuration, development and testing of Force.com custom applications, interfaces and reports Model, analyze and develop or extend persistent database structures which are non-intrusive to the base application code and which effectively and efficiently implement business requirements Integrate force.com applications to other facebook external or internal Business Applications and tools Develop UI and ACL tailored to facebook employees and suppliers

What is behind this? The two companies are looking for app developers to write Force.com app for business purposes. Salesforce is an enterprise cloud leader. Facebook is a social network king. Both are interested in the opportunities coming out of this dating. Facebook is thinking how to proliferate into the enterprise space. Salesforce has an interest to make their social connections stronger. The last thing made me think about what PLM companies are doing in the social space.

PLM Collaboration and Social Dating

Product Lifecycle Management software vendors are developing so called "collaborative software" for years. In my view, the idea behind this software was good. However, the implementation cost and complexity weren’t appropriate. PLM needs to go outside the firewalls and make some "social dating" in Web 2.0 cafes. This is can be a good experience. I can see some movements in this space. DS 3DSwYm, PTC Social Product Development, Vuuch are examples of these "dating" experiments. The biggest problem of these dating, as I can see, is the try to take social technologies inside of enterprise product suites. The biggest value, in my view, is exactly opposite – to take "product content" out of current PLM databases. Fresh air will make some cleanup. The example of Autodesk Inventor Publisher for mobile is a right one. First make content available. Then magic will happen.

What is my conclusion? I found Facebook and Salesforce tie up interesting. This is a place for PLM vendors to learn, in my view. Try to invent yet another TLA won’t work anymore. Customers are looking for cool stuff similar to websites they are using during the weekend. Facebook may have some advantages here. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM Standard: From Formats to Frameworks

February 17, 2011

I want to talk about PLM and Standards today. In my view view, the story of standards is over complicated and confusing. The number of articles about CAD files, Standards, Best Practices is endless. In many situations people put an equivalence sign between openness and standards. CAD/PLM industry has a long history of battles about standards.

The Status Quo

According to the materials presented by LongView Advisors on CIC (Collaboration and Interoperability Congress) the following picture reflects the view of major CAD platforms in the market.

According to the information from the same source, in 2010, CAD industry operates with about 52 CAD standards. The absolute leader is STEP (32% usage for CAD data exchange). Other formats used for the same purposes are – CATIA V5 (21%), SolidWorks (15%), NX (6%). Recently, I fund a very good publication about CAD File formats made by isicad.ru. Use the following link to read it in English (the original was published in Russia. Thanks, to Google Translate for automatic translation feature). If I think about PLM oriented standards, the situation is more complicated. In my view, the notable standards are STEP and PLCS. Vendors are talking about "industry best practices" that represent a common way to implement PLM system.

Formats – an old way?

Most people will think about "formats" when you talk to them about CAD/PLM standards. Usually it is a file format that used by CAD system to store and retrieve data. CAD data exchange formats are primarily focusing on the ability of a system to exchange information with other CAD or non-CAD systems. The need to exchange data wasn’t limited to CAD systems. PDM and lately PLM Systems developed multiple mechanisms to exchange data for different purposes.

Frameworks – a Different Approach?

Thinking more about PLM standards, I came to the idea of future development of standards as a framework. I see it opposite to file formats. You can ask me what is the difference? Most of the formats were invented by software vendors or affiliated parties. Formats represent the need to store and exchange data. However, I don’t see it as a primary goal of PLM standardization process. PLM is a result of company implementation and I see it very different from a single tool. PLM standard is all about communication between different people in the organization. Communication framework (stage / gates, decision points, etc.) are much more important than an ability to convert CAD file from one format to another. The focus of PLM Framework is to ensure a handoff between different departments and people in organization.

Standardization and Uniformity

I found most of the people confuse between these two terms – standardization and uniformity. The biggest mistake is to think about standard as something permanent. The interesting thing I found about standards is that successful standards are only those that evolve alongside with their usage. When presented in the organization accordingly, standards can encourage people to develop flexible and easy adaptable standardization schemas.

What is my conclusion? PLM need to move from the file formats battles to a place where the communication and process framework can be used to control data handsoff and decision making. This will become a new way in development of standards. Used by multiple companies frameworks can evolve into mechanism to realize PLM company roadmap. However, I don’t see one process template fits all companies needs. To have flexible communication and process management tools is absolutely important to make PLM framework successful. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Facebook for SIM and PLM Revolution

February 15, 2011

I read today’s news coming from Gemalto and read “Facebook takes over the world, one SIM card at the time“. Gemalto announced their new product – Facebook for SIM. Here is the quote:

Facebook for SIM, which enables anyone to enjoy the service on all handsets, even if without a data connection or data subscription. With this announcement, Gemalto brings Facebook to millions of mobile phone users regardless of their handset type. “Increasingly people want to be able to stay connected and communicate with their friends on Facebook anytime, anywhere,” said Henri Moissinac, Head of Mobile Business, Facebook. “Gemalto has developed a creative solution in Facebook for SIM that enables people without mobile data plans to stay connected to their friends on Facebook in an affordable way.”

Facebook pushes forward to expand their market share into billions of regular cell phone and not limit themselves to smartphones, tablets and computer devices. It made me think about “simplicity and PLM” again.

Cross-Functional Handoff

In my view, bad communication between people and teams is one of the reasons why product development fails. Absence of requirements, disconnect between people in engineering and manufacturing. No feedback from customers going directly to development teams. These are elements of bad communication. To organize efficient cross-functional handoff can be a factor to revolutionize product lifecycle practices. However, making it easy can be a key. Today’s tools for process organizations are complex and very inflexible.

Communication Mainstream

Organizations are literally run by email. PLM and other enterprise software vendors invented “collaborative software”. However, complicated collaborative model doesn’t compete efficiently with simply email. Alex Neihaus of Vuuch wrote few days ago “PLM Collaboration Must End… right now“. He got attention. According to Vuuch, ESS-Enterprise Social System (beyondplm: I’m not sure we need another TLA) will take off into the mainstream via “social technology”. My hunch is that email as well as SIM card with Facebook’s commands is the best social technology. Facebook is stepping back from the Internet to simplified devices. Where is PLM Mainstream Revolution is the right question to ask.

What is my conclusion? Enterprise software and PLM specifically are constantly missing the opportunity to expand into mainstream business and expand their influence “beyond traditional boundaries of PLM”. The complexity of product lifecycle ideas, business processes and implementation made the whole thing complicated and expensive. Maybe it is a time to agree that “simple always wins” and find an alternative way? PLM Mainstream Revolution? After Facebook Egypt revolution, it can be an interesting story. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Freebie. Freebie. Freebie.


Building Engineering Office Around Mac?

February 15, 2011

Apple is trending these days. Not surprising me. At the same time, I don’t want to make this post a place where Apple fan boys will argue with Wintel aborigines. I read the following information week article “Building The Mac Office“. I found the beginning of the phrase very PLM-wish-list-like:

Macs generally require fewer IT resources and retain their value better than Windows-based PCs — that’s a key consideration for cash- and resource-strapped small and midsize businesses. And the iPhone and iPad, with their strong Mac integration, make it easier for businesses to move into the new era of mobile computing.

I decided to make a small exercise and find out what CAD and PLM software is available or recently became available for Apple related platforms.

CAD on Mac

I found Autodesk as a absolute leader in presenting Apple-compatible software on their website. Navigate to the following link – Mac Compatible Products to find both Mac OS and Apple hardware compatibility with Autodesk products. Another interesting link – Pure Mac, you can use to find Mac-compatible CAD systems. I can find another interesting list of ranked CAD software for Mac on the following CNET download website. In addition to that Siemens NX software 2 years ago announced their NX software available on Mac. Navigate to the following link to figure out more.

Rumors, App Store and more…

Product availability for Mac is actively rumored on the internet. You can find a significant number of forum posts and references related to the availability of existing software packages on the Mac platform. SolidWorks made a significant rumored announcement about new technologies coming on Mac a year ago. However, on the last SolidWorks World 2011 in San-Antonio, I haven’t seen many Apple machines on stage. Recent release of App Store on Mac introduced the next story in app distribution. Started in iTunes, followed by iOS App Store and now coming on Mac, it can be a new way to distribute tools.

iOS

As I wrote recently iOS became a popular place to make experiments by many companies. I posted couple of weeks ago -3D CAD/ PLM on iPad: Future or Baloney? iOS (iPod, iPad, iPhone) became a success story. On the following slide, you can see some statistics about how iOS is proliferating.

PLM

The PLM for Mac story is questionable for me. I can see meaning of desktop design tools. However, PLM products are very likely become Web-based. Together with iOS apps mentioned above, PLM web tools can provide a complete Mac-compliant story.

What is my conclusion? It will take some time for CAD/PLM vendors to build a complementary Mac story. After years of windows dominance, it seems to me Apple found a new dominant trend – usability. However, don’t take me wrong. In my view, this is not only about coolness. I don’t think I made an exhaustive list of products in this post. If you know about any products I didn’t mention here, please share links and your opinion with me. I want to share one personal story with you. One of my good friends recently moved from Windows laptop to a new Mac Air. He wasn’t a big fan of Apple and his needs in the laptop was limited to Office apps and the internet. Surprisingly, he found Macbook Air more stable and usable – fewer crashes, fast start-up times, better performance. Just an opinion. YMMV.

Best, Oleg
Freebie.


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