Moving from PLM to PLMSocial?

March 31, 2011

Social Media and Networking are important. There are vendors in the business world that are paying attention to the importance of "social". Just think about Salesforce’s Radian6 acquisition earlier this week. I can see how business software vendors are trying to hire "social" terms to improve the business and catch attention and focus on different social features. I read InformationWeek article “ Panorama Applies Social Network to Business Intelligence.” Business intelligence is something that definitely requires improvements. Despite the catchy name, normally BI tools are not getting a significant expose in the company and limited their install base to a very small number of people with special "analytical" skills. So, to bring social into this space can be interesting and, in my view, Panorama is trying to accomplish this goal. Here is my favorite passage from the article:

The core differentiator for Necto is the organization of sets of analytic reports, charts, and graphs into workspaces. Like many other BI software vendors, Panorama has supported the concept of personalized dashboards for years, but the workspaces are part of the Necto social BI user interface, where workspaces are sort of like mini-dashboards that can be shared. When you view workspace , profile pictures of the other people who are connected to that workspace are shown across the top of the screen. You can initiate a conversation with someone about the data by dragging their icon onto the analytics screen and sending them a message, which will include a link to the item you want to share or ask a question about.

Now, how do you think it is related to PLM? Simple… PLM is talking about dashboards for years. Nothing happens. Actually, something indeed happens. For a long time, dashboard was a favorite world of PLM marketing people. In reality, dashboards ended up to become a feature that requires deep customization and tailoring of the system. I can see vendors in PLM world are experimenting with various technological innovation. To have an ability to link people’s profile and information is not a new. However, with an updated flavor of social innovation it can catch more attention. PLM vendors and new companies in this space are flirting with Ms. Social and trying to bring more clicks to their website. Dassault 3DSwYm, PTC social product development, Vuuch and maybe some others are on the run to bring "social" to explain what they do.

What is my conclusion? Do you think we are moving from PLM to PLS(Social)? I think, it is important to differentiate "technology" and "technological buzz". Social has a power. People like to watch their friends’ pictures on Facebook and thinking about new Color startup supposing to change a way in photo sharing in small communities. Do you think, the same technology will change the way people work with CAD drawing and Bill of Materials? The adoption of social networking (and associated technologies) is defined primarily by "social interests" in photo sharing and people belonging to the social net. User experience is important. That’s why Salesforce’s Chatter very similar to Facebook UI. Technology is secondary here. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

PLM and Comprehensive Search

March 30, 2011

For the last few months, I’ve been asked multiple times about the role of Enterprise search and PLM. Since last year, after Exalead a French search company was acquired by PLM giant Dassault Systemes, the interest for search among people in manufacturing increased. In the past, I had a chance to share my opinion about PLM interest to Enterprise Search. All PLM vendors having deep relationships with search products. They are having OEM or partnerships relations with companies like such as Endeca, Autonomy, SharePoint.

The following publication by Martin Butler Research caught my attention few days ago. It provides a short, but very pragmatic view on what is Exalead as well as what are benefits of Exaled usage by companies like PLM or other enterprise software vendors. Here is my favorite quote:

Although Exalead can be used to provide an out-of-the-box search solution, it’s true strength is to provide an information access platform for creating highly customised search-based applications. For organizations looking at embedding search functionality into new or existing applications Exalead should be high on the agenda. It’s patented results navigation interface, which uses advanced clustering and refinement techniques, also adds to it’s pedigree.

In my view, the comprehensive PLM implementation requires a better set of technologies to accomplish their implementations. High end PLM is swamping in non-efficient technologies developed 15+ years ago. To bring a better search infrastructure can help PLM vendors to improve the quality of data management and information processing for companies like Boeing, Toyota, Renault and other. On the flip side, it is going to make existing PLM implementation even more complex.

What is my conclusion?
Search is an important infrastructure. The demand for search is in manufacturing growing as well. To be competitive, software vendors in this space such as PLM, CAD and others are trying to bring new technology to solve old problems. This is a good sign, in my view. However, one of the biggest problems in PLM and enterprise software is the complexity of solutions. This is quite important. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Freebie. (Exalead didn’t pay me to write this publication)

ECO Management: What Matters?

March 30, 2011

Engineering Change is probably one of the most important and complicated disciplines. I had a chance to meet people that told me – all what you are doing is about ECO management. You can see many examples of ECO management solutions. Almost every software vendor in the field of engineering and enterprise software will propose you kind of the solution. Here is the definition, I grab from Wikipedia aboutEngineering Change Order:

In a typical system development cycle, the specification or the implementation is likely to change during engineeringdevelopment or during integration of the system elements. These last-minute design changes are commonly referred to as engineering change orders (ECOs) and affect the functionality of a design after it has been wholly or partially completed. ECOs can compensate for design errors found during debug or changes that are made to the design specification to compensate for design problems in other areas of the system design.

However, product development process is very diversified when it comes to real manufacturing companies. To find a system that can answer on the user’s requirements for ECO is not a simple task. In addition to that, the diversity of available solutions raises multiple questions about what is the most appropriate system for every case.

Engineering Change: Do It Yourself (DIY)?

Last year I posted – How to Manage ECO without paying $1’500 per seat? The point I wanted to make was about how reuse some of the modern technologies to simplify the overall ECO management in the organization. My conclusion was that different organizations can manage ECO differently depends on specific characteristics of product, company environment and organization, which can make DIY approach quite complicated. It made me think and analyze different packages implementing ECO solutions.

Arena Change Management

Take a look on this following video from Arena Solution. I found it very educational. The power of Arena on demand was clear to me in this example. The ability to have seamless access via cloud-based services (or how Arena called it in the beginning “on demand”) can keep all participants in sync regardless on location and time.

Aras Workflow Management

What happens if your company has a high level of change processes complexity? The following video fragment is presenting Aras Innovator Workflow solution. It enables you to realize a comprehensive change process as a workflow. The workflow can be adapted to a specific customer needs. The openness and adaptability is an ultimate advantage of this system.

Kubotek ECO Manager

Few weeks ago, I learned about the new tool released by Kubotek. The interesting aspect I discovered in this tool is how it focuses on geometrical aspects of product and changes. It is clear not something you need in every industry. However, for the type of manufacturers in automotive, aerospace, industrial equipment and many other industries requiring 3D and geometry, Kubotec ECO manager can provide a significant value in the way to handle changes.

What is my conclusion? ECO is a an important, but very complicated process. It involves many people from organizational departments to work on this and following ECO related activities from inside and outside organization. To have an appropriate tool is important. When you choose a tool, take into the consideration what are specific characteristics of your organization from the standpoint of mobility, complexity, need for visual and 3D before you make a right choice. In parallel, the simplicity of a tool is another important thing. To have a simpler can be a much bigger problem for manufacturers in coming years.

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg


Autodesk: From PDM to MLP?

March 28, 2011

Last week Autodesk made a series of significant announcements related to their 2012 product lines. Autodesk is shifting to suites. Monica Schnitger wrote about this on her Schnitgercorp blog. I found it interesting, especial in the context of moving beyond just CAD. CAD was in my view, the fundamental of Autodesk business for many years. Here is the quote from Monica’s blog:

“Much more than CAD”
Mr. Kross told investors that Autodesk’s areas of opportunity all lie outside the typical CAD realm. These are currently small revenue contributors but are showing good growth: Inventor Publisher for assembly and operations; Factory Design, a “more affordable” digital factory design solution; Simulation and enterprise PDM. This last is a bit of a surprise, given Autodesk’s historical anti-PLM stance, but note the “D” — it’s not an “L”. Mr. Kross said that Autodesk Vault “targets engineers. Our focus is making sure our customers can manage, control and release their data. PLM extends outside engineering into the enterprise; we’re focused on the engineer. Our customers are asking us to integrate with established PLM systems that reach out into the enterprise. We’re focused on vaulting within the engineering domain.” Manage, Control and Release Data

I have to agree with Mr. Kross. Data is absolutely key. To have a control on this data can be very important for every Autodesk customer. Therefore, I can see signs of increased interest to this topic from Autodesk. At the time, PLM companies were focused on a total top-down model of product life-cycle, Autodesk was very modest in the way they planned to manage data. For the last 3-5 years, Autodesk Vault product became the main instrument in Autodesk data management products. And it seems to be successful based on the Carl Bass statements. Ralf Grabowski wrote about it on his WorldCAD Access blog last month. Here is the source of the following quote:

…when we disclose the numbers [at a future date], I think everyone will be quite surprised by the amount of data and the number of users who are managing the life cycle of products through Vault and the associated products.

Autodesk: PLM vs. MLP?

The question many people in PLM world are discussing related to what Autodesk will do with the magic words “PLM”. Last year, analytical company CIMData, primarily focusing on PLM industry research published a very interesting research paper discussion future Autodesk PLM transition. Autodesk’s ultimate position, in my view, is not to follow PLM-rules set up by high-profile PLM companies like Siemens PLM, Dassault and PTC. However, the importance of vertical integration for their customers can grow and introduce new challenges in implementation of Autodesk product suites. To Manage the Lifecycle of Products based on Vault is one of the possible options. In the following video Autodesk Manufacturing Evangelist Rob Cohee introduces the Autodesk Digital Prototyping Portfolio for 2012, including the Autodesk Product Design Suite.

There are some facts I noticed when I was listened to this video. Vault is ultimately about how to make “data management sexy”. Vault is not only about data, but about processes too. Vault provides some “project oriented” workflows that can be very helpful in Engineering to Order scenarios.

What is my conclusion? I think the game around enterprise data becomes more important than before. Data is a key asset in a manufacturing company and Autodesk customers can put their demands very high. These demands are moving Autodesk Vault and other data management products towards additional functionality. Process oriented workflow is one of the most remarkable I noticed in Autodesk Vault 2012. To increase functionality and keep the low level of complexity for Autodesk product will be the next challenge for Autodesk engineers and product managers. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

The Future of Engineering Communities

March 25, 2011

Almost a half year ago, I had a chance to grab a coffee with GrabCAD’s Hardi Meybaum in one of Starbucks’ coffee shops around Chestnut Hill, MA. We discussed his start up and the vision of community behind GrabCAD. That meeting made me think about the future of marketplaces and engineering. Navigate your browser to the following link, if you missed my post about that.

A couple of days ago, I’ve read in the news that GrabCAD was selected by TechStars Boston Class. Here is the quote fromBoston Innovation: Techstars Boston has just announced the newest class of startups for its spring accelerator program. These lucky startups will work under a strong network of mentors for the next three months in their fancy new Boston office in Kendall Square. GrabCAD was mentioned as following: GrabCAD is a unified CAD services marketplace, cross-platform CAD library and an engineering community.

Content, Community, Social

It made me think more about how the future of engineering communities. Actually, I found that "community" topic is trending. After a tremendous success of Facebook, social technology and community sounds to many people as a future next big thing. Well, you hardly can miss the point when absorbing half billion users under the wings. In my view, a strong community can be built only around strong content. You’ve got a content – community will come. It happened to many companies in Web 2.0 universe. However, adding of "social" element is what actually "put icing on a cake".

Existing Community Development

Large companies in Enterprise and CAD/PLM space recognized the power of communities and social technology trend. Almost all vendors came (or coming) with kinda-social-tool. The best examples, in my eyes, are’s Chatterand Dassault’s 3Dswym (including. DS Draft Sight).

Does GrabCAD Fits?

The real innovation GrabCAD brins to the market is an innovative "service model". It is not so clear to me how it will work. However, thinking about people ordering an engineering service via a website, make a lot of sense to me. And this trend will increase. Another interesting notion is "a cross-platform CAD libraries". This is another strong point. Exiting CAD vendors are struggling with the defenses related to private CAD formats they developed. To go and cross the lines can be an interesting experience.

What is my conclusion? The most important question I’m asking is if GrabCAD will be able to mobilize a sufficient amount of "social supporters". These people will embrace the existing GrabCAD libraries and services’ website and bring the ultimate value of online content to engineering. Remember, few days ago, I was looking for how to "get the job done" in PLM definitions post. The notion of "I need CAD work done" is a powerful one is a right pass to go in my eyes. Just my thoughts. What do you think?

Best, Oleg

[tages, CAD, GrabCAD, Model, Community, Discussion]

Open Standards and Data Sharing

March 24, 2011

What do you think about the role of standards in CAD and PLM? Some of recent development in Open Standards made me think about CAD and PLM related standards again. I had a chance to discuss "the standards" theme several times in the past on my blog. Navigate to the following links to catch up the discussion.

PLM and Open Standards – Money Talks?
PLM Standards: From Formats to Frameworks
What is the future of CAD and PLM Standards?
Open PLM – A Climb for Losers?

Standards: Obvious and Expensive

In my view, customers are interested in standards. Their reaction on standard is normally positive. The benefits of standard-related activities for customers are obvious. In the past large manufacturing companies were involved in the successful standard development. STEP is probably one of the examples. At the same time, I cannot see vendors are signing up for open standards in the world of CAD and PLM. They are mostly reactive and keep balance of supporting standard and proprietary system development.

Data Sharing and Standards

Manufacturing is global these days. To be able to exchange information between in-shore and off-shore, OEM and suppliers, vendors and partners become extremely important. Do you think "data sharing" problem will disappear with the development of open standards? I don’t see direct dependencies. Obviously, it will be easier to exchange data using standards. However, the devil is in details. The support of particular application features and/or data elements will give us a right answer on this question.

What is my conclusion? To support open standard is expensive tax. Who will pay it? Customers? Vendors? My favorite joke: Standards like toothbrushes. Everybody needs them, but nobody wants to use somebody else one. Next month, I’m going to attend Eurostep Share-A-Space 2011 Forum. Read more about this forum on LinkedIn. I hope to learn more the potential role of Eurostep in the supporting of standards as well as about development of commercial systems based on such a standard like STEP and PLCS. I’m going to live blog from there, so stay tuned…

Best, Oleg

PLM Definition – Corporate vs. Consumer Style?

March 22, 2011

It is seems to me PLM definition is a trending topic these days :). Few hours ago, I posted my “PLM Definition – Next Round?” which is referencing the refreshing PLM definition coming from PTC. What I found is that Dassault Systems have been decided to refresh their PLM definition as well, by publishing the following video in their Elementary Collection (thanks Kate at 3D Perspective for posting this).

What is my take? I found this new DS video refreshing. Dassault is definitely looking on how to disconnect from a corporate style and redefining PLM using their Lifelike Experience. This style seems to be very “consumer oriented” and stands opposite to more traditional definitions of PLM you can find on the web. The question I’m asking myself is how Dassault Lifelike Experience can be connected to the other company activities and systems? In the end, Lifelike experience is just about the tools. How these tools can be connected into a company product development process is the right question to ask. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg



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