Post COFES, Dropbox and PLM Made Simple?

As you know, I spent end of my last week, including the weekend at COFES (The Congress of the Future of Engineering Software). It was my 6th COFES. It was probably the biggest COFES ever. The social media activity was significantly stronger this year than before. I had a chance to meet people Mark Burhop, Dora Smith, Josh Mings, Deelip and many others after long time of tweeting and blogging together.

The following tweet message by @dorasmith drove my attention #cofes2011 @vuuch notes Dropbox is the model for PLM in the future, more discussion on complexity of PLM for majority of users

This tweet resonated with the following news I’ve heard the same day – DropBox hits 25 millions users and 200 million files per day. This is a really impressive number, in my view. The scope of DropBox usage is very wide. The quote from the same TechCrunch article: People use dropbox for personal storage, file syncing between machines, and group collaboration on projects. They have desktop software for the usual OSs, and mobile access, that makes things run smoothly.

What is DropBox and why I like it?

If you are not familiar with DropBox, this is your time to take a look on this. The following video is short and nice explanation about how you can share everything using dropbox folder.

Dropbox is my favorite (after Google App) tool to sync files between laptop and other devices. You may ask me why after Google App? Since Google App is already synchronized. However, not everything fits Google Apps and this is specially important if you think about your CAD files and PLM Excels..

DropBox and PLM model

So, let me take you back to the Dora Smith’s tweet. Is it a model for PLM future? I think, this is kinda of simplification. Dropbox is a good example of virtual storage. Files are on cloud – you shouldn’t worry. Wait a sec… what about security? If you feel comfortable with DropBox security, you can synchronize your CAD files between people and teams using DropBox virtual folder. Microsoft has similar ideas in SharePoint and some other tools and apps. The idea of drop box is not original. What is DropBox magic sauce?. My take on this is simple: usability and simplicity. It works and requires zero time to learn.

What is my conclusion? People are looking for simple tools. This is what made DropBox successful. PLM is complex. PLM companies have similar functionality in their hands today. However, the simplicity wins. Security is another question. This is a matter of trust. Do you trust Google? DropBox? Dassault? PTC? Use the cloud you trust… Just my opinion.

Best, Oleg

2 Responses to Post COFES, Dropbox and PLM Made Simple?

  1. Andy says:

    This is the fastest way to make PLM ‘more’ complex – not less! Why? Because utilities like drop-box have arbitrary structure and no meta-data. Sure you can fill them up with stuff like its going out of fashion. But it wont be long before your organization is reinventing parts that have already been invented, but are inaccessible because they are only stored in dropbox! True story: It reminds me of when started. The business thought this is fantastic! Each territory manager was able to get a CRM up and running in minutes doing exactly what they wanted. A few months later when the regional and global manager wanted some reports – turned out to be impossible! Each territory manager had different desires and all the data was not only segregated, but semantically different. Beware – all that glitters is not gold! Sure use this for home photos as per the video – but be careful about storing enterprise IP in there. It is not a substitute for any of the PLM existing systems, you have to keep them up to date as well.

  2. Andy, thanks for your insight. I agree, meta-data is important to have a better understanding and findability (if you will) of data. However, I believe a good balance is really needed to improve the situation with business software. In many situations, it became too complex and requires significant effort (and of course investment) to make it work. On the other side, end users are disappointed and vote by moving to email, excel and other general purpose tools. It again leads to waste of resources, time and money. Just my thoughts… Best, Oleg

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