PLM and Almost Enterprise Apps?

April 29, 2011

The cost of development enterprise apps was one of the topics discussed among the people on Aras ACE 2011 conference earlier this week in Detroit, MI. Where the future is taking us? The development and customization of full blown PLM suite can be long, expensive and not very cost-effective these days. During the Beyond PLM panel discussion, I raised the question about the future of agile business apps that can provide value and won’t take manufacturing companies to the hell of product suites. The approach I discussed was introduced by Dion Hinchcliffe in hisNext Gen Enterprise blog.

On my way back to Boston I read Deloitte’s report “Technology Trends 2011. The Natural Convergence of Business and IT". Download this report, read and make your opinion. On of the topics of the report is about so called "Almost enterprise Applications". The idea resonated with my thoughts about how manufacturing organization can develop applications to be used by design engineers, managers, manufacturing planners, quality planners without taking organization into the two-year cycle of PLM suite deployment. I found the following example of "almost enterprise app" interesting:

A chemical products manufacturer had been an early adopter of Google Enterprise Apps engine – focusing on building almost-enterprise applications anchored in the productivity and collaboration suites. One example was a series of Gmail plug-ins that read the subject of emails and automatically retrieve CRM and HR workfl ow documents from SAP, with embedded controls for taking action that, in turn, execute back-offi ce transactions. Another was the ability to automatically update call notes in their CRM system with chat or voice transcripts, removing what was historically 90 seconds of low-value activity at the end of each customer service call.

PLM: Platforms and Applications

The notion of a platform in product lifycle management becomes interesting, in my view. The context of business apps can provide a new angle in a company strategy to develop a platform to serve the needs of product development processes. The focus on the platform will be in product data management rather than in business processes. Information services provided by a platform can be used to develop apps (Almost Enterprise Apps) highly focused on a particular engineers and other user’s needs.

What is my conclusion? The idea of "amost enterprise apps" is fascinating. It is easy to follow the concept of development apps based on any available services in the company. In the past, it led companies to the "excel hell". However, combination of a platform provided information services and agile practices of small apps development have in chance to develop an efficient solution. What is your opinion about that?

Best, Oleg

PLM Think Tank – April Top 5

April 29, 2011

What do you think is the most hard thing in everything we do? This month for me was overloaded by conferences. It started from COFES 2011 in sunny Scottsdale, AZ and ended in rainy Detroit, MI. However, the one thing was common between these two events – an extremely energetic community discussing various topics related to engineering, manufacturing and Product Lifecycle Management. My blog posts this month were influenced significantly by everything I was listening and discussing with people. Nevertheless, I’d like to mention one statement – "redesign is not so much having a new idea as stopping having an old idea". When I’m thinking about what will be the next 10 years of engineering and manufacturing software, I give my vote to people and companies that thinking differently. This is the most complicated thing. Just my opinion, of course. Now, let’s move to my traditional PLM think tank "top 5".

Post COFES, Dropbox and PLM Made Simple

This post started from a very simple tweet – "Drop box is a model for PLM in the future…". Yes, 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…

PDM. Pre-configured? Painless?

Another post about simplicity and thinking differently. Engineers normally dislike PDM functions. They are trying to avoid it as much as possible. Therefore, PDM systems are not as popular when it comes to implementations. It requires time, cost and affect CAD functionality. However, the industry perception is that you need to have PDM to control your data. CAD vendors are trying to embed PDM functions into CAD packages and improve vertical integration between CAD and PDM packages. Can it be completely pre-configured and painless? I’m not sure. I think, the best thing engineers can think about is the “invisible PDM”.

PLM and Comprehensive Search

Search is an important infrastructure. The demand for search in manufacturing is growing. After ten years, people finally got Google. So, they expect the same from enterprise software. 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. I think, effective search solution can make software simpler. What is your take?

Moving from PLM to PLMSocial?

"Social" is trending. 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 the way how people sharing photos 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.

ECO Management: What Matters?

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.

Best, Oleg


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