Collaboration. Not virtual. Whiteboard…

August 31, 2011

Collaboration is an important thing. I think you agree with me. However, speaking about collaboration how many of you are looking how to collaborate and discuss things using whiteboards? I think there are many things that just need whiteboard for an appropriate planning and thinking processes. I recently was reading Robert Scoble Gets Demo of eBeam solution from Luidia. Spend 15 minutes of your time and take a look.

What is my take? Frankly, I’m not a big fan of whiteboard. The main reason – I’m paperless. When I’m using whiteboard, I need to take care and capture it with my iPhone or digital camera. However, working with many people remotely, such a device can provide a significant improvement to engineering teams located in multiple places. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Freebie.


Live from SolidWorks 2012 Media Event

August 31, 2011

I’ve been attending SolidWorks Media day in Dassault SolidWorks campus in Concord, MA. Actually, I noted- this is probably the last time event happens in the current SolidWorks building. SolidWorks is moving to the new Dassault campus in Waltham, MA. While the information about SolidWorks 2012 is under embargo, you can have a feeling of the event and some interesting information about SolidWorks install base, revenue growth, eco-system. I twitted most of these photos during the event. Nevertheless, I thought most of you can benefit from them combined in a single blog. Not everybody came to come to Boston because of Hurricane Irene a day before. However, you can see an impressive crowd in the meeting room.

Bertrand Sicot kicking off the event. The important message: SolidWorks is about evolution and not revolution.

SolidWorks is continued to develop the 3D professional market.

Nothing specially new, but this is how SolidWorks presented as part of all Dassault Systems’ brands

Key facts, revenues and install base.

Revenues

Install base

It was interesting to see the level of non-CAD product growth in SolidWorks portfolio. Today the numbers here mostly represents Simulation, Data management and documentation products.

Fielder Hiss, VP Product Management presents historical retrospective of SolidWorks releases for the last 20 years.

SolidWorks community numbers are impressive – 436 VARs and 750 partners.

The agenda afternoon included some very entertaining engineering experiments such as magnets, motor assembly and the hit of the day – vibration driven mouse robot.

Furthermore, afternoon agenda included SolidWorks 2012 Beta customers panel and a deep dive into SolidWorks 2012 features. However, this is where embargo starts.

In addition to that, SolidWorks was innovating in organizing new activities with SolidWorks execs (speed dating). 7 minutes round-table talk with exec. You can ask questions. After 7 minutes – rotation, execs are moving to the next table.

What is my take? It is hard to make a real comment and not to talk about the product. However, I think SolidWorks can play a significant role in the future transformation of Dassault Systems. How it will happen? Time will show.

Best, Oleg


PLM and Unexpected Office Collaboration Option

August 30, 2011

I think the world around us is about to change. A couple of weeks ago I posted PLM and Future Competition. The existing traditional structures of vendors, domains and applications are changing faster than we can expect, in my view. Collaboration was one of the fields enterprise software and vendors in CAD/PLM domain were dealing for a long time. Frankly, I have never been excited much about the "PLM collaboration" offering. In my view, it is very complicated. Consumer oriented brands and lately companies like Google and some other did a better job in this domain.

I learned yesterday about an interesting acquisition – Cisco buys collaboration startup Versly. Versly was a small startup focused on collaboration inside Microsoft Office environment. Take a look on the following video showing one of the earlier Versly demos:

Navigate your browser to the following link on Cicso website to read more about this acquisition. I found the following passage interesting:

Collaboration is one of Cisco’s five company priorities and represents what Cisco believes to be a total addressable market of 45 billion. The acquisition will provide more opportunity for Cisco partners to provide enhanced collaboration solutions to customers. Versly’s software will be integrated into a variety of Cisco’s collaboration offerings including Cisco Quad, Cisco Jabber and Cisco WebEx. For example, users will be able to receive automatic notifications within Cisco Quad when the content of a document has changed, escalate from simply reviewing a document to an instant messaging session through Cisco Jabber, or initiate a web conferencing session from a presentation through Cisco WebEx.

What is my take? I think PDM vendors need to take a note. Why? Hardware vendors are stepping into software water. The example of Cisco is a good one. I cannot imagine how most of the manufacturing organizations can live without MS Office documents. People in product development, manufacturing and supply chain are spending lots of time working around Excel spreadsheets and Word documents. The Office integration becomes a vital part of any PDM/PLM related environment. One of the challenges in front of PLM vendors is how to expand downstream. It is a vital part of PLM growth plan. However, existing vendors can find Cisco eating PLM collaboration lunch… Just my opinion, of course. YMMV.

Best, Oleg


“JT Open” and the Future of PLM 2.0

August 29, 2011

Despite the fact “PLM 2.0″ was first articulated by Dassault back in 2006, I think, the term itself has some rights for expanded live beyond DS V6 platform. In my blog last week I discussed some aspects of comparison between PLM 2.0 and Web 2.0. One of the most important conclusions, also mentioned in the comments, were about “openness”. Actually, the conversation about openness is always dangerous in CAD/PLM domain. The vendors’ walled gardens provide significant barriers to develop solutions for heterogeneous enterprise environment.

During the weekend, I had a chance to read Design News article – SpaceClaim Stakes Manufacturing Claim. Have a read and make your opinion. SpaceClaim is clearly one of the youngest representatives of CAD vendors. However, what specially caught my attention was a comment made by Blake Courter about JT Open:

Another core area Courter emphasized in this new release was interoperability — a critical requirement, he said, for making in roads in the manufacturing production space, particularly in the automotive sector. In this vein, SpaceClaim built on its backing of Siemens PLM Software’s JT Open technology with the new release’s support for semantic Product Manufacturing Information (PMI). This means SpaceClaim users can leverage JT data in a lightweight format, or they can work with richer, more associative information, including meta data and PMI.

Courter applauded Siemens PLM Software’s efforts around JT Open, particularly as far as the format has made inroads into the automotive sector. “Kudos to Siemens for creating a level playing field and making a neutral format for delivering the goods,” he said. “The JT Open guys have done the right thing going after ISO certification and paralleling other standards where they can.” SpaceClaim is putting its money where its mouth is, Courter said, by becoming a JTOpen and ProSTEP iViP member.

Blake’s comments made me think about future potential paths of JT Open as a potential enabling technology for PLM 2.0. As you remember from the history of Web, some key technological elements made a significant contribution to the development of Web 2.0. The famous LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) was one of the key elements. Bundle together with AJAX and development of the blogs and wiki platform it enabled live people involvement into the broader development of web content.

One of the biggest problems of PLM these days is the ability of PLM applications to proliferate inside of organizations upstream and downstream. PLM vendors developed multiple exchange formats, and as it seems to me, stack in their transition to the agreement. What can move things forward is some business innovation in this space? Open Source is one of them. What if the technological leader such as Siemens PLM will release JT Open formats and tools under one of the possible open source licenses? Does it sound crazy? I’m not sure. It will allow to remove all barriers to proliferate data and processes downstream in organizations and boost usage of JT Open by other CAD and PLM players.

What is my conclusion? For a long period of time, many ideas were considered as crazy of impossible for implementation. However, for the last decade, we’ve seen already some very interesting industry and technological moves. Will JT Open become another one? Time will show. What is your take? Speak your mind.

Best, Oleg


PLM 2.0: Born to Die?

August 26, 2011

PLM 2.0 is a new term that was born about 5 years ago. The term was introduced by Dassault Sysetemes as part of their V6 platform. At the same time, Dassault didn’t put “an equal” sign between V6 and PLM 2.0. The consideration about PLM 2.0 was mostly related as a vision and the next fundamental step in the development of PLM solutions. According to the Dassault’s definition of PLM 2.0, you can find that it combined of 5 elements – 3D, Online, IP, Web 2.0 and Communities.

Do you think PLM 2.0 is taking off? Watch the following video from one of the Dassault conferences 2-3 years ago. I hope you will find it funny. As you can see the familiarity of ordinary people with PLM and specially PLM 2.0 is below average :).

Web 2.0 roots of PLM 2.0

Thinking about PLM 2.0, you cannot miss the analogy with Web 2.0. The fundamental elements of Web 2.0 are related to the ideas of information sharing and collaborative activities of people on the web. Here is the definition of Web 2.0 according to the Wikipedia article.

The term Web 2.0 is associated with web applications that facilitate participatory information sharing,interoperability, user-centered design,[1] and collaboration on the World Wide Web. A Web 2.0 site allows users to interact and collaborate with each other in a social media dialogue as creators (prosumers) of user-generated content in a virtual community, in contrast to websites where users (consumers) are limited to the passive viewing of content that was created for them. Examples of Web 2.0 include social networking sites, blogs, wikis, video sharing sites, hosted services, web applications, mashups and folksonomies.

Take a look on the following interesting comparison between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 I found online:

Enterprise 2.0 roots of PLM 2.0

Another association with PLM 2.0 is coming from somewhat called Enterprise 2.0 (E2.0). Enterprise 2.0 term was invented by Andrew McCaffee back in 2006. Here is another definition from Wikipedia:

Enterprise 2.0 is the use of “Web 2.0″ technologies within an organization to enable or streamline business processes while enhancing collaboration – connecting people through the use of social-media tools. Enterprise 2.0 aims to help employees, customers and suppliers collaborate, share, and organize information. Andrew McAfeedescribes Enterprise 2.0 as “the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers”.

Another comparison – now between Enterprise 1.0 and Enterprise 2.0 (picture credit of Enterprise 2.0 conference)

I was reading Jos Voskuil blog yesterday. Jos started a long series of post about PLM 2.0. Navigate to the following link to read the first one: Why PLM 2.0? Jos brings another comparison between PLM 1.0 and PLM 2.0. The analogy between previous definitions and comparisons are clear.

This picture made me think about V6 and PLM 2.0 realization. Actually, I didn’t find many components of PLM 2.0 in previous definitions made by Dassault. V6 is a big leapfrog for DS and delivers a completely different PLM experience. Even so, the question about PLM 2.0 remains open.

What is my conclusion? I think the key word in a failure of PLM 2.0 is openness and availability. On a contrary, think for a moment about Web 2.0 – Blogs, Wikipedia, Flikr, eBay, Twitter… These and many other applications and technologies turned Web 1.0 into what we know as Web 2.0. It allowed many people bring web to a completely new level. I can influence the content published on the web, and many people simultaneously can have an access to this content. What I’d expect from PLM 2.0? I’d say, first, the ability to all people in the organization to have an easy access to product lifecycle data and processes. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen, until now. So, we have a new version of PLM. It applies to DS V6 and to other PLM vendors as well. However, I cannot call it PLM 2.0. Just my thought…

Best, Oleg

[tag PLM 2.0, Enterprise 2.0, Web 2.0, Dassault V6]


How to place PLM in a Social Network? Kill M…

August 25, 2011

I can hear more and more conversations about social aspects of the future enterprise software. Social is trending. Will it be successful? I think many people are trying to find an answer on this question. Is it possible to apply the word “social” to everything that requires improvement and converts it to gold? We can see new social trends are coming on the market as “social CRM”, “social PLM”, “social ERP”…

I’ve been reading Dion Hinchcliffe’s Next Gen Enterprise blog early this month - Why The Next App You Use Might Be In A Social Network. Dion is talking about the convergence between the social networks and enterprise business applications. I found the following quote enormously important:

While social networks are still just getting their sea legs in most organizations, the next big leap forward — in addition to social analytics – is likely to be the integration of our productivity and line of business apps into our activity streams. Will this unleash a significant new value? Very probably. But it’s also possibly the big integration opportunity that businesses have long looked for.

Take a look on the following picture Dion brings to show the concept of social applications and activity streams.

The important element of this strategy is the so-called “social application wrapper”. Dion is talking about extension to Open Social. Follow this link to learn more about Open Social. What does it mean from the standpoint of infrastructure building? Social becomes a platform? Together with standardization and connection to existing software platforms/products from IBM and other vendors it sounds like a future social middleware for enterprises.

PLM – product data management first!

The ideas explained by Dion made me think about transformation PLM software needs to make in order to fit this model. Until now, the fundamental elements of every PLM deployment were coming from CAD /Design software and Product Data Management software. Look on every successful PLM implementation – you will find these elements there. PDM as a platform for PLM expansion assumed “management” of important product data assets (document records, bill of materials, etc.). To be very blunt, every PLM system was present first as a data container and only after that organizations were planning future expansion in different business areas associated with product development and manufacturing.

Kill the “M”?

Now, the question I’m askig is how to put PLM in a social container? In my view, the recipe can be simple – Kill the “M”. Apps placed into the “social application wrapper” will be disconnected from product data management roots and operate in a loosely coupled way. It will allow to them to delivery a granular functional approach and, at the same time, allows collaboration via social wrappers.

What is my conclusion? If I’m taking “social application wrappers” seriously, future PLM implementations will look differently from what we have today. Social Platform (container) will establish a ubiquitous communication between people and will push Apps that will be capable to serve engineers and other people in the product design, engineering and manufacturing. Sounds like utopia? Maybe. My hunch – the next confrontation in the enterprise will be not between two enterprise platforms, but between social platform (social application wrapper) and enterprise data management platforms. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


3D and Communication Strategy

August 24, 2011

Communication methods are interesting. These days lots of things are changing in this space. Internet, Web 2.0, Video communication converted some of our hottest dream to reality available in our everyday life. However, you can say – it is all about gadgets and toys. What modern CAD and PLM software can propose in the space of communication between engineers, designers and other people in manufacturing companies? 3D Mojo (the former blog of Seemage and now Dassault 3DVIA) brings the following topic on the table – 3DVIA 3D Communication Strategy Forum. So, what is this about? According to the 3DMojo teaser:

3DVIA will be hosting the 3D Communication Strategy Forum. This half-day event is designed to promote an open dialogue and exchange of ideas between 3DVIA product leaders and industry representatives who are interested in exploring the use of 3D product communications.

Open to all Dassault Systemes’ customers attending DSCC, the forum will provide attendees with a detailed 3DVIA brand and product strategy, along with an exclusive preview of upcoming 3DVIA mobile and cloud solutions. This will be followed by panel discussions on overcoming obstacles and establishing optimum workflows in enterprise 3D product communications.

The key term I read here is something called3D Product Communication. Let me guess. One of the 3DVIA products – 3DVIA composer is well known as a tool capable to convert 3D CAD objects into something that supposed to be much easy transferred between people in an organization, especially for people having no specific CAD skills. Examples are easy coming from manufacturing, marketing, sales, etc.

The answer I didn’t find in this passage is how 3D communication will become ubiquitous and independent of a specific software and formats. XVL, 3D PDF, JT Open – these formats weren’t mentioned. Is it part of Dassault 3D Communication strategy? One of the best books about that I had a chance to read was – 3D Manufacturing Innovation. If you have some time, find this book and have a read. Disconnecting 3D data from heavy CAD systems and making this data available for all people in the organization is considered as the most important objective that can significantly improve product quality and communication between engineering and manufacturing.

What is my conclusion? Multiple 3D CAD is the reality of the majority of manufacturing organizations. How to make the most efficient 3D product communication between people using these systems and other people in an organization sounds like an important task. I hope to learn more about this later this year and share it with you. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


CAD / PLM and Patent War

August 24, 2011

I know, patent stories are hot now. After Google decided to pay Motorola the premium of USD 12.5B to defend Android from potential lawsuits, the question about how much software companies are ready to pay to prevent themselves from a potential patent war becomes obvious. I read Techcrunch article – The Terrible Cost of Patents. Have a read and make your opinion. I found the following passage interesting:

Technology products, and software especially, are never created from whole cloth. By their very nature, they build upon previous technologies and improve upon them. But what you and I might consider an improvement, a patent lawyer might consider infringement. Figuring out which patents your product might infringe upon is a nearly impossible task. A single smartphone might involve 250,000 patent claims, which may or may not be valid. The fact that the Patent Office approves many bogus patents does not help matters. So..

Patents were originally conceived to protect inventors—people and companies who contribute to the advancement of society by creating new products. But in the past decade, something went horribly wrong. Patents are increasingly becamenothing more than financial and legal weapons, to be amassed in portfolios by “non-practicing entities” (i.e. patent trolls) and used to extort protection money from economically productive companies.

It wasn’t absolutely new thing for me. However, it is quite shocking to see the amount of money software and technological companies are spending on patent-ecosystem.

CAD / PLM Patents

Well, I’m obviously not pretending to provide an exhaustive study about CAD /PLM patents. Techcrunch article and corresponded numbers definitely made me think about what is the situation with patents in CAD / PLM. Is it possible to estimate how much CAD / PLM vendors are spending on patents and what is the chance of potential patent war between these companies?.

I have to say that searching for patents is a tricky thing. Sometimes, companies are using multiple techniques to prevent patents from being discoverable by competitors. Since, my goal wasn’t to provide exact numbers, I just made very rough estimations of patents based on a single attribute of a patent – Assignee Name. This method is also questionable, because of company name changes. However, I consider that naming will be quite stable for the following company names – Autodesk Inc, Dassault Systemes, Parametric Technology and UGS Corp. The last one was the most problematic elements for me, since it definitely wasn’t able to cover patents that belonging to Siemens PLM (new name of UGS Corp after acquisition). To estimate results, I used Google Patent Search and Free Patents Search online.

Results according to the Google:

Autodesk Inc. – 10’800 results
Dassault Systemes – 1’680 results
UGS Corp. – 505 results
Parametric Technology – 395 results

Results according to the Free Patent Search:

Autodesk Inc. – 622 results
Dassault Systemes – 105 results
UGS Corp. – 33
Parametric Technology – 24

I have to tell you that as soon as you will dig inside of the content of patents you can find lots of interesting stuff related to systems, and invention described there. I don’t want to point on my favorites, but I’m pretty sure everyone will find something to think about…

What is my conclusion? I want to make an exception in today’s blog and will not make “my conclusion” as I usually do. I assume everybody in the hightech and software industry have their “love and hate” relationships with patents, patent lawyers and USPTO. I’d be interested to know your opinion if you think CAD / PLM competition can follow “patent war” routes. What is your opinion? Speak your mind?

Best, Oleg


Cloud PLM and Security Certification

August 22, 2011

Cloud and Security. I hope I’ve got your attention a bit :). In 99% of my talks about PLM and the cloud, the topic of security was coming very fast. The question of how to provide a balanced way to handle it is the one I’m mostly interested. Thinking about consumer and enterprise space, Google seems to be one of the companies that has real concerns about how to support it in the right way. In my view, Google is actively seeking how to increase their Google App presence in the enterprise space and replace Microsoft Office suite of product. Over the weekend, I was reading ZDNet blog – Google App Engine now officially secure. While I don’t think, this is the major addition to what Google already had, I found it as important. Pay attention to the following passage:

The certification process, which covers everything from physical security at the data center to making sure that only pre-cleared staff have access to customer data, to evaluating Google’s redundancy and incident reporting… And the bottom line to all this is that several enterprises require their cloud providers to be compliant with these standards – formerly SAS 70, and now SSAE-16. And this means that Google App Engine is open to a whole new customer base, with confidences bolstered by an authoritative second opinion.

My take is that certification process can open many doors for Google Apps in the world of enterprise.

Cloud PLM Certification

There are not much existing cloud PLM applications. I definitely need to mention Arena Solution as one of the pioneers in this space. PTC/Windichill was experimenting with IBM deployment, but I don’t know much about the status of this solution. Some of the cloud / SaaS products such as Agile Advantage was retired by vendors. Multiple providers in CAD/PLM space are rushing to announce and provide their roadmaps and first product introduction into this space. There are few, I noticed specifically: Dassault announced about their V6 cloud applications, Aras published, they are ready for cloud with Aras Innovator. Autodesk, even if not having any cloud enterprise application today, already announced about future Autodesk PLM cloud application coming later this year. I’d be interested to hear these (and other) vendors are talking about ‘security topics’. What is vendor’s view on cloud security certifications for the enterprise? What specific certifications expected by customers depends on customer type and range? What is the reasonable requirement and what is the "red-herring" type of requirements?

What is my conclusion? Security is important. I think, industry developed lots of potential technologies, procedures and techniques for security. However, to differentiate between what is the priority and what is the minimum set of techniques and procedures is important. PLM vendors will have to discover them to provide it to customers and, at the same time, to optimize the cost of security mechanisms. Just my thoughts..

Best, Oleg

Image: jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


PDM/PLM and Future Competition

August 19, 2011

Google-Moto deal created a lot of fuss and speculation. At the same time, it created an example of cross-domain innovation, which in my view, worth being analyzed. I’ve been reading Forrester blog earlier today -What Signal Does The Google-Motorola Marriage Send To Product Strategists? Thinking about PLM future, I found the following strategic guidance important:

1. Forget what you know about traditional competitors. If you think you have a rock-solid understanding of your biggestcompetitive threats — think again. You’re probably wrong.

2. Learn as much as you can about adjacent innovations. Look around the fringe of your organization and yourindustry. There are likely to be several pockets of adjacent innovations all around you. If you can’t see them, you’re not looking hard enough. In fact, the next big disruption in your industry will be the result of the unexpectedconvergence and application of those adjacencies.

3. Learn how to control the chaos of idea overload. If you calibrate your R&D spend to stay within your traditionalindustry guardrails, you will fail to see the big adjacent opportunities that may be staring you in the face from theoutside. To be clear, this doesn’t mean to spend more on product development. It means to spend differently, in otherwise unexpected ways.

PDM/PLM eco-system today dominated by a small number of giant providers associated with either large CAD vendors – Dassault, Siemens PLM, PTC and large ERP vendors – SAP and Oracle. The number of smaller companies in this space decreased significantly for the last few years as a result of acquisitions and retirements. I decided to put some of my thoughts related to the potential future of PDM / PLM product, technologies and market space.

Innovation and Consumer IT technologies

I think, manufacturing companies these days are facing a very interesting and even maybe a unique situation. I want to name two most important trends – globalization and cross-organizational optimization. Product cost is the issue on the table, in my view. Because of the current economic situations, companies are not ready to follow the solution path they used before. At the same time, in order to have an ability to decrease product cost, companies are looking how to introduce new solutions, which will be different from what companies have been doing last 10 years. It requires the next level of IT development. Today’s systems are squeezed to the highest level of their potential. Existing PLM software is too expensive and relies on the technologies developed 15-20 years ago. Consumer and web technologies is a potential place where future innovation can come from.

During the last 10 year, the enterprise IT was very busy working on existing software assets and implementations. After Y2K, the enterprise PDM and PLM space wasn’t a place where people focused their innovative ideas. However, last 10 years accumulated huge amount of technologies coming from the web and consumer web space. Web 2.0, online games, social networks, photo-sharing services, e-commerce. This is only a short list of places where real innovation happened. Open source and technological platforms are coming from this place. Manufacturing companies and stagnated enterprise data management deals can be a place to apply these technologies. Focus on how to decrease the cost of change and low TCO can create a future shift in this industry.

What is my conclusion? I think, there is a significant pain in today’s PDM / PLM market status quo. We can see some movements made by existing players on the market. However, in most of the cases, they just put a "lipstick on a pig". To change existing platforms and business models is very costly and painful. Not every business can afford to do so. Especially when you have lots of existing customers and revenues. As it usually happens, outside players can get in and disrupt the space. Do you think it will be possible? I want to know your opinion. Speak your mind.

Best, Oleg

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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