PLM and Future of Gamification

September 19, 2011

It is already more than 2 years I first asked on my blog if there is a border between games and PLM software. For some of the people back that days it was funny. However, things are moving more and more to game-like environments.

The following Forbes article The Gamification of SAP by Tim Clark caught my attention few days ago. For many years, I know SAP is a company that paying less attention to user experience (sorry SAP folks, but it is true). Things are going to change, actually. SAP is looking for people playing games when accomplishing business tasks. Funny. Huh? Reading Forbes, I found the following passage inspiring:

“If I look at how my kids are consuming software, if it’s not desirable immediately, they throw it away. Can you imagine what happens to your IT landscape when these people come into business? I don’t know how you want to keep your IT strategy going so we’d better make our software delightful as well.”

When it comes together with mobile, it becomes even more exciting. Take a look on iPad game SAP offers. Actually, users are playing games to achieve their business tasks.

What happens on PLM side? I didn’t find any evidence of PLM games in the portfolio of PLM vendors. However, I found Dassault System innovative in this space playing a lot with 3D and avatars.

What is my conclusion? I think enterprise software needs to re-thing "gaming" concept. The boarder is blurring these days. I can see many situations where game user experience can be very appropriate. Interesting to know your opinion. Speak your mind. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Business Process Management, PLM and Open Source Track

September 16, 2011

BPM (Business Process Management) is another interesting topic I’m following already many years. I found it connected to PLM and other product development disciplines. PLM usually contains some elements of Business Process Management. I’ve been discussing the topic on my blog early. Look on few previous posts such as PLM Software and Business Process Scalability and How to increase business process technology adoption rate for PLM? BPM wasn’t on the list of hot announcements that PLM vendors are doing these days. It was kind of "considered done" action. Was it that, in reality? I don’t know. Process management is an inside topic in PLM implementation. IT and engineering system management people are interested in how to make it right. The same people can also decide what tools and infrastructure will be used for process management. Does it come from PLM vendor? Maybe IT will decide to use some alternatives in addition to that? Who knows? The decision will be hidden deep in IT department…

Nevertheless, I found the following article in CNET interesting – Open Source BPM startup BonitaSoft raised $11M. For me the importance of the event was mostly because of it is another example in a wider trend – finding simpler and more affordable solutions for complicated problems. BPM is one of them. There is plenty of tools that can be used to get BPM done in a complex way. This is where IT is going. This is where complex PLM implementations are going. I found the following passage interesting:

Gartner explained the market growth by pointing to increased interest in software-as-a-service (SaaS) tools, which offer a cheaper entry point, and a shift toward funding BPM projects from business-unit budgets rather than IT, reflecting an emphasis on BPM’s business benefits.

The combination with open sources creates another confirmation that IT (or even departmental management) is seriously considering such a type of solutions to become part of implementation.

What is my conclusion? Think about mindshare PLM vendors. The solution portfolio they are selling combined from multiple layers, components and functional pieces. BPM is one of them. IT is the organization PLM vendors need to convince as part of their selling process. I think, we can see an evidence of how this pattern is going to change. A simpler and cheaper solution is going to challenge larger BPM vendors. Open source play a revolutionary role in this trend. PLM vendors learned from large ERP companies how to sell solutions to large manufacturing firms. Is it going to change? I don’t know. Just my opinion…

Best, Oleg

Image: tungphoto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


BIM Open Source – Stimulus for PLM?

September 15, 2011

Open source is trending. I think, Android success and some other OSS projects created some winds towards future open source adoption. In my view, companies are taking notes. I was reading Graphic Speak article Autodesk releases Revit IFC Explorter as open source.

Autodesk today released its Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) exporter for Revit as open source code. Going forward the code will be managed by a five-person committee, one of whom will be an Autodesk employee.

I’ve been writing about "open source" before. However, most of my posts were about PLM and Open Source. You can take a look on some of my previous blog posts – PLM Wood And Open Source Termites and PLM and Open Source Big Games. One of the key elements of every open source solution is a community. Therefore, I found the following passage is very important:

The Revit IFC exporter open source code is managed by a five-member steering committee composed of one Autodesk employee and four members of the AEC Building Information Modeling (BIM) community. The Revit IFC Exporter Open Source Committee is chaired by Emile Kfouri, BIM application development manager, Architecture, Engineering and Construction Solutions, Autodesk.

PLM Open Source Stimulus

I found BIM is more friendly with Open Source compared to PLM. I don’t have much experience in this space, therefore, wanted to ask my BIM blogging colleagues to close my educational gap related to some solutions I discovered such as BIM Server, Open Source BIM and maybe some others. However, I made a notice and think IFC is playing a significant role in helping to establish BIM Open Source. I think, some standards like STEP or maybe JT Open can play a similar role in PLM?

What is my conclusion? I think the dynamic between BIM and PLM Open source development can be interesting. Even if BIM and PLM are different from the business standpoint, I can see a similarity in some technological and product foundations. What is your take on this? I’m looking forward to hearing both PLM and BIM people here. Please, speak your mind.

Thanks, Oleg

[categories Daily PLM Think Tank]


Dynamics AX Hybrid Cloud. Should PLM Vendors Care?

September 14, 2011

I have a feeling "cloud" topic got some dominance for the last days and week. However, the following article about Dynamics AX 2012 and cloud was something I considered important enough to mention. Navigate your browser and read – Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 Dips Its Toes In the Cloud, Carefully. Microsoft is pushing their Dynamics AX to the cloud and trying to keep it on the ground at the same time. Here is how it happens:

With this morning’s release of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012, the company’s long-standing enterprise resource planning suite, the company is rolling out a new set of Windows Azure-based services that are leveraged on top of local deployments. The newest of these services is a deployment assistance tool called RapidStart that gives new customers a wizard-like questionnaire system for configuring Dynamics AX.

Microsoft is trying to blend tools and introduce Azure services. Some of them already here. The choice of "Rapid Start" is interesting too. Deployment, configuration and service – these are most painful topics in every implementation. To have an assistant coming from the cloud is kinda cool…

Dynamics AX and PLM

What PLM vendors can learn from Dynamics AX? AX never been very focused on PLM and PDM options. However, Dynamics AX kept PLM/PDM in the scope of Manufacturing solutions. Take a look on the following chartrepresenting Industrial Equipment solutions based on AX.

What is my conclusion? Microsoft is trying to push their new Azure development into existing business applications. AX is one of them. The idea of cloud services to leverage existing system is an important point. It is not unique to Microsoft, but probably can fit very well. This is something that can take care of existing investment made by a customer and prevent immediate "migration" development. Azure cloud can be a good technology option for such type of solution. PLM vendors need to notice how to re-use existing assets with the cloud option. This is can be an important strategy for coming years. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM and Location Based Intelligence

September 13, 2011

I learn about SAP and Google Maps collaboration from LBZone few days ago. Navigate your browser to the the following link – Intuitive Overlay of Enterprise Data onto Maps to Fuel Better Business Decisions. SAP is traditionally investing in business analytic software via SAP Business Object product. The following passage explains how Google consumer oriented services can be used together with enterprise tools.

SAP and Google are working together to pair enterprise applications with the kinds of consumer tools that enrich millions of people’s lives every day, such as Google Maps and Google Earth™. With location-based intelligence capabilities, SAP envisions bringing corporate information to life via Google’s dynamic, interactive map, satellite and even street-level views. As a result, customers could analyze their businesses in a geospatial context to effectively understand the "where" of their information, as well as global, regional and local trends and how they are impacted by different scenarios — helping to increase efficiency and profitability, among other benefits.

I can see few interesting scenarios related to product development that require location-based tools such as: maintenance and service operation, supply chain and some other. Visualization of location information can simplify user interface and help to find data trends that hardly can be recognized using location-based visualizations. It will be interesting to see if latest PTC acquisition of 4CS for service lifecycle can find advantages of location-based software.

What is my take? There is a clear trend to merge consumer web tools with enterprise software. So called "IT consumerization" is definitely needed to be watched by PLM vendors. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Cloud PLM and Data Residency Option

September 12, 2011

Whenever I had a chance to speak about cloud solutions in the context of PLM, the normal reaction of people was like that – company never agrees to put their IP to the cloud. The question of data privacy, especially when it comes to sensitive data like company IP (design, manufacturing, etc.) is obvious. However, the devil is in details, of course. I think, the view of manufacturing companies on data security and cloud is sometimes biased (especially when it comes from IT people). I talked about that on my blog – Cloud PLM and Security certification, Top 3 Cloud Killers and some others.

Database.com and DRO

Salesforce.com made lots of announcements on their last Dreamforce conference earlier this month. You probably had a chance to read my earlier comments about “Social Enterprise“. However, another interesting thing salesforce.com announced is somewhat called “Data Residency Option”. The option is part of database.com service – a cloud database saleforce made generally available. The service supposed to compete with solutions like Microsoft Azure Cloud SQL and some others. Database.com is going to play an important role in future development of Force.com platform. Navigate to this link to learn more about Database.com. You will find it interesting.

Salesforce is recognizing the challenge behind data placement outside of a company firewall. DRO solution supposed to solve this problem by providing an option to keep data inside of the company. I didn’t find a lot of information about how DRO supposed to work. The general availability of this service is planned for the next year.

This service is also associated with the acquisition salesforce.com made earlier. The Israeli company Novajo Systems was acquired by Salesforce.com a month ago. You can find more information from this eWeek.com article. The company was in the business of data encryption.

PLM, DRO and Database.com

What is going around database.com and DRO is interesting. There are two aspects I want to mention. It first is related to DRO and IT acceptance. Salesforce.com is working with sensitive corporate data. And they are getting more customers. Some of them are probably customers buying CAD and PLM solutions from today’s mindshare vendors. Security is a tough problem indeed. However, once solved it provide an opportunity to other companies and vendors to leverage this option. Another aspect is related to Database.com as an infrastructure layer that can be leveraged by somebody interested to develop a cloud PLM solution. The trust of vendors and existing Salesforce.com relations with IT can be an excellent opportunity for gotomarketing and the foundation of technological acceptance.

What is my conclusion? I think PLM vendors need to pay a close attention on what is going on salesforce.com cloud. The DRO innovation is about how to solve one of the biggest firewalls to enable cloud business solution pathway in large companies working with sensitive data. Manufacturing companies are obsessive about IP. At the same time, IT of these companies are playing with the security “red herring” to protect their territory from companies providing cloud solutions. However, it is not going to stay forever. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM Enterprise App Store: Bad Idea or Future Promise?

September 10, 2011

During the past months, I’ve seen an increased amount of conversations about the future of App Store software model in the enterprise. You, of course, familiar with the App store model. It all started from iTunes and prolifirate to many other places. The question, obviously, raises lots of discussion about pros and cons as well as a discussion about the potential steps software vendors can take to get benefits of app store model in enterprise.

App Store – Next Gen Enterprise?

Dion Hinchcliffe outlined the visionary picture of future Enterprise App Store in his blog already last year. Navigate to the following blog Enterprise App Store and Self-Service IT… to read about how enterprise Apps mixed with the ideas of mashups, SOA and SaaS. Take a look on the following picture to get an idea.

I found this passage interesting.

The premise of an app store model for enterprises is simple: By removing the middleman, the famous bottleneck between the business and IT demand can be reduced in many cases. Application backlogs can shrink, consumption of internal and external IT resources will increase, and fierce competition to provide the best solutions to niches can greatly improve overall quality (the long tail of IT argument), all while reducing costs. At least, that’s what is possible if we look at what’s happening to the non-enterprise software market today.

The idea is to optimize IT by introducing SaaS applications and outsource all IT works to outside providers. At the same time, it can cause significant re-assignment of the work from the internal IT to hosting companies and new class of cloud IT providers.

Why Enterprise App Store is a bad idea?

In parallel, with visionary thoughts about the future next generation of enterprise app stores, I can hear opposite voices. Navigate your browser to the IT World Canada and have a read of Why Enterprise App Stores are Bad Idea?Dilan Persaud is writing about multiple factors that will prevent enterprise app stores to succeed. Here are some of them – the complexity of integration, insufficient level of certification, security and potential hacks in organizations. Here is my favorite quote from this article:

The vendors that have enterprise software App Stores should hopefully have certified each application to integrateseamlessly into the original application and should be an extension of the original application. If support issues do arisewho do you contact for technical support, is there a guarantee of a fix, how will this affect your service level agreementSLA) for downtime and supplier performance, what additional security and IT administration must be set up within thecompany, who does the testing, are employees allowed to try it out on their own, is there a sandbox environment to installthese new apps in, have old project issues been solved to address IT failure, will the new app support a distributedworkforce, will it fit your company strategically, is the vendor viable, how easy it to use, will it require a full changemanagement procedure for adoption, will it require executive buy-in, do existing budget constraints still have to go through project approval process, do you still have to make a valid business case to adopt the new application are some of thequestions that still exist for an enterprise App Store.

PLM App Store Promise

As we can see there are multiple pros and cons for the future model of enterprise app store. Let me try to wear my PLM hat and talk about what I think with the regards to PLM App store. The idea of being able to select an appropriate app from the website and run it inside of a company is an interesting one. PLM vendors may think, it is going to solve their problems related to implementation and future application distribution inside of organizations. However, I have a certain doubt here. In my view, the majority of PLM implementation costs are related to the following two aspects – organizational agreement about future business processes and integration between tools (including CAD tools). It seems to me cloud model proposed today by vendors is not able to solve it. At the same time, CAD and PLM vendors already started to run some implementation of PLM App stores (i.e. Autodesk, Dassault Systemes, etc). Some of them took a decision to develop it by themselves. Others are trying to re-use some existing facilities of consumer apps stores.

What is my conclusion? We are still in a very early beginning with regards to the adoption of cloud and enterprise app store. The current experiments made by vendors are interesting and requires learning and analyzes. However, what is clear to me that rebranding of existing products into App Store won’t solve existing problems of PLM software. I think changes need to happen with regards to how Apps (or product components) are communicating, interacting with people, exchanging data, etc.. In my view, it is too early to say something specific about how fast it will happen. We are going to learn many lessons on that way. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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