AU2011: New PLM Software Frontiers

November 30, 2011

Autodesk University 2011. Day 1. If you visited AU at least once you know how it looks like. Thousands people packed to talk about Autodesk software and beyond. When I’m still digesting Autodesk announcement about Nexus PLM, I wanted to share with you the my presentation during the AU Innovation forum: Everything Changes:

What is my conclusion? I don’t think Autodesk made a surprise by their decision to move into PLM business. Big announcements have a short lifecycle. I’m going to learn more about Autodesk Nexus PLM in coming days. I’m sure it will bring many new themes on my blog to discuss, and I’m looking forward to hearing your opinion.

Best, Oleg

Autodesk: CAD is done. Now PLM. The moment before AU…

November 29, 2011

As you know, I’m in Las Vegas these days attending AU 2011. Autodesk is preparing some big messages these years, and I hope to share my opinion about that with you very soon. Yesterday, I was attending media and press meeting with Autodesk execs, including Autodesk CEO Carl Bass, Manufacturing division VP Robert (Buzz) Kross and Autodesk Labs Director Brian Mathews. Below few pictures that can give you in impression of what I’ve seen in connection to manufacturing and PLM.

CAD is done. Cloud is coming.

There is only one company in the world, I know that use word “cloud” more extensively than  Autodesk these days. This company is Autodesk is aggressively coming with large amount of solutions that use cloud. PLM will be one of them.

Manufacturing: Global and Faster

It seems to me Autodesk is understanding the challenges of manufacturing these days. Global, Complex, Fast. You can see it from the slide presented by Robert (Buzz) Kross.

Q&A with Carl Bass

Carl Bass made his long Q&A with press and media. His appearance was very friendly. You can see a picture of Carl I made during the Q&A. I processed photo with “hipster” filter on my Camera+ app In my view, it reflect Carl’s mood during this Q&A. Carl answered on multiple questions about design, modern technological and industrial trends, software, cloud, etc.

What is my conclusion? I’m trying to make my conclusion about what I’ve heard in the connection with PLM. Autodesk is definitely recognizing PLM as a future opportunity. After what was done in PLM by Dassault, Siemens PLM and PTC, to democratize PLM will be probably a biggest challenge for Autodesk. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Why you should (or not) be using Arena PDXViewer

November 27, 2011

The story of standards is always fascinating. I love these stories on my blog and spent quite a lot of time talking to people about standards. Do you know what is common between standards and toothbrushes? Here, you go -“standards and toothbrushes -everyone needs to use them, but nobody wants to use someone else’s”. So, I was reading Arena Solutions blog yesterday – Why you should be using the PDX File Standard.

For the sake of truth, I had a chance to speak to Arena PLM folks few weeks ago. Here are some of my thoughts about PDXViewer.

PDXViewer. The need is here.

The idea of sharing information using free tools isn’t new. The story, in a nutshell, is simple. Your company will keep PLM system (actually any enterprise system controlling information is good for this story) and it will control the information you need in your company. However, as Arena’s blog is stating, your problem will be to share the information with people outside of your company.

The point of purchasing a PLM or PDM system is to simplify and centralize your BOMs and other product data. But once your BOMs, Items, AMLs and associated content exist in a structured format, you are faced with a new problem—how do you share your data with vendors and internal players who aren’t plugged into your PLM or PDM system?

You can ask how do you deal with the problem now. The madness of sharing data is here. The following quote brings you the top stories about possible (and impossible) ways company use to share data.

Without PDX files, preparing a build package for delivery is a mixture of black magic, blood, sweat and data from a business system. In some companies, one person is hired or trained to access the system for the sole purpose of sending data to suppliers once or twice a year. At other companies, data is pulled manually out of the PLM system by the design engineers, who put the data into an Excel spreadsheet and send it to suppliers in binders or zip files.

Why to use PDXViewer

You may find the “PDXViewer” way quite powerful. Pull data out of your PLM system, publish or send it in PDX format. Use free tool. I think many people will find it useful. I found user experience of PDXViewer nice. What you practically do is to export subset of your data and access it with a limited set of functionality. Another benefit – the level of encapsulation file gives you – you don’t need to go in multiple places to search for the information you need.

What concern do I have

My main concern is “file”. This is my usual suspect for problems. Don’t take me wrong – files are good and mankind is using files for the last 40+ years with various computer systems. However, when I move my thoughts towards the cloud and the internet, files become actually my concern. How do you manage files? What is the right (or last) revision of your file? Another significant problem is related to the changes. In case you allow to make changes to data outside of your system you burned to support multiple data synchornization, which is very painful for all people involved into this process.

What is my conclusion? I found two absolute advantages of PDXViewer – it is free, and you can enjoy a simple user interface. It definitely solves the problem of people accessing information outside of the company firewall and serves IT concerns about non-company users accessing information inside of the company. At the same time, I have a concern about files. In other words, I think there is a “better way” to organize people’s access to the information. Sending files can be a good solution, but it can get complicated within the time. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Historical Perspective: From Ivan Satherland to Modern 2D/3D Sketch Apps

November 27, 2011

The announcement made by Dassault System last week, made me think about a huge distance CAD industry passed for the almost 50 years, since Ivan Sutherland first time demonstrated “Sketchpad, A Man-Machine Graphical Communication System”.

In order to prevent a discussion between Autodesk Alias and CATIA Sketch folks, I just decided to put these two videos. I think, in terms of contrasts, they are both valid comparison to what was done 50 years ago.

What is my conclusion? There are no conclusions on Sunday :). I’m prepping for AU2011 and even more to speak at AU Innovation Forum on Tuesday. For those who are on the way to Las Vegas, hope to catch up and see you there.

Best, Oleg

Autodesk PLM story is about to begin. AU 2011.

November 26, 2011

I’m coming to AU 2011 this year. As you already know, Autodesk is planning to unveil their PLM story. In the pre-announcement Autodesk made it called – Everything Changes 11/29/11. The formal name of the forum: Everything Changes – The Future of Management of Innovation. I will be the guest of this forum together with Randi Zuckerberg and Monica Schnitger. To tease you a bit, here is the first slide of my presentation.

To learn more about the forum navigate your browser to the following link. This session is planned Tuesday, November 29, 1:00pm. Here is the passage from the forum description saying what you can expect to see from Autodesk folks during this session:

During this forum, we will show that by providing diverse, distributed teams with secure, affordable, easy-to-use, and simple-to-deploy solutions, Autodesk is removing the traditional barriers associated with managing innovation, making information available to anyone, anytime, anywhere. Enabled by the cloud and fully integrated with in-house design applications and data management systems, these solutions streamline business processes and design workflows for increased efficiency, improved profitability, and higher quality outcomes.

Hope to see you next week in Vegas. For all my followers and friends that are not coming, following my twitter stream and hashtag #AU2011 for more information.

Best, Oleg

Do It Yourself (DIY) PLM and Microsoft Excel Services

November 26, 2011

Many of the engineers (and not only) are using Microsoft Excel. People are literally lives inside of Excel spreadsheets. When it comes to PDM and PLM, I prefer to call it DIY (Do It Yourself) PLM. If you really on the DIY path, I think you need to be aware about so-called Excel Services available in Microsoft SharePoint since version 2007. In 2010, Microsoft improved significantly the capabilities of Excel Services.

You can read more about Excel Services by navigating to the following link. In addition, I found a very interesting video interview with Jon Campbell, program manager within Microsoft Excel services team. It was made almost a year ago. At the same time, I found it still something you use to educate yourself about SharePoint Excel Services.

Note, Excel services are very sophisticated. I was screening another article about Excel services – Excel Services in SharePoint. Here is the set of recommendation how to use Excel services to build a custom application:

Custom Applications: Excel Services help create custom applications—for example, ASP.NET applications—that can:

1. Call Excel Web Services to access, parameterize, and calculate workbooks.

2. Open, refresh external data, set cells or ranges, recalculate, participate in collaborative editing sessions with other applications or people, save, and save as.

3. Use custom workflows to schedule calculation operations or send e-mail notifications.

Above all this, in multiple server configurations, Excel Services load-balances requests across multiple Excel Calculation Services occurrences in a farm configuration. If your installation includes multiple application servers, Excel Services will balance the load in an attempt to help ensure that no single application server is overloaded by requests.

What is my conclusion? SharePoint is wide adopted by manufacturing enterprise companies. To use Excel as a platform to develop you DIY PLM solution can be an interesting option. However, I want to warn you about an appropriate resource planning and service budge allocation. DIY normally on the expensive side. SharePoint is not an exclusion from this list. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

PLM and My Reading List

November 26, 2011

It is a long weekend in US. Even if my day-to-day business activities are not completely US oriented, I can feel some relaxing moments since yesterday. I was sorting out my bookshelf today. Since 3 months ago, I made myself switching completely to digital reading. Nevertheless, I found quite many books that were on my reading list for the last 6 months.

Here is my list:

Steve Krug: Don’t make me think

Chris Andreson: FREE

Peter Aiken: Data Reverse Engineering

Brian Solis: ENGAGE

Dave Garwod: Bill of Materials for a Lean Enterprise

Marc Benioff: Behind the cloud

Frank Watts: Engineering Documentation Control Book

Brian Halligan, Dharmesh Shah: Inbound Marketing

Michael Ogrinz: Mashup Patterns

Walter Isaacson: Steve Jobs

What is my conclusion? Read more, despite the absence of time :). I’d love to have your recommendation on future reading in product lifecycle management and beyond…

Best, Oleg


PLM and IT Consumerization: Top 3 Show Stoppers

November 23, 2011

Have you heard about "Consumerization" in IT? I’m sure you had a chance to read about this trend. If not, navigate to the following Wikipedia link. The idea, in a nutshell, is related to a growing usage of the application and devices originally available in the consumer space in enterprise and/or business.

Consumerization is a stable neologism that describes the trend for new information technology to emerge first in theconsumer market and then spread into business organizations, resulting in the convergence of the IT and consumer electronics industries, and a shift in IT innovation from large businesses to the home. For example, many people now find that their home based IT equipment and services are both more capable and less expensive than what is provided in their workplace. The term, consumerization, was first popularized by Douglas Neal and John Taylor of CSC‘s Leading Edge Forum in 2001 and is one of the key drivers of the Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 movements.

There are quite many examples in this space. The simplest one is usage of private smart phones in business. It was significant 1-2 years ago when enterprises hesitated to move towards Apple’s iPhones and restricted employees to use alternative Windows Phones or Blackberries. Another example is usage of multiple Apps coming from app stores by people. Collaboration software is another example. How many times you used Google Apps or gmail because the similar service provided by IT in your organization wasn’t available?

I’ve been reading Trend Microconsumerization Report 2011 on the plane yesterday and found some interesting numbers there. Navigiate your browser to the following link to read more.

So, what happens in PLM? Can we find ourselves using consumer application in engineering and manufacturing or the domain is too specific to be exposed into consumer application? Here is my take. I don’t believe, there is a real risk to replace CAD, CAE and other specialized application. However, there are two segments of applications that can be heavy involved and impacted by consumer applications: communication and collaboration. Email, data sharing, social networking and communication (video conference utilities, etc.). It made me think about the potential of risks and aspects companies can be exposed as a result of such a "consumerization".

In my view, a single element of exposure can happen because of employees using non-IT approved applications. It is DATA. It made me think about the potential showstoppers. I can select three and I want to speak about them separately.

1. Data Ownership.

As a result of consumer application usage, data can easily migrate or been originated outside of organizational facilities. It can cause losing control of IT organization and cause risks in losing IP related to the core company activities. The accounts in consumer applications can be compromised, and data ownership cannot be claimed. It is very hard (even impossible) to get data back from outside services and/or locations.

2. Data Security

I have really mixed feeling about this topic. Even if I truly believe, in many situations iT uses the topic of security as "a red herring", the security risks are indeed existed if employees are using consumer services. Consumer service security capabilities are not standing aligned with enterprise requirements and sometime consumer web apps provided by small companies that really doesn’t care about security so much. As a result of that, information located outside of organization can be accessed or access can be compromised.

3. Data Compliancy

If data is located in your X:\ drive or Google Apps account, it is work related and most compliancy rules needs to apply. SOX, FRCP, GLBA. All elements and requirements needs to be in place. Not sure Instagram or Foursquare software are actually aware about how to meet regulatory (requirements) in that situation. It is a really good question that needs to be asked before you placing company data in these applications.

What is my conclusion? Where consumer apps provide a great deal of usability, flexibility and cost-efficiency, companies need to be concerned about DATA, employees shares outside. Email, collaboration, conference file-sharing services – all needs to be concerned as a potential service exposes data in your organization. To work with software vendors that actually thinking about how to provide cloud (and other) services without breaching your data and increase company risks needs to be a priority for many IT organizations.

Just my thoughts..

Best, Oleg

Microsoft Socl and Social PLM Thoughts

November 21, 2011

Do you know what is Microsoft Socl? I didn’t know until yesterday. However, now I know. It is a new research project by Microsoft, which supposed to become a next social network. Mashable just wrote about it four days ago here. Who is behind this project? This is what Mashable article says:

First published by The Verge on Wednesday, Microsoft tells Mashable that, “Microsoft’s FUSE Labs is an internal research group working on a number of forward-looking projects related to future possibilities around social search. Socl is one of the projects that we are exploring. We’ll let you know as soon as we have more to share.

However, watch the video:

You may ask me- how it is related? We already got MySpace, Facebook, Google+… now what? – Socl. Here is the point. As you probably know, I’m less interested in social networks, but more interested in PLM management.

Will PLM lose social competition to CRM?

The PLM vendors recently speaking a lot of “social” and how it is going to change their product offering. I had a chance to write about it multiple times. However, I want to point out to one specific blog I wrote 2 years ago (24-Nov): How many social platforms we need for enterprise? I wanted to get back to the same question again when I was watching socl video by Microsoft. At the same time, PLM vendors are developing social platforms – PTC, Dassault, Autodesk… Everybody is trying to play this social card.

I can see a very significant problem for all PLM social solutions – they are disconnected from people. Don’t take me wrong – obviously people are using PLM solutions in enterprise companies. However, the majority of people are not. Remember, time ago, PLM competed with ERP about “who” owns the item definition. ERP won, PLM lost the competition. Why do you think it happened? In my view, here is the reason – you have to to touch “Item Master” to manufacture the product. So, you will use ERP and it manage Item masters. You are not necessarily needed to touch “item” to run PLM. You can do it, of course. However, it happens much rarely. The same happens with social and CRM. If you are contacting your customers – you must be social. Therefore, everybody will touch Chatter or similar social platform from CRM provider. However, PLM social platform will be downgraded to people that touch PLM platform only.

What is my conclusion? Social platforms cannot change the position of a system in the organization. You need to have people around the social platform to make it work and progress. It happens to CRM, but it probably won’t happen to PLM. So, maybe PLM vendors need to focus on something 100% of the users need? Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Google vs. Microsoft at General Motors: What does it mean for PLM Cloud?

November 18, 2011

Cloud big time… It is probably coming to General Motors. Google is fighting against Microsoft to supply 100’00 license deal for GM. Navigate your browser to the following article – GM is the latest battleground between Microsoft Office and Google Apps. Read the story. Automaker is running 100’000 seats of Notes. Will the number moves to Google or Microsoft? The following passage is interesting:

If GM were to deploy Google Apps to the 100,000 seats it has apparently contracted to study, it would be a huge win for Google. No other customer approaches that scale: The City of Los Angeles signed a contract for 30,000 Google Apps seats two years ago, but only 17,000 seats have been rolled out, with the LAPD still stalling. Genentech has about 15,000 users; KLM about 11,000 users, Valeo about 30,000, the U.S. General Services Administration about 17,000, and Rentokil about 35,000.

Think about the numbers. Also, think about other customers mentioned above. Does it ring the bell? I think it does.

How PLM software vendors can leverage Google Cloud?

It is always good if somebody fights your fight. The story about Google vs. Microsoft GM Cloud fight made me think about what PLM vendors got to do with regards to this? Companies like GM are very conservative. You need to spend a huge deal of money to convince behemoths to change their strategies. Assuming Google will convince GM and other automotive companies to shift towards Google App from Microsoft SharePoint and Office. It can turn up an opportunity window for PLM and other engineering and manufacturing solution providers into GM-like deals. Is it going to work? I think, it is hard to say, for the moment. However, long term Google has a huge potential. Will Microsoft be ready to protect their home turf? I’m sure they will. It will come as a bundle of W8, Skype, Office and other solutions. They have a chance to keep the territory.

What is my conclusion? The battle about cloud solutions is still in the future. PLM companies are trying shallow water by playing cloud with a small amount of customers. For most of them, it is about how to check technologies and solutions. Company like DS already spent huge chunks of money for R&D cloud efforts. Autodesk is still preparing to come to PLM space and surprise everybody. It is not much known about Siemens and PTC. In the past CAD/PLM companies leveraged their partnership with Microsoft, IBM and other large technological partners. How to choose the right partner for the future cloud battle is a good question to ask. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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