The Enterprise and PLM will rock 2012?

December 18, 2011

As usual, at the end of the year, there is a time for blog posts with predictions, opinions and future trends. Last 2-3 years of technological boom were around consumer applications – social, web, mobile. These are three major application field that developed many technologies of the past years. How it may impact enterprise and PLM?

I was reading thebarefootvc blog earlier today – 10+ trends: recap of 2011 and what’s next… One of the trends mentioned in the context of 2012 was Enterprise. This is my favorite passage:

The Enterprise: The last few years have focused on consumer usage and adoption of technology. However, large companies are recovering from the shock of the 2008 collapse and re-aligning to the New Normal. Technology can play a role through cost reduction and creating efficiencies (virtualization, cloud computing) as well as top line revenue enhancement (utilizing data and social media for better customer service and sales strategies). New financial services and healthcare regulation will also create the need for related IT solutions.

It made me think about PLM in 2012. Few important events happened in the end of 2012. One of them – Autodesk entered PLM. This is an important move. Autodesk means "volume". Consumer market is also about volume. Volume means broader adoption and lower prices. Volume is about Toyota and not about Lexus. Second is a broader adoption of the cloud technologies. For many enterprise organizations now it is a question of "when" and not a question of "why".

What is my conclusion? 2012 has a potential to become a year of PLM rock stars. Cost will be one of the most important factors of PLM in a near future. Cloud technologies and behemoths like Autodesk will be playing a significant role in this process. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

DIY PLM and Zero Email Policy

December 16, 2011

Let’s talk about emails today. How many of them are you reading or writing daily? A lot? Emails are with us for the last 50 years. Will it stay with us for the next 50? Actually, some researchers are saying that we are reading fewer emails. Especially when it comes to younger people. Read last year NYT article – Email gets an instant makeover. Take a look on the following chart below from this article.

Younger people are actually banning emails and moving towards social networks. I remember the story that happened to me few months ago on board of the flight to Europe. Talking with my neighbor, I discovered that he has no email account. When I asked him how he is communicating, he said – Facebook and cell phone.

Do It Yourself PLM (DIY PLM)

What is DIY PLM? Earlier, this year, in my presentation during Autodesk Forum in Moscow, I analyzed PLM implementation options. You can see my presentation here. DIY PLM is one of the ways people are implementing PLM these days.

One of the observations, I’ve made is that email is one of the fundamental tools companies are still using to create an easy path to PLM by allowing to people to communicate and run product development processes.

Zero Email Policy

About a couple of weeks ago, I was reading the following ABC News article – Tech Firm Implements Employee Zero Email Policy. Employees of tech company Atos will be banned from sending email under new company "zero emails" policy. Here is a very interesting quote:

CEO Thierry Breton of the French information technology company said only 10 percent of the 200 messages employees receive per day are useful and 18 percent is spam. That’s why he hopes the company can eradicate internal emails in 18 months, forcing the company’s 74,000 employees to communicate with each other via instant messaging and a Facebook-style interface.

What is my conclusion? I think zero emails can be an opportunity for PLM vendors to propose some "new collaboration" infusion to companies. At the time companies are tired from emails and new generation is shifting towards something different like Facebook-style communication, PLM vendors have some advantages. It is already happened. Lead PLM companies are thinking about new "social" ways. You can see Dassault’s 3DSwYm, PTC Social product development and some others. However, vendors, please don’t make it lame… like emails. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

image is courtesy of neboweb.

Why to plot a drawing from mobile device?

December 15, 2011

Mobile becomes more and more important in our everyday life. “You don’t have to be at your desk to make your work”. This is a new slogan, that in my view, replace an old one – ‘you are here to work’. One of the interesting trends I’m following is how business and home are mixed in the modern life.

I’ve been reading Google mobile blog and found the information about Google’s research related to tablet usage. Navigate to the following link to read more and look at few pictures below showing how people using tables in different situations.

It is interesting to see that “checking email” is on both cases is a dominant activity.

One of the people I follow on twitter shared the following video – Océ MobilePlot 1.1 demo. Take a look.

Océ MobilePlot 1.1 demo video from Ben van Erp on Vimeo.

It made me think about what would be a reason for somebody to plot from a mobile device. I can see few potential options for usage – shopfloor, maintenance and support, and maybe some others. I’d be interested to hear your opinion as well.

What is my conclusion? The mobile and consumerization trends are very powerful. People adoption (and addition) to new devices will go from a place where people watching video on youtube at home and sharing photos on Facebook. Watch these applications – we will see examples of them tomorrow in our offices. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Freebie. Océ didn’t pay me to write about Océ mobile plot.

PLM and Global Product Development Strategy

December 13, 2011

Manufacturing business become global even for very small companies these days. It is not unusual to see a company of 100-150 employees having multiple locations using suppliers world wide. How these businesses can survive globally and what systems they need to use? What solutions are available today to support global product development? I decided to put some thoughts about that as well as share some articles related to this topic I had a chance to read earlier this week.

Global PLM system deployment

To support global product development is one imperative objectives for every PLM software provider. Obviously, PLM mindshare vendors are thinking about that. Navigate your browser to the article in Cadalyst few days ago – Break Down the barrier to Global Product Development written by Brian Shepherdof PTC. Brian’s view on global product development and role of PLM can be summarized in the following passage from the article:

Product lifecycle management (PLM) is a key component of GPD. PLM enables geographically dispersed individuals and groups to work collaboratively on products and product development processes through a seamless, integrated information flow.

I found the notion of "integrated information flow" interesting. Later in the article Brian is talking about 5 challenges to achieve global product development – distributed design, collaboration across the enterprise, share data securely, manage complex programs, manage change and achieve scalable performance. The approach PLM mindshare vendors are proposing (and PTC is clearly one of them) is to organize a single environment for people to work collaboratively.

The question I wanted to raise and discuss is how to drive global deployment of such a complicated system as PLM across multiple locations, divisions and departments. This is can be a multi-year complicated and expensive project. None of the challenges mentioned in Cadalyst article are covering this topic, and it surprised me a bit. One of the main problems I see is related to a nature of heterogeneous environment in every global organization.

The Reality of Heterogeneous environments

The global organization is normally heterogeneous. The reason for that is related to the fact how most of global organizations were created. I can see two typical cases – establishment of remote manufacturing facility or acquisition of another company, which includes both engineering and manufacturing functions. In both situations, the biggest problem is to integrate multiple heterogeneous systems into a single one. Alternative is to keep working systems for some time and establish a new system gradually. This process can be complicated and expensive. In many situations, companies are leaving with existing systems for a very long period of time.

Global Part Numbers and Global Development Strategy

Thinking about how organization can shift successfully to a global model, I’m coming with my 3 elements of potential global development strategy:

1 – share data across locations;
2 – establish global identification for items and documents
3 – integrated engineering and manufacturing environments

Steve Amman of Zero-Wait State wrote about why use of intelligent part numbers is a wrong way to think about when you want to establish a global environment. Here is an interesting passage from Steve’s post – What is so difficult about product development strategy? Let’s start from Part Numbers…

The old way is to try to create or use an existing divisions “intelligent” part numbering scheme that was set up before we had modern PDM, PLM and ERP systems. Part numbers can be coded with prefixes and suffixes to represent different part types, product lines, and commodity codes and a whole bunch of other translations for the numbers so they can be organized mostly on a spreadsheet. The more information you are trying to code into the part numbers, the more you trap yourself into this old methodology.

As an alternative, Steve is proposing to use the power of PLM meta data to classify information instead of intelligent part numbers. This is can be a complicated goal if your global PLM environment is not established yet. An alternative to this approach can be the establishment of sharing network with the information resided into existing systems.

What is my conclusion? I think, global product development startegy is hard. I can see companies are working years to achieve that. Even very well organized companies are crashing to deliver the results in a short period of time. Taking steps into sharing data, create an overall identification and integrate two most complicated systems – engineering and manufacturing can take a company in the right direction. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

PLM Think Tank November top 5

December 11, 2011

I’m a bit late with my top 5 review for November. It was a tough month for me because of travels. I made double-Vegas. What does it mean you can ask? It means that Vegas this year became a top PLM destination. Back in June, PTC organized their annual conference in Vegas. However, in November, both Dassault System and Autodesk managed to have their annual customer events (DSCC 2011 and AU 2011) in Las Vegas.

I wasn’t surprised by the results of November’s top 5. Clearly, Autodesk with the announcement about Nexus PLM made a hit. Top two most viewable topics on my blog are related to Autodesk. So, with this short intro, let me take you to the list.

Autodesk Enters PLM: Everything Changes… for Autodesk

Autodesk is taking a huge step forward to deliver a different PLM. This is a significant step for the company that was focused on design tools for many years, starting from early AutoCAD days back 1980s. I liked cloud-based strategy and how it was presented by Autodesk. I can see it very promising. The analyzes presented by Autodesk people in PLM spaces shows that Autodesk is definitely learning from mistakes made by “big 3″ mind-share PLM providers. Focusing on processes is an interesting approach. However, it is important not to loose “data” grounds – it happened to many companies in the space of “business process management” (you can read more about this in my post – PLM controversy about process vs. data management). I want to learn more about Vault/ Nexus bundle. In my view, it contains a potential danger (similar to what happened with SolidWorks n!Fuze). Overall, I can see Autodesk is in the beginning of PLM learning curve. It is a very interesting time, and I’m looking forward to many fruitful PLM discussions.

Autodesk PLM Nexus – First Hands On Demo

Nexus PLM has nice and slick web user experience. Without practicall hands-on it is hard to say something about ease of navigation and the estimate the number of clicks you need to do to perform an action (click-per-action). These two things normally drive crazy users in data-oriented web environment. I found very positive the fact Autodesk is thinking about “insane customization”. However, it will be interested to see and experiment with how the complexity of customization will co-exist with cloud-based multi-tenant deployment. It reminds me one of my old posts – Is PLM customization a Data Management Titanic? Another critical aspect that wasn’t covered is data import or integration with existing systems (i.e. Files, Archives, Content Management, PDM, PLM, ERP, etc.). The answer Autodesk provided pointed to some internal development with Autodesk Vault as well as a future work with partners. That would be very interesting to see in the future. Overall, Nexus has a potential to disrupt. I’m looking forward to seeing how Autodesk will realize this potential.

PLM: Controversy About Process vs. Data Management

I think the failure to design data access in organizations, was a recipe for disaster for many PLM implementations. PLM programs were focused on “how to improve processes” and forgot about how to put a solid data foundation to support cross-departmental process implementations. So, I’d like to put a quote from Bell Helicopter’s presentation during DSCC 2011 as something PLM vendors and customers need to remember – “to get the core data right first”. Just my opinion, of course. YMMV.

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

You can see how Carl Bass, Autodesk CEO re-defines ‘business casual’. In addition, 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…

DSCC 2011: How Dassault Blends PLM and Search Based Applications?

Dassault is clearly innovating by adding Exalead technology to their portfolio. As Laurent mentioned during our conversation, everybody these days understood that the ability to handle information becomes very important. Search technology is an interesting competitive advantage Dassault is having. Compare it other CAD/PLM players (Siemens, PTC and Autodesk) – they need to outsource these capabilities to companies acquired by Oracle, Microsoft and HP. I believe Exalead will be used by Enovia to improve their search capabilities. I haven’t seen a demo of this, but assume Dassault will replace Autonomy OEM by Exalead. Delivery of EXA-like applications sounds like an interesting trend. However, speaking about Enovia vs. Exalead platform it is still hard to see how they are blending together. Which, of course, can be played nicely by saying – it is all part of DS V6… voilà. Just my thoughts, of course.

Best, Oleg

Picture credit to Shaan Hurley blog

Crowd-sourcing in CAD / PLM software development

December 11, 2011

The topic of crowd-sourcing is fascinating these days. Community based development is interesting topic, and I’m continuing to follow different aspects of crowd-sourcing and finding new examples. I had a chance to write about Local Motors few weeks ago – it was a perfect example of crowd-sourcing and community-based development. Earlier today, I had a chance to read about interesting examples of how Autodesk is using crowd-sourcing to improve localization of their products. Localization is a complicated topic. Even if you’re hiring the best bi-lingual people, your software won’t be perfect.

Autodesk is proposing for users of Inventor 2012 to participate in the project to improve Autodesk Inventor translation. Navigate to the following link (in Russian) and you can see how you can propose a new translation for a specific term and / or command.

I found another interesting example in crowd-sourcing in PLM software – Aras Community roadmap. Navigate to following link and see how you can actually "vote" for specific features and functionality.

This story is specifically ineresting in my view. The ability of software vendor to manage in a very precisely way what features and functionality need to be implemented is a complicated product management objective. To use crowd-sourcing principles in this project is a very interesting and innovative approach, in my view.

What is my conclusion? Crowd-sourcing is fascinating and inspiring. I think it opens additional opportunities in the way nobody thoughts before. It is promising, and I’m expecting more in the future.

Best, Oleg

How to streamline PLM?

December 10, 2011

One of the biggest problem I can see in all PDM / PLM tools is a high level of the complexity. I’ve been thinking about it many times. After observing this industry for quite some time, I started to come to conclusion that solutions are becoming more complicated without becoming more functional. I’ve been reading the article The case for stripped-down enterprise 2.0 tools on by Moly Bernhart Walker. He was quoting Tim Young of Socialcast. Here is my favorite passage:

"Simple tools are incredibly powerful," said Young Nov. 15, during a keynote at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara, Calif. It’s very difficult to solve a complex problem with a complex tool, he added. What we’ve been doing with customers is actually moving away, stripping away functionality and making it very, very simple by just focusing on one or two activity screens. And we’ve actually begun to see the value in this," said Young.

I decided to pull few old pictures of EDM and PDM tools and take a look on them from the angle of PLM 2012.

How to strip-down PLM?

I think, we’ve been obsessed by the power of computer, higher screen resolution and interest to push additional functionality in the PLM software. It is a time to stop and think. Here is the slide from last presentation I’ve made during Autodesk University 2011.

PLM software is bloody complicated. To find a right strip-down option will be an appropriate way to think about the next PLM solution.

What is my conclusion? PLM was born many years to solve the problem of product development in complex defense and aerospace companies. Since that time, software vendors passed a long way developing new functionality. However, I don’t think it made solutions better. It is very hard to remove functionality for existing software. At the same time, I don’t see any alternative to that in the future. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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