Facecasts, Out-of-the-Cloud PLM and other buzzwords…

June 29, 2012

Buzzwords are funny things. Earlier today, I learned few new buzzwords. First was "Facecast". You may think this is something related to "Face…". Ha :)… It looks like something you knew before as a webcast, but running on the Facebook. Isn’t it funny? However, let’s move on.. I’ve been watching Rob Cohee facecast speaking about PLM 360yesterday. If you didn’t catch it , navigate to AutoCAD facecasts records and watch it in recording.

Rob gave some introductory speak about PLM 360. The key topics were flying around simplicity, availability, user experience, cloud, etc. The demo of Change Request flying from Rob’s laptop to iPad was nice and I liked it. However, one new term hit me hard in the middle of the facecast – Out-of-the-Cloud PLM. It was actually entertaining comparing Out-of-the-Box paradigm with Out-of-the-Cloud one. I gave my thumbs up for funny marketing.

However, Out-of-the-Cloud buzzword made me think about some associations with OOTB (Out-of-the-box) term ideas that PLM companies used in the past decade very often. You might be interested to read one of my previous posts about the topic – PLM Out-of-the-Box: Misleading or Focusing? The idea of OOTB was to deliver PLM and to decrease the cost of PLM implementations and services by providing ready to be used software modules. The idea was good, but unfortunately didn’t fly well. It worked well for marketing purposes, but hit the wall of implementation complexity. After all, companies still requested customizations and changes.

OOTC (Out-of-the-cloud) thing has a chance to hit the same wall. At the end, delivery service is still not everything you need. The fact software delivered from the cloud still won’t resolve all the problem. The right PLM functionality is what matter. Autodesk defines PLM 360 as very flexible and customizable. I’d be focusing on this one as more important, including the ability to keep cost of changes very low.

What is my conclusion? I like funny marketing buzzwords. Out-of-the-cloud is one of them. However, in my view, it has a dangerous association with something that didn’t work in the past (OOTB). Successful PLM needs to deliver a balance between functionality, cost of delivery and cost of change. PLM360 has a potential. I want to learn how it will be realized in the field. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

PLM Communities and Let-go Threshold

June 28, 2012

Communities are booming these days. Social networks and Web 2.0 unlocked the potential of interaction online and the idea of gathering people in a community went to mainstream. However, the original idea has nothing common with web. We can go back to organization of elite clubs, unions, discussion groups and many others. The internet makes it easy, by allowing everybody sharing content and subscribe on changes. Nowadays, we are learning how addictive this type of behavior could be. Facebook’s statistics can give you an idea of that. If you interested to know more facts, navigate to the following Mashable article – How to Tell if You’re Addicted to Facebook. I found the following passage interesting:

“The use of Facebook has increased rapidly. We are dealing with a subdivision of Internet addiction connected to social media,” said Cecilie Schou Andreassen, who conducted the study. Andreassen heads the research project “Facebook Addiction” at the University of Bergen (UiB) in Norway. The results of her research have just been published in the journal Psychological Reports.

Following public web, enterprise software companies are looking how to turn the power of communities to their advantages. The community of users was one of the most straightforward steps for many of them, but I don’t see it as a very successful one. Most of the discussion groups were limited to active users, which limit the ability to growth viral. Restrictions and social networks are not working well together.

I can see some interesting and innovative examples of community building in the space of CAD/PLM software. Aras Corp., a provider of enterprise open-source software is trying to leverage their wide free user base by organizing a community of so-called Aras Open Users. Navigate to the following link to read – Who is the member of Aras Open User Club. Aras is trying to addict users by free licensing and open resources helping to run a successful implementation. The following passage grabbed my attention:

Go to the self help section, absorb all of the information on our website, watch demos, check out the forums and learn all about the capabilities of Aras. Share this info with members of the tech team and eventual users to help them get familiar with Aras. Next, you need a roll out plan that includes how you intend to get everyone on board. The good news is that once your users understand their roles and how this powerful tool is going to help them get more done faster with better information, there will be no stopping them. Check aras.com for tips on roll out plans too.

Another example is the community of engineers built by GrabCAD. A startup company, GrabCAD is trying to follow "facebook" style allowing to engineers to upload and download CAD models for free. Funded by VCs and CAD industry veterans, GrabCAD demonstrates a very interesting way to organize engineers into community.

Together with some critics related to IP protection (read here), GrabCAD shows very impressive numbers – 250K registered engineers, 40K CAD models and 3M downloads.

What is my conclusion? I’m sure you’re familiar with "Let-go Threshold" term from your electricity school lessons. The ultimate question to all "community builders" is how to develop addiction to the network / community. Facebook did it. Some other social networks missed the point on their way and failed. In my view, the most successful communities were built around mainstream products such as SolidWorks and Autodesk. To have the right content is a key factor. A potential CAD / PLM community content is sensitive. Very often it related to IP ownership and company product development and manufacturing practices. It is not a simple place to innovate. Do you think "social innovation" is just in the early beginning of the innovation spiral? Will PLM companies be able to develop the volume of content going beyond "let-go threshold"? This is an interesting place to innovate. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

What are top 3 PLM Hadoop Use Cases?

June 27, 2012

If you are technology savvy these days, you probably know what is Apache Hadoop. It originally came to us from the magic world of Google and was derived from Google Map Reduce andGoogle File System. In a nutshell, Hadoop is a framework that allows you split data processing of huge chunks of data. It contains of two parts – Hadoop File System (HDFS) and Map Reduce. The role of HDFS is to take large file and split it into small chunks of data stored in many servers. Map Reduce is a framework that allows you to distribute the work between many processes and, by doing so, process vast amount of data in parallel by sharing the work to be completed between multiple servers.

Hadoop became very popular. The interest to Hadoop is growing. Availability to computing power from services like Amazon EC2 combined with the power of Hadoop has a potential to unlock many situations related to information analytic and data processing.

Few days ago, I had a chance to listen to the roundtable of analysts – Top 5 Innovation for Hadoop in Enterprise. The discussion was around booming interest in Hadoop, who is using it and what are the potential of Hadoop application in the enterprise organization related to hidden data. I captured the following opportunities:

Supply Chain optimization

Product Quality investigation

Workflow /Business Rules optimization

Visualization /Hypnotizes around data

Integration and automatic data discovery

High-Availability, data replication and global data access

It made me think about what is the potential of Hadoop in PLM implementations and how PLM vendors can leverage the power of Hadoop for product development and manufacturing.

1. Data high availability

The availability of data becomes very critical nowadays. Globally distributed teams, disparate data sources, networks and mobile access. All these elements together raise the question of making data available to right people in organization. In my view, the ability of Hadoop to process large volumes can solve many problems of data distribution and replication.

2. Product Quality Investigation

The demand for product quality increases significantly nowadays. However, very often, quality issue investigation is not a simple data task. It requires processing of large volumes of data coming from development, manufacturing supply chain, customer relation management system and other data sources. In my view, Hadoop can open new horizons in how product quality data issues can be analyzed.

3. Supply Chain optimization

Supply chain is one of the most critical factors allowing to manufacturing companies to optimize cost and performance. The stream of data related to internal and external suppliers’ performance are extremely complex. To get data about supply chain operation and make optimization can be a very interesting opportunity.

What is my conclusion? The potential hidden in data is huge. Hadoop unlocks the potential we haven’t had a chance to use before. Efficient data processing algorithms and data intelligence will be driving manufacturing companies for the next decade. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

PLM: Cloud and Open Source Disruptive Trajectories

June 25, 2012

Disruption. This is a word that dominates in many technological (and not only…) discussions. It is not a big secret – disruption means changes and opportunity. Back in my blogging histories 3 years ago –Future PLM face to face: Open Source vs. Cloud. After more than three years I still hold my opinion that these are two major changing opportunities in PLM industry. Few days ago, I came across an interesting article in CIO magazine – 5 Ways Cloud Computing Is Like Open Source. It is worth reading. It made me think about the common future between open source and cloud in the context of PLM systems.

Open Source Historical Lessons

Backward in early 2000s. We had lots of debates about the value of open source, specifically for enterprise software industry. I remember long running discussions about valuations of open source companies and many others. I remember the time back "open source" wasn’t allowed as a class to be included in software projects for enterprise. Here is an interesting passage from the same CIO article:

Open source triumphed. Corporate systems today routinely include a range of open-source components as a matter of course. One can argue that most of the new software components that corporations are using are, in fact, open source. I would even argue that, today, most of the innovation in infrastructure software is occurring in open-source projects, not proprietary products.

Open Source vs. Cloud: Similar Disruption?

However, these days I can see some synergy between open source models and cloud models. Aras, one of the leaders in enterprise open source, is moving to the cloud. You can read some more details about Aras’ cloud plans in my post from Aras Community Event – ACE 2012. The arguments in CIO article made me think about some sort of similarities between how value of PLM open source and Cloud PLM are presented to vendors and customers. Here is the list:

– Cloud computing provides ease of access
– Cloud computing cost less
– Cloud foster experiments and innovation
– The cloud lowers the cost of uncertainty
– The cloud challenge IT in the same way open source did

Cloud vs. Open Source: PLM Trajectories

In my view, PLM has some specific trajectories in the development of open source and cloud projects. The disruptive influence of cloud and open source looks very similar to me. At the same time, manufacturing companies are reacting differently on the potential of open source and the cloud. The potential of Aras PLM in building a powerful community around Aras Innovator is interesting. At the same time, high activity around cloud projects from large PLM companies (eg. Autodesk PLM 360) and small startups requires attention from competitors before cloud projects will triumph similar to open source.

What is my conclusion? Cloud and Open Source are equally disruptive for PLM. At the same time, open source and cloud project are positioned in a different place in the hype cycle. Open Source is a clear industry winner these days. At the same time there are lots of discussions around cloud PLM these days. What will be a dynamic of cloud PLM in the next few years? Will PLM and Open Source merge in their disruptive influence on PLM market? These are questions I’m asking these days… What is your take? Speak your mind, please.

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Wikipedia Hype Cycle Article.

What is the future of PLM VARs?

June 22, 2012

Transformation is coming to many places these days. Look how the internet, mobile, cloud (and not only…) transformed our world. You can hardly can find a place that behaves similar to how it was back 10-15 years ago. However, wait a minute… What about CAD, PDM, PLM VARs? Are they the same as before? Our consumption behaviors are changing, the ways we are buying software are changing. Maybe it is a time to re-think the way we sell the software too?

I came to this topic few times before. Navigate to The future of PLM Consultancyand Will PLM Channels survive cloud era? to read my previous posts about that topic. Two main conclusions – 1/cloud is not destroying consultancy business; 2/the transformation of distribution and service channels will be impacted by cloud software.

Few days ago, I came across an interesting article – VARs want SuperVAD with sales and tech skills by CRN Sam Trendall. I can see the demand for technical skills as something very typical for Engineering and PLM sales channels. With the high level of product complexity and cloud service delivery, technical qualification will be one of the differentiation factors for VARs to compete. Another important service is go to market. The cost of customer acquisition is one of the most critical factors for successful cloud services’ sales. Here is an interesting quote from CRN article:

A survey of VARs across Europe, commissioned by VAD Exclusive Networks, finds that the big three distribution virtues coveted by resellers are, in order of importance: technical excellence; marketing support; and credit facilities. Some 70 per cent of respondents consider lead generation to be a value-added service of the utmost importance. Two-thirds said the same of the ability to act as a VAR’s proxy in technical pre-sales environments, while round-the-clock Level 1-2 post-sales support was highly prized by 64 per cent of resellers.

There are several companies experimenting with cloud PLM software – Autodesk (PLM 360), Dassault Systems and Arena. Siemens PLM and PTC are not providing any cloud services today. PTC Windchill hosted by IBM is probably an exclusion (I haven’t heard about it already long time). I never heard about SolidWorks VARs selling n!Fuze product. In my view, the most interesting place of experiments among VARs is Autodesk. How Autodesk will organize PLM 360 distribution and services? This is an interesting question to ask.

What is my conclusion? In my view, technical skills and online marketing services will be the differentiation factors for VARs in the future cloud PLM business. We are in the beginning of this process. Interesting and challenging time with lots of opportunities. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Microsoft Surface and Enterprise Dual Standards

June 21, 2012

Well… It happened. Microsoft officially became "hardware company". Keyboards, mice, even XBOX and Kinect… All these devices are in a history. Microsoft Surface was officially announced few days ago and Microsoft became an official manufacturer of Microsoft branded table computers.

. Navigate here to see detailed technical spec. I put few video links below:

You can watch another video with some technical details and comparison.

Speaking about CAD / PLM community reaction, I had a chance to screen SolidSmack post – Microsoft Surface. The age of CAD on a tablet is upon us. Josh Mings is asking few important questions. Here is the relevant passage:

The big question. I don’t like small screens, but I don’t like not being mobile either. Given the choice right now, I’d be inclined to choose the Microsoft Surface with it’s 10.6″ display over a larger laptop. You? Oh, another thought on this. A lot of companies have been racing to bring out iOS apps, Autodesk having the most CAD/Design related. Could it be that other 3D software companies are holding off, thinking that regular software will be able to run on tablets before the demand for professional level mobile devices picks up? I believe so.

Let’s speak about PLM tools. Today, the majority is standardizing on browser experience. To develop tablet or mobile app is quite complex tasks. Nevertheless, we can see how almost all PLM vendors delivered at least a single iPad or iPhone app to show a presence in iOS space. It looks like iOS is a preferred enterprise choice today, in my view, mostly because of management preference. To accommodate multiple tablets will be a complicated task for most of IT department. The strategy to run applications using a browser can be preferred short term. You probably remember my post – PLM: mobile optimized sites vs. mobile apps.

What is my conclusion? The big question I’m asking myself in the context of Microsoft Surface – what will happen when /if it comes to enterprise organization? I’m not sure about how Surface will compete with iPad in the consumer market. It doesn’t matter for this post. At the same time, Microsoft can use its heavy enterprise presence to supply Surface devices with enabled Microsoft enterprise software stack on it. Will it become an attractive offer to develop "dual enterprise IT standard". Welcome back to a multi-platform decade. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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