PLM Innovation and Top 5 PLM trends

October 31, 2012

Last week I attended PLM Innovation event in Atlanta. If you haven’t had a chance to follow my blog last week, you can catch up on this post – PLM Innovation: Who will provide PLM to Boeing in 2015? In my view, Boeing presentation during the event provided an important "mind changing" message. Today, I wanted to provide more organized and systematic view on trends I discovered during the event from presentations and talks with people. Here is my take on top 5 trends in PLM software and industry:

1. Usability. Usability. Usability…

You cannot stop it. Bad user experience is "so ’95". You can see how PLM companies are focusing on that. Take a look on the following slide presented by Boeing. I think, it is very self explaining:

Here are few examples of PLM vendor strategies in this space – Autodesk PLM 360 cloud alternative, Dassault 3D Experience, PTC Whindchill 10 focus on user experience, SAP Visual Enterprise, TeamCenter Active Workspaces. So, vendors recognize the importance. The delivery of user experience is a tricky thing. It takes time, experiments and effort to deliver good user experience. It is not a simple task.

2. Global Access

Today even smallest manufacturing companies and business are global. You cannot build the system today assuming on a single location. PLM industry has a long history of investment in global access. Web architecture, global collaboration and data sharing. The biggest challenge and opportunity I can see these days is related to the ability of vendors to bring new technologies from web to PLM space. Large companies and small startups are investing in this space. Few examples – Autodesk PLM 360 on the cloud, Dassault Enovia V6 online, GrabCAD, and others.

3. Affordable business models and simple pricing

PLM is too expensive. You can hear this message very often. One of the clear messages I’ve heard during PLM Innovation is related to how PLM vendors can provide a simple and affordable pricing model. Take a look on the slide below presenting how and why the existing pricing model are limited PLM business.

Fundamentally, customer’s demand is to have a predictable pricing model.

4. Mobile Applications

Mobile is a king of the road. Everything is going mobile these days. So, if you don’t have a mobile strategy you are literally dead. The biggest challenge for vendors is how to deliver mobile applications right. One of mobile challenges is related to platform and device diversification – there are too many platforms and devices. Another one is business and licensing. Sales usually are not interested how to sell an app for $4.99.

5. Beyond engineering

Last, but not least. Historically, PLM was very focused on design and engineering business. However, companies recognize an increased value of PLM to be delivered downstream in the company beyond engineering. PLM is recognized as a system(s) that can manage and distribute information about product across the lifecycle.

What is my conclusion? I think we move from "changes are coming" to "changes are here" status now. The focus of customers like Boeing on usability introduce the new era of PLM software. Enterprise IT (PLM included) is finally "on fire" to deliver systems with desired quality. The next five years focus will be on how to deliver PLM leveraging massive experience in technology and business of consumer and web business. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

PLM Cloud Interest and AAA PLM Players

October 29, 2012

The interest to cloud PLM is growing these days. At the beginning of this year, I discussed future PLM business model during the PLM Innovation conference in Munich. You can navigate to my historical post here. You can see lots of conversations about cloud these days. However, until now, only one from major PLM players – Dassault, was playing cloud game. As it was mentioned by Bernard Charles during DSCC 2011 event, Dassault invested 2B into building of the unique online cloud platform. This is not true any more. Earlier last week, Siemens PLM announced the availability of TeamCenter on the cloud. Navigate here to read Siemens PLM announcement. According to Siemens PLM:

Teamcenter on the cloud enables companies to move some, or all, of their computing infrastructure to a third-party cloud service provider versus investing in their own hardware. This gives customers cost effective access to enterprise grade IT infrastructure and resources without the need for capital expenditure. Siemens now supports Teamcenter on three of the leading cloud services, Microsoft Windows Azure, IBM SmartCloud™ Enterprise+ and Amazon Web Services. The company has completed a certification and enablement program for Teamcenter delivered on each of these service provider’s IaaS offerings.

I found an interesting writeup about TeamCenter on the cloud made by PJ of TEC. Navigate to this link to read –Siemens Teamcenter Going to the PLM Cloud. PJ is analyzing what is behind TeamCenter cloud announcement. This is an important passage, in my view, which explains that:

While the benefits such as faster time to value, dynamic scalability, and lower TCO are indisputable, this is just the typical first cloud-enabling step of moving the infrastructure to the cloud. Certainly, there is also the benefit from accessing the PLM system from the Internet, and at the analyst event, we also saw a demo of a mobile user interface (UI) in the cloud. But our understanding was that Siemens is not yet going to provide a subscription model or a multitenant cloud.

At the same time, PJ concludes that despite cloud announcement, TeamCenter is not adopting ‘cloud PLM’ business by moving towards subscription model. I didn’t find any mentioning of subscription prices as well as information about future announcement. Siemens PLM press release mentioned only “business flexibility”, as was mentioned by TeamCenter cheif Eric Sterling. Here is the quote:

“The key benefit of Teamcenter on the cloud is the business flexibility it provides,” said Eric Sterling, Senior Vice President, Lifecycle Collaboration Software, Siemens PLM Software. “In today’s ever changing global landscape, the flexibility to dynamically manage infrastructure on the cloud gives customers the ability to scale up computing resources with demand and more importantly, scale down costs if demand decreases. This enables organizations to effectively manage IT budgets as an operating expense versus capital expense which can improve profitability.


I learned an interesting term in PJ’s article – “Triple A” PLM players. As I mentioned in my earlier article, Open Source and subscription-based model used by cloud PLM apps are two major PLM business disruption forces. PJ summarized it by calling three vendors – Aras, Arena Solutions and Autodesk PLM (AAA):

Siemens acknowledged that its main interest is still the perpetual license play. The vendor admitted that the so-called Triple A PLM players—Arena Solutions, Aras Corp., and Autodesk 360 PLM— are disruptive forces in terms of PLM deployment and licensing. Siemens pledged to be responsive to the market—i.e., it is constantly reviewing its practices—but everything needs to be good for both the vendor and its customers. Term-based licenses and Siemens Finance Services were suggested as possible options in the meantime.

PLM cloud awareness

I usually do my “reality check” on Google trends. You can see that now “PLM cloud” is now a visible trend. At least, you can see it on Google’s trends, which confirms the growing cloud interest from players and customers in engineering and manufacturing space. Even it is not saying much to prove the adoption and customer experience with cloud PLM, it is a confirmation of the trend and strategic direction.


What about PTC / Windchill?

After TeamCenter cloud announcement, PTC Windchill is the only product (vendor) that didn’t refresh their interest in a cloud PLM play. Windchill has long time an agreement with IBM about hosting of Windchill on IBM servers. You can see this offering is available here, but I PTC didn’t provide any recent updates about that offering as well as a preview about future availability of Windchill on the cloud. You can only see IBM application on demand delivery model here.

What is my conclusion? In my view, customers are starting to recognize the value of the cloud technologies for PLM. It comes in multiple aspects – IT infrastructure optimization, business models allowing to pay for services as you need them, global access and many others. It would be interesting to see how cloud technologies and product offering will be developed by PLM vendors in coming years.

Best, Oleg

PLM Innovation, Information and Ambient Intelligence

October 26, 2012

One interesting trend that I captured during my stay at PLM Innovation conference these days was about "information" word. It was one of the most widely used terms by many presented and people I talked to. Do you remember what we had 10 years ago? The biggest concern of people implementing PDM/PLM tools was about how to establish the environment that can manage and control data. However, the time is changing fast. Everybody today are questioning how to access the information.

I’ve been reading an interesting article earlier this week – A new Google app gives you local information before ask for it. The article outlined a new application Google just released – Google Field Trip. Navigate here to learn more. Field trip is an application that recognizes where are you and presenting your local data even before you ask and search. I found the idea quite interesting. Obviously, it is not related to PLM. Google is not capable to search for manufacturing data, so don’t even try to run it in your company manufacturing shopfloor. Google will help you with San-Francisco landscape and monuments as well as searching for Lady Gaga last clips. However, I found the following passage very important and interesting:

“The idea behind the app was to build something that would help people connect with the real, physical world around them,” said John Hanke, a vice president of product at Google who runs a small lab at the company building location-based and social mobile apps. “It’s always running in the background, so it knows where you are and is always looking to see if something interesting is in your immediate physical environment.” While the app might seem small, it reveals a lot about the big directions Google wants to go. Google, along with other companies and researchers, dreams of so-called ubiquitous computing or ambient intelligence — computers woven into the texture of life as opposed to being separate machines. Eventually, the theory goes, computers will be part of the environment, know where people are and anticipate what they want to know.

What is my conclusion? Ambient intelligence. Actually, I liked this term. People like when software gets smarter. The problem is that PLM industry produced lots of difficult applications that exposed how complex and smart it inside. How many times we heard: look how we can support this complex model and data relations. I think we have a new set of priroties nowadays. The challenge is how to switch to dumb and simple user experience combined with ambient intelligence. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

PLM Innovation: Who will provide PLM to Boeing in 2015?

October 25, 2012

I’m in Atlanta these days attending PLM Innovation Americas conference. Today is the first day, and I’m still expecting many things to come. Nevertheless, here is the thing that made me to blog. I’ve been attending first keynote made by Kevin Fowler or Boeing Commercial Airplanes . The name of the presentation – The sky’s the limit? Reaching for the value of PLM at Boeing Commercial Airplanes. The presentation provided a very interesting retrospective on how PLM developed at BCA (Boeing Commercial Airplanes) for the last 20 years. In my view, Boeing is one of the companies that stands at the root of PLM development back 25 years. Boeing fundamentally influenced the way PLM tools were developed by vendors like Dassault Systems and Metaphase (now Siemens PLM).

Growth of PLM system was driven by the need to support development and manufacturing processes. The ultimate request was to provide additional features to product development processes. Boeing moved from spatial integration (777) to build integration (737-next-gen) and functional integration (787). It means more and more features. The following slides show a very interesting trend related to Boeing PLM Value.

As you can see, functionality is growing. However, total cost of ownership is growing too, which is not very good sign. The most disappointing factor is related to usability of PLM systems. The usability of PLM tools is going down, which confirms the fact PLM is struggling from complexity and user experience. The level of information complexity at Boeing is impressing – 1B (Billion) parts to manage during the release of aircraft, Boeing has 12000 aircrafts in service and operation, Boeing employees are sending 63M (Million) emails during the month. Boeing engineers need to use multiple tools during their working day.

However, the most important message I captured from Boeing presentation was related the future evolution of PLM system. According to the Boeing, all PLM systems Boeing is currently running are approaching their end of life. Take a look on the following slide presenting four generations of Boeing PLM systems. Actually, it represents only three generations. Boeing put a question mark on the generation of PLM tools that need to come in 2015.

What is my conclusion? It is very interesting to see how large companies are turning towards usability of PLM tools. In the past, usability wasn’t a big deal for enterprise companies. Nowadays, end users cannot tolerate bad user experience. According to Boeing, their users are opening about 19 user interfaces to get data. Future PLM systems need to come with a different level of usability and user experience. The expectation level will be set by iPhone, Google, Facebook and other consumer tools. PLM vendors need to make a note. Important. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

PLM, Blurred IP and Practical Data

October 24, 2012

IP (Intellectual Property) is the term used by PLM very often. You probably had a chance to hear about IP management, IP lifecycle, IP protection, etc. I don’t know about you, but to me, it usually provided a feeling of dealing with something important. While I agree that IP is important, it often comes to people in a very blurred way. You can also see how people are switching from speaking about IP to other terms (Bill of Materials, Parts, Drawings) when it proliferates down in the organization from top management level to engineering and manufacturing organization.

Few days ago, my attention caught the article written by Peter Bilello of CIMdata – PLM View: Management Intellectual Property. CIMdata is a well known analytical outfit specialized in research and consulting in the field of engineering and manufacturing software. PLM is one of their key specialties. The article was available via ConnectPress community website. Navigate to the following link to access (It requires registration on ConnectPress available for free). Have a read and make your opinion. Here is a definition of the IP provided by Peter.

What is IP? The common-sense answer is information that defines the product and how it is to be manufactured, delivered, supported and recycled, and that may be required to support patent applications and to defend patents if challenged or infringed. These definitions also include new-product engineering data: requirements, conceptual and detailed designs, analyses and trade-off studies, simulations of production systems, and even ergonomic analyses.

To me it sounds like all information regarding the product in the company actually represents product IP. So, you probably can ask what information is NOT belonging to IP? Here is the answer you can find in the same article:

And What is Not IP. Information that is probably not IP includes transactional data that doesn’t provide a company with any particular competitive advantage. Of course, the distinctions remain fuzzy. In its PLM consulting work, CIMdata encourages the use of two litmus tests. Does the information in question relate to basic enterprise or product capabilities that could become competitive issues, or legal issues, or touch on regulatory compliance? If yes, the information is IP. Secondly, is retention of the information mandatory? If yes, the information is IP.

This definition made me think about the variety of information sources nowadays. We are living in the world where information is aggressively collected by any company and devices. I’m sure you are familiar with multiple incidents and information leaked and collected by Google services, Apple iPhone tracking information, Facebook activities and many other sources. E-commerce websites are collecting a lot of information about people purchasing different products and services. Thinking about organization is very hard to predict what information is actually related to legal, regulatory, retention.

Speaking about clarification of what IP is and how PLM can help us to deal with IP, I found the following passage very important:

Ultimately, IP governance is about extracting real value from misunderstood assets. Amid the 21st century’s data tsunami and its constant disruptions to accustomed ways of thinking and working, the value of these assets keeps going up. Part of the new awareness of IP is the tremendous value as source of insights for solving problems and making decisions. Applying PLM strategies to IP helps ensure that decision-makers can get whatever data they need in a timely manner. To state this in another way, resources dedicated to reusing IP data are true investments and not just money spent digging up information.

What is my conclusion? I think companies need to move from mystical blurred strategies to simple terms and definitions. PLM IP is one of them. Companies need to collect and retain data that important for their business and lifecycle. As manufacturing company, I want to collect information about my customers, product usage, suppliers, etc. As engineering organization, I want to collect the information about how to develop and manufacture the product. There are many other fields that become important, and we need to discover them. To get whatever data people need in a timely manner is the best IP management strategy I can think about. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

New PLM definition from Jim Brown and old PLM complexity issues

October 23, 2012


People are collecting things. Beer bottles, matchboxes, car models, etc. As you probably know, I’m collecting PLM definitions. One of the first articles in my collection was this – How to define PLM? with amazing performance of Al Dean. Since that time, I had a chance to pick up more articles for my collection. Earlier this week, the following Tech-Clarity writeup caught my attention – Should we define PLM as an Engineering Decision-making Framework? The next PLM definition is coming from Jim Brown of Tech-Clarity. Jim is not afraid of tough problems. You can see him in the picture (on the left) exploring to complexity of integrated PLM systems using wassabi toothbrushing method. Jim Brown is taking “decision process” aspect to define what PLM means. It relies on the following research Jim did – Improving Engineering Decision management with PLM. Navigate to the following link and have a read. Here is the passage I liked:

Given the important role of engineering decision-making in product development, manufacturers should treat it as a core competency. Manufacturers must enable decision-makers to make better, more confident decisions. They should also enable engineers to make decisions efficiently and get them right the first time to optimize product development time, reduce time-consuming design rework, and improve time to market. Optimizing engineering decisions is ultimately about driving greater success and profitability of products.

Improving decision-making is even more important today as engineers face unprecedented complexity in product development. At the same time, competition is much more global and competitive advantages are easier to copy. What was a “good enough” decision ten or fifteen years ago will not suffice today. The bar has been raised. Companies are targeting “right the first time” decision-making to make more optimal, confident decisions based on better information. The engineering decision-making processes and tools of over a decade ago will not suffice either – they must evolve to enable data-driven decisions to optimize product designs.

Decision framework: Input information and decision records

Net-net, the PLM definition Jim proposed will sounds like as following- PLM is a decision framework for engineers. It made me think about two important elements of such type of framework – information collection and decision tracking. The first element of the framework is a capability to collect the information needed to make a decision. It is a complicated process; information is siloed in different systems and organizations among people. Sometimes information is in the database, sometimes information is in the email and sometimes information is in people’s mind. This is a challenge PLM framework need to solve. Second part of the framework is the ability of the system keep records of decisions. Sometimes it comes as ECO management system, and sometimes it can come as more generic process management systems.

What is my conclusion? Engineers are making decisions everyday. To support them in this process is important. However, to make it efficient is even more important. The problem PLM can face is to create too complicated “decision supporting framework”. So complicated, engineers won’t use it. It doesn’t mean they won’t make any decisions. So, decision will happen. It just won’t happen here… in PLM system. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

[categoty Daily PLM Think Tank]

How PLM Can Think Small?

October 22, 2012

I’m going to attend PLM Innovation Americas event later this week in Atlanta, GA. This is going to be my 3rd PLM Innovation event. Thinking about innovation, this event is one of very few events in PLM space that is actually a vendor-neutral and not represents a single PLM vendor. This is a great opportunity to “mix PLM blood” and to reduce the competition pressure. Thinking about innovation in PLM, I wanted to come with the idea of “small PLM”.

Ask people in the companies dealing with product lifecycle management about what are their goals when the implement PLM. My hunch most of them will come back to you with something “big” or, at least, “strategic”. This is how most of us perceive PLM these days. This is what called “business transformation”. PLM is related to a very fundamental process of product development and decision making. Therefore, to “think big” is very natural.  However, what if… PLM should think different. Think small? I’m sure you know famous VW Beattle (aka as ‘Bug’). For the whole production life, VW manufactured 21 million of VW Beattle.

The Volkswagen Beetle, officially called the Volkswagen Type 1 (or informally the Volkswagen Bug), is an economy car produced by the German auto maker Volkswagen (VW) from 1938 until 2003. With over 21 million manufactured[6] in an air-cooled, rear-engined, rear-wheel drive configuration, the Beetle is the longest-running and most-manufactured car of a single design platform, worldwide.

For VW Beattle, Volkswagen created an advertizing company called “Think small“. It was ranked as the best advertising program in 20th century. Read more about it on Wikipedia, the original idea about VW Think Small is fascinating.

However, let me switch to PLM. “Think Small” campaign made me think about the idea of how the strategy of small changes can make a big difference at the end. PLM perceived as a muscle car, large, gas grizzling and probably not efficient. Here are the 5 steps, I’ve been thinking about that can make a change along the way you think and implement PLM.

Step 1: Review your product development experience. Find few elements you feel the most negative about. It could be quality system, BOM management, costing, supply chain RFQ process.

Step 2: Focus on one of them that looks to you brings the biggest pain. This is an important strategic exercise helps you to find the most important element to be focused on. At the same time, it will be the one you benefit the most when you fix it.

Step 3: Make some notes about to improve the process. 2-3 slides, process definition, people involved and the most important – measurement system to be able to monitor the improvement.

Step 4: Make an assessment of tools you have. It can be your PDM/PLM system, Excel, Google Apps, Microsoft SharePoint or anything else. Try to apply the process improvement using the existing tool.

Step 5: Make the implementation and analyze your tool performance for a particular test you’ve made.

What is my conclusion? The steps I outlined, might sound like something obvious. However, they will help you to focus on your product development improvement into the right direction and make practical tools assessment of how to deal with your PLM initiatives. The biggest change is in our mind. You can ask me – how a cloud is related? Actually, the cloud is not “must have” option in this process. However, cloud system(s) will allow you to maximize your focus in the business and not to be distracted with IT challenges. Just my thoughts..

Best, Oleg


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