PLM Workflows and Google Actionable Emails

May 18, 2013

Process management is an important elements of PLM implementations. PLM systems usually offer a variety of solutions for process management – from simple message routing to complex workflow management systems. However, regardless of process and workflow complexity, all customers are interested how to integrate processes and workflows with their email system.

Email is fascinating topic, in my view. Many companies are still literally run by emails. The fight over the email is one that usually happen when enterprise system is implemented in a company. Usually companies recogniz the problem of email communication and even try to implement Zero Email Policy. However, the typical end of this fight is to integrate their enterprise system with with email solution.

Earlier this morning, I’ve been skimming Google I/O news stream from the last week. One of them resonated with the idea of PLM workflows and email integration – Google makes email more interactive with customizable Gmail action buttons. The original gmail blog article is here. Take few minutes of your weekend time and have a read. Here is the passage that explains what this feature does:

New quick action buttons in Gmail, designed to help you tackle your digital to-do’s as quickly as possible. These buttons appear next to certain types of messages in your inbox and let you take action on an email without ever having to open it. For example, you can RSVP to your friend’s party invitation or rate that restaurant you went to last night all right from the inbox. You’ll be checking things off that to-do list in no time.

Here is an image showing the appearance of customized action buttons.

I found this Gmail update very cool. What makes me specially excited about this feature is the fact Google implemented it using actions. is a collection of schemas (ontologies) that can be used to describe actions. For example, here is a definition of RSVP action. As you can see, you can make it completely customizable for your application.

What is my conclusion? Few weeks ago, I attended an interesting session EOL 4 Email at COFES 2013 in Arizona. One of the topic during that discussion was about future of email as integrated messaging system. I think actionable extension of email is a perfect example of how you can design your future PLM implementation and system to manage processes and keep you in the loop of your email. Ask your PLM vendor or service provider if your system can be extended that way. Important. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of TechCrunch article.

PLM360+NetSuite: Changing the integration game?

May 18, 2013

PLM and ERP integration is not a new topic. Step in the discussion about any PLM implementation and you will come to the topic of PLM+ERP integration in less than 5 minutes. Integration between two enterprise software suites is usually a complicated tasks which involves lots of planning, adjustments and hard-wiring from both sides.

Cloud software brings a new perspective to PLM / ERP integration domain. Of course, it will not dismiss planning stage. Lots of EPR and PLM planning tasks are still needs to be done. However, cloud integration is simpler. Web APIs and architecture as well as cloud deployment can make integration between cloud products easier. Early stage SaaS products exposed some difficulties in integration. Usage of REST APIs and additional cloud-based integration tools is streamlining integration tasks.

Earlier this week Autodesk and NetSuite announced partnership focused on providing seamless integration between two products – Autodesk PLM360 and NetSuite. You can find press release of the announcement by navigating to the following link. Here is an interesting passage:

The bi-directional integration of these revolutionary cloud technologies gives manufacturers a single, closed-loop solution to accelerate product design and development, reduce risk of errors and delays, streamline supply network collaboration, and gain critical real-time visibility into costing, scheduling, capacity and profitability.

Market research shows that manufacturers are increasingly turning to cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications to run product development, production, supply chain, order management, financials and other core business applications without the time and cost burden of on-premise software and servers. Gartner predicts that nearly half (47 percent) of manufacturers worldwide will be using or piloting SaaS applications by 2015, up from just 2 percent in 2010.[1]

In the following video, Gavin Davidson and Brian Roepke demonstrate the new integration between NetSuite Manufacturing and Autodesk PLM 360 software at SuiteWorld 2013:

Couple of thoughts about the scenario presented. I found natural to see not only traditional BOM transfer function during the PLM/ERP integration, but also modern social collaboration functions presented by NetSuite. Also, additional cloud-based tools such as Fusion 360 (cloud design CAD) and online cloud simulation tools naturally fit into the scenario.

What is my conclusion? Integration is tough topic. Usually it requires implementation effort and additional services. It looks like cloud software (both ERP and PLM) is about to define a new trend in the ability to establish a different level of integration. Time and customers will show how it will work. Nevertheless, it is clear that cloud vendors are trying to resolve old integration problems in a different way. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Disclosure: I’m responsible for PLM and Data Management product development at Autodesk.


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