2013 Beyond PLM – Top 5

December 30, 2013

top-5-plm-posts-2013

End of the year is traditionally associated with “top stories” and “next year predictions”. So, it is hard to resist… In the past, I was publishing my “top 5″ stories every month, but the tradition somehow went down. However, later better than never. So, in the spirit of coming 2014, I decided to list 5 posts published in 2013 that drove most of my readers interest:

BOM 101: How Many Levels Do You Need in BOM?

The fact you can create multiple levels of BOM doesn’t mean you need to utilize it at full capacity. Multi-level BOMs are complicated and adding an additional work in the process of changes. How to maintain the right number of BOM levels? I’m interested to learn more about your experience. How many BOM levels do you have in your company ERP/MRP/PDM/PLM system?

3 Modern BOM Management Challenges

Bill of Materials is a critical element in the success of many manufacturing companies. Think about driving maps. In the past we printed it on a paper, folded and put next to your driver seat. Now it is different – social GPS systems can alert you about driving conditions and suggest alternative routes. You need to have a new tools to manage BOMs. Traditional BOM management systems won’t survive in a modern manufacturing world. This is a wake-up call for PLM vendors and other software companies in manufacturing world.

Will IBM return to PLM software business?

Business intelligence, decision support, system engineering and integration. These functions are quite desired by manufacturing companies to solve prod development problems. Large companies these days are looking how to streamline product development processes. Enterprise PLM business seems to be impossible without system services and integration support. IBM is collecting a significant software stacks that can be used for this purposes. Maybe we see IBM renaissance in PLM soon?

Will Tesla Motors build their own PLM system?

I have no clear answer on the question placed in the title of this post. The IT innovation in manufacturing companies is getting interesting these days. The dynamic of business, pace of changes and specific customer requirements will require IT managers to innovate beyond the level of OOTB tools. Thinking about PLM space, customer focused configuration options combined with complexity of supply chain can be very challenging these days. These days Tesla is practically building a single model car – Model S. However, with new car model (model X) is coming soon, I can see the level of complexity growing as well as the needs for specific unique PLM system. It would be very interesting to see the change in the future.

Single Bill of Materials in 6 Steps

Depends on the nature of your business, one of these topics can become a key and showstopper for your organization to transform into the single BOM. Some of you will disagree of structures and some you will not have a system to share BOM across the organization. The multi-BOM paradigm evolved during many years as a result of fundamental organization silos. However, these days, the efficiency how organization can resolve the problem of connected cross department processes is a dominant one. BOM is a lifeblood in these cross-department processes. If you switch to a single BOM, you have an opportunity to optimize processes.

What is my 2013 year conclusion? Beyond PLM is getting about 20-25K page views monthly. I want to thank all my readers for contributing to this number and hope to see you on my blog in coming 2014. I can see a clear trend of interest moving towards PLM roots such as Bill of Material and customer related development. Also our ‘Big Blue PLM’ is still here. Cloud and everything related to that clearly drove less attention than before. Of course, it is very subjective and just my thoughts :).

Happy New Year!

Best, Oleg


The challenging face of dual PLM clouds

December 28, 2013

plm-dual-public-private-cloud-challenge

Cloud PLM is a not a new word any more. Established vendors and newcomers in PLM world are developing strategies and implementations how to embrace PLM cloud. In my article few months ago, I’ve talking about multiple faces of the cloud – public, private, hybrid, collocation. Jim Brown, well-known PLM analyst and my long time blogging buddies is covering different visions of PLM vendors in his Tech-Clarity blog these days. Two first articles covered Autodesk and Dassault. It is interesting to see a difference. Autodesk vision described by Jim in the following passage:

Autodesk is embracing the Cloud like no other PLM vendor – Autodesk has made big gets on the cloud. They introduced CAD on the cloud (Fusion360), simulation on the cloud (Sim360), and a host of other new “360″ products to join PLM360 on the cloud. As one of my analyst friends tweeted the Autodesk keynotes mentioned “cloud, cloud, cloud, and cloud.”

Opposite to that, Dassault strategy is quite different and focuses on strategic choice of private cloud (even if technically claims no difference between public and private cloud). Here is an interesting passage from Jim’s post outline Dassault vision:

My final comment on DS strategy is about the cloud. Given the SOA architecture behind DS’ solutions one might expect DS to embrace the cloud wholeheartedly. DS execs were clear in pointing out that they support the cloud – but that they believe the on premise cloud is the viable option for companies today. It’s an interesting stance given that they appear to have the technical capabilities required but are choosing to opt away from the public cloud. This is an area to watch.

The question of private and public cloud strategies is important. Even cloud is a new trend, PLM vendors can gather some experience from challenges that non-PLM vendors are experiencing with implementing different cloud strategies. ComputerWorld article Why Microsoft SharePoint Faces a Challenging Future speaks about SharePoint dual strategy to maintain existing SharePoint 2013 on premise version as well as developing new SharePoint Online. The article is worth looking and contains lots of interesting examples. The following passage is my favorite:

Many enterprises use and like SharePoint. Microsoft likes it, too, because it’s one of the company’s fastest-growing product lines. But making enterprises support separate cloud and on-premises versions and telling SharePoint app developers not to work in C# and ASP.NET may make for a rocky relationship as time goes by.

Customization is an important aspect of every enterprise deployment. PLM is not an exclusion. Existing PLM deployments are full of customization made using existing development tools. Even more, on-premise deployments can provide some customization flexibilities that hardly can be achieved in public cloud implementations.

What is my conclusion? Dual cloud strategy sounds very compelling and we can hear about it a lot. However, to achieve real "cloud duality" can be tricky. Another level of complexity is to maintain transparent private/public customization and configuration using existing and new PLM technologies and tools. IT managers, PLM advisers and customers should take a note. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Holidays, PLM Education and Free Math Books

December 25, 2013

book-as-a-gift

Holidays is a time for gifts. I remember a sentence that stuck in my memory from my childhood – book is the best gift. I didn’t find documented confirmation, but I think this statement goes back to Gutenberg era. Back that time, books were very expensive and it was a very valuable gift.

Well, nowadays it is different. Free is the best price in many domains and industries these days. Many vendors consider education as a priority and providing free or discounted versions of software to universities and students. Online education is about to change everything. Web sources like Khan Academy and others are getting more and more traction.

In a spirit of holidays and… PLM, I was looking for PLM books. Google search for "free PLM books" returned bunch of Amazon links with books priced in the range of 30$-90$. I’m not sure students will be able to afford it these days. So, PLM education is still very expensive.

However, I’ve been lucky in something else. I found an amazing source for free mathematician books. Free Mathematics Books – 500 links to free math books to read and download. I wish I will have a time to read at least few of them coming days. Here is my favorite for PLM people – Handbook of Mathematics for Engineers. So, if you are in the math mood these days, have a read and enjoy.

What is my conclusion? First of all Happy Holidays! Education is absolutely important. Speaking about engineering, manufacturing and… PLM, to have an access to a good educational source, it is probably the most critical element of technological adoption. So, I wish all of us – vendors, developers, consultants, advisers and engineers think about how to make knowledge about our domain available and affordable to everybody. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


How to Decustomize PLM?

December 24, 2013

plm-decustomize-easy

Customization is one of the most favorite topics in PLM. Back 20-30 years ago, product data management (PDM) was born as a toolkit. Earlier PDM implementations took months and required deep changes in PDM system code and behaviors. It was leading to a growing complexity of implementation, highly sophisticated implementation skills and time. What is even more important and dangerous it was a reason many PDM/PLM implementations stuck in the back and failed to upgrade to newer versions of PLM software. I expressed it in one of my old articles – Is PLM Customization a Data Management Titanic? My guess back in 2010 was that future flexibility of data management technologies should make future customization and updates easier.

Customization problem exists in other domains of enterprise software. I found an interesting example of how extensive customization can damage enterprise software deployment and implementations. CMSWire article 6 Predictions for SharePoint, Office 365 in 2014 speaks about adoption of SharePoint 2013. One of the prediction speaks about SharePoint customization or actually… decustomization. I found this passage interesting:

We’ve heard Microsoft strongly suggest not to customize SharePoint, that branding doesn’t improve user experience or make processes better. That migration to new versions is easier without a lot of customization. The new SharePoint 2013 app model is also a strong pointer from Microsoft to keep SharePoint as out of the box as possible and focus on using Apps for additional customizations.

I think this is a good thing. Many of the challenges we see with migration projects are the result of branding and customizations — some of which may not have been necessary. Part of the reason SharePoint has been customized in the past is that developers are learning to use the platform and trying new things. The new App model reduces much of this, putting the testing and learning outside of SharePoint directly.

It made me think again about PLM implementation and customization projects. For the last decade, PLM vendors put a lot of efforts in developing of out-of-the-box offerings and strategies. Marketing used different names for this activity – from "express solutions" to "industry offerings". In my view, the result was somewhat mixed – it simplified PDM implementations and some smaller PLM deployment. At the same time, many even relatively smaller PLM implementations are still far from go simple way. In my view, the best confirmation to that is growing interest in acquiring service and consulting companies by PLM vendors. The last one was Siemens PLM acquiring TESIS PLMWare focuses on PLM integrations.

What is my conclusion? Decustomization of PLM will be one of the most important elements in the future PLM infrastructure improvements. To make implementation cost effective and to support future cloud deployments, PLM vendors will have to invest in technologies and methods to simplify deployment, flexibility and speed of implementations. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Who will make enterprise PLM UX more user friendly?

December 23, 2013

plm-user-experience

For long time, enterprise software didn’t pay much attention to user-friendliness. I can go and bring many examples from the past 10-20 years, but assume it is probably not necessarily. Consumerization of IT, mobile devices, internet made a shift in the way people started to think about future of user interaction, user experience and application design. Interaction with user before design phase, multiple user tests, re-design sessions – this is a normal way to design for a good interaction. You need to test your application with exact behavior of your users. I found the best example of what does it mean reading TechCrunch article on my way back to Boston few days ago – Cognitive Overhead. Interesting reading. The author is a founder of well-known app – Bump. The most amazing example for me was the fact they tested Bump on drunk people in San Fran and Palo Alto pubs. Here is the passage:

The very young and the very old are even more sensitive to cognitive overhead, as their brains aren’t accustomed to the sort of logical leaps our products sometimes require. Grandparents and children make great cognitive overhead detectors. When you can’t find old or young people, drunk people are a good approximation. In fact, while building Bump 3.0, we took teams of designers and engineers to bars in San Francisco and Palo Alto and watched people use Bump, tweaking the product to accommodate.

Enterprise software vendors these days are also thinking about the future of user friendly design and how it will impact enterprise apps. Information week article Infor bets on user friendly design to disrupt enterprise applications market speaks exactly about that:

Typically, people who decide on buying the enterprise application seldom use it. That’s why most people hate using enterprise applications. We want to get people using and accessing applications quickly, and that calls for a great user design. Social has huge relevance in this context. For example, a product called Infor Ming.le, allows employees to communicate, collaborate, and share information such as documents, plans, photos, and videos from a centralized location, with all activity captured and easily searchable.

It made me think about the problem of enterprise UX thinking and… learning. You need to learn from other people, learn trends, interact with other people working on user experience. So, what is the future of education in design and user experience? When I was looking for the answer, another article caught my attention related to the future of UX – The Top UX prediction for 2014. Interesting enough I found some answers on the future of UX design training and education. Here is my favorite passage:

Meanwhile, product design is now commonly recognized as a strategic advantage, its business impact made obvious to even the most skeptical of analysts by the success of Apple. Ironically, as companies have become more design savvy, some designers have felt marginalized when early stage, strategic product design decisions fall to business executives and product management. We are going to see more and more colleges recognizing the importance of customer service and experience in academia. A business degree, even a masters or PhD, with a specialty in customer experience design will become a new offering.

What is my conclusion? Application design is getting wide recognition among companies in all domains – consumer, enterprise, education, training. I can predict lack of educated people that can do it professionally as well as high interest in training sources focuses on product design. It will be specifically hard in such complicated domains as enterprise applications and PLM. So, who is going to be the next "Jony Ive of enterprise"? This is a good question to ask. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


From CAD file versions comparison to cloud PDM

December 21, 2013

compare-cad-versions

A trend towards moving design related work to the cloud is growing. Despite a chorus of security, speed and connectivity concerned people, we can see how companies are growing their cloud data management solution towards supporting more robust features online. Few months ago, I was posting about Github moving towards the support of 3D models – GitHub PDM: is it for real? The ability of GitHub to work with 3D models together with core SCM functionality created an interesting tool for a specific market niche. Data management for individual designers, 3D printing offices and small teams.

Yesterday, my attention was caught by TechCrunch article – GitHub Adds 3D Modeling Features That Make It A Printer-Agnostic Choice For Object Sharing. Article speaks about GitHub adding a very specific 3D feature – ability to compare and finding difference in models. The following passage explains how it works.

…basically it takes each version and then overlays over the next using some nice transitions. Not unlike code diffs – the processes of comparing two iterations of a piece of software – this gives you far more control over the design process and lets you see where someone screwed up (or did something amazing).

Picture below shows how it looks like in the user interface:

github-rev-slider

Interesting enough, this feature reminded me another solution – GrabCAD CPD. GrabCAD recently introduced Workbench as part of their collaborative product development (CPD) suite. You can read my blog from last month – GrabCAD CPD wants to disrupt CAD file management. One of the GrabCAD Workbench features – visualization and comparison of versions.

grabcad-version-compare

Both GrabCAD and GitHub features made me think about new trend in cloud PDM development going bottom up and starting from very simple storage, file manipulation and sharing. Now it comes to revision comparison. Opposite to PDM dinosaurs trying to establish full top down file control and data management, these online tools are trying to find a right “feature” that will give them wide customer adoption.

What is my conclusion? Cloud provides an interesting opportunity to develop old solutions differently. GitHub and GrabCAD are not selling PDM first, but provide platforms for share data and compare revisions. Between these two, GrabCAD is probably looks more like a traditional PDM. GItHub popularity among software developers and SCM feature set can create an interesting perspective for different people in organization – software engineers, mechanical engineers, etc. to share the same platform. It means broader adoption – PDM industry was looking for these last 2 decades. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM Messaging and WhatsApp Moment

December 20, 2013

plm-messaging-apps

Communication and collaboration is an important part of every PLM solutions. To maintain an efficient way to communicate is not less important than the ability to manage CAD or BOM data. At the same time, email still remains the main system to run communication in every company and extended enterprise communication between OEM, suppliers and other parties. For the last decade or even more, the answer of PLM vendors on email challenge was to create an integration of PLM-process communication into Lotus, Outlook and similar email systems.

Recently, social collaboration became another way vendors are using to shake a status quo of communication problems and collaboration challenges. I’ve been observing modern trends and interesting cases around improvements that can be done in communication. Navigate to one of my previous posts – DIY PLM and zero email policy to read about trends in social networking and collaboration. Another interesting use case was the way Google email support integration of other systems for actionable input – PLM Workflow and Google actionable emails.

Here is a new thing I captured. Have you heard about growing popularity of Messaging applications? We can see new entrants (WeChat, WhatsApp) as well as establishing vendors play (Facebook, Skype, Twitter). Pay attention on the following slide deck – Messenger Wars: How Facebook lost its lead. In my view, it brings some interesting information and statistics about growing dominance of specialized messaging applications. If you don’t have time, take a look below – I put few slides that caught my special attention below:

plm-whatsapp-moment-1

plm-whatsapp-moment-2

Messaging Apps winning over Facebook made me think about how dominance of one application can be challenged. I can see a potential opportunity to come and change a communication status of email in the company. Messaging apps are proposed address book and social graph integration. PLM messaging apps can suggest a better content and enterprise identity interaction in the organization.

What is my conclusion? I can see clear demand to make communication and collaboration more efficient. Consumerization and BYOD trends are introducing new challenges in front of PLM vendors. This is especially for new generation of users – digital natives. I think, some innovation can happen at this place. Email integration proposed by all PLM vendors is “so ’95“. I can see Messaging apps as a good example how to propose a new way to communicate and challenge existing ways to collaborate and run processes. The key elements are content integration and communication on multiple devices can provide clear differentiation compared to existing solutions. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


The future of invisible PLM is here – Google Location History

December 19, 2013

transparrent-mind-plm

The technology can make a difference. What technological approach can make a difference in the future of PLM? This is a question many of us are asking these days. Ease of adoption is a problem for PDM and PLM from the early beginning. Existing technology created a levle of disruption engineers and other people involved into the process are not able to tolerate. Think about designer or engineer working on CAD model. The last thing engineer is interested in is how to check-in and check-out the design in order to keep the history of changes. Let’s think future about engineering processes. It is very inefficient to ask engineering and manufacturing people manually track every change to capture ECO and other processes related to changes of product structure and follow up decisions / actions. So, data management and process management shouldn’t be a burden on top of existing product development activities. Hidden data management, invisible PDM… these are thing that compelling as a future values of PLM technologies nowadays.

Techcrunch article this morning was a mind shake for me. Google’s Location History Browser Is A Minute-By-Minute Map Of Your Life. The article speaks about Goole ability to track you location in an absolutely transparent way using smartphone and your Google account. For those of your who remember Google Latitude, the fact Google can track your location shouldn’t be a big surprise. What was impressive is the level of transparency Google captured data.

I looked over my account and found quite precise history of my locations for the last weeks in variety places. Take a look on few screenshots I made.

google-location-browser1

The next picture shows my movement inside of Las Vegas Autodesk University venue.

google-location-browser

What is my conclusion? The future of invisible PLM will be driven by the ability to capture information and processes in a transparent way. The transparency will allow to PDM and PLM technology to be adopted in a painless way to capture business processes and engineering changes. Context usage will play another important role in the future transparency of enterprise systems. Location context is just a beginning. Future context will include, people, department, calendar, product data and many others. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


The Ugly Truth of Multi-BOM Management

December 18, 2013

multiple-bom-ugly-truth

Bill of Material (BOM) management is always fascinating topic. It sparks so many debates and introduce a large set of diverse opinions. I can even say that I have a special passion to speak about BOM on my blog. If you want to catch up on my recent posts about BOM, you can try these few links – Will PLM manage enterprise BOM? and Will SaaS and Open API solve BOM management problems? My special passion is "single BOM". I started this conversation few years ago. Here is my last writeup about single BOM- Single BOM in 6 steps.

Few days ago, my attention was caught by PLM dojo article about pros and cons is Multiple BOM management – Why You Should (or Shouldn’t) use Multiple BOMs. I highly recommend you to have a read the article including comments (the number is growing). It brings an interesting set of strategies relasted to BOM management. From my side, I can clearly see advantages of both approaches. And I can generally say it depends on many factors – industry, product, organization, processes and… (what is not less important) people. Here is my favorite passage:

Sometimes it makes sense for the CAD user to organize the design differently than how ERP organizes the data. For example, it might make sense to group a large assembly model into sub-assemblies that don’t represent any actual part, but make it easier to divide up work on the overall structure. A related reason is that having the part BOM separate from the CAD BOM isolates the part BOM from the inevitable messiness of the CAD files.

While there is nothing wrong in division and separation of CAD design and Part structures, I still believe there is a trick here. Thinking about that, took me back to the post I wrote few years ago – The Ugly Truth About PLM-ERP Monkey Volleyball The controlling of data is one of the fundamental enterprise software behavior and strategy. One of the "negative" aspects of single BOM strategies is the need (and complexity) to share responsibilities and control over the shared "single BOM". It can create lots of organizational constraints, especially if departments and/or divisions are using multiple systems.

At the same time, Single BOM containing multiple dimensions of product information can become a place to share data among organization and optimize processes. However, in order to make it happen organization will have to agree how to manage "shared space", and shared responsibilities. People management becomes a critical function to make it successful.

What is my conclusion? Technology is easy part, but people are really hard. This is one of my favorite quotes. The ugly truth of BOM management is the fact it requires people management and agreement across organization. Multiple BOM can be done using separation and data island controlling. Very often you can hear about technological challenges of single BOM organization. Much rare situation is when organization is moving to people and organizational constraints. People’s ego and organizational issues are often playing a key role in decision to go with one of BOM management strategies. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Crowdsourcing and PLM consultant’s future?

December 17, 2013

plm-consultancy-crowdsourcing

Have you heard about crowdsourcing? If not, do it quickly and now. It was coined back 6-7 years ago. Wikipedia is giving yo a good jumpstart – navigate to the following link. Here is a good wikipedia passage explaining that:

Crowdsourcing is the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.[1] This process is often used to subdivide tedious work or to fund-raise startup companies and charities, and can also occur offline.[2] It combines the efforts of numerous self-identified volunteers or part-time workers, where each contributor of their own initiative adds a small portion to the greater result.

Crowdsourcing is coming in different forms. You probably heard about some of them – crowdfunding, crowdsearching, crowdvoting, crowdmanufacturing, etc. Today, internet becomes of the main driving force behind crowdsourcing activities. I just found an interesing example of new way of crowdsourcing – it is coming to the exclusive space of analyst and consulting business. Before internet, a significant part of analysts work was to provide access to centralized industry information in a very systematic way. For the last decade this role changed – consultants and analysts are playing high profile advisory work. Sort of trusted source and security for the case of failure. You don’t need analysts and advisors to access information – for most of situations, everything is available on the internet.

My attention was caught by a very interesting article – Why This Company Is Crowdsourcing, Gamifying The World’s Most Difficult Problems. It speaks about how future crowdsourcing analytical companies will be using the army of consultants and analysts powered by internet tech and gamification engine. Here is the passage I specially like:

The biggest consultancy firms–the McKinseys and Janeses of the world–make many millions of dollars predicting the future and writing what-if reports for clients. This model is built on the idea that those companies know best–and that information and ideas should be handed down from on high.

Here is how article describes the new model created by Wikistrat company:

But one consulting house, Wikistrat, is upending the model: Instead of using a stable of in-house analysts, the company crowdsources content and pays the crowd for its time. Wikistrat’s hundreds of analysts–primarily consultants, academics, journalists, and retired military personnel–are compensated for participating in what they call “crowdsourced simulations.” In other words, make money for brainstorming.

Now, let’s talk about PLM consulting business. The existing model looks similar to how it explained in the article above. The assumption that McKinseys and other top PLM consultancy companies know the best how to transform manufacturing business using PLM strategy and technologies. There is no crowd here for the moment- big companies rule the business. Now, imagine that change – future PLM consultancy will use the power of hundreds and thousands PLM experts to provide a better prediction reports and opinion about future of PLM business as well as practical business transformation recommendation for manufacturing companies.

What is my conclusion? Disruption is coming everywhere these days. There is a potential that fundamental enterprise software consultancy business will be disrupted by crowdsourcing. Sounds weird from the beginning? For the moment advisors’ business build on top of long term relationships, understanding of company business and many other factors. However, some other technological examples in our everyday life sounded as weird as this one a decade ago. Who knows? Should I godaddy futureplmadvisory.com? What is your take? These are just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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