Cloud PDM and Dropbox Streaming Sync

May 30, 2014

cloud-CAD-PDM-dropbox-sync

Few days ago, I captured the idea of building cloud PDM system on top of Dropbox infrastructure. It is hard to me to say if manufacturing companies will be ready to put CAD data into Dropbox servers. At the same time, Dropbox infrastructure is starting to make even more sense for management of CAD files on the cloud. Here is an interesting piece. My attention caught the following LifeHacker article – Enable Dropbox Streaming Sync for Faster File Synchronization. Read this article. It is short and sweet. Dropbox made another optimization of the infrastructure to synchronize files. The following passage explains the idea:

When you upload a file to Dropbox, it’s first sent in its entirety to Dropbox’s servers and then it’s downloaded to any synced computers. In a new, experimental version of Dropbox, however, you can enable streaming sync that starts downloading on the target computer while you upload.

The new desktop client (version 2.9) allows users to download files as they’re being uploaded to Dropbox. Only the downloading machine needs to be updated to 2.9, so using the experimental client should speed up downloads for shared folders as well as from your other devices, regardless of whether anyone else upgrades.

It made me think about interesting and typical scenario that happens in many engineering teams. Think about small group of engineers doing some work together and using any existing CAD desktop software (Autodesk Inventor, AutoCAD, SolidEdge, SolidWorks, etc.) In case they work in one organization, they can easy put all their files on so called "Z-drive" shared in the company. However, what happens if they work in a distributed way (Starbucks coffee shops, home, separate offices, etc.). To buy a traditional PDM system will be too complex and expensive. New Dropbox feature will allow to optimize large CAD file synchronization between their desktop systems and rest of data in the company. Quick and dirty. But it works.

What is my conclusion? There is a tremendous value to use specialized CAD sharing and management systems. I covered these values in my article here. However, when it comes to ease of use, simplicity and very low cost, Dropbox can be a good alternative. For years, Microsoft Excel was (and still is) an alternative PDM/ PLM solution to manage data. Dropbox is coming to the same spot. CAD/PDM companies need to pay attention and take note about how to leverage technologies and ideas developed by engineers from Dropbox. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


How PLM IoT will support RTF?

May 29, 2014

plm-rtf-implementation

IoT (Internet of things) is trending these days. Connected houses, cars, sensors, thermostats, LED lamps, etc. On the recent COFES 2014 in Arizona, IoT was one of the most most discussed topics. Clearly, there are some very interesting things PLM can do with IoT even tomorrow. However, the question of privacy and information transparency is one that can hit negatively PLM IoT solutions.

I was reading Google Co-Founder Sergey Brin: I Wish I Could Forget The “Right To Be Forgotten” article in Search Engine Lands earlier this morning. If you are not familiar with new acronym – RTF (Right to be forgotten), you better do it now. The Wikipedia article is here. Current legal framework is mostly focusing on private personal data and potential exposure of this data on the internet.

The right to be forgotten ‘reflects the claim of an individual to have certain data deleted so that third persons can no longer trace them.’[8] It has been defined as ‘the right to silence on past events in life that are no longer occurring.’[9] The right to be forgotten manifests itself in allowing individuals to delete information, videos or photographs about themselves from internet records, and thus prevent them from showing up on search engines.[10] Currently there are little protections currently against the harm that incidents such as revenge porn sharing, or pictures uploaded that are born of equally poor choices, can do.[11]

The implementation of RTF is still far from mature. Here is the passage from the article, which explains how it can be done.

Practical implementation of the RTF, which allows individuals to seek the de-indexing of personal information that has become “outdated” or “irrelevant” (even if legal), will create procedural challenges across the numerous jurisdictions throughout Europe. Each jurisdiction is free, in theory, to enact a different process. According to Bloomberg, Germany is first out of the gate with a potential RTF “takedown” procedure. The German government is considering setting up arbitration courts to weigh in on what information people can force Google Inc. and other search-engine providers to remove from results… the Interior Ministry in Berlin would seek to establish “dispute-settlement mechanisms” for consumers who file so-called take-down requests…The ministry suggested that the removal of information shouldn’t be left to company algorithms… The German ministry doesn’t currently plan to create a single mediating authority or to put mediators under state supervision, it said. Talks with Google and other providers will begin once the government has finalized its position.

RTF implementation made me think about potential connection between RTF and future ability of manufacturing companies to collect data from different devices. Think about car, thermostat, phone ability to collect product usage information. Maybe not very realistic today, but tomorrow the data collected from devices will be personalized. There is high probability that PLM products focusing on services / maintenance, performance and requirement management will collect personalized information about customers (and people). Which will immediately trigger the question of “de-personalization” of product information to comply RTF rules.

What is my conclusion? We are collecting more data every day about ourselves and products we are using. It is good and bad at the same time. More data can help us to optimize products. At the same time, it raises a question about potential exposure of private data. Similar to regulatory support, PLM companies will face the need to implement and support RTF rules and clean data about individuals and companies collected from product and devices. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Google Maps, Knowledge Graph and high-end PLM user experience

May 28, 2014

To present product information visually is not a simple tasks. It combines multiple domains of information – 3D model, design specification, material characteristics, simulation, etc. This is one of the most critical places to innovate for major CAD and PLM companies.

Few years ago I was writing about PLM visual reporting in CAD and PLM. I specifically mentioned two applications – Siemens HD-3D/PLM and Dassault 3D Live. I’m not sure if Siemens and Dassault marketing are still keeping the same names, but I can see both vendors are continuously developing the idea of information representation in HD-PLM and 3DEXPERIENCE. Recent announcement about Dassault 3DEXPERIENCE platform to stop using files and "link to data" is another confirmation about future merge of 3D CAD and other related data in a single environment using the same screen real estate.

Dassault Systems V6/3D Experience

dassault-vehicle-design-fig4

Siemens PLM (HD-PLM)

HD-PLM-siemens

My attention was caught by the information about Google Knowledge Graph (GKG) support by Google Maps. If you follow my blog, you probably had a chance to read about Google Knowledge Graph – Why PLM need to learn about Google Knowledge Graph?; PLM, Google Knowledge Graph and Future Decision Support and How PLM can join semantic enterprise graph?

On few screenshots below, you can see how GKG information about different objects can be accessed from Google Maps.

Object meta data on the map

white-house-gkg

boston-opera-gkg

Actionable data on the map (book hotel room & rate)

hyatt-reg-sf-gkg

Additional contextual information about the object on the map

embarkadero-station-sf-gkg

I found this information extremely interesting. Here is the thing. In my view, Google Map is one of the best applications on the web combining graphical map data with other information. The data is interconnected. Google Knowledge Graph information connected with Map information is presenting a very interesting experience when Map plays a role of contextual navigation tool to other data. At the same time, GKG info panels can provide an access to other information.

What is my conclusion? It is hard to visualize complex contextual information. I found lots of similarities between how Map and GKG data can be mixed together and the way 2D/3D information can be mixed with other product information (metadata, simulation, etc.) To use proven visualization paradigm can help to get fast user adoption. It will be interesting to see how high-end PLM user experience will evolve within time. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Dropbox Webhooks and Cloud PDM Pivoting

May 27, 2014

cloud-pdm-pivoting

Regardless on what CAD and PDM vendors want, engineers are going to share files on Dropbox and similar file sharing services (Google Drive, One Drive, etc.) Do you remember my PLM cloud concerns and Dropbox reality for engineers post two years ago? 34% of people in engineering departments are using Dropbox to share data. I don’t know what is the number now, but my hunch – it is not going down.

I’ve been reading about interesting functionality added to Dropbox- Webhooks. Navigate to the following Computerworld article to read more – Dropbox plays more nicely with Web apps. The following passage explains what service does:

Web developers can now configure apps to be notified immediately of changes that users make to their Dropbox files, taking some strain off Web servers and potentially giving end users a better experience. The functionality comes via a new "webhooks" API (application programming interface) for Dropbox, which lets developers set up real-time notifications for their Web apps whenever users modify a Dropbox file.

More explanations can be found in Dropbox blog – Announcing Dropbox webhooks:

In general, a webhook is a way for an app developer to specify a URI to receive notifications based on some trigger. In the case of Dropbox, notifications get sent to your webhook URI every time a user of your app makes a file change. The payload of the webhook is a list of user IDs who have changes. Your app can then use the standard delta method to see what changed and respond accordingly.

You can ask me how is that related to cloud PDM? Good question. In my view, this particular piece of Dropbox technology can simplify development of any cloud PDM system. Dropbox developed reference application in the tutorial. Another product referenced in the announcement is Picturelife. Simplify – doesn’t mean cloud PDM will ultimately relies on Dropbox. Many companies don’t want to put their data on Dropbox. Maybe your remember my blog post – How to evaluate PDM before it will ruin your personal productivity? Here is the thing – for most of cloud PDM developers, user experience is the biggest issue. Dropbox is an ideal environment to kick off your cloud PDM development experiments. The majority of companies that not using PDM these days are using Dropbox. For these users cloud PDM on top of Dropbox can be "no brainier". Later on, additional infrastructure can be build and used.

What is my conclusion? To get user traction is priceless. It requires lots of UX pivoting. To find right experience is one of the most critical first steps. Future technologies can be improved and fixed. There are many open web infrastructure these days that can be used to build enterprise products (including PDM). Startup companies can pivot and experiment with user experience with Dropbox based cloud PDM… Actually, established vendors can do the same. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

picture credit http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/


Why hard to sell PLM ROI?

May 24, 2014

plm-ROI

In business, ROI is one of the most fundamentals principles that can help companies to make decisions. To buy a software is an investment and therefore to be able to show ROI is an important part of sales and marketing activities. Manufacturing company will be trying to evaluate and compare ROI before the decision to buy and implement PLM system will be taken. Here is the problem. Historically, PLM systems and vendors have poor record to show PLM ROI. The simplest way to show ROI is to present it in the same method of measurement – money.

PLM-ROI-CIMdata

I read Why PLM Has CFOs Seeing Dollar $igns article by Arena Solution. In a nutshell, it speaks about how PLM can show measurable ROI. It brings lot of comparison between ERP and PLM. I can see premises of the comparison – PLM is taking much broader scope of business influence – from early design and customer requirements to service and maintenance. The following passage from the article arguing about the fact PLM financial and business value of PLM is greater than ERP.

For years, a Product Lifecycle Management solution has been seen as a solution that makes the lives of engineering and operations teams easier. But more strategically minded CFOs now see PLM as a solution to maximize business results. In fact, many C-level executives are finding greater financial and business value in their PLM solution than even in their ERP systems.

Well, as I said, it is hard to judge without numbers. Article leads to white paper – Why CFO are Banking on Cloud PLM? (You need to leave your contact information to get access to the article, which is fine). White paper speaks about 3 sources of ROI from PLM implementation – manufacturing and internal operations, optimizing the supply chain, customer satisfactions.

Unfortunately, article brings many data points about %% of saving and less examples of how to convert it to $$ signs. I found two places where examples of specific $$ saving where presented – (1) $500M savings over 3 years on direct materials in supply chain in computer industry. (2) $640M in materials acquisition savings potential in supply chain in industrial products.

The comparison between PLM and ERP made me think why PLM ROI is much less visible. Why is it so hard to convince CIO/CFO and other top executives to invest in PLM programs? Here are couple of thoughts.

You need to be able to measure saving. IT efficiency, operation metrics and strategic competitiveness – these are important things. However, can you show me how companies are measuring these parameters and what systems are helping to do so? Historically, finance and accounting systems were focus on external reporting. The needs for such system arose from the need of owners (and management) for cost information upon which to base production decision. Originally (many decades ago), the objective of financial system was to provide external financial reporting (IRS, Wall Street, etc.). Even for the last 2-3 decades the focus shifted from external reporting and profit to total process efficiency, it is still not reaching much to the level of operational metrics mentioned in all PLM ROI documents. ERP is a system that mostly satisfying the needs of financial reporting. PLM is not there yet.

I found the following passage from the white paper provided by Arena a good confirmation to my assumptions above – PLM is not measured on balance sheet.

Of course, CFOs naturally see clear ROI when it comes to financial systems, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), but PLM – at its core – is an intellectual property management system with huge value not normally measured in a balance sheet. Simply put: CFOs see how inventory translates to dollars in an ERP system but have not considered how product quality and time to market translates to tremendous cost savings

What is my conclusion? If you want to improve something, you must be able to measure it first. In my view, this is a main problem with PLM ROI. The focus of PLM system and vendors should be on providing systems and tools that can measure activities. Companies should do the same. It is a lot of changes, but without that, PLM will remain the system with huge potential. Which gives hard time to sales and marketing to "show me the money" of saving and ROI with PLM. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Picture credit to CIMdata.


Dassault PLM for next generation – zero files and cultural change

May 23, 2014

plm-ds-cultural-change-3dexperience

Usually, it takes time and money to implement PLM system for a large company. This work requires understanding of customer business processes, learning about problems, establishing strategy and making actual implementation. This is what many people implementing PLM is calling – business transformation. It takes time to people to adopt to a new way of work and new product development processes.

I have mixed opinion about business transformation. It is clearly good thing- to establish new and clean way to manage product development. However, it comes together with price tag of implementation complexity – a result, PLM stuck to provide solution for SME. As we speak, many manufacturing companies are looking for agile alternative of complex and expensive business transformation PLMs.

The new buzzword of modern technological reality is "experience". We don’t develop software application any more – we design experience. This is a nice term and it clearly came as a result of modern software web and consumer oriented platforms. Apple and some other companies played a significant role in that change. Changes are coming to PLM world as well.

I just learned, about future Dassault System plans to re-invent PLM with 3DExperience. I’ve been reading Engineering.com PLM/ERP article – "Demolish the silos in PLM": Why Dassault’s Bernard Charles believes in the 3D Experience. Have a read – this is an interesting article about future DS plans.

So what I found there? Cultural change. Not more and not less. New Dassault PLM platform will will demand cultural change. Well, what does it mean practically? It is not clear yet. I found few passages that brings some engineering language about meaning of 3DExperience.

“The zero error BOM (Bill of Materials) demands a zero file solution. 3DEXPERIENCE brings the zero file world into the engineering environment; what we do is to connect directly to product data, not to files”.

"CAD for instance, has been a separate world all these years, where you’ve been collecting requirements from disconnected environments, and the same types of barriers surrounds the job all the way through product development to manufacturing."

The main idea behind DS’ 3DExperience is to provide the IT tools needed to break down the silos and connect the development work not only to software, electronics and manufacturing, but also to the end-customers.

Breaking silos was PLM objective for many years. I’ve been discussing it on my blog before. For example, take a look here -PLM, Organization and Information Silos: Good, Bad and Ugly. Bill of materials solution has also very siloed organization – PLM: Bill of materials and silo syndrome. For the last 20 years, breaking organizational silos was always IT task focused on information integration. I remember few successes, but it was a very complicated and tedious work. Will 3DExperience do it differently? Who knows. The jury is still out to watch it.

What is my conclusion? I think, the key question is related to cultural change. How new 3D Experience platform will support the way organizations are transforming into horizontal, flat and connected structures? If the process of natural organization transformation will match new concepts and philosophy of 3Dexperience platform, we might see some good outcome. The biggest problem of PLM for the last 10-15 years was adoption that required organizational transformation. If cultural change will eliminate the need of PLM to fight for organization change, we can see the adoption level of 3DExperience system skyrocketing in the future. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Why Kickstarter projects need PLM?

May 22, 2014

kickstarter-plm-services

Online business models are disrupting industries. E-commerce was probably one of the first disrupted segments. Just think about it… 10-15 years ago we debated if people will be ready to use their credit cards online. Changes will be coming to other industries and verticals. Manufacturing is one of them. Back in 2012, I had a chance to run a panel discussion at PLM innovation 2012 event in Munich. You can find my summary in the following postThe future of PLM business models. Communities, Crowdsource and Open Source was one of the topics we discussed. Now, after two years, it looks even more interesting.

I’m sure you’ve heard about Kickstarter – crowdfunding online community. Kickstarter is gathering money from public (backers). Project creators choose a deadline and minimum funding goal. Kickstarter helps to raise funds. People who back Kickstarter projects are offered tangible rewards and special experiences in exchange for their pledges.This model traces its roots to subscription model of arts patronage, where artists would go directly to their audiences to fund their work.

I read How to deliver your kickstarter hardware blog by CircutHub. Interesting statistic about Kickstarter – 55% of all campaign are hardware category since interception in 2009. Article speaks about a challenge of successful hardware projects – ability to scale up manufacturing. Here is an interesting passage:

…it creates many overfunded projects that need to scale to high volume quickly but whose companies do not have a comprehensive understanding of the manufacturing process… Designing and marketing your product may be relatively easy, but quickly scaling and getting your product to market is hard. Skipping directly to mass production requires relationships with manufacturing partners and logistics expertise. Vetting factories and acquiring expertise is expensive, time consuming, and distracting. As a result, the more funded a campaign is, the less likely it is to deliver on time.

To help manufacturing companies to deliver on time sounds exactly one of the problems PLM is focusing on. However, Kickstarter customers are probably significantly different from large manufacturing OEMs. To provide engineering and manufacturing tools to these customers can be an interesting opportunity. If you read my "Why PLM stuck to provide solutions for SME?" , it is not going to be a simple task. Will current PLM tools be a good value for young manufacturing startups? This is good question to ask and check about.

What is my conclusion? Changing business manufacturing landscape can provide new opportunities for PLM vendors. It is probably different from what software vendors seen before. However, the number of young and new manufacturing companies is growing these days. Manufacturing companies need much less funds to start production. Similar to open source software, we can see a large number of new manufacturing firms starting to produce new and innovating products with very low initial cost. Then the challenge will be to grow it up and manage product development process. Existing (or may be new) PLM systems can help. Just my thoughts..

Best, Oleg


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 250 other followers