Cloud PLM and SaaS sales mindset

May 22, 2015

cloud-plm-sales

I want to talk about PLM sales today. If you want to succeed in sales, a mindset is a right starting point. But, enterprise sales needs a special mindset. PLM sales is very special case. These days SaaS / cloud software is setting new rules for enterprise software. How does it influence and change PLM sales? What advantages cloud PLM can get compared to a traditional PLM products and sales model?

Few days ago, I posted about how to stop blaming engineers for PLM sales problems? In my view, engineers are on average bad sales people. Therefore, to put engineers in the spot of selling PLM and blame them for wrong articulation of PLM value is a bad idea. There are thousands of books and article on the topic of how to sell to enterprise organizations. It is a good reading for coming Memorial Day long weekend. Today, I want to talk about cloud PLM sales – a new category that has a chance to change the way we sell PLM.

I can see two aspects of cloud PLM sales. First is related to a new reality of our world – internet, online connectivity, social networks, virality. How does it help to sell PLM? It certainly helps to create a new level of awareness about what your product does. If you didn’t setup your product twitter account, blog and other social channel, do it now! But, it doesn’t change a fundamentals. Despite all social channels, selling to enterprise is still very much old-schoolers game. In my view, there is no PLM vendors that discovered a new way to sell PLM until now. You can read more in my earlier post – PLM, Viral Sales and Enterprise Old Schoolers.

Second aspect is related to the fact how PLM companies are managing enterprise sales process and new business models. My attention caught the A16Z blog post – If SaaS products sell themselves, why do we need sales? The article gives you an excellent perspective on the details of sales process. I like the comparison of enterprise sales to the process of getting a bill passed in Congress. Certainly true. Although PLM is not a new category in the market, I would consider PLM sales challenge to create a unique value for every customer as something real PLM vendors are facing every day. PLM sales are competing with many other activities in manufacturing companies and it is literally hard to take it through the all three steps of decision process – why to buy PLM, why to buy PLM from a specific vendor and why to buy PLM now.

SaaS sales are facing the same level of sales difficulties. At the same time I’ve been thinking how cloud PLM can get some advantages over a traditional PLM product sales. And the point of "customer facing activity" form A16Z blog is clearly resonating here. This is a passage to pay attention in my view:

SaaS is a winner-take-all market involving a “land-and-expand” sales strategy. However, landing doesn’t necessarily mean expanding and winning. Staffing your startup with customer-facing resources — professional services, customer support, etc. — at this stage is an investment that will pay off not only in expanding your footprint inside that account, but in building the most powerful sales tool there is: a good reference. And while new clients are great, the best place to sell something is where you’ve already sold something.

You may ask me how is that related? Here is the thing… Landing should be an easy process in SaaS PLM compared to a traditional PLM sales process. And this is where cloud PLM can provide a clear differentiation. A traditional PLM approach is to sell on a premise of changing the way customer is doing business and manage product development processes. When it is done, you can setup PLM system and prove it. But it is a very lengthy process. Opposite to that, you can think about cloud PLM first sale as a "land" process. Do it for the most painful problem customer has. This is why PLM sales should be more technical. Land it to the customer for a cost of zero dollars. After all, you can leverage elasticity of the cloud as a biggest advantage. After you done, work on expand option. New subscription business models will help you to provide a new way for customer – pay per use.

What is my conclusion? Moving to the cloud, doesn’t mean PLM can sell itself. After earlier attempts, it looks like wrong sales strategy. At the same time, landing small feature to solve the most painful problem for a customer can be a right step to start. The challenge is to have enough customer facing resources that can help to discover it and land an initial solution with very low cost and super fast ROI. In my view, it is a completely different mindset from what we had before in PLM and enterprise. It is a time for PLM vendors to retool sales teams with new skills. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Kittisak at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Cloud PLM provider check list

April 30, 2015

cloud-plm-checklist

Cloud is everywhere these days. Despite high popularity of cloud solution, I still can see some confusion on the side of a customer trying to make a decision about moving towards specific cloud services. The discussion I had at COFES 2015 earlier this month made me think about key questions you want to ask your potential cloud PLM provider before signing your SLA.

A server, which is connected to the internet is not automatically cloud (SaaS) application. The devil is in details and by understanding specific cloud characteristics you will save time and money for your organization.

Here is a check list you might consider for your cloud provider due-diligence process. .

1- Infrastructure

Most of cloud PLM vendors are not running their own infrastructure layer to bring cloud solutions to you. This is so-called IaaS (infrastructure as a service) layer is pretty important for the architecture of your solution.

Professional cloud provider and partners used for IaaS should be responsible for maintenance of infrastructure layers. Then this partner is also responsible for the entire maintenance of the infrastructure (servers, operating systems, databases, backups, etc.). Patches are published on a weekly basis (usually for good reasons) and this is alone is a valuable service which reduce a pressure on your IT department. The level of availability guaranteed usually lies close to 99.99%; a level which the market leaders in the cloud segment also actually achieve.

2- Maintenance and upgrades

From the perspective of cloud vendor, the maintenance of cloud based apps is much simpler than on-premise solution. User can see it as a clear advantage. However, you should validate how is that aligned with customization and test environment. It can take an interesting turn on your own IT upgrades to leverage the same time frames and also identify the impact you your own company maintenance schedule.

3- Multi-tenancy

This is one of the key things, in my view. Compatibility to multi-tenancy has nothing to compare with the ability to set an environment for many customers. This is about how application architecture was developed in the way to be used by multiple clients. I touched few years ago in my post, which can give you more details.

Essentially, it is separated into two topics – application multi-tenancy and data multi-tenancy. The first will insure all customers are running the same version of the application. It simplifies maintenance for vendor, but bring an additional level of complexity for application and service providers. To insure your environment and data are compliant with a new version takes time and you want it to be very efficient. Data multi-tenancy is a next level. In some cases, you can consider it as non-important. However, after more thoughts, it might be wise to check how multi-tenant application is working with multiple customer databases. It might be too complex to maintain and it might make an upgrade more complicated.

Be aware, multi-tenancy is a key thing in cloud architecture and it require major re-architecture if you speak about existing on premise software. An on-premise solution cannot be made compatible to cloud overnight. Therefore, anyone who is trying to convince you that technology developed back in 1990s runs on both cloud and premise locations might have a great sales skills, but not much technological competency.

4- Security

One of the most often asked question is about security. For the last 3-5 years, cloud providers developed a set of security procedures. Good vendors have them available online in a very transparent way. Ask for a link. If you cannot get one, this is a red no go flag to work with this vendor.

What is my conclusion? Cloud technologies can be very different. But, as a customer, you shouldn’t take blind decision about what are you buying. The most important to understand – you are not buying product anymore. You are buying “service”. SLA is your marriage contract if you will. Whatever is in that contract will define how your PLM system will perform. So, check contracts upfront and look for technological and business differentiations. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 


Onshape, API and cloud architectures

April 23, 2015

cloud-API

I assume you are aware about Onshape, the new CAD software outfit founded by Jon Hirschtick and part of his old SolidWorks founding team. The software is in public beta for the moment. You can reference to my previous posts – PLM thoughts after Onshape public beta and Develop3D live set a stage for cloud CAD competition. I also recommend you Develop3D article – Onshape Beta goes live – start your engines. Navigate to the following link to discover more Onshape resources.

Integration is a very important thing in engineering application domain. Engineers and manufacturing companies are using multiple applications for design, simulation, product data and lifecycle management. Therefore, system architecture and availability of APIs is absolutely important in order to develop integrations and more specific and complex engineering data flows.

Earlier today, my attention was caught by Onshape blog by Steve Lewin-Berlin, which gives you some perspective on Onshape APIs. Onshape is using own APIs to create first integration with Graebert Drawings. Here is the passage from the blog explaining that:

I’ve been leading the development of the Onshape API for the past year. COFES was our team’s coming out party, marking the first public discussion of the API. The introduction of Onshape Drawings and our partnership with Graebert GmbH is an important part of the story.

We decided to build Onshape Drawings on top of the same API that will be available to partners. In a classic case of “eating our own dog food,” we believe that using the API for a significant internal component validates the capability and performance of the API. This also provided a clean interface between Onshape and Graebert technology, allowing us to leverage the extensive technology available in Graebert’s core drawing engine.

As you can see in the screenshot below, Onshape Drawings run in a tab just like Parts and Assemblies, and use a native Onshape style toolbar and command structure.

onshape-drawings

Last week at COFES 2015 I spent some time learning about what Onshape is doing with APIs and integrations. You will be able to integrate Onshape using three different approaches – file exchange, live link using REST API and by creating more complex integrated cloud workflows. Few pictures below can give you some idea about Onshape integrations (apologies for the quality of pictures. I’ve made them in standing room only during Onshape presentation at COFES).

onshape1

onshape-file-exchange

onshape2

onshape3

Onshape is promising to make APIs and documentation available to broader audience later in May.

What is my conclusion? Hybrid architecture and APIs. For the next decade we will live in the world of new cloud apps and existing desktop tools. I can see people starting to use new cloud services in parallel with existing design applications. Openness will be even more important than before. It is critical to follow open integration architecture and REST APIs to support a mix of required integrations. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 


COFES 2015: PLM and the cloud briefing

April 20, 2015

plm-cloud-adoption

Last week at COFES 2015, I shared my thoughts and opinion about what happens between PLM and the cloud for the last few years. That was a teaser of my COFES session in the agenda:

As recently as three years ago, the cloud was viewed as a differentiator for some PLM vendors. The PLM world was divided between those who viewed the cloud as “the future” and those who viewed it as a fad. Today, most PLM vendors touch the cloud or engage with it in some way. But… what has really changed? Where do we stand with the big questions/challenges with PLM? Can the cloud still be the source of a competitive differentiator for PLM vendors?

Cloud is an outcome of web technological revolution of 2000s. Consumer web applications and social networks provided great user experience, open source technology and taste of new business models. In many situations, we experienced better performance, usability and robustness of consumer applications compared to our business solutions. Which basically set all enterprise CIOs on fire from 2010 to deliver new enterprise solutions.

But cloud is not only about technologies. It is also about transformation in business models. We can see a shift towards SaaS applications with subscription models and variety of innovation in different business models – pay for storage, pay for use, references, etc.

Manufacturing companies are looking for new PLM business models, which can allow them to have sustainable licensing mechanism to grow, remove upfront cost and deliver “less expensive PLM” to existing and new users.

Enterprise software discovered SaaS applications and cloud too. Salesforce.com was pioneering so called “no software” paradigm from early 2000s. In manufacturing and enterprise, Netsuite is another example of software vendor using cloud as a strategy. Bom.com (later transformed into Arena Solutions) was a first on-demand application providing PLM related functionality. Windchill and Agile PLM software are also examples of PLM products experimenting with hosting and on-demand delivery.

plm-cloud-history-2015

The revolutionary step was done by Autodesk PLM360 in 2012. Autodesk was not engaged with PLM activity until that time. It was even famous for anti-PLM rants. However, in 2012, Autodesk introduced PLM 360 (built on top of Datastay acquisition), which became a game changing trigger for PLM industry. Since 2012, we can see an increased trend among PLM vendors to adopt cloud strategy.

Below is a slide deck summarizing my PLM and the cloud briefing. It provides few more details, so take a look.

Cofes 2015 plm and the cloud briefing (public) from Oleg Shilovitsky

What is my conclusion? Few things are clear today about PLM and the cloud. It is obvious that cloud is not fad and it removes significant IT headache to install, configure and maintain PLM. With cloud option, you can start PLM development almost instantaneously. However, PLM implementations are still hard. What is not clear is the future cloud PLM adoption trajectory. Manufacturing companies made significant investments in existing PLM installations and implementations. What ROI can trigger their decision to move into cloud PLM? There is an opportunity for companies that never engaged in PLM, to start with cloud PLM as a more efficient and easy way to adopt PLM. However, the implementation phase is still painful for many customers. Therefore the main question for me is what can bend future a curve of cloud PLM adoption. Just my thought…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Pixomar at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Why 2015 will be the year for PLM to rethink cloud?

April 10, 2015

plm-rethink-cloud

I’m coming to COFES 2015 next week, which will take place in Scottsdale, Arizona. PLM and the cloud is one of the topic I’m planing to discuss during the analyst and user briefing sessions. I’ve been thinking to beat a schedule and share some of my thoughts on blog before to spark a conversation.

The last few years have been building some foundation for PLM and cloud. It is certainly became more mature from every standpoint – to understand cloud value proposition, try different business models, discover partnerships and build possible roadmaps for the future. It is different from what we had back in 2010. Cloud is pretty much everywhere these days. Vendors and customers are not asking a question if they need to focus on the cloud, but more about how to do that from different standpoints. Vendors are considering different technologies and ways to build their product differentiations.

The next web article Why 2015 will be the year that the cloud comes of age caught my attention few days ago. I liked a very precise definition of cloud characteristics: self-provision, elastic scale and pay per use. The real cloud solutions are leveraging that part of cloud technologies. Products like Arena and Autodesk PLM360 are probably best examples here. At the same time, it is not clear to me how other PLM vendors are going to fit that definition with technologies and strategies that more aligned with hosting of existing PLM platforms using IaaS platforms or specific hosting providers. You can take a look on my post about where to host cloud PLM.

My favorite passage from the article is related to the ability of cloud technologies to level the playing fields between enterprise giants and small ventures. Here is the passage I specially liked:

“Before the cloud, companies implemented new software and technology in a relatively traditional way through structured, company-wide deployments,” explains John Brennan, head of business development at international communications firm BT. What the cloud brings to the table is versatility that allows end users to invest in the exact resources that they need — no more and no less. Companies can switch over to lightweight, cloud-based deployments that require little in the way of on-premise configuration and management.

Lightweight, cloud based deployment is a key. This is where companies can deliver differentiations. This is where most of PLM vendors can see cloud advantages – to remove IT burden and to lower upfront implementation cost for PLM.

However, expensive IT and on-premise installation is only part of PLM deployment problem. Another part is related actually to the way PLM system is implemented, how it can streamline product development processes. In my view, this is related to a second point mentioned in the article – information exchange.

Today’s top technologies — and human-to-human communications protocols — are dependent on APIs. Thanks to very simple programming, applications can connect to support the swift and efficient flow of information ranging from product SKUs to media buys, CRM data, and credit card transaction details. “Cloud based APIs and microservices simplify information exchange,” says Chris Hoover, global vice president of product and marketing strategy at Perforce Software. “It lowers the barrier for new vendors to enter the market.” The result, according to Hoover, is a trend in which enterprise companies are moving away from a ‘top down’ approach to software and information exchanges.

This is a place where PLM systems are not aligned with a cloud. Few modern cloud based APIs are exposing REST API. However, most of PLM platforms, even hosted in the cloud, still provide only old fashion API frameworks. The level of openness and the way implementations need to be done in an organization is still the same for cloud and non-cloud systems. It is a lengthy process, which requires clarification of requirements and alignment with the organization.

What is my conclusion? PLM industry did a great first step by moving into cloud. Customers are actively engaging with vendors trying to understand cloud technologies and business models advantages. However, implementations are still very painful. So, how to change existing PLM implementation paradigm and make PLM implementations granular and painless. The question is on the table. Whoever, will be able to crack it, has a chance to win a future differentiation game in PLM. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Where to host my cloud CAD and PLM?

April 8, 2015

cad-plm-hosting-options

Cloud adoption is growing. There is almost a synergy about cloud and PLM. All PLM vendors are signaling about leveraging various pieces of cloud technologies in their business. Now, the time is coming for CAD. Last few months were sparked by multiple debates around future of cloud CAD technologies. Onshape was a resonating factor of these discussions. However, other companies such as Autodesk and Dassault Systems/Solidworks are also demonstrating their commitments for future cloud development.

Cloud is a pain relief for your company IT. You shouldn’t worry about servers, communication infrastructure and other IT resources. However, as you can imagine, cloud infrastructure is located on the ground and in many situations you want to know where is it located, how is that protected and secured. Users can be happy to have all CAD documents to be located in a “single cloud place” together with the last version of the software. However, you want to know how reliable is this single place and who is taking care of cloud operation.

Few months ago, I shared some of thoughts and references about pubic cloud and the way it will influence large manufacturing companies. Navigate to these two post to refresh your memories – PLM vendors, large manufacturers and public cloud and Is public cloud reshaping PLM landscape? Time to re-check…

My attention caught another article – Predicting The Future Of Cloud Service Providers by Louis Columbus. The article provides a a very interesting set of information about where future cloud investment will go and what cloud service providers are going to support it. Here is an interesting snippet of data:

7% of marketing departments will have 60% or more of their applications on a cloud platform in two years. When asked which Value-Added Reseller (VAR) is most likely to win their enterprises’ business for a significant hosting project, the majority said IBM IBM +0.46% (18%) followed by Microsoft MSFT -0.43% (11%), Amazon (8%) and Dell (7%). Database (57%), e-mail (54%) and business applications (ERP, CRM & industry-specific apps) (49%) are the three leading application hosting investments enterprises will be making in the next two years.

The following chart can give some insight on priority of investments:

application-hosting-spending

As you can see, business applications, virtual desktop hosting and productivity tools are in the top part of the list. The following chart can demonstrate some hosting preferences between large providers.

significant-hosting-resellers

Manufacturing companies will have to take critical decisions about their cloud strategy. Most of them are using technology and applications that will have a difficulties to move into cloud as a services. The question how to balance between existing authoring and productivtiy tools and new SaaS applications is the most interesting.

What is my conclusion? Engineering and manufacturing companies won’t be able to abandon the existing ship and magically move from existing set of application into a future cloud world. It will be a journey, which will involve existing software vendors, newcomers and new SaaS application, cloud service providers and service companies. How to pickup a right partners? This is a note to CEOs, CIO, IT infrastructure managers and many others. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

[tag PLM, Cloud, CAD, Service, Host]


What cloud CAD data management is right for me?

April 6, 2015

cloud-data-management-cad

The amount of data created in the cloud and transferred to the cloud is growing. You probably noticed few of my last blog posts about cloud CAD – The stage for cloud CAD competition and How CAD vendors “murdered” PDM business. CAD vendors are moving to the cloud, but the truth the competition between other cloud vendors are heating up for the ability to generate content and manage it in the cloud. The following article caught by attention over the weekend – Dropbox is working on a new note taking applications. Together with few other larger and smaller vendors, the dynamics of getting our data up to the cloud is increasing.

This is probably a good time to ask a question – what are products that can help you to organize and manage your engineering data in the cloud. Few years ago, I’ve been sharing some of my thoughts about CAD file sharing in my public discuss with Hardi Meybaum of GrabCAD. You can navigate to my old post here – Debunking the cons to CAD file sharing tools.

Today I want to take a short review of tools that became available since that time and focus primarily on managing engineering and CAD data in the cloud.

Generic cloud data (document) management tools

Yes, there are many generic cloud data management tools. Most of them are coming from vendors focused on cloud data storage. Google, Microsoft, Dropbox. There are few other tools. These tools can give you a way to put you files in the cloud without much focus on what is there (3D models, drawings, specifications, etc.)

A bit outstanding, but still a generic tools is BOX. You can learn from the website about BOX focus on industries. I shared some of my thoughts about that here – Can BOX become a platform for PLM?

Another interesting recent development is Adobe Document cloud.

Cloud CAD data management tools

New cloud CAD systems are coming with solid data management foundation. Two examples here – Autodesk A360 and Onshape data management. Both systems are capable to manage CAD data coming from multiple CAD systems.

You probably heard and seen Autodesk Fusion360. In fact Fusion360 runs on top of A360 – backbone and platform to manage data and collaborate socially about projects and changes. Project collaboration approach is a central concept of A360. You can read more here. A360 is a platform to create, collaborate and compute in the cloud. And it is capable to manage different CAD files from Autodesk and other CAD vendors. More about features and what you can do is here.

Onshape is providing core data management capabilities around Onshape documents. In of my experiments with Onshape, I’ve learned that I can upload other CAD files into Onshape documents, manage their versions and translate it into native Onshape data too. You can find this approach a bit different from A360 project. However, we can only guess where future Onshape product development will go. I found the concept of Organization management in Onshape, which can be developed in the future.

Cloud PDM tools

GrabCAD Workbench is probably one of the earliest cloud CAD data management tools. Workbench can give you an option to put multiple CAD data into cloud and manage versions. It is combined with GrabCAD Open Engineering community that allows you to leverage CAD data openly shared by about 2 millions of GrabCAD community members.

Kenesto Drive is another product you might pay attention too. After few product pivots, Kenesto came with a simple concept of “Drive” – a place where you can synchronize engineering data (including CAD files, of course) and keep using this data with your desktop tools.The following video gives you some overview of what Kenesto Drive does.

What is my conclusion? Growing interest to upload, share and manage data in the cloud will require better tools and probably new concept of data management. Customers won’t be happy with “double PDM tax”. I’m sure, the idea to move existing complexity of CAD data management in the cloud won’t excite users. My hunch customers won’t move into 100% cloud environment and we will be using both cloud and desktop in parallel for some time (I even don’t want to predict for how long). So, new paradigms will be developed to manage and collaborate heterogeneous CAD and engineering data in both cloud and desktops. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of watcharakun at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 


Cloud CAD can solve hardest PDM problem

April 3, 2015

cloud-data-management

Document management is hard if you do it manually. To manage versions of documents requires you to follow some rules or naming conventions. I remember one of my first lessons in configuration management many years ago. It was about how to use file names in versions. Simple rule for starters – never ever use words “last” or “final” in names, otherwise (guess what) all you versions will be “last” of “final”.

To manage versions of CAD files is harder than manage Word documents. For many engineering organizations, it was the main reasons to bring PDM tool. I can tell you endless stories about people spending days of work because overwriting the deleted version or companies losing weeks of work trying to restore project baseline in their communication with subcontractors.

Unfortunately, to manage CAD files using PDM is a hard job too. CAD projects are combining multiple files. These files are interconnected and it is hard sometimes to resolve the complexity of these connections together with management of proper versions. The main reason for that was related to the need to keep multiple files in some location on your computer (usually called workspace) and switch between these files in order to get a desired version of your project with right parts and sub-assemblies.

Here are some good news, in my view. Cloud and more specifically cloud CAD systems can finally solve hardest PDM problem. The main reason for that – cloud CAD system should build a solid data management foundation to manage CAD data in the cloud. So, it will fix a broken link between CAD files saved on your computer and PDM storage.

The main outcome of cloud CAD data management is the ability to manage versions and merge branches design. In my view, this is a functionality CAD / PDM users dreamed for years. I remember many requests to support the ability of branching revisions and applying changes done by two engineers together.

In the past I speculated about future of CAD / PDM data management and how cloud can simplify management of design versions. You can read my old posts from 2010 – PDM and management of CAD files and Future CAD and Assembly version management. The technologies are getting mature and we can see some interesting results these days. I captured two recently published videos from Autodesk Fusion 360 and Onshape demonstrating how you can branch design, collaborate and merge results using cloud data management tools.

Autodesk Fusion 360

Onshape

What is my conclusion? Back in 2010, I was dreaming and speculating about “invisible CAD data management”. Fast forward in 2015 – it is a time to see changes in new products. Cloud technologies are reshaping traditional boundaries of engineering tools. For many years, CAD and PDM tools were separate. Integration between CAD and PDM was complex and painful. Cloud allows us to focus on user experience and hide data management form users. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of pakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Cloud is not the way to rethink PLM. Then what?

April 1, 2015

CIMdata PLM forum yesterday was a good place to discuss ideas that from a first look can sound a bit crazy. One of them – how to rethink PLM. Wait… you can say. We just came to some sort of understanding about what is PLM and how to sell PLM values to management. There are enough references online from customers that sharing information about how to plan, implement and maintain PLM environment. Why do we need to rethink it?

Here is the thing. My attention caught by the results of the following poll during CIMdata forum (see below). What will be the biggest market disruptions. The results are a bit surprising. The future PLM disruption isn’t coming from cloud, social or new user devices. On the other side, new business models came to the focus.

So, what does it mean to PLM?

plm-rething-business-models-cimdata

The simple and straightforward answer on this question – customers are looking for cheaper PLM licenses or subscriptions to ease future proliferation of PLM in an organization. It might be true and there is a demand to lower license cost. Now, imagine the dream- to license price of PLM is $0 (zero). Does it make a significant change in the way you think about PLM? Maybe a bit. But I don’t see the PLM adoption problem solved by doing that. Actually, there is one PLM vendor who is not selling PLM licenses, but selling optional subscription – Aras.com. There is high interest to discover new PLM business model developed by Aras, but other PLM vendors are catching up providing subscription based PLM licenses too. So, where is the problem?

One of things I want to discuss is implementation lifecycle. In other words what it takes organization to agree about PLM implementation. The first and most critical step in every PLM implementation is planning. This is a step when company is engaging with business and technical sales people. It is also the time when companies are actively collaborating internally and with PLM consultants to create and/or tailor PLM implementation plan. There is nothing wrong with that, but…. it takes time and it is very costly process. What is the alternative, you can ask? This is $1M question and I’m not sure have an answer.

However, here are some of my thoughts.

1- PLM planning and implementation should turn agile. For the last few years, agile became de-facto product development standard for software companies. PLM vendors and manufacturing companies should discover agile world for PLM implementations. It goes around 3 main things- how to start fast; how to capture data painlessly and how to solve interoperability problem. More thoughts about PLM agile practices here.

2- Take PLM away from corporate process alignment. There are no perfect companies (although some of my friends from manufacturing companies may disagree). Every company is messy in their own way. We should disconnect PLM implementations from solving corporate politics and internal conflicts. Easy to say, but hard to implement. In my view, focus on providing useful tools that company can leverage fast can be helpful.

3- Look on PLM as a tool to manage a complete product lifecycle. Today most of PLM implementations are starting in engineering department and crawl towards manufacturing and support organizations. PLM industry did it for the last decade and it is proven as complex and painful process. What if PLM tools will provide a way for company to manage product lifecycle by focusing on critical milestones – requirements, product data, marketing, design, manufacturing, supply chain, sales, support.

What is my conclusion? The existing paradigm of PLM is to focus on engineering lifecycle and resolving complexity of existing business processes. It is complex and has few critical points of failure. Crawling through corporate politics and conflicts to create process management tool is costly and slow. It is a time to rethink PLM with new paradigm of lifecycle management. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Do we need super cloud PDM? But wait, we already have PLM…

March 30, 2015

super-cloud-pdm

Cloud is transforming businesses and technologies. CAD and PDM are going to be transformed too. If you had a chance to follow my blog last week, you probably read my thoughts from Develop3D LIVE conference in Warwick, England. If you missed, navigate to my previous post – Develop3D LIVE set the stage for cloud CAD competition.

I found it interesting, but cloud CAD is coming at first to solve old PDM problem – multiple file copies, revision management, branching, data sharing and collaboration. If I look on both Autodesk Fusion360 and Onshape, I can see that PDM functionality is coming included. By doing that, new future price of PDM licenses is finally set to zero. However, there are some complications too.

Does cloud CAD/PDM solve all data management problems? There is no simple answer on this question. Here is the thing. If you think about single system – Fusion360 or Onshape, you can think about PDM as a solved problem. However, if you zoom out in your company business, the first question you can ask – what happens if I want to use both systems? Should I get two clouds? What will be interoperability between these two and future cloud CAD systems? Some of my thoughts about that are here – will cloud CAD inherit data interoperability problem?

Actually, cloud CAD systems are not alone in this multi-cloud challenge. My attention caught by TechCrunch article – BetterCloud Raises $25 Million From Accel To Create Universal Tools For Monitoring The Office Cloud. The opportunity BetterCloud is related to management multiple cloud services used by the same organization. While Google Docs and Office365 are much widely used than Fusion360, Onshape and cloud SolidWorks, the problem is very similar. Here is my favorite passage from the article:

That competition has been great for corporate IT departments in providing choice, but the diversity of options has also dramatically increased the complexity of managing these clouds within a corporate environment. Identities need to synchronize across platforms, and monitoring the performance and security of these services is challenging, particularly in a time of austerity in many IT budgets.In short, managing multiple clouds – or even just one – requires a whole new set of tools.

The association with Google Docs and Office is especially helpful, since Onshape is using Google Docs paradigm to demonstrate core principles of new cloud CAD architecture.

Manufacturing companies are familiar with the situation when they need to manage multiple PDM systems. Very often, this is a CAD/PDM/PLM configuration for companies using multiple CAD systems and central PLM/ERP systems. In such situation, companies are managing CAD data with PDM developed by each CAD vendors. It helps to maintain CAD version compatibility and support multiple CAD systems. Does it mean that double PDM tax will be coming to the cloud too?

What is my conclusion? Cloud systems are slowly became reality in many businesses these days. However, while solving one problem, it can bring new problems. Or, actually, it takes an existing problem and moves it to another place – to the cloud. Engineers will have to work with multiple cloud systems and leverage their advantages. However, it also creates new level of data management complexities. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of sumetho at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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