PLM And New Types Of User Experience

May 5, 2010

User experience is important. It comes with all cool gadgets, Web 2.0 websites and iPhone apps. I think, people started to understand it even in enterprise organizations. I can hear lots of people voices asking when enterprise tools will become cooler than today. The obvious answer of PLM and other related vendors for many years was 3D. Everything looks better in 3D – visualization, animation, etc. I want to focus on few examples of trends that can potentially introduce new types of user experience.

Augmented Reality
The latest trend in 3D space is augmenting reality. It helps us to mix virtual and real 3D spaces into a single one. The nice thing about it is that it helps you to realize the potential of your product before it even comes to prototyping and manufacturing. I had chance to see many examples of augmented reality. One of the best ones is iQ Toyota. The impressive piece of this video is how you can create a virtual disassemble of the car.

3D Working Environment
This example is actually coming from the BumpTop acquisition Google made this week. BumpTop is a nice idea simulating real 3D environment on your desktop. And it is specially interesting, since the existing desktops remain unchanged the last 10-15 years, and it sounds like a potential change in this place. I can imaging it coming to the product design environment too.

Voice Collaborative Communication
In my view, this is the most unusual one. I’ve been watching Siri – assistant application since it was introduced last year on iPhone. This is a nice example of collaborative application that interact with user in a very unusual and intuitive manner. I posted about this apps few mounts ago in my article – What Are You Questions PLM Virtual Assistant? So, this company was acquired by Apple earlier this week, which means for me Apple is investing in more intuitive ways of collaboration and communication. I think, this is also something that can fit very well today’s product development environment.

So, what is my conclusion? I can definitely see something new is coming in user experience and communication. The trends in  communication and collaboration made by non-PLM software manufacturers can outrun design and engineering software vendors. PLM vendors are dealing with a huge amount of legacy code and legacy implementations. However, this is a time to think about what can bring next potential leap in collaborative manufacturing, engineering and design software.

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg


3D CAD Future: How To Liberate Data?

April 26, 2010

Last week I had a chance to listen to Mike Payne during the COFES 2010 event in Scottsdale, AZ. Mike’s 18 minutes talk was entitled “Future of Mechanical CAD (Where does PLM fits In?). Mike provided a very interesting retrospective view on the history of mechanical CAD from initial 2D and all 3D evolution and revolutions. I personally liked his take on why 2D is still alive – “because it just works”. Whatever you’ll do in 3D will depend on the software you use. Whatever you are making in 2D can stay forever.

Mike’s view on the future mechanical CAD target was as following:
1. All in 3D

2. Discoverable (the learning curve is really fast)

3. Models unaffected by changes of software release

4. Intelligence built-in CAD tools

5. Data can be re-used between all apps

6. Interchange of best-of-breed tools

7. Based on Geometry and Topology

8. Inexpensive

9. Support for long term storage (i.e. PDF, STEP)

Mike Payne and Brad Holtz

For me the most interesting points presented by Mike were points 3, 4, 5, from the summary above. My short name to this change – “Liberate data from CAD tools”. In my view, they can present the biggest disruption in the 3D CAD industry since the introduction of the feature-based parametric modeling. Here is my take on this and why I think this change is so disruptive.

Dependencies on CAD vendor
In today’s world, companies are required to follow CAD vendors. Everything, they are creating in 3D is heavily dependent on the specific CAD application. It comes accumulated dependencies on the format of data, 3D features as well as a very long learning curve of CAD users in the companies. However, it creates huge benefits for vendors in the way of a maintenance revenue stream. It doesn’t mean you cannot shift between tools, however it presents a significant associated cost of change.

Competition On Tools
When/If dependencies on tools will be removed, the new form of competition can be presented. Vendors will be enforced to compete on a tool proper. The cost of change or switch between CAD systems will be no longer a factor in this competition. So, we can expect CAD market to become similar to the telecom market where a switch between previous and next mobile phone is zero for the end user.

Long Term Data Retention
Since intelligence will be introduced in CAD, forward data compliance will help to resolve the problem of long data storage. This is a very important topic for many industries, especially regulated ones. Some of them are required to keep data for 50-60 years. Today 2D is the ultimate way to do so (because it just work). Future may be different.

What is my summary today? The future Mike observed, sounds very disruptive for today’s CAD vendors. It can present a significant shift in business models and competitive landscape. In my view, it can generate the biggest change in CAD vendor’s landscape. What about PLM role? The presentation wasn’t specifically about PLM, but provided some hunches about what can happen to PLM too. Next time, I will think about how PLM fits in the Mike’s future of CAD.

Best, Oleg


AUGI, CAD/PLM Data And The Future Of Cloud

April 6, 2010

I found an invitation to AUGI Drops service from AUGI in my email this morning. You can see more information in the AUGI press release. For me, it was a final confirmation that race for online data has begun.

AUGI announces its newest offering to members—a Web-based private file sharing and collaboration tool. AUGI, in collaboration with, now provides its members with a place to share files, drawings, models, photos, video, audio and more.

As an AUGI-member, you can create unlimited 100mb drops to share files with full SSL security.

• Each drop has a phone number and extension. Call the drop, talk all you want – it is converted to an MP3 and left right in the drop on the fly. Listen to it on the drop, or send it out via email, RSS, MMS, or basically anything else you want.

• Every drop has its own free conference call number automatically assigned to it. The drop’s conference call number stays the same, so consider it for long term use as your drop is active.

• Each drop has its own e-mail address. Send a notes or attachments to the drop from a computer, Blackberry, or any e-mail or MMS enabled phone. If you send a file, the text of the e-mail will be posted as a comment on the file. If you send just text, it will be added to the drop as a note.

It made me think about the future of cloud data for CAD and PLM again. At the same way in the early time of Web 2.0, web sites tried to get users subscribed for their services (btw which is still true), the “new cloud” is interested to get customer data. In this case this is design, engineering and other related data. I had chance to write about cloud and CAD files before – Where is the PLM shortcut to the cloud?. So, this is a confirmed start to develop “future Peter Norton’s Application” to store CAD files.

What is my conclusion today? Does it mean we are going to replace “Save As File” command to “Save To Cloud” button? This might be a first try. Vendors will be trying to understand how many users will be interested to give up on their local storage and move to the virtual storage. Since “security” considered as one of the main concern points of cloud solution, development of free cloud data services will be a right indicator if companies and individuals are ready for that.

Best, Oleg


PLM, 3D Virtual and Apple Patents

April 6, 2010

I’d like to put a short note this morning. It comes from my review of Patently Apple blog. The very interesting patent granted to Apple in the area of 3D virtual stores. The interesting is how Apple defines a presence in this virtual shop:

Apple’s patent FIG. 9 shown above, illustrates an embodiment of an interface to an online store. The example shown is an implementation of region 112 of FIG. 1 as rendered in a browser. Alice, a character represented as an example in the patent, “is visiting the Acme website at noon. Accordingly, a sun (904) is included in region 112. If Alice were to return later in the day, a moon or star icon might be shown instead of sun 904. Other indicators, such as different color schemes during the fall season or winter holidays can also be included.”

I think, such patent can be an alarm in front of CAD and PLM affiliated companies thinking about 3D virtual experience. The competition in 3D space can get to the point when the interests of design software manufacturers will clash with companies thinking about 3D user experience everywhere.

Just my thoughts… What do you think about that?
Best, Oleg


PLM: Backward Evolution Into Lifelike 3D

February 11, 2010

Recent presentation on SolidWorks World 2010 about evolution of PLM drove me to think about what is the future of 3D and PLM in longer term. For those who haven’t had chance to see these materials, please take a look on the slide below. What we can see is the strategic move from the world of PLM to the world of (3D) Lifelike Experience

Does it mean PLM vendors is moving back to their 3D roots? Does it mean for PLM to be less involved into overall product lifecycle and processes? Maybe this move will allow better balancing between operational efficiency of ERP to manage corporate resources and combine it with the ability of PLM to manage a comprehensive set of product data?

Historically, PLM grew up from the ability to manage 2D and 3D geometry data. In the beginning, it was about CAD files. Ability to manage product data was the obvious strength of PLM in comparison to material-purchasing world of ERP. Unfortunately, PLM clashed with ERP on their interest to manage engineering product data and interest to drive processes in the organization. PLM made significant efforts to take over management of organizational processes around product design, planning, manufacturing and support. Nevertheless, “money talks” and PLM is still considered as a “step-child’ when you present this solution to CIO in comparison to ERP. In my view, by moving focus into Lifelike experience and Virtual 3D, PLM can become dominant in the overall product creation (from the requirement to material behavior) and leave ERP with operational responsibilities.

Does it mean PLM gave up? I don’t think so. In my view, move towards Lifelike experience, shows transformation from the process-focus into the end-to-end product-focus. PLM will be able to manage a complete set of product information. This is a very interesting move that can change enterprise system landscape. PLM (or 3D Lifelike Experience?) will be more focused on product engineering including all aspects of product requirement, design, manufacturing and user experience. ERP systems will be more focused on the processes and resources.

What is my conclusion? Move from PLM to advanced 3D can remove long term clash between ERP and PLM in the process management domain. ERP will expand into process management focus and PLM will be taking their position in the product engineering management with big emphasizing of 3D, Realistic Design and Manufacturing. Sounds like a rational decision to me.

Just my thoughts… What do you think about that?
Best, Oleg


Who Can Generate 3D/PLM Content For Apple iPad?

January 28, 2010



Well, it happened. Apple stretched up iPhone in size, removed camera and phone features. So, we have iPad now. What does it mean for people that live design and manufacturing word? Below are some of my thoughts about that. Since, I haven’t had chance to keep it in my hands yet, I cannot say for sure. But it looks cool. Technical characteristics seem reasonable for device you don’t know exactly how to use. When all my work is on cloud/server/laptop, I don’t know what will be justification to have up to 64GB flash.

Let think about what is the possible implication for 3D/PLM world. This device is not for design. Absence of a camera creates some limitation for the application like 3DVIA Mobile and all other applications that want to merge physical and virtual life. This device is probably too expensive to be used on the shop-floor and manufacturing. Potentially, I can see iPad can be used instead of slim laptops, for reviews and by mobile users.

So, do you think iPad life in PLM will be limited? No, I don’t think so. The opportunity will come when we will start generating content that can be easy consumed by iPad. Today, most of the content in design and manufacturing is tuned for desktop computers – CAD and other design systems are desktop oriented, data management and process oriented systems are, for the best case web oriented. What should be done to make this change and make a content to be consumable on iPad?

Think Content
Let’s start thinking about content around us. Design, Simulations, Bill of Materials, Project reviews, Change requests. How to get this content on such a cool device like iPad? Content will be the major driver for people to start using it.

Think Cloud
Today most of the information is somehow located in our desktop applications. Even when we have the data management system (EDM, PDM…), these systems bring information to your desktop and this is becoming a place where we can consume it. We need to re-think it and move to the cloud (public, private… It doesn’t matter- just go away from desktop). In this case, we will start thinking about how to consume it on different devices according to our needs.

Think Mobile
The main benefit to be in the office is to speak with people – not to be connected to the network. You need to be able to connect to network anywhere and get content you are looking for.

So, what is my conclusion? There is a long way to go, but I think PLM needs to think about content. It will allow long life for IP, we generate with multiple devices. Devices will come and die, but content will be forever with companies that create it.

Just my thoughts.
Best, Oleg


PLM Prompt: 3D Publishing, CAD and Online Google Graphic…

December 31, 2009

The idea of 3D publishing isn’t new. For the last few years we had chance to see multiple examples of how CAD and PLM companies focused on this space by creating and acquiring products that can publish complicated 3D models in the way humans outside of engineering will be able to adopt it. PTC Arbotext, 3DVIA Composer, Autodesk Inventor Publisher– these are only few examples of these products.

The following Google SketchUp blog drove my attention with information about how possible to use SketchUp 7 Layout to create Web ready images. Take a look on video.

I think CAD/PLM vendors need to watch this space. With connection to Google 3D Warehouse, it can be targeted towards some Adobe 3D PDF features or even higher end CAD/PLM  . I’m expecting to see some news in this space in coming 2010.

How do you like it? What do you think?

Happy New Year!
Best, Oleg


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