PLM Innovation 2011: Future PLM and Engineering Software Trends

January 20, 2011

I’m attending PLM Innovation Congress 2011 in London these days. Lots of interesting presentations and discussions are going here. I recommend you to follow #plminnovation2011 twitter stream for updates. Yesterday, I had a chance to talk and run the panel about the future PLM and Engineering Software trends.

Here is my presentations from yesterday.

I’m going to share more thoughts and comments about what happened on PLM Innovation 2011 later this week.

Best, Oleg

PLM-less AutoCAD Users And PLM Strategies?

May 25, 2010

A short note on WorldCAD Access by Ralf Grabowski got my attention few days ago. In a very competitive world of PLM, Ralf’s statement “PTC will bring PLM to… AutoCAD users” sounds very provoking.

I had chance to hear multiple discussions related to this topic. The most noted, in my view, is CIMData analytical work earlier this year – CIMData Entitles Autodesk’s Evolution as a PLM supplier.

I will try to clean up this space and discuss what is potential relationships between AutoCAD and PLM.

Organization, AutoCAD Users and PLM
AutoCAD is everywhere. I remember, somebody told me- you can find AutoCAD in every manufacturing organization in the world. Because of such wide adoption, every organization decided to create some of their products related information in AutoCAD. It can be data provided by suppliers, tools design and many others. For a company that doing all in 2D, AutoCAD can be still used as a design tool. In most of the cases, this status quo is absolutely not related with the potential interest of this company in Product Lifecycle Management implementation.

ProductPoint and PLM
Windchill ProductPoint implements an interesting strategy of bundling Microsoft’s SharePoint as a tool to manage CAD data, but not only. Because of wide SharePoint adoption, ProductPoint has a potential to find a path to user’s desktops in a much easier way. From the standpoint of PLM portfolio ProductPoint is just following CAD/PLM practice to get CAD data under control and enable collaboration.

PLM vision and CAD
CAD is playing a significant role in the mindshare of the top three PLM vendors. This vision primary came from CAD direction. The first objective for this type of the implementation is to get CAD data to be managed by PLM system. In my view, this strategy is different from more business oriented strategy in PLM proposed by non-CAD PLM vendors including ERP-PLM apps. There is nothing wrong with this strategy. However, it can steer PLM implementation goals from business direction and to focus on CAD data only.

What is my conclusion? Users are more interested in a practical outcome and less in marketing strategies.There are no dedicated “AutoCAD users” in an organization. Depending on the organization, people may use AutoCAD for multiple purposes, but in a manufacturing organization AutoCAD is just another tool to accomplish a task. AutoCAD data is only part of the overall product data. I think, users can appreciate the fact CAD files comes from multiple provides can be managed by a single system. So, nothing wrong with the ability of ProductPoint to manage AutoCAD files. Will it bring PLM to AutoCAD users? My guess is not. The PLM implementation is not about how to manage CAD files. However, this is an important step in the future ability to implement PLM strategy in the company.

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg


Can PLM Use Twitter To Predict The Future Of Products?

April 19, 2010

I can see multiple debates these days related to the social software – Social Networking, Microblogging and others. Despite the absolute success of websites like Facebook and Twitter, there are still a lot of questions related to benefits of such software and experience for enterprise and product development. I see two possible direction, social software can be used in product development and PLM: Collaboration and Business Analytics. Collaboration was the first obvious space, where developers of CAD and PLM software focused on. It was pretty simple. Web 2.0 apps drove lots of interest and provide attractiveness to be applied in the product development. However, the second option seems to me very interesting.

Product Intelligence and Social Trends Analysis

I had chance to come across the following post on BrainSolis blog. Brian wrote about Twitter trending topics and potential power of untapped information that located in Twitter. It made me think more globally about possible usage of analytics in analyzing trending topics on the market of specific products as well as related problems such as deflects, claims and other situations. You can, for example, to use tools that calculate number of times a specific word or phrase mentioned on twitter.

Product Development Tools Evolution
What do you think about the future of your design tool? During last years, I had chance to hear lots of debates about that. One of the topics that requires attention is related to how we can increase intelligence of design tools to empower engineers towards getting better decisions. I can see multiple directions here – physical analysis, visualization, intelligence. Ability to add more tools and capabilities in hands of engineers and developers can be beneficial.

Product Planning and Social Analytics
Ability to analyze potential of the future product can be a powerful option. It can come in the context of different phases of product development. In the planning phases- to understand what is trending on the market, during advanced development phase – to see potential social communication related to future development, during the maintenance phase- do discover bugs and other customer issues.

What is my conclusion today? Social software provides an interesting area, since it touches the communication with existing and potential users. Users are the most important asset for any company. To be able to get more information about them can be an interesting opportunity for the future PLM and related development tools.

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg


GPS, PLM, BIM: Plan the Next Leapfrog?

November 4, 2009

Picture 37You probably wonder – GPS, PLM, BIM… What do they have in common today? In my view, the common is their relationship with real objects of a physical world around us. GPS can position us and give us a direction in surrounding world, CAD/PLM is the universal mechanism to design everything, PLM and BIM respectfully are set of product and tools to organize processes around product design, manufacturing, building etc.

For years engineering and building systems like CAD, PLM, BIM was completely disconnected from a real world. I always had the feeling of separation. This is like a wall between engineering and rest of the company. You (engineers) can use any systems you want, design and plan whatever you want… The real things will be disconnected from this virtual engineering world. Not anymore in my view. Few announcements and publications drove me to think about future leapfrog in this space.

Google’s announced first Droid phone with Google Navigation System. You will ask me how it related to PLM? Not as much, for the moment. However, thinking in deep and applying some PLMish language you can see Google providing 3D application connecting physical driving experience and virtual world model based on Google Maps.

Another one – Google SketchUp. On the surface, there is nothing special. I used to hear from many engineers their opinion about this product as a toy, far from “Real CAD” systems. Slow down, please. Keep your engineering ego for the future. Google is using SketchUp to re-create the world in 3D on top of Google Map. Google 3D Warehouse is a very good example of building blocks in this 3D universe. Read more in about Google Building Maker in Google official blog.

Some business thoughts. You need to see the following article: Google Redefines Disruption: The “Less than Free” business model. This is not the first time when we see the power of free products. I’m almost hearing engineers that saying – but this is not for the real enterprise world, this is on the different planet. Not anymore, in my view. Connection between real and virtual happens much faster that you can think about it.

So, conclusion for today. I’m thinking about immersive world where design, engineering and real people are all connected to dream, design, plan, build and manufacture life around us. And, in my view, this is a perfect time for today’s CAD/PLM/BIM vendors to think about a future of their products. How to catch up before Google’s next leapfrog? Just not to find themselves in place of GPS manufacturers today.

Picture 35

Just my thoughts.
Best, Oleg

The Notion of Trust in PLM

October 30, 2009

Picture 29This week was signed by a significant event – Dassault Systems announced intent to acquire IBM’s PLM Software distribution activities. In the shadow of this event, I was looking on various publications related to activities of big companies, acquisitions and mergers. One publication, IT leaders trust Microsoft more than Google, 2-to-1 by Jason Hiner, was very interesting. I hardly can estimate how to compare my trust in two huge public companies. My trust-measure-kit failed to designate it. Large and publicly traded companies generate feeling of trust. On the other side, we all know other examples.

However, this publication drove me to think about a very practical topic related to selection of CAD/PLM software and trust in PLM vendors. Choosing of PLM software is not a simple activity. I’ve seen many companies making this decision, and always it is a very complicated process. The nature of this complication, in my view, is that PLM activities have a very long time span. Once started with specific software, you will keep this for multiple projects and products. Even if you’ll decide to change your CAD or PLM software, it will probably reflect your future activity.

I’m not big fun of surveys, but many times selection of PLM vendors reminds me one big survey customer filling in trying to decide what software to choose. In the end, one of the final questions is the question of trust. Big PLM vendors generate feeling of trust and stability. DS and IBM with their history of relationships and trust in IBM big blue brand, Siemens PLM with their famous statement – we never let a customer fail. Do you believe in well-established PLM companies? Stable niche players? Innovative startups? Maybe you trust more in association with big service providers in this space?

These are just my thoughts. I wonder to know how do you see the notion of trust in PLM?

Best, Oleg

PLM Prompt: PLM Industry Learning Test

July 16, 2009

I’ve been reading amazing post by Larry Cheng about learning. “Look back 3–5 years from today and ask yourself if you could have been substantially more effective at your past job in your present form.  If you look back a few years and feel like in comparison to who you are today, you had little idea of what you were doing and would have done things a lot differently given what you now know, that’s a telltale sign of learning and growth”.

Now, I’m thinking about PLM industry and about what we did for our customers 3-5 years ago…

  • What do you think about products we released 5 years ago?
  • Do you think we are doing better now?
  • What are you feeling?

Just my thoughts…Best, Oleg

Do we need to fix PLM basics?

June 9, 2009

The weekend normally puts me into a much deeper thinking mode about what to discuss on PLMtwine. Since the post about Top Five Disappointing PLM Technologies, I’ve been thinking more about fundamental PLM elements, rather than about specific pieces of PLM. In additional, it was very interesting to see how many thoughts and opinions came in the space of PLM after the Google Wave announcement ten days ago. When new technology comes, it always sounds like new techie stuff can fix old problems magically. But this is not always true, and sometime dressing new technology “clothes” on an “old body” do not create a magical change. So far, I’d like to share my thoughts about the ‘basics’ of Product Lifecycle Management – the things that, in my view, provide fundamental definitions and tool-sets for the rest of our PLM activity.

PLM Model

This is the most important piece of a PLM system. Since PLM is about product lifecycles, it’s essential to be able to create a product model and its surrounding world in the PLM system. In the current PLM landscape, I see three PLM model lines:

(1) CAD / Product Structure – these models evolve from design and product data management systems. The core advantages of these systems emerged from a very mature background and from the history of the CAD industry and its ability to create design and engineering models. In my view, these systems are perfect to represent product design in a static view. However, they lack capabilities to manage product model relationships with the business world. The core reason is in the roots of these models that are able to present only snapshots of various product views.

(2) ERP based– these models came out of business systems. In the beginning of MRP/MRP II, these model fundamentals are in manufacturing and business planning. These systems are much more sustainable to represent time-oriented business and much more appropriated for lifecycle (from a time management standpoint) – but since their core is business-oriented, most of them are missing the ability to keep comprehensive definitions of product design, engineering and other elements of product models.

(3) EDM/PDM – you can find many various product models created as part of different applications in the document and product data management domains. All of these models are normally suited very well for their original applications. The core problem with these models is that most of them are fragmented and not expandable on the level that is needed to keep a system running or expanded.

So, my intermediate conclusion is that Product Models for PLM are still in a very immature phase. Most probably, new technologies need to be applied to this space in order to be more efficient, and in order to scale the tasks we have today in Product Lifecycle Management.

Change Management

Since PLM is about lifecycles, “change” is another fundamental piece of PLM space. Unfortunately, in my view, most PLM systems are not created with ‘change’ in mind. Applying changes in these systems is a very expensive and time-consuming process. A lot of business logic and specific techniques create complex dependencies as to how PLM is implemented and as to what is needed in order to add specific new characteristics. At the same time, today’s business is very dynamic. These unmatched behaviors create a basic conflict between PLM implementation and the surrounding business environment.

Staged Assumption

This approach is directed to resolve the complexity of PLM implementation in the organization. Since all PLM expectations cannot be created in a single implementation shot, most of the implementation is done in stages. This is a very practical and efficient mechanism for separating PLM implementation on domains. In this way, each domain is treated separately as well additional ones being added year after year. The problem with this approach is the issue of “Change Management” that I discussed earlier in this post. From stage to stage, complexity of the system increases and is multiplied by inefficient change management, thus creating more and more expensive implementations. (I have to say that this characteristic is not unique for PLM and probable the same for all Enterprise systems).

Final conclusion for today: I don’t want to discover possible solutions and point to “magic” or “instant” technologies. However, I did want to about three fundamental behaviors of Product Lifecycle Management. Understanding these behaviors and their alignment with new technological achievements can change what we’ve been doing in PLM until now.

As usual, I’m looking forward to an open discussion, and will continue blogging about this topic.


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