PLM Prompt: Value of PLM Vertical Solutions

July 1, 2009

Short prompt on interesting Oracle partners push to more specialized veriticals. PLM is one of them. It confirms Product Lifecycle Management value for customers and shows hight margins of PLM solutions in protfolios of big enterprise vendors (Oracle, SAP, IBM etc…).

I’d expect interest of big enterprise in specialized PLM solutoins. Just my opinion…

My Slice of PLM Single Version of Truth

June 18, 2009

I have a crazy idea to discuss today. I’d like to talk about a topic that we like very much and that is often discussed when we mention PLM. The topic is a “single version of the truth”. In my opinion, in many cases, we do present it as being obvious.. Yes, the fundamental intention of Product Lifecycle is to cover a product from the initial concept up until the product is manufactured, released, supported and recycled. So, having a unified way to manage product, processes, and resources is one of the most important ideas concerning PLM.

Today’s enterprises are becoming very dynamic: changes are happening all the time; companies are working with a wide range of suppliers for different purposes. How can PLM provide affordable and scalable solutions for such a dynamic eco-system? This creates a lot of challenges for a company providing product data and lifecycle management solutions. How you can get everybody synchronized in the way you do business processes, and how can you keep your PLM systems up-to-date in this environment?

So, I came to a working conclusion that I’d like to discuss. My point is that in today’s enterprise eco-system, you cannot demand people to agree about how to manage your product data and processes. Ah… I know, it sounds bad, but bear with me for few more minutes, don’t close this post:)… I think today’s data management is too complex to allow large organizations to agree on a single way to do business and implement a PLM system to follow this agreement. This task is too complex and too long. You won’t be able to finish this task and you will have to start with new one! So, this is probably the most fundamental problem in today’s system implementations. It’s too long and too expensive since we are trying (and we need) to agree on how to implement the systems.

Here’s my 5-point view on the subject as follows:

  1. Organizations and systems are too complex to agree on PLM related data, processes and best practices.
  2. Successful PLM implementations need to focus on how to manage ongoing system changes.
  3. Best practices and processes in an organization will be a result of multiple changes and improvements in the PLM system implementation.
  4. The system needs to keep track of all changes
  5. We need to have very a flexible PLM system, and I don’t believe we have one yet.

What’s my conclusion? I was reading Jos Voskuil’s blog post about PLM ROI yesterday and thought about why ROI for PLM is not obvious. My take on this today is that, probably, as our implementations are still too big and too complex, people see this as very big and fundamental investment. So, they need to double-check themselves with many calculations around ROI. Allowing ongoing changes and modifications of PLM systems will make implementation simpler and ROI calculations easier…

So, don’t keep quiet… I know you won’t all agree with each other – but let me know what you think.

PLM Prompt: SAP on premise vs. Business by Design

May 20, 2009

Interesting thoughts by Stephen Arnold related to On-Premise vs. SaaS software based on SAP case.  Also link on Understanding SAP’s Business by Design SaaS strategy.  

SAP Business By Design

Do you think the same analyses can be applied to PLM business?

Open Source: Is the Game Changing for PLM?

March 11, 2009

In my view, open source (or more precisely –open source software) is becoming more and more visible in the business of enterprise software. 

There is an important characteristic of PLM related to business that we need to keep in mind in order to analyze the impact of open source on PLM. There is a high segmentation of customer requirements for different industries and customers needs for different types of customers. Today’s “mindset PLM leaders” still are not capable of covering the full scope of customers’ needs. This topic makes open source both attractive and disruptive for PLM.

 On one hand, when there are many common customer requirements, open source is very beneficial.  Users have an ability to submit code from all participants of open source, for example, as in a Linux system. This scale up is very significant and allows us to develop big systems according to communities of users. But, at the same time, if there are quite many different requirements this can disadvantage of open source. 

In addition, due to the high percentage of services and customization, the ability to deliver overall PLM project as services without licenses cost is a significant advantage and changes the game of PLM system implementation. So for this type of customers, open source will probably be beneficial. At the same time, smaller customers will be more interested in standardized functionality with fixed cost that will allow them to achieve their ROI goals and less interesting when implementation turns to services projects. 

My conclusion – on one hand, open source in general and open source PLM specifically brings a significant improvement in the way we create systems for our customers. These models shift the initial discussion from license selling to customer requirements. On the other hand, it’s not clear how IP protection in different organizations will allow the crowdsourcing of open sources and common delivery in this field. This happened successfully with different non-PLM software, so it’s definitely a place we need to watch in the future.

SharePoint PLM Paradox?

February 4, 2009

SharePoint is definitely moving forward. The latest Microsoft announcement folded Microsoft performance point and business process Management into its SharePoint package. No doubt,  this is a successful package, providing lots of useful and capable goodies for people, organizations and IT in general. Does it help to users thinking about PLM? This is an important question… In the past, companies demonstrated a performance boost when they based their product on Windows and Microsoft Technologies. AutoCAD was the first CAD system designed for Windows/PC. Back in 1993, SolidWorks introduced its 3D CAD system, fully leveraging Microsoft Windows technologies, and it was very successful.

Let’s get back to SharePoint…For a long time, SharePoint was a system used mostly for portals. Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and Microsoft SharePoint 2007 created a revolution by shifting SharePoint capabilities in the area of collaboration – document collaboration, workspace for teams, coordination of documents and calendars. These were great tools that were implemented by a very large number of organizations. Manufacturing organizations are also implementing WSS/MOSS in order to improve team collaboration and share documents.

Will Microsoft SharePoint become the technology that can improve PLM systems? I think that people are still waiting for an answer to this question. Actually, I haven’t found many thoughts about this. The most interesting was question that has been raised is “Is SharePoint the Next PLM? “. This dates back to 2007, pointing to a CADCAMNet article. Whereas I don’t see SharePoint as the next PLM, I do see it, from technology standpoint, as  providing clear advantages for PLM software vendors. On the other hand, many really interesting SharePoint technologies like BDC, Excel Services, Report Services, and others are part of Enterprise version of SharePoint – MOSS. How manufacturing companies will be able to afford both MOSS and PLM system leveraging these technologies – it’s still not clear. It’s also not clear how additionally folded Performance Point and BPM tools will be packaged. It’s quite possible that these will become part of a MOSS version.

The way I see it, today’s SharePoint technologies can be valued by PLM products in the same way that Microsoft and Windows technologies were leveraged in the past by CAD vendors. At the same time, packaging of these technological capabilities in a full Microsoft SharePoint Server can become a real barrier for PLM companies who want to leverage it for their PLM products. In today’s economical downturn, companies will be looking for a single offering, and will find it difficult to choose between Microsoft SharePoint and a PLM system. Potential winners are “open PLM” products that can be easily integrated to leverage Microsoft SharePoint capabilities and Service Providers that can use both PLM and SharePoint technologies for their implementation. 

PLM in economic downturn – Is there a place for second-mover innovation?

January 22, 2009

How PLM can continue growth in today’s downturn economy? I think, this is time to get back and talk about PLM user adoption. I’d like to raise this question in a very specific way – is there an opportunity for second-mover innovation in PLM today? In today’s market situation, second-mover innovation can open back-core PLM areas and allow the delivery of PLM systems (or components), leveraging all research done previously by the first movers of PLM innovation, who are the majority of PLM vendors.

 Second-mover advantage occurs when a firm who follows the lead of the first-mover is actually able to capture greater market share, despite having entered late. First-mover firms often face high research and development costs and the marketing costs necessary to educate the public about a new type of product. A second-mover firm can learn from the experiences of the first mover firm and may not face such high research and development costs if they are able create their own similar product using existing technology. A second-mover firm also does not face the marketing task of having to educate the public about the new project because the first mover has already done so. As a result, the second-mover can use its resources to focus on making a superior product or out-marketing the first mover…the notion that winners are always the first to enter the market is a misconception. (Wikipedia entry)

Examples include Obama (vs. Hillary), Nintendo (vs. Atari), Oprah (vs. Donahue), and AMD (vs. Intel). Second-movers are able to capitalize on the work done by others and create innovative products at a lower cost. The “early bird may catch the worm” but later birds can dominate marketing and distribution.

Assuming that we are ready to research existing PLM spaces for second mover innovation, what should we focus on as the ultimate functions/components of a PLM system? Presently, I see, Bill Of Material Management as the top candidate for second movers. Most of PLM starts and ends with the management of Bill of Materials. The ability to manage multiple Bill of Materials is a requirement of all customers interesting in PLM-like deployment. 

If the idea is to re-invent the Bill Of Material portion of PLM, what should be improved, in my opinion?:

 Bill Of Material definition: The ability to craft any Bill of Material without a preliminary definition. The Data Model for BOM needs to be open. 

User experience: Flexible rule based user interface, similar to Excel, plus the ability for customization

Multiple Bill of Material synchronization and rules: The ability to manage and synchronize more than one BOM.

Data acquisition: Multiple ways to acquire BOM data – from CAD systems, from other PDM/PLM tools, ERP etc. Practically, BOM can be created from any place.

Bill of Material module encapsulation: To invest into SOA and interoperability of BOM implementation with the rest of the systems in PDM/PLM, and the extended domain, ability to use BOM module with various collaboration systems such as SharePoint, Lotus family etc. 

By doing that, BOM will be converted from existing rigid definition and implementation to modern tools, capable of handling Bill of Materials in various scenarios and user cases. 

I believe implementing such a “back to roots” strategy will allow the creation of significant market advantages for increased user adoption of PLM. Second-mover innovation is relatively cheap and can leverage all market investment done by PLM companies to date. 

Who will do it? This is an open call… 

World CAD and PLM Market in 2008

January 15, 2009

Even though, 2008 was year of financial crisis and instability, I still regard it as a remarkable year for the world of CAD and PLM. I will point out my view on the main technological, product and business achievements of the past year: 

1.    Importance of PLM technologies for the development of innovation product and processes

In the last year, we’ve heard a strong voice from companies reporting about product innovation and usage of PLM systems in this process. Innovation is considered as one the most important part of product development process, allowing to companies to invent new products and services. In today’s challenging global market, enterprises must innovate to increase their market size, to bring significant value to their shareholders, customers, and employees, and in many cases to survive” ,said Peter Bilello ,a senior consultant with CIMdata, an Ann Arbor, MI-based PLM consulting and research firm.

 2.    Recognition of PLM value together with fast growing PLM industry sectors

The value of PLM products has been reflected in significant business growth of main PLM vendors as well as segments of the PLM market. Last year, I think, showed an increased awareness on top-executive levels about how PLM products can enhance product development process, increase profit, lower cost and improve quality of products. Analytic company, IDC, predicted beyond average market growth for the SMB segment of the PLM market. Small and Medium-Sized Business Enterprise Applications Market to Grow to $80.3 Billion by 2012, IDC Finds“. Industry focus and PLM success for new industry segments like apparel and high-tech presented awareness and adoption.

 3.    Consolidation of PLM vendors

At the time of poor financial market performance, big vendors in the PLM space continued the process of consolidation and acquisition in order to improve their offerings. Multiple, relatively small acquisitions made by various companies has shown that vendors conducted market research and followed their plan of portfolio growth.

 4.    Remarkable technological achievements

Together with business achievements and market growth, I’d like to highlight a few remarkable technological trends and deliveries that companies made in 2008.

 ·         Delivery of PLM 2.0 t presented a new concept for the future of PLM. In the same way Web 2.0 and social networks changed perception and presented a completely new concept for how people interact with viand through the internet (moving from static web pages to user-generated content and collaboration), PLM 2.0 is going to change the role of PLM technologies regarding how people l develop products in the future.

 ·         CAD User Experience – this topic drew a significant interest by many manufacturers seeking to improve user adoption of 3D technologies. Direct modeling technologies released by existing PLM providers and product development by new companies definitely has shown a high interest of users and industry to popularize 3D technology and make it available for a wider user audience.

 ·         Cloud computing. Even if this technology does not belong to PLM, I’d like to emphasize the significant importance of cloud computing and announcements made by large vendors in this area. Establishment of cloud services together with quality data centers will change the future of IT and the ability of companies to collaborate. Multiple technological demonstrations made by companies in this area has shown that vendors are learning this space, taking into account the user feedback in order to act upon this feedback  the future. 

PLM Today and Tomorrow: Tighten Your Belts … and be open to new technologies

January 14, 2009

The financial crisis possible can hit PLM companies… but remember, many successful and well-known companies were established during times of economic crises.

LexisNexis (1973 oil crisis), FedEx Corp. (1973), Microsoft Corp. (1975), CNN (was a very small company in 1980), MTV (1981), Wikipedia Foundation Inc. (post 2001 recession), HP (Hewlett-Packard Development Company LP, was established at the end of this recession) – this is only a short list of companies established during various crises.

In my view, a crisis always opens people’s minds in terms of delivering something new or innovative within their space, in order to be more attractive for existing and potentially new customers. In this post, I’m going to try and change my seat from the point of view of a PLM developer to the PLM user’s standpoint.

So, what would a PLM user find attractive?

1.     Popularize easily what engineers are doing. When the average game controller provides a better look-and-feel compared to the PLM systems, whatever companies will do to make My Content available will be beneficial. I’d like to be able to show my latest product on iPod, race new cars available for my games, try a new kitchen environment in my SIMs™ or animate my process nicely on Wii, xBOX or other devices.

2.     Communicate easier and faster with  relevant people. At the end of the day, I want to make my working environment more comfortable. When I need to search, I’ll go to Google. When I  need to speak with colleagues, I’ll chat or IM. , When I need fresh news or opinions, I’ll go to blogosphere. Now, when I want to design and/or create something new – where should I go?

3.      Reuse technologies… This is most efficient way to create something new. Experience, Reuse, Change, Improve. Today, we hardly can find anything on our laptops. What about questions like  “do you remember a similar problem”, “similar part”, “something that the customer wanted”;, “how can I reuse an existing design?” and “What did we decide last year when faced with a similar situation?”… all these “reuse topics” can be hit top ranks in user communities.

4.       Breaking silos… Today’s enterprise organizations are very siloed.: Openness, Interoperability, Connectivity, Intelligence – although none of these words are new, the issue of siloed enterprises is still unresolved. I think that a crisis will definitely help to climb steps in this direction. Innovating technologies and people will break silos and find technologies, business models, and products that will allow PLM users to move forward.

5.       Information explosion?… We have finally produced more information that we can consume. This doesn’t seem to be a passing trend. Although this subject might not be specific to PLM, it can this is not something specific for PLM, but can really help  people in enterprises organize their work more efficiently.

So, I’m really looking forward to your comments, ideas and the next innovative products in the PLM world. 

PLM and BIM – common roots or common future?

December 22, 2008

I was looking at the evolution of PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) and BIM (Building Information Modeling) and found interesting parallels and associations.

Fundamentally, for a long period of time, I associated PLM with Manufacturing and BIM with Architecture, Engineering and Construction. After doing some research in this field, I observed a sort of convergence between both areas from a strategic standpoint and from a (potential and future) technological standpoint.

Based on the most fundamental definition of PLM from CIMData –” ‘PLM’ is the process of managing the entire lifecycle of a product from its conception, through design and manufacture, to service and disposal“; PLM integrates people, data, processes and business systems and provides a product information backbone for companies and extended enterprise. One core PLM area – Product Data Management is focusing on capturing and maintaining information about product and/or services through their lifecycle; Secondly, CAx – focused on Product Design, other two areas – Product and Portfolio Management and Manufacturing Process Management focused on various aspects of process and decision making. In the scope of these areas, there are multiple development processes and methodologies – Concurrent Engineering, Top Down Design, Bottom Up Design, Design in Context. The most fundamental technologies used for PLM are Product Design Technologies (CAx), Product Data Modeling and Collaboration Technologies, allowing customers to develop the overall PLM processes in organization. I see much agreement in the development of processes for provided by many vendors. Unfortunately I can see significant industry level disagreement in the development of modeling technologies that will allow participants of the entire Product Lifecycle to create, share, and collaborate on product information. 

Now, let’s shift gears to BIM. There are a few roots of BIM definitions. I’d like to take the following simple one: BIM is the process of generation and management of the “building data” during its lifecycle. BIM today is accepted by major vendors in Architecture, Engineering and Construction and used in all building types – from simple warehouses to many of most complex new buildings. BIM covers multiple domains – geometry, spatial relationships, geographical information, quantities and properties of building components. It helps manage a wide scope of works, system assemblies and other related processes. BIM provides potential future as a virtual information model to be handled from Design Teams to Contractors and Subcontractors, and then to Owners, each adding their own additional discipline-specific knowledge and tracking of changes to the single model. The core technological and modeling principles of BIM were defined as IFC (Industry Foundation Classes)  and aecXML which are data structures for representing information used in BIM. There are a few other data structured developed by commercial vendors in the BIM domain. 

From my perspective,  there are definitely common roots for both PLM and BIM. Both came as answer to support people collaboration around the entire lifecycle of products, but in different industries (Machinery and AEC respectfully). In the early beginning, their capabilities were around design tools (CADs or CAx) and improved significantly with introducing of 3D. In machinery, introducing of 3D parametric modeling and, in AEC, 3D building models created a solid base for collaboration and process support. 

At the same time, there are some significant differences in the maturity of information models and process development for both BIM and PLM. PLM developed mature best practices related to development processes in the organization, especially processes and standards for organization in aerospace, defense and auto-manufacturing. At the same time, PLM in these industries was quite unsuccessful in establishing common information data models. IGES and STEP were two of the most successful, but not on the level of supporting virtual information model for the entire lifecycle process. In BIM, the development of IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) has been quite successful in my view. IFC is a vendor-neutral information model and supported by most  AEC/BIM vendors.

It’s also interesting to note how the  future of PLM and BIM is being  presented by vendors. Inspired by Web technologies and the future of Web-based systems, DS introduced PLM 2.0 as the next paradigm of Product Lifecycle Management – online applications with lifelike experience. In BIM, there are emerging definitions of BIM, BIM 2.0 and even BIM 3.0. BIM 2.0, according to these definitions, is focusing on analyses and BIM 3.0 on simulations. According to some other definitions of BIM 1-2-3, BIM 1.0, called ‘CAD on steroids’ focuses on model-driven AEC-oriented CAD .(By the way, this is similar to PLM which  developed around 3D parametric CAD systems). BIM 2.0 is focusing on how to expand BIM systems to non-A/E people (similar to PLM 2.0’s – “PLM for all”).

 Now, the most interesting observation is about 3.0… In some of the research, BIM 3.0 is defined as “post-interoperability”. I see development of IFC and BuildingSmart as something that can provide a future foundation for BIM tools to work in a seamless environment. It’s too early to introduce PLM 3.0, but at the same time, the idea of “post-interoperability” is definitely interesting as the future of both PLM and BIM industries. 


PLM Glue Technologies for organization – recipe #2 – Business Rules

December 14, 2008



I want to continue my first PLM Glue Technologies topic (#1 was about data). Sunday is good time to think about something big – such as Business Rules. Business Rules are often used to emphasize connection between organizational goals and operations. Since PLM in view expected 360 Degrees view on Product Lifecycle to have connection to organizational goals sounds very important.

 Area of Business Rules technologies created by something called BRMS (Business Rules Management Systems),  software allowed to define, deploy, execute, monitor and maintain wide set of business logic in organization. Over past few years significant consolidation on the market of business rules engines happened and several big enterprise software vendors  as well as platform providers acquired or developed Business Rules offering. Finally companies consolidated into BRMS platforms (or part of bigger Application platforms) and Rules Engines Toolkits – some of them open sources.

 I think usage of Business Rules Systems together with PLM systems can bring more openness and clarity in the way product data managed in context with  decision management. Such rules defined in external manner will allow to tailor PLM system behavior without too deep involvement into PLM implementation. But in order to do it PLM systems need to support level of openness for data to be used for rules. Possible areas to use BRE in PLM can be implementation of product compliance and regulation, Knowledge Based Engineering, product configuration and decision making.


 Any comments? Does anybody have experience in bridging Business Rules Engines and PLM? 


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