Closed Thoughts About PLM Openness

June 29, 2010

My post Open vs. Closed PLM Debates last week and related Fortune CNN Money Blog article by Jon Fortt – Chrysler’s Engineering Software Shift created some very interesting experience for me. The level of interest, especially the amount of comments, is one of the things that drive my analyzes after actually post published. The special experience I’ve got with this blog post was that I got most of the comments by email and not on the blog website. It made me think, may be about additional issues related to the “openness and PLM” that I didn’t discover before. So, I decided to pull some of my thoughts about PLM and Openness here and see if we all can generate a reasonable discussion about that.

Are We Open?
I think, CAD/PLM lives in the world of competition on openness. The question “Are We Open?” sounds as a wrong question to me. In my view, there is no Black & White in openness. The issue of openness needs to be related to the specific characteristics of software that can be measured. The examples of such characteristics are – Open API, support for existing standards, availability of software for customization and extension, ability to publish or exchange information about data models and file formats, etc. I think, we can collectively come and find more characteristics. A special characteristic of openness is the open source, and it needs to be analyzed separately, in my view.  So, in order to get an answer on the question “Are We Open?”, we need to come and analyze various aspects of software.

PLM and Integrated Software
I’d like to emphasize the topic of “integrated software” in the context of discussion about openness. It is a tricky one. Enterprise Software, in general, as well as CAD and PLM software specifically is growing and the question of integrating different pieces of software becomes more and more important. Customer demands are to have a better integrated software and software vendors (especially a big ones) are focusing on the questions how to make it happen. Sometimes it comes to the point where pieces of software that before had a weak connection becomes tightly integrated and dependent. Is it a good thing? I think, it depends… The latest debates about DS V6 platforms and tight connection between CATIA and ENOVIA are actually coming to this point, in my view. I think, the intent of DS is to provide “best integrated software”. Does one size fit all? I think, DS engineering wizards definitely had in their mind a question how to create a next level of CAD and Data Management functions in a single box. I can see similar trends also coming from other CAD/PLM vendors.  The best non-PLM association I’d like to come with is Apple platform. When it comes to the unique experience customers are having with Apple product, you can make a compromise on openness of the platform. Will it continue for the long run, I don’t know? However, I see these strategies work for Apple these days.

PLM Openness and Customers
I think, this is a real measure of your openness. Whatever you do is for customers and not for competitors. Customers need to have an ability to define what are their openness needs. The reality I see on a customer side is that nobody is using CAD and PLM software coming from a singe vendor. The maturity of industry will be measured by the ability of vendors to come to the compromise of how to serve customers with the best performing software. How vendors can achieve it? It is a very good question… However, it shows the overall maturity of the industry.

What is my conclusion? I think, openness is ready hard. To play this game right, you need to see both worlds at the same time – customers and competitors. And this is the exact order how to see it. My bet is that openness wins for the long run. I think, we will see more software that will be measured by how it performs for customers. One of the performance characteristics will be how information managed by the software can be open and available for Pull (I’m going to post more about the “Pull” in the future) . It will be the end of “openness competition”. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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PLM Competition and “MEH”?

June 11, 2010

I’ve been reading SolidSmack postJim Heppelmann. Dassault Arrogant Competition. Siemens Invisible. This post made me think more about competition.  Competition is very important and this is a part of any healthy industry. So, I want to suggest a short discussion about PLM competition and modern competitive strategies. The way companies behave, can show what are their motto, believes, technological position.

Blue Ocean Strategies
If you haven’t had chance to read this book, I highly recommend you to do so. In my view, it can be considered as a modern “bible of competition”. You can find lots of interesting examples from the past and present about how companies managed their competitive strategies. The blue ocean metaphor explains the world of competition-less, where companies are focused on untapped market places, new opportunity for growths and compare it with the dominant competition strategy (red-ocean) of finding ways to cut costs and growth by taking a market share from competition.

MEH and Competition
Relax, ‘MEH’ is not a new PLM  TLA (three letter acronym) for a new super technology that will outperform all other competitors. Take a look in urban dictionary definition of “meh”. It states for “Indifference; to be used when one simply does not care.” It seems to me, MEH is going to be a new way to compete in the world when software will be available for PULL and vendors will stop PUSHING it to potential customers. I want to credit Steven Arnold KMWorld article about Google and their MEH strategy in mobile phone space. Time will show if Android will be able to outperform iPhone and RIM. This is an interesting perspective, though.

PLM Competition
PLM and associated space of CAD, CAM, CAE is not simple from a competition standpoint. In my view, the most problematic aspects of PLM-related competition are customer’s lock-in on software, sotware versions, data formats. Cost of change (or switch to a competitor’s solution) is another thing that plays as a competitive factor. On the other side, customers are starting to be tired of such competition and looking for alternatives to get the job done.

What is my short conclusion today? I think, PLM market is too focused on competition and less focused on customers. To be able to listen to customers is probably the first tool to win a competition game. PLM competition needs to learn from how to win over customers and not over competitors. This is not a simple shift. However, this is one that needs to be done to make PLM associated industry stronger.

Just my thoughts..
Best, Oleg

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