Develop3D Live agenda: Cloud CAD, 3D printing and more

March 25, 2015

develop3dlive-bags

I’m in Warwick today getting prepared for Develop3D Live conference, which will be tomorrow. The full conference agenda is here. Develop3D will be live streaming main stage of the event to US – there registration link is here and information about scheduling.

The number of the bags and main stage session hall can give some indication about potential size of the event. Numbers will be tomorrow… I was reading through the conference agenda and decided to share some of my thoughts.

Cloud CAD is a main topic on the agenda

I got a feeling that cloud and more specifically “cloud CAD” will become the key topic for the conference. Keynotes from Carl Bass of Autodesk and Jon Hirschtick of Onshape in the morning is a clear indication about what will set a stage for Develop3D Live conference. Another two sessions from new SolidWorks CEO Jean-Paolo Bassi “What is next?” and “Trends, challenges and opportunities” in design and engineering by Dan Staples of Siemens PLM just an additional confirmation – CAD is the topic on the agenda. Frame (the new name Mainframe2) is also presentation on the same topic – Why CAD in the cloud is closer than you think?

Start-up business

It is unusual to see a whole track of agenda dedicated to building engineering and manufacturing startups. It includes presentation by Rob Misslebrook of Mylor Ventures about funding of projects and visionary sessions about new industrial revolution by Autodesk and Protoabs UK presenting about how to support manufacturing start-ups with manufacturing resources and advisory.

3D printing is around us

If your interest in 3D printing, you can spend a whole day on 3D printing / make track. It includes industry sessions, visionary and examples of companies using 3D printing in their business

What is my conclusion? No conclusion yet. Look forward to the event. The final session of the event – panel discussion about future of CAD. That should be interested. It is not clear yet who will attend that session. Stay tuned and follow #D3DLive on twitter tomorrow.

Best, Oleg

Few photos from Warwick this morning.

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PI Congress video: Things to consider when considering PLM

March 25, 2015

PI-event

I attended PI Congress in Dusseldorf last month. During the conference I had a chance to share my thoughts about PLM selection process. PLM landscape is changing these days. There are multiple opportunities to get PLM differently these days. Even some of my colleagues in PLM analytic community can call the complexity and cost of PLM implementation urban legend, I still believe many companies are asking how to develop right PLM strategy and implementation approach.

If you ask a company what they believe is the most important area of investment when planning and implementing PLM you are likely to get many answers. You can go between choosing the right vendor, setting up right PLM implementation team. You can hear about importance of cultural change management and many others. The truth is, there is no right answer. PLM is different and your company is an important factory you need to consider when selecting PLM system and strategy.

These are topics I covered my short commentary. .

1- What is the biggest force to change existing PLM paradigms.

PLM implementation is still considered as a complex task, which takes time, resources and cost. I believe, new paradigms should changed that. It is like waterfall development process. Agile development methods came to change it. The same with PLM. New paradigms – cloud, agile, etc. are coming to make a change in PLM.

2- What should every company thinking before taking first steps in PLM implementation.

Take a look in a mirror. You should learn your company and development processes. Company should understand how current processes are working. It sounds simple, but many companies are missing that. Without that PLM implementation doesn’t make sense – you will just automate bad processes.

3- How is vendor competition is changing PLM landscape

PLM space is dominated by  few very large vendors. It is a very competitive space with high barrier to entrance. Nevertheless, companies are looking for alternatives and I can see few interesting entrants into PLM space. Aras had fresh approach with enterprise open source. Aras claims “different PLM” with model based SOA platform and new business model. Autodesk came into PLM back in 2012 with cloud PLM. It was a change. These days cloud is transforming all vendors. This is probably the last big changing force in the industry.

4- What is the common misconception regarding PLM

The biggest misconception is that PLM can solve the problem of bad product development processes. PLM as a tool  and technology. It cannot solve bad organization process. Only company and people can do so.

5- Where do PLM implementation go wrong

There are few typical situations when PLM implementation process can go wrong. Some of them are generic and can fail any IT project. However, some of them are more specific. Here is my list – wrong expectations, no C-level support, no plan, integration between new PLM system and other systems wasn’t planned, company is planning to force a change in a short period of time.

What is my conclusion? Take a look in the mirror before starting PLM project. The PLM technology and product itself is not a silver bullet. You need to have deep understanding of your organization and its processes. Only by doing that you can develop right PLM strategy and manage PLM implementation step by step. It will help you to avoid PLM experience that is complicated and miserable. Just my thoughts.

Best, Oleg


PLM has a weak point in cloud-based supply chain

March 24, 2015

Global-plm-supply-network

My attention was caught by Manufacturing Trends to watch in 2015 article written by Jeff Moad at Manufacturing Leadership Community. I missed that writing few months ago when it was published. I found one of them very interesting – The Rise of Cloud-based Supply Chain. Here is a passage from the article:

The Rise of Cloud-based Supply Chains. As the manufacturing landscape becomes more interconnected and interdependent, requiring close cooperative links with multiple supply chain partners in multiple locations for materials, parts production and the support of new multi-channel services, companies will increasingly adopt cloud and more predictive web-based supply chain software to help manage and swiftly reconfigure their networks to gain real-time visibility, cut time-to-market, and respond faster to customer changes and potentially disruptive political and natural risks.

It made me think again about new enterprise software reality for PLM vendors and changes in manufacturing eco-system. The interconnected manufacturing landscape is a key. It gives an interesting opportunity for software vendors thinking about cloud software as a platform, rather than a bunch of servers hosted elsewhere. At the same time, it raises many questions about how new generation of enterprise software will handle modern people and organization paradigm. One of the challenges for many PLM products and platforms is related to their ability to manage multiple organizations in distributed networks. Which can be a weak point for many of them to capture cloud-based supply chain opportunity.

What is my conclusion? Modern PLM software can embrace new paradigm of interconnected and interdependent manufacturing environment. This is quite different from traditional environments of OEMs and suppliers. The ability to manage distributed processes will become critical and can be one of the future differentiators for some PLM vendors. It looks like born in the cloud PLM technologies can gain some advantages here. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of cooldesign at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


How CAD vendors “murdered” PDM business

March 23, 2015

cad-ambush-pdm

Here is the passage I captured during my weekend reading – We only sleep at night because Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Elon Musk don’t want our businesses. Yet. It came from the Warren Ellis’ article The New Tech Disruption: Murdering Businesses and Haunting Their Corpses. The article is a very nice summary of examples demonstrating the dynamics of businesses these days and aggressiveness towards earlier partners and future competitors. It is must read for everyone who is building business these days. Here is one example:

If you build your business on top of someone else’s system, eventually they’re going to notice. Just last week, the livestreaming app Meerkat, which uses Twitter to transmit, felt a cold breeze pass through the room when Twitter bought the competing system Periscope, which will doubtless be baked into Twitter as soon as possible. Digital businesses can murder and haunt their own parasites.

The article made me think more about what happens in product data management (PDM) businesses. Let me go back in time into 1990s or maybe even earlier. Do you remember the beginning of PDM (product data management) or how it was called TDM (technical data management)? PDM was born to manage CAD files. The fundamental idea was to solve a problem created by CAD system. CAD systems used files to store data. But, as you know, most of CAD systems are not creating single file, but use MANY files to store data. These files are interconnected for different purposes – parts are used by assemblies, drawings are created out of parts. If you are user of AutoCAD, you must be familiar with the mess that can be created by usage of XREFs. Trying to re-use and share design was painful. You can hear customers screaming for decades about how to find a last revision of a document.

So, the problem was clear identified. The pain was here and PDM vendors came up with a value to help customers – data management system that can keep record of all these files and provides a set of functions to search, share, change, etc. More than 2 decades later, there are no so many PDM companies left. Most of them (successful) were acquired by CAD vendors, many of less successful disappeared. However, what I found mostly interesting is that pain is still here. Users are struggling to manage CAD files, revisions, re-use, search and share files.

During last few years, we had a renaissance of PDM driven mostly by cloud technology. Cloud is an ideal paradigm to share data. So, the idea to develop cloud products to share and view CAD data was appealing to many companies. Some of them developed very good products customers really like, but I can carefully state that none of them turned into sustainable businesses.

So, what happened? Here is my guess – all PDM businesses were murdered… by CAD vendors. Think about acquisition as a kind of murder too. Each CAD vendor acquired (or developed) PDM product, which was “the best for a specific CAD”, but never provided an equally good solution for multiple CAD systems. Most of “other CAD integrations” are developed by partners because of limitations of licensing and partnership agreements. Independent PDM vendors put their focus on developing of multi-CAD strategies and struggled to keep up with CAD features development and API support.

The things are getting more interesting these days. The new era of cloud CAD systems is coming. The most interesting part of cloud CAD systems is that in order to make them successful, CAD vendors will have to solve fundamental PDM problem – to store design data, manage revisions, search and re-use existing designs. You can read more about this in my earlier post – Cloud CAD will have to solve PDM problem at first place.

Last week I attended Onshape webinar where Jon Hirschtick explained why Onshape decided to develop new generation of CAD systems using cloud platform and new browser based technologies. You can see recording here. . The following slide caught my attention. You can clearly see – Onshape is going to provide PDM functionality with no additional license cost to all Onshape users.

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Autodesk, which is strategically focusing on development of cloud technologies and applications for the last five years, is coming with the similar functionality in their Fusion360 product. I captured the following table at Autodesk Fusion360 website. As you can see core PDM functionality is included into Fusion360 subscriptions.

autodesk-fusion360-pdm-functions

The following video is a good demo of Fusion360 data management.

What is my conclusion? PDM business is built on top of CAD systems. In the past, CAD vendors had “love-hate” relationships with PDM businesses. Depends on the time and specific situation, PDM was out of CAD priorities. In some periods PDM businesses helped CAD vendors to collaborate and compete. Things are changing today. Data management is very critical for CAD business. CAD vendors cannot avoid it and let other companies to manage their data. Data management (PDM) is an essential part of cloud CAD success, since it is a part of their “platform” and data management strategies. I can see some interesting competition in front of us about how to get data management done right from cost and user experience standpoints. If your technology knows how to manage CAD data in the cloud, you can be a valuable asset for CAD vendor. If you are building PDM business, you probably will be a target for a future murder. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of nonicknamephoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 


PLM and VC firms are facing the same problem – differentiation

March 21, 2015

plm-differentiation-platforms

Platform is such a sweet word. We love platforms. In the past, the ultimate dream of every software developer was to build a platform. Today, word “platform” is applying to so many things. Uber is a platform for transportation and Airbnb is a platform for hospitality. You can bring some of your favorite examples here. Guess what PLM vendors are developing? Yes… PLM platforms. And these platforms are supposed to provide a solution for companies to build things. CIMdata, one of the largest analytic companies in PLM domain recently published a study about PLM platformization. The main point – PLM business is achieving a status of business platform. The things on a technology side are getting interesting too. I shared some of my thoughts about tech aspects of PLM platforms – Future PLM platforms: between a rock and hard place.

I had a great lunch reading earlier today – Are Newly Formed Roles In VC Firms Differentiators, Table Stakes Or Total BS? You can ask me how VC firms business is connected to PLM platforms? Here is the thing… My attention was caught by a word “differentiators”. The article speaks about VC firms building “platforms” to differentiate themselves among entrepreneurs. Interesting turn. Here is my favorite passage from the article.

So why is this happening? And more importantly, if the trend continues, how do we ensure this actually helps entrepreneurs? The answers all depend on how much VCs are willing to admit one problem: We all sell the same product. As a VC, you don’t want your platform to sound like every other competitor firm plus every incubator, accelerator, community group and graduate program in your city.

In my past roles in media and marketing, we relied on the “white space” in an industry to own something outright and ultimately build or market a product more successfully. But in VC, as one founder told me, everyone’s money is just as green. The best way I can describe the challenges facing all platform directors is that we each run a bakery on a street full of bakeries that all sell one thing: plain bagels. There are only so many ways to make a plain bagel sound different from another plain bagel.

Differentiators. I think this is a very important things and PLM companies are chasing that too. Nobody wants to sell “plain bagels” only. In my view, PLM industry has some challenges here. After all innovations and technologies that happened with PLM industry, there are lot of similarities in all PLM products these days. Dig inside of every PLM implementation. You can find it surprisingly similar. It comes down to five main components – (1) Design CAD data management; (2) BOM and change management; (3) Projects; (4) Portfolio and configurations; (5) Quality.

I can hear voices of PLM vendors saying that their platforms are different. Yes, they are. Different technologies were created in a different time. New user interface is nicer than one that was created 15 years ago. New administration tools are simpler. Cloud was a differentiation factor for some PLM vendors over the past few years, but these days cloud is everywhere. PLM companies are innovating in open source, business models and marketing. But, at the end of the day, five domains I mentioned above are representing problems customers are looking how to solve. And most of solutions related to these specific problems are very similar.

In the past, company built PDM and PLM platforms to solve a problem of complexity in product data. It was a layer on top of database to provide a solution how to store complex data, managing access and work together (collaborate). Modern world is changing fast. Manufacturing is very different theses days. Take a look on my blog – PLM and changes in manufacturing eco-system. How to build a different platform that can solve problems of manufacturing in 21st century?

What is my conclusion? This is a time for PLM vendors to think outside the box of known PLM solutions. Today’s CAD and PLM tools won’t become future platforms. Today’s PLM platforms were created for large OEM companies in aerospace, automotive and defense industries. Manufacturing world is changing. Large OEMs are changing too. How to build a different PLM platform? What will play a key differentiation role – cloud, big data, openness, business models, circular economy, anything else? These are questions to ask today. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


New manufacturing business models will influence PLM software

March 19, 2015

new-biz-models-plm

Things are moving fast these days. Vendors are speeding up their plans to catch up with new development. The changes are coming from both technological and business sides. Today, I want to focus more on the side of business. Few years ago, I put some of my thoughts in the blog post – Faltered licenses and future business models. Fast forward from 2010 into 2015… there are lot changes in the way software companies are selling their software. Actually, many of them are not selling software anymore. Subscriptions became a reality.

The following article caught my attention earlier this week – Keurig accidentally created the perfect business model for hardware startups by Bolt (venture capital firm focusing on hardware). Take a read – there are some great examples and comparisons of business models in the article. Here are few of my favorite passages:

Recurring revenue matters because it fundamentally changes your business. There are good reasons investors are averse to hardware but love software. One of the leading reasons revolves around future revenue. Investors pay huge premiums to own stock in companies betting on the likelihood that future revenue will be drastically larger than current revenue. If you’re in a traditional hardware business, future revenue is confined to cyclic product sales. This roughly means you get one shot at revenue with each customer per product development cycle: each sale must be painfully acquired by building a new product every 18 months or so.

This is where the brilliance of the Keurig model shines. The initial sale of a $120 Keurig brewer isn’t that difficult or costly. Keurig doesn’t spend a lot on marketing or advertising and the product isn’t complex to manufacture or service. In my rough estimation, the BOM for a brewer is around $40, giving Keurig about a 25% gross margin on the product. Time from PO to FOB is likely less than 2 months, yet high-margin K-cup sales start immediately and continue for years. Keurig spends less than $0.015 on each K-cup and charges 100% more per unit than bagged, ground coffee. Yet few people complain about this cost.

tradition-hardware-vs-saas

The big thing is recurrent revenues. It is much easy to sell something to your customers. Especially, if the price is a comfortable zone. This trend is going up these days.

It made me think more about business models of engineering and manufacturing software. PLM is included. And PLM was guilty many years for very “uncomfortable” price points. Which in many situations lead to wrong set of expectations and failure of PLM adoption.

I can see a trend among software vendors today to change that. It might be a good question how to bring PLM price point to “comfortable zone” and connect it to the use and adoption of software. The more you use it- the more revenues you will be able to get from customer. On the other side, usage of software means value for customer. Some sort of win-win situations.

What is my conclusion? Business models revolution is coming to enterprise software. In the next few years, we are going to see many examples of innovation in engineering and manufacturing software business models. Freemium and subscription is only beginning. The latest example of Onshape, which is inventing pay for privacy model. Watch that space for innovation. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Picture credit Keurig and Bolt article

Image courtesy of ddpavumba at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Autodesk and Onshape disagree about cloud technology and focus

March 18, 2015

onshape-fusion-apples-to-apples

For the last few years cloud became such a fuzzy buzzword, that to say about some software “cloud application” is basically means nothing. All companies are shifting towards cloud. So, to understand “how” actual product is leveraging cloud technology is absolutely important to make a comparison. I’ve been discussing the topic of “how to” with regards to different cloud approaches – PDM/PLM. Why cloud? Wrong question… I think, recent appearance of Onshape generated a large amount of industry discussion about how “cloud CAD” tools can be using different cloud technologies.

SolidSmack came with a great idea of simultaneous interview featuring parallel Q&A with Carl Bass and Jon Hirschtick. 6 questions, 100 words to answer. Short and sweet. Navigate you browsers to the link – Carl Bass + Jon Hirschtick = CAD in The Cloud Interview of the Year and enjoy the read.

I’ve been reading Q&A and was trying to find a key difference between Onshape and Autodesk Fusion 360 approaches. You probably had a chance to read my previous article – Carl Bass and Jon Hirschtick are in agreement about future of cloud CAD. The last Q&A didn’t change my opinion about that. I still believe both Autodesk and Onshape are recognizing cloud as a biggest trend and opportunity to improve design, engineering and manufacturing tools. At the same time, SolidSmack’s Q&A helped me to find a two important differentiations between Autodesk Fusion 360 and Onshape.

Full CAD in a browser

You can clearly read Jon’s statements about “full cloud”, which goes across all his answers. Technologically, it translated in the tech approach to provide full Onshape 3D design capabilities completely in a “browser”. Here is the passage, which explains that in the best way:

Jon: We at Onshape have a very clear and unique strategy: full-cloud 3D CAD. Our full 3D CAD system runs in browsers — no downloads or installs — and on phones and tablets. Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebook, Android, iPhone, iPad — full 3D CAD on any of these.

You still need to install Onshape app to run on mobile devices (I use Onshape iOS app on my iPhone and iPad). So, pure browser solution is applicable approach for running Onshape on Mac, Windows and Chromebook. Yesterday, I had to re-install a very early Onshape app on my iOS because it was crashing to run with upgraded version of Onshape (this is just my guess). Which is again a confirmation that any installation is potentially creating an additional barrier of complexity.

An integrated cloud-based experience

Autodesk Fusion 360 is focusing on how to provide a complete workflow for users going from the early design stage to manufacturing and fabrication. Here is the passage from Q&A:

Carl: We wanted to solve many of the problems that people experience today in terms of the workflows necessary to accomplish their overall jobs—so we used the best of cloud and mobile technology to build a comprehensive CAD system that goes all the way from ideation to fabrication.

Experience is a popular word in a lexicon of modern software. And this is absolutely important for users these days. The traditional experience is to run dozens of tools on a desktop and use files for interoperability between them. This file-based approach has many flaws and, I think, time finally came to change that. Autodesk’s focus to use cloud technologies to connect workflows and integrate between different stages of design is absolutely important.

Next week, I will have an opportunity to attend Develop3D Live where both Jon Hirschtick and Carl Bass are going to speak about cloud CAD. Agenda is here. Develop3D will live stream the event – registration link is here.

What is my conclusion? Autodesk has more mature product, which leverage almost 5 years of Autodesk development and experiments with different cloud tools and customers. Integrated cloud product experience on top of Autodesk A360 platform can be an advantage for many users. Coming later in the game, Onshape is more focusing on developing of unique “pure browser” technologies that can provide differentiation to users – ease of access and simplicity of data collaboration. I don’t see two approaches as mutually exclusive. Onshape apps on mobile devices is a confirmation that Onshape tech can be used with installed software too. At the same time, Autodesk focus on integrated workflows can become more important for Onshape later in the game. At the same time, Autodesk can innovate future with the ways applications are installing and used. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Jomphong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 


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