How PLM will catch the wave of analytics

October 31, 2014

plm-analytic-salesforce-wave

Data has tremendous value for any manufacturing organization. Nobody can dispute that. One of value propositions of PLM is to have an access about product data and process information in a meaningful form. You can find lot of information about it online. Here is just one example. Navigate to Tech Clarity report – Business Intelligence extending PLM value by Jim Brown. I liked the following passage from the blog post introducing the report:

The perfect storm of application and implementation maturity has set the table for significant value to be unleashed from PLM. The data currently buried in PLM systems is an untapped source of value for manufacturers. Now, companies are turning to Business Intelligence (BI) in order to tap into the wealth of product knowledge generated and available in PLM repositories. And like ERP, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and other enterprise applications have proven in the past, there is strategic and tactical business value waiting to be delivered.

However, not much was done to bring it into reality. Most of reporting functionality of PLM products is clunky. Significant effort needed to bring right data in the right form. In many situations, customers are using services to generate and run reports. I touched the topic of PLM analytics a year ago – What is the future of PLM data analytics? My main point back one year ago was about speed of report generating and analytic processing. I can see some changes in the recent time. PLM vendors are starting to focus on how to improve data access user experience and speed of reporting.

PLM vendors are not alone in the hunt for data analytics these days. Few weeks ago, Salesforce.com announced about their plans to democratize analytics and bring it to every user in a simple way. Navigate your browser to the following link to learn more about Salesforce Analytics Cloud powered by Wave technologies.

The following screenshot captured from Salesforce Analytics cloud website made me think Salesforce is not limiting analytics to CRM data. The vision of Salesforce Wave is much beyond – the plan is to reach out to data located on the desktop, public internet, social networks and enterprise applications. It includes partnership with other vendors too. Sort of grand vision…

sf-wave-cloud

It made me think about the role PLM vendors and PLM products will play in new analytics wave plans. My attention caught by PTC announcement – PTC Joins New Salesforce Analytics Cloud Ecosystem to Extend Internet of Things Technology.

PTC will use its PTC ThingWorx and PTC Axeda Machine Cloud® technology to extend Wave by providing access to streaming Internet of Things (IoT) data from smart, connected products. Specifically, the integration will empower PTC and Salesforce customers to view data generated in a unified experience. The insights gained from the data will allow business units across an organization to more easily develop data analytic strategies that deliver stronger business value to their customers.

CIMdata provided an additional insight on PTC and Salesforce partnership here. To me, the key thing is related to unified experience. That was the key missing part in business intelligence, reporting and other data extraction technologies developed in the past.

What is my conclusion? Salesforce made a huge platform step by introducing Salesforce Wave. However, the future success of Wave is dependent on data availability. How fast Salesforce will be able to provide access to data locked in other enterprise platforms? The value of mixing CRM and PLM data can be significant and it can help PLM vendors to bring customers to their platforms. However, to catch the wave can be a tricky part for PLM platforms. It will require significant shift in openness and state of mind. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


How to sell PLM to enterprise IT

October 31, 2014

Enterprise IT adoption cycle diagram made by Simon Wardley made me feel sad and funny at the same time. I found it one of the best visualizations of many situations I’ve been in the past when working on PLM sales and implementation situations. This is a brilliant reflection of technology adoption route for IT department – ignore, prevent, tolerate, allow, integrate (credit Joe Drumgoole tweet).

enterprise-IT-adoption-cycle

It made me think about how to prevent a conflict with enterprise IT earlier in the PLM sales process. Today, I want to share some of my recommendations. These steps helped me in many situations. This is not a silver bullet, but I found them useful. PLM system and implementation cannot live in isolation. It has to be integrated with many other systems and processes in organization. Therefore, to learn them early during the sales process can be very beneficial.

1- Learn about enterprise IT

You need to make yourself familiar with basics of enterprise IT. You can bring engineering people to help you at this stage, but you need to get basic information about company enterprise infrastructure, data centers, data management. You need to learn how IT is managed. Is it local team? Does company use outsource IT consultant and service company, etc.

2- Get information about related enterprise software

PLM system cannot live in isolation. So, it will use databases, connect and use variety of application services, integrated with ERP and CRM systems. It will help you a lot to gather information about enterprise software. More specifically, you need to learn about fundamentals of how company is doing item master management, material planning and manufacturing BOM.

3- Find matched solutions

Do some homework and research to find similar solutions and/or references to products already used by a company. It will help you to find precedents and patterns you can refer during the review with IT organization.

4- Ask for meeting with enterprise IT to discuss PLM values and architecture

Don’t wait until late stage to discuss architecture and specific deployment aspects with IT organization. Do it earlier in the process to identify potential conflicts of infrastructure and process implementation – security, data ownership, workflows related to manufacturing planning and supply chain. During the meeting, try to show how IT organization will benefit from adopting PLM solution. It can come in many places – better data management, process optimization, collaboration with suppliers, data integration. Very often, IT organization suffers from complexity of processes IT people need to support. Explain to IT how PLM solution can help if you will have one more vote inside of organization.

5- Make reference call with IT people

Find existing customers that you can reference with similar enterprise infrastructure and solution landscape. Nothing can be more convincing IT people, than speaking to people having same roles in another company. In many situations it can help to solve problems much faster.

What is my conclusion? Enterprise sales requires communication with IT people in organization. One of the mistakes is to think that you need first to convince business and engineering people about PLM solutions. In my view, this is wrong approach. You need to work proactively with IT, otherwise IT can destroy the deal at very last moment. To get references from existing well-known customers is one of the best ways to pass IT. To have certification and/or partnerships with vendors, which products already used and can be referenced is another complementary approach. If you see a major conflict in architecture, system approach or IT strategy, you better get an alert about that early in the process. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Diagram by Simon Wardley’s blog – Bits or Pieces? (CC BY SA 3.0)


Uber and Smart Product Lifecycle

October 30, 2014

MCawards14

I had a chance to attend MassChallenge Awards event tonight at Boston Convention Center. For those of your who is not familiar, MassChallenge is global startup competition and acceleration program. You can get more data about MassChallenge here and by visiting their website. What is distinguish MassChallenge from many others similar program is the fact it is one of the largest non-profit accelerator created with the vision to build global network of value creation programs.

MassChallenge Award event gathered few very interesting speakers. Among others, Mass Governor Deval Patrick, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt  and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. You can get more details about award event here.  To me, the presentation of Uber’s Travis Kalanick was one of the most impressive. Travis talked about Uber development in Greater Boston as well as demonstrated few very interesting data points about Uber and Boston.

I want to share with you few slides and examples from Uber presentation. The first one shows a snapshot of active Uber rides at specific moment of time in Boston.

uber-boston-1

The following one shows drivers efficiency distribution

uber-boston-2

The next one shows median time (in minutes) you need to wait to get Uber car.

uber-boston-4

The last and the most interesting shows data about arrivals of cars at Boston Fenway over the course of RedSox season.

uber-boston-3

These slides reminded me of an article from Uber’s blog I had a chance to read few years ago, Uberdata: how prostitution and alcohol made Uber better. Yes, I know, it’s quite an unusual topic, at least for this blog. Nevertheless, I think this is a must read article for anybody who deal with product lifecycle software these days and here is why…

Uber folks are running some very interesting analysis of data over the course of Uber lifecycle. Think about Uber as a product with its own lifecycle. Uber is gathering information about Uber customers, requirements, environment and product experience. After that, Uber folks are running some very interesting analysis of data related to Uber in a specific city and multiple cities. Here is a very fascinating quote from Uber blog:

This finding is a perfect example of the fascinating insights you can get when you combine big, seemingly disparate datasets. By trying to figure out how to predict where to position our cars, we got a peek at the ebb and flow of the life and crimes of San Francisco. Expect more of these kinds of posts in the next couple of weeks.

Article describes a very interesting story of correlation between Uber rides, welfare payments, population dencity and social activity in the city. The last includes statistics by prostitution crime by week/hours.

uber-boston-5

The approach Uber is taking is getting more and more popular these days. It made me think about completely different way of looking on every product. Think about product lifecycle. The majority of functions covered by PLM today are related to management of engineering and manufacturing planning data. However, step out of traditional product lifecycle mantra and think about experience and product data. Think about combining these data sets together. PLM tools should look on the product and how improve product experience. We are not using data efficiently today and it resulted in suboptimal decisions made by manufacturing companies and bad experience.

What is my conclusion? PLM companies need to think how to move from the position of “just capturing data” to the position of using data proactively to manage product lifecycle in a very smart way. It includes capturing every bit of information about product experience, customers, environment and translating it into meaningful actions. It will start a new era of PLM managing smart product lifecycle. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Tesla, iPad on wheels and BOM management complexity

October 29, 2014

Tesla-model-s-infotainment-beyondplm

The complexity of manufacturing is skyrocketing these days. It sounds reasonable for many of us when it comes to spaceships, jetliners and defense systems. You can think about car as something much simpler. Navigate to Ford Heritage website article – Ford Celebrates 100 Years of the Moving Assembly Line. The complexity of Ford Model T just about 100 years ago was few thousands parts:

One hundred years ago today, Henry Ford and his team at Highland Park assembly plant launched the world’s greatest contribution to manufacturing – the first moving assembly line. It simplified assembly of the Ford Model T’s 3,000 parts by breaking it into 84 distinct steps performed by groups of workers as a rope pulled the vehicle chassis down the line.

ford-t-manufacturing

The situation is completely different these days and it raises concerns of cars reliability because of design complexity. My attention was caught Business Insider article – Consumer Reports Says Infotainment Systems Are Ruining Car Reliability. Picture in the article shows central computing unit of Tesla Model S. I’m not sure the concern of authors was specifically about Tesla, but I noticed the following passage:

“Of the 17 problem areas CR asks about in its survey, the category including in-car electronics generated more complaints from owners of 2014 models than for any other category.” Automakers have invested heavily in infotainment systems since consumers began demanding them in a wide variety of vehicles. Furthermore, the entire auto industry is looking forward to a future in which in-car electronics, displays, related infotainment systems, and advanced self-driving features will be increasingly prevalent, if not dominant. It can be difficult enough to engineer a highly reliable car from a strictly mechanical standpoint. There are quite literally a lot of moving parts. Bringing a whole new cluster of technologies into the picture has created additional pressures — and to a certain extent given Consumer Reports’ testers more to find wrong.

This article reminded me few topics I touched before on my blog. One of them is related to some of my speculation about future plans of Tesla to build their own PLM system. Another one is related to future need to combine engineering and software BOMs. I think, these are very critical elements of modern PLM system to serve the needs of many manufacturing companies. Tesla is probably an extreme case. But the question is for how long.

Here are some interesting examples about Tesla electronic and software. Navigate to Autoconnectcar article – Telsa S super connected car is a giant iPad on wheels? The article speaks about some interesting tear-down project made by IHS, which is known for tearing down smartphones and tables. IHS recently tore apart 2013 Tesla Model S. Read the article and watch few videos. The following passage gives you an impression of Tesla media control unit (the hub of infotainment and everything else in Tesla)

The Premium Media Control Unit is gigantic as compared to other cars with a 17″ diagonal display that controls the whole car with a NVIDA Tegra 3 1.4-gigahertz quad-core processor. It’s large, with ten printed circuit boards with wireless communications (Sierra Wireless 3G HSPA+ cellular module), GPS, Bluetooth/Wi-Fi (Parrot), a visual computing modual, DRAM, supporting components, touchscreen controller, display controller and motherboard. The instrument cluster is NVIDIA Tegra 2 based

The complexity of bill of material just for this unit goes beyond average smart TV set. Which can give you an impression of overall complexity. The article briefly mentioned future connected telematics with internet access. Which connects to even more complex topic of IoT complexity and scale I posted before – IoT data will blow up traditional PLM databases.

What is my conclusion? The challenges and complexity of product development and manufacturing are real. The wide spread of electronic and software in modern manufacturing products and the overall complexity level is growing up. While all eyes are now following Tesla, my hunch other cars are not much different and modern product development trends will not make car simpler. It raises many questions about requirements to PLM software capable to manage such level of complexity. PLM vendors and engineering IT architects can take a note and do some homework. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Pictures credit Business Insider article and Ford Heritage website.


Will PLM vendors work with Apple and IBM on Mobile First?

October 28, 2014

ibm-apple-mobile-first

Few months ago, I posted about potential for Apple and IBM to open a door for mobile PLM future. Blog raised lot of questions, but I haven’t seen any groundbreaking announcements from CAD and PLM vendors since that time. Maybe I missed some press releases or maybe companies are shy to announce and work in a stealth mode.

One more news about the same topic caught my attention again few days ago. Business insider article Apple And IBM Hope To Change The Way People Work, Starting Next Month. I noticed few snippets of information indicating interest and stating that some development work is under go. Here are few passages:

"Hundreds" of corporations worldwide have "expressed interest" in MobileFirst to Apple, which is "actively working with over 50 of them to become foundational clients for MobileFirst solutions in their industries," Maestri said. The apps mostly focus on analyzing business data. IBM’s Schroeter says the first dozen applications will launch this quarter. Some apps will be out next month, Maestri told Reuters.

IBM gets paid to write the apps and then host them on its cloud, and it also has the chance to sell other things, like security software, and so on. "We also know that the deeper the apps go in the enterprise, the more it opens up avenues in enterprise," Cook said. "And that’s a key part of the IBM partnership and what I think customers will get out of that, which is more important than us selling, is changing the way people work."

IBM Mobile First website is up and running. You can browse to get more information. I found few interesting use cases under build category.

Navigate to this link to Rohde & Schwarz cuts mobile development costs by 60 percent. This use case speaks about cross platform mobile application development. More specifically it was about creating mobile enterprise infrastructure to generate applications. To integrate with existing enterprise backend infrastructure was one of the challenges PLM vendors and manufacturing companies are experiencing today. Here is an interesting passage I captured from case study:

Rohde & Schwarz wanted to create a mobile enterprise infrastructure that enabled it to support multiple devices and generate required applications. Specifically, the company sought to build, run and manage a range of applications for customers, partners and employees within an aggressive timeframe. However, the organization had certain challenges, including a need for cross-platform development as well as integration with back-end systems such as SAP and an existing mobile device management infrastructure.

It made me think about potential of specific PLM mobile application development. One of my earlier posts -Mobile PLM gold rush: did vendors miss the point? I’ve been talking about the fact, successful "mobile" strategy requires development of application to support specific use cases and scenarios. I continue to discuss the same idea here – How PLM vendors can find mobile moments . Here is a passage from my older post, which I believe is still very relevant:

Consumers are moving to mobile and requesting more and more interaction with businesses via mobile devices. To make “all tablet” won’t work for product development software. To stop and think about a specific productivity apps that can solve a particular problem is the right way to go.

What is my conclusion? I didn’t find any trace of CAD/PLM companies working with IBM/Apple on mobile apps. However, I still believe, mobile experience is completely different from what customers in B2B spaces are experience with desktop or even web applications. To success in mobile, PLM companies need to find customer "mobile moments" that focus on a specific use cases where mobile device will provide a complete advantage. To replicate existing product into mobile devices won’t be a right path to go. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of IBM case study.


5 reasons why is hard to replace Excel with PLM?

October 27, 2014

excel-spreadsheet-crazy

One of the most prominent marketing slogans in PLM and enterprise software is related to "replacement of Excel". I have my own love and hate relationships with Excel. Despite all progress in user experience and other aspects of PLM software, Excel is still king of the enterprise and "export to Excel" is one of the most demanded functions. Watch product demos, and you will see how often vendor is proud to say that data "can be easily" transferred into Excel.

However, I don’t think that Excel is still widely popular just because software vendors are doing bad job. My hunch the situation is much more complex. So, today, I want to speak about why Excel still keeps very strong roots in product development and why, despite all attempts, PLM vendors are still cannot replace Excel.

1- Old generation

Habits and status quo are though competitors. The majority of engineering and manufacturing people are breathing Excel in their everyday life. They feel themselves very secured with the way they work and they are afraid to lose the aspect of security. At the end of the day, they need to get job done and to send products to customers. So, the rule – "if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it" plays one of the key roles.

2- Universality of excel

Flexibility of Excel is well known. You can easy make it to fit any situation, problem or need in terms of making reports and/or slicing and dicing data in the way you want. Even the most flexible PLM software has their limitation and even most of them can be resolved with IT and service providers, the speed of solution availability can be hardy competitive compared with Excel.

3- Complexity of infrastructure

In many situations, Excel is playing a role of "date integrator" by combining information located in multiple silos. Excel doesn’t do it in most efficient way, but complexity of integration is so high, that bringing PLM solution is just too complicated. This is a situation where "chief excel officer" is doing his job just good enough.

4- Existing copies

Legacy data, existing reports and scripts developed inside of Excel is another barrier to throw away Excel and move to PLM system. To import and convert existing data can be too expensive and too complicate.

5- Customers (and system integrators) demand to get excel

Existing eco-system of manufacturing companies, customers, suppliers, outsource workers, contract manufacturers is friendly to Excel. This is also a reason why Excel import/export function is so much demanded. It is hard to replace Excel in one company and left rest of the chain untouched.

What is my conclusion? Excel is not a software. It is eco-system. To replace it hard and requires significant effort and differentiation for PLM software to use instead of Excel. Large companies have more power internally to make a change. However, in many situation the combination of status quo and complexity of replacement can put a process of Excel replacement by PLM system on hold. It is very hard to come with something as good as Excel and harmless to existing status quo. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

photo credit: Jon Newman via photopin cc


PLM cloud options and 2014 SaaS survey

October 24, 2014

plm-cloud-options-2014-saas

The number of SaaS businesses is growing these days. You probably had a chance to read my CAD, PLM and Top 500 cloud app vendors list few months ago. However, one size doesn’t fit all. This is certainly true about engineering software and PLM. As PLM companies are moving to the cloud, we want to learn more about possible options and strategies of how do we move to the cloud. Below you can find a list of my previous articles covering the diversity of cloud strategies from major CAD/PLM vendors – Autodesk, Dassault, PTC and Siemens PLM.

PLM vendors, large manufacturers and public cloud

Dassault is going to support all PLM cloud options by 2015+

Siemens PLM Analyst Event and PLM Public Cloud Strategies

The challenging face of dual PLM clouds

PLM Cloud Switch and PTC Final Click?

In my view, CAD and PLM companies are in a very active stage looking how to build cloud technologies and products. We can make an initial comparison of cloud PLM strategies of several CAD/PLM companies. Autodesk and Arena are fully embraced cloud as a primary way to deliver PLM solutions to customers. Siemens PLM and PTC are following IaaS strategies. Dassault Systems strategy is to support all cloud options by 2015. Aras plan to leverage cloud from both technology and business strategy.

PLM companies are joining growing population of SaaS businesses. It means we can start gathering some statistics about these companies, their performance and technical aspects of cloud delivery. If you considering to build your future PLM strategies around cloud, this is can be very valuable data point for your research.

My attention caught by 2014 SaaS Survey published by for Entrepreneurs blog by David Skok (@BostonVC). If you are in SaaS business, it is must read article. The following two charts caught my special attention. It gives you a perspective on how cloud (SaaS) applications will be delivered:

saas-2014-plm-delivery-options-2

Another one shows how delivery method changes as SaaS business is growing.

saas-2014-plm-delivery-options

Today, cloud PLM is only part of the business for all major CAD/PLM companies. It is hard to statistic from the research above to these businesses. However, it clearly gives you some perspective on business performance and aspects of how cloud PLM business will be developed in the next few years.

What is my conclusion? Cloud is here. There is no escape path. Manufacturing companies should look how to optimize their IT infrastructure and application delivery methods. I’m pretty sure, cloud PLM will become part of this optimization. It is probably a good idea to make yourself familiar with the aspects of performance of SaaS companies to create a foundation for future strategy meetings. A note for PLM IT managers and PLM architects. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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