How To Disrupt PLM Price with Technologies?

June 21, 2010

My post “How To Manage ECO Without Paying $1’500 Per Seat” raised a very interesting discussion on Zero-Waite State blog about PLM price. Thanks Stephen Porter for doing that. I recommend you to get inside and have a read. This post made me think about the future of PLM price trajectories and an impact of technologies on the future of PLM price.

The Future Disruption

I hope you had chance to read the book by Chris Anderson – Free: The Future of a Radical Price. I’d call it the modern “Bible of Free”. One of the important points, in my view is the following – “information and technology cost is trending towards zero”. As part of this, my own believe is that we are going to experience an influence of this trend, including an influence of free-price-market in various fields. The potential weak elements in the chain of highly priced software products are those that have a serious customer dissatisfaction or a very high price/value characteristic. What happens with PLM? In my view, this is a definitely weak chain. The complexity, over-promising during a sale process and history of acquired products and companies created a place that needs to be disrupted. I can see potential PLM disruptors PLM disruptors – Open Source (Free Distribution) of Aras, few on-demand products and PTC SharePoint business. The last one is trying to ride SharePoint adoption and Microsoft strength in the enterprise market. Who will be more successful in the future PLM disruption? A very interesting question…

PLM Technology Weakness

Where I see a weakness in PLM technology we have today? The current technological approach was born 15-20 years ago. We are continuing to SQL our future. The development of most of PLM technological platforms are balancing to co-exist between existing customer commitments and future product development. Platform fundamentals are the same regardless on the type of user interface or modern marketing terms. This technology is vulnerable in front of new development that happened during past ten years in Web 2.0. To understand the scope of the last ten years and the potential influence is very important.

What is my conclusion? When Stephen is asking – The Price Is Right?, I’m thinking about sales lessons I learned in the past. The right price is one customer will be ready to pay. Since PLM sales these days are not similar to sales of iPhones and iPads, I think we have a problem. We won’t be able to solve it since the problem is not in the price, in my view. The problem is broader and related to all main components of PLM delivery to customer – price, technological complexity and high price customer need to pay by installing, customizing, modifying software and training people. To make PLM cheaper, to provide a more flexible PLM pricing model, or even give PLM away can definitely provide some pain-relief, but will not give a radical change to the industry.

Just my thoughts.
Best, Oleg

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The Future Of PLM Walmarting

June 18, 2010

Say “PLM” to anyone, and you hear the words “complex” and “expensive”. However, thinking about trajectories of different technologies, I came to the conclusion that it always introduced as something very expensive and then going down to become cheaper and, in the end, even free. It was a story of so many technological inventions in many industries. There are many outside of PLM examples. The most valuable insider’s stories related to the evolution of CAD systems. Even in the data management domain, we can definitely see a trend to move from expensive custom-built PDM systems to windows-based mid-priced solutions. It gave a certain push in the adoption level and allowed to “non-Boeing” customers to come and taste these products and technologies.

The Parallel History of CAD/PLM and Walmart
Let’s take an unusual look on how companies and product can grow within time. Let’s take a look first on the very interesting video of WalMarts growth across United States from 1964 until 2007. I think this video is amazing and shows viral WalMart distribution. You can take a look on the interactive map following this link.

Now let’s take a look on the following framgment. “This video is a TV show made about the software Ivan Sutherland developed in his 1963 thesis at MIT’s Lincoln Labs, “Sketchpad, A Man-Machine Graphical Communication System”, described as one of the most influential computer programs ever written. This work was seminal in Human-Computer Interaction, Graphics and Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs), Computer Aided Design (CAD), and contraint/object-oriented programming“. These are definite roots of CAD and PLM.

The Future Is PLM Walmarting
In my view, there is a very interesting paradox related to PLM. I can see Product Lifecycle Management ideas as a vision and practical guidance about how to manage product from their entire life. These ideas are getting good acceptance from many people in the organizations. At the same time, as soon as discussion is going towards software and vendors, I can hear much more negative context about what PLM can and cannot do. Here is my point – to walmart PLM! It needs to be done easy, cheaper, simpler. It needs to be open and available. It needs to solve initially the subset of problems that relevant to everybody and not requires implementation time.

What is my conclusion today? I love Wal-Mart’s mission statement: “To give ordinary folk the chance to buy the same thing as rich people“. I’d like to think about a direction toward the future of PLM – To give all engineers the chance to buy and use the same software as Boeing, Toyota, Honda, Airbus… I don’t think it is about people and methodology. They will not learn how to use complicated software. This is about software…

Just my thought.
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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PLM Life-like Search Injection

June 10, 2010

An interesting turn in PLM trajectory of Dassault Systems – the acquisition of French based Exalead. With this acquisition, we can expect new life-like energy injected into PLM life-blood. In some announcements, Exalead was mentioned as French Google. Exalead indeed shares some Google DNA coming from early days Alta Vista and DEC search experiments. DS-Exalead deal made me think again about an enterprise search trajectory in Product Lifecycle Management. Actually, I already touched this topic at least two times in my blog before: PLM and Enterprise Search: Can We Leverage It In Downstream Applications and What Is The Role Of Search In Enterprise Systems and PLM?

So, PLM+Search=? What can be hidden behind this question mark? First of all, I wanted to put some historical perspectives in the relationships of PLM and search vendors. This is actually not the first time, PLM is catching a search wave. In 2006, Autonomy and Agile Software PLM created a partnership to provide a solution together . In 2007, Dassault made the announcement about a future use of Autonomy as a technology for search in DS and ENOVIA solutions. Endecca, another enterprise search vendor signed an agreement with Kalypso PLM solution provider. The same Edecca signed an agreement with PTC, one of the major DS completitiors. The same PTC by their significant move to SharePoint over the past 2 years, have an access to Microsoft SharePoint search solution. The same Autonomy, one of the leaders in Enterprise Search solutions is providing full stack of connectors that allow them to handle PLM related information too by their IDOL platform.

So, I wanted to put some thoughts towards possible mix of PLM and Search solutions. What can be advantages of PLM and Search merger and what need to be done to analyze previous solutions?

Usability
This is the first thing, in my view. PLM will try to fix the usability problem with application of some search techniques. All PLM applications today are surviving from user adoption rate in the organization due to the complexity in user experience. To have a search solution in this space is an interesting approach. However, what is good for web search not always can work in the same way inside of the organization. This will be an interesting to challenge for search solutions .

Content Processing
Search solutions have a different perspective on how to work with data. It is really not the same as to do it for enterprise application and business process management. How it will fit? What web search is doing by manage data is not really the same as enterprise data processing. Lots of interesting questions are coming here. I assume, we’ll have chance to see soon in the  in DS-Exalead story.

Integration
Crawling data from multiple sources, enterprise search has a potential to become a federated access point for PLM apps. This is the most interesting turn, in my view. However, to execute this route, a significant shift in PLM openness needs to be done.

What is my conclusion today? DS acquisition proved again, that PLM space is alive and will continuously provide innovative solutions for enterprises. As one of the leaders in PLM and 3D, Dassault just confirmed it yesterday. The next important step will be technological convergence and new solutions coming from Dassault.

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg


PLM Future Business and Social Models

June 8, 2010

Usually, when we are discussing various aspects of software, we are spending lot of time talking about technologies. However, I think, most of the people, learned these days, that to have an excellent product and technology is only part of the game. Business Model matters not less than technology. You may have an excellent technology. However, you have no idea how to sell it to your customers. Nowadays, to think “business” is not enough too. My take is that we also need to put “Social” next to business. I think, “social” becomes a very important part of the business.

Before I will dig inside of possible business and social models, I want to ask – what is so special about PLM? Is the same as any enterprise software? My guess is that there is some differentiation that can be applied to PLM. It comes due to a huge dissonance I can see between adoption of PLM as a manufacturing strategy and PLM software adoption level. I can see a great level of PLM ideas adoption. If you talk to engineering and manufacturing people, they will explain how important Product Lifecycle Management strategies for their business. However, if you’ll shift talks to the topic related to software packages, the actual discussion will be going a very wrong way.

Open
There is a lot of magic in the word ‘open’. Very often, we are manipulating by “open”. Open API, Openness, Open Access to Data, Open…  In my view, the strongest trend in the space of “Open” is, actually, Open Source. Many companies outside of PLM space are experimenting with the open source and lately I had chance to see lots of interesting results coming out of this space. Aras Innovator is the only product in PLM space today thinking about Open Source. Without going too much in the details, some of these experiments are very fascinating.

Freemium
Another interesting direction is Free or Freemium. We had chance to see lots of examples related to free models in consumer space. However, businesses are also starting to explore this space. I had chance to post about different aspects of Free models. You can take a look on one of my previous posts. Freemium model is coming from the combination of free and premium. In my view, it can be combined with Open model as well. Free can provide an easy path to customers. However, I had chance to hear lots of criticism of free in the business space, especially from people selling value to enterprises.

Causium
I learned an interesting and new trend in business models from Daniel Freeman on his marketing phreaks blog. Causium is a new business model based on the idea of charity and donation. The fundamentals of this model are in the psychological incentives and psychic needs of all parties. You can take a look on the experiment Atlassian is making by charging 10$ and proceed these revenues to charity. I don’t see many other examples of this model, but it provides a very unusual way to get into business with customers.

What is my conclusion today? PLM need to think how to innovate in a non-technological space too. I’m not saying that PLM vendors successfully solved all technological problems. Nevertheless, it seems to me that even with today’s level of PLM product and technological development, their adoption stacks because of some business and social aspects. Do you think existing PLM vendors will be able to make this shift? Time will show. In my view, all depends on how healthy is their core business today. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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PLM Excels And The Ugly Truth About iPad

April 29, 2010

If you ask me, who is the biggest competitor of PLM apps, my constant answer is simple – Excel. I think Excel plays a huge role in the engineering and manufacturing life. An amount of information that engineers load and management with Excel is enormous. I’ve been writing quite many time about Excel. If you had no chance to see it before, you can take a look on some of the following posts.

PLM Excel Spreadsheets: From Odes to Woes
Why Do I Like My PLM Excel Spreadsheet?
Do We Need Chief Excel Officer To Manage BOM?

However, today, my post is not about Excel. I wanted to touch Apple Numbers for iPad. Since iPad was released few weeks ago, there are lots of discussions and conversation about if this new device will find his pathway into enterprise organizations. Yesterday, I had a very interesting discussion with my friends working for one of the manufacturing companies. There are two polar opinions were stated – 1/ iPad is a useless device; 2/ iPad is a very slick device. The second was mentioned by their manager. The point was made very clear, in my view. If we can make an interesting and useful apps on iPad to satisfy needs of manufacturing communities, the situation with  iPad in organizations in few years can be similar to iPhone. I decided to dig a little to find what can be attractive out-of-the-box in iPad and found a very cool demo of iPad Numbers.

Now, think about these two things together. Excel as the king of PLM universe and iPad Numbers. Sounds as a perfect match to win hearts of managers. I’m almost sure your Bill of Material will look very slick on such device, and you will like the idea to show it this way to your boss. In my view, this is the “ugly truth” about how iPad is going to win in the organizations.

I’m interesting to hear your voices? Have you had chance to play around Numbers on iPad? Would you like to have Your BOM on Your iPad?

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg

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PLM, iPad and High Impact Technical Documentation

April 6, 2010

Oh, yes… iPad is finally here. Do you think it will create new opportunities to PLM vendors? This is a first example I just took from the Alltop news stream. Hyundai has announced that all new buyers of the Equus luxury sedan will receive an Apple iPad, one that comes pre-loaded with a digital version of the car’s owner’s manual.

It opens an interesting opportunity, in my view. The interest in Technical Documentation and Publishing is high. PLM vendors invested a significant effort development and acquisitions of such tools. Products like 3DVIA Composer, PTC Arbortext, TeamCenter Content Management, Autodesk Inventor Publisher and other. The question when we’ll have iPad Apps tuned to use a content generated by technical publishing apps? Is it an opportunity in your view?


Best, Oleg

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