PLM and Enterprise 2.0: No Fight… Yet.

June 16, 2010

Yesterday, I spent my day on Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston. It wasn’t overcrowded, although Expo pass registration that included Keynote presentation was almost free. It was also very interesting to see a landscape of vendors participating in the event. All enterprise kings were well represented- IBM, Microsoft, SAP. The only one king was out of the room – Oracle. It was surprising not to see Oracle, specially after their massive representation Oracle had in 2008. From the new players, I’d mention Cisco with their announcement about their social enterprise collaboration platform – Cisco Quad.

Lately, walking in the exhibition hall, I thought about all social collaboration platforms presented there and what is the potential impact of these platforms on Product Lifecycle Management.

Enterprise 2.0 Redefines Collaboration
Let me start from the history. What is the top collaborative tool we  have today? Email. Yes, email continue to be the most useful and widely adopted tools to collaborate. It is platform independent, it is reliable, it is free, it is asynchronous and, what is also very important, it is accepted by the majority of people. This is de-facto communication standard. Why we need to change it? I think the efficiency of the email collaboration is going down. Started from IM, and going down to forums and social networks, we can see a new way to share data and communicate. If you are newbie in so called E 2.0 space, you can take a fast ride and read a book by Andrew McAffee – “Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools…” Started in the beginning as set of different tools – wiki, blog, instant messaging, communities, etc. the Enterprise 2.0 absorbed all these tools and introduced the new way to communicate for people. We are adopting new practices outside of the organization boundaries, and they are coming inside of the organizational space. All together new tools allow to work much more efficiently in comparison to what we did before.

PLM Options In Enterprise 2.0
One of the strongest points of PDM and lately PLM was to provide set of tools to establish an efficient environment to collaborate in the engineering and manufacturing organization. It started as an ability to organize data in folders and databases, establish flow of documents, driving approvals and decisions. It was all about efficiency in communication and data sharing. What was the uniqueness of PDM/PLM that not allowed just to use plain set of collaborative tools? The engineering (CAD, PDM, PLM) context is the primary reason why the usage of mainstream collaborative tools were limited until now. To share Bill of Material or CAD model is not as simple as Word document. It requires better synchronization and more sophisticated level of data dependency management. As a result, it created higher level of complexity in everything – implementation, user interface, customization. At the same time, people are continuously inspired by the capabilities of mainstream internet and other collaboration tools. The initial steps were taken already. We had chance to see PTC’s and Dassault’s investments into community-oriented tools.

In addition to what established vendors are doing, I can see the potential for new companies like Vuuch entering this space too.

As I wrote in one of my previous blog post about the future of PLM collaboration  – 2010s are going to put Enterprise IT on fire.  PLM has two options today: (1) to develop vertical tools to support a new way to communicate and collaborate; (2) to adopt new Enterprise 2.0 platforms and tools and integrate PLM context into these platforms.

What is my conclusion? Enterprise 2.0 is overcrowded with different tools, platforms and initiatives. The initial cost of the solution development in this space is relatively low. Big vendors and small startups are trying the “enterprise 2.0 water” by introducing different solutions and checking people’s and organization’s reactions. I can see apathy on the other side. Too many dishes… People are looking for differentiations. It seems to me the fight is going between “vendor trust” and “cool and usable product”. Most of the vendors are not thinking about how to make their products vertical. Their efforts are focused on how “to own” organizations. Coming down to manufacturing organizations they can find that “one size doesn’t fit all” and special tools or collaboration practices are needed to work with engineering and manufacturing context. This is going to be a big day for vendors in PLM space. The question how they will come prepared to this day. This is also an opportunity for small companies to propose special solutions that redefine a way to collaborate for engineering and manufacturing organizations. Who is up to this opportunity?

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg


The “New Normal” Wake Up Call for Enterprise PLM

March 23, 2010

I came across the interesting blog article in CIO online “Why the New Normal Could Kill IT?” by Thomas Weilgum earlier this month. The article filled some of my niches related to thinking about future disruption of PLM I had with Jim Brown. If you had no chance to read my previous posts related to my and Jim’s discussion you can take a look on the following links – Will Google App Disrupt PLM? and  Is PLM Customization a Data Management Titanic?

I made some write up when reading CIO article.

Look at ERP systems, for instance. These are the financial, administrative and procurement backbone of every organization. ERP spend gobbles up huge chunks of the corporate allocation pie. So how are ERP software suites viewed today? With about as much love as Toyota execs have for “unintended acceleration.” In a recent survey, 214 business executives stated the inability to easily modify their ERP system deployments is disrupting their businesses by delaying product launches, slowing decision making, and delaying acquisitions and other activities that ultimately cost some up to $500 million in lost opportunities.

Complexity Hinders Software Success. “Two-thirds of survey respondents say the enterprise IT environment is more complex than it was five years ago,” notes the survey report. “The proliferation of technology combined with intricate organizational dynamics has raised the level of business IT complexity to the point of holding back software success.”

Just before he left Sun Microsystems (JAVA), Tim Bray, the former director of Web technologies, had this to say (in a blog post) about the current state of enterprise systems: “Doing it wrong. Enterprise systems, I mean. And not just a little bit, either. Orders of magnitude wrong. Billions and billions of dollars worth of wrong. Hang-our-heads-in-shame wrong. It’s time to stop the madness.”

With regards to the last one made by Tim Bray, remember Tim’s move from Oracle to Google and his intro notes here.

It made me think about some of PLM problems, their position inside of the overall enterprise apps forest and potential future steps. There are two fundamental problems in enterprise software that fits very well Thomas’ analyzes – absence of flexibility and huge cost of change. Actually, I see them very complementary. The overall enterprise PLM strategies moved into the direction to expand PLM in the additional domains for PLM by focusing on multiple business processes. However, enterprise PLM stacks in my view with implementation of the technological platform they made. Moving between multiple legacy apps, changing data models, adapting new features and apps to the latest releases of the software – this is my short list of the most common PLM problems in the enterprise.

So, what is next? What is the chance that the enterprise PLM apps will be covered by volcanic lava of existing enterprise problems. What will be enterprise PLM silver bullet on the way to become “new normal” and not “old legacy?”.  My take on this in the following three areas:

1. Invest into flexibility of PLM platforms.
This is probably sounding crazy for enterprise PLM techies. PLM vendors invested  a lot in the platform work during the last 3-5 years. However, I think, life around moves much faster than re-engineering of enterprise PLM platforms. New enterprise and cloud platform players are coming with very disruptive proposals about how to provide a new type of the apps for enterprise organization. And, the top on the list is cost of change in the existing enterprise PLM/PDM data backbones.

2. Focus on Games and 3D.
Think about cool. 3D and Games are cool, and we are experiencing it in our everyday life in consumer space. Why it should be different in product development, design and manufacturing?. So, move to the new apps and technologies in this domain.

3. Validate new business models.
The current enterprise licensing models need to change. Companies are dissatisfied with high upfront license cost and value, they are getting from enterprise apps. Investment into subscription and other busienss models (like freemium) can be an interesting turn for enterprise PLM.

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg


Five Online Technologies for PLM in 2010

January 22, 2010

The world of computing is very unpredictable these days. However, I’d like to bet and put some of my thinking towards something called “online” or “connected” technologies in 2010. As usual, I’d be watching these technologies in the prism of PLM with some flavor of going beyond PLM acronyms trying to understand how it can impact product design, development and manufacturing.

Cloud Computing. I think, since last year, we can hear word “cloud” more and more often. However, this is also time to think what practical benefit we can take out of this in 2010.  When most of the customers trying to cross the “cloud” with “SaaS” and imagine how all Intellectual Property they are developing is going to Google-like space, in my view, 2010 benefits will be coming differently. Existing vendors and new companies will be discovering new ways to use cloud computing power to do calculation, rendering, analytic. Another possible alternative will be to use cloud space for collaboration, but here some security questions can be raised. We need to think about effective models to secure collaboration online for engineering. This is an open call, in my view.

Business Intelligence. More specific, in comparison to cloud computing, but very frustrating, for the moment. BI is complex and expensive. Multi-core machines, double digit GB RAMs, multi-display configurations. This is still a reality in BI world, but I think this state of mind will not fit engineering and manufacturing world. Operational BI trend is interesting, and I’d expect some development happens in this space too.

Enterprise Mashups. I’m a little optimistic with regards to mashup story this year, in comparison to the previous one. I hope you had chance to read my post “Is PLM too Complex to Mashup“, but I think demand for mashup is growing and some delivery will be possible. In my view, the opportunity will come from inside of companies as much as companies will go to private clouds and advanced web architectures. This will be the important exam for all PLM vendors, since they will be requested to share information using open API, SOA and other available infrastructure.

Social Software and Networking. This is a continuation of Enterprise 2.0 trend and an opportunity to capitalize on Facebook and Twitter maturity inside of the organization. I think, we’ll see lots of Facebook-clones for enterprise PLM and community collaborative experience will be replicated many times inside of organization. However, not all of them will be successful. The biggest problem is the question: “How many social platforms we need for enterprise?“. And, unfortunately, this question will keep enterprises busy without moving forward.

Unified Communication (UC). Mail, Phone, Laptop, iPhone, Messenger, Facebook, Twitter… Too many devices, in my view. How we can navigate between all these devices in the optimal way. I think UC, finally, will become mature and corporation will try to move forward in optimizing communication. While call designers over the wall using the phone, when you can chat in the 3DLive or similar collaborative application?

So, I will be interested to discuss with you my thoughts and have your feedback. Does it fit your organizational plans or development roadmaps? Do you see similar requests coming out of your communication with customers and partners?

Best, Oleg

PLM: Hug Your Data or Federate?

January 13, 2010

Last year I had chance to blog about why PLM Is Too Complex To Mashup? Thinking about Enterprise PLM implementations, I’m always coming to the following conclusion about the way PLM is managing data – PLM system strategically trying to define, own and manage the complete product data cycle and every aspect related to this data inside and outside of the enterprise. Now, in my view, by doing so, PLM put their effort as a very confronted to the other enterprise systems. This behavior is not typical for PLM- other “enterprise animals” are also trying to keep data closely to their core databases and vaults.

Data Hugging

So, I can call this behavior “data hugging”. Is it good and beneficial? From the certain perspective, you can think about this as a good option to centralize data management and control the situation in your organization related to Product Data or any other topic managed in the context of Product Data. However, the reality is different. Such data hugging can create a situation where get full information is quite complicated.


What are the alternatives? Data Federation is another alternative. Connect data in your system to the data in another system using so called Proxy objects. The idea of the federation has a potential, since it doesn’t require movement of data around between applications on logical and sometime even on the physical level. However, data federation can be quite complicated for implementation and requires explicit connections between systems.

Other options

If you understand the problem of “data hugging” and don’t think a federation can work out with your environment. DW (Data Warehousing) and MDM (Master Data Management) are two related directions and technologies, that can give you a different perspective in federating data across your company.

What is my conclusion today? Companies are struggling between two possible options – to give extreme power to business and enterprise application to hug data inside or to allow data federation inside organization. The first option is promising for the first look. The hidden portion of the “single system” message is the need to move data from everyplace in your organization to this system. This is not a simple decision in my view. Different flavors of the federation can be perceived as a more complex option upfront, however, can provide a more balanced data management solution for the long term. New disruptive solutions coming from outside of enterprise (mashups are one of them) can provide an interesting alternative for tomorrow’s enterprise data management. What the route PLM systems and implementation should take? What is your opinion?

Best, Oleg

Collaboration Trends or Why I Stopped Using Google Wave?

January 11, 2010

We tend to use word “collaboration” very often in Product Lifecycle Management and related fields. Collaborative Design, Collaboration Product Data Management, Collaborative… I want to discuss how I see the world of collaboration can probably change in the future. The following four trends are my take on what will happen in the area of collaboration.

1. Infrastructure maturing.
This is obvious and not. In my view, the biggest collaborative infrastructure move for the last few years was introducing of “Unified Collaboration”. However, I think, this trend will continue and Cisco, Microsoft and others will provide more and more infrastructure solutions for the market.

2. Device-less. Collaboration will need to lose religious connection to the specific device. Growing cloud computing and improvements in the multiple device will disconnect collaboration from the “collaborative device”. We will collaborate using mobile phone, PDA, Tablet, via Internet, on multiple devices in your office.

3. Going beyond applications. The context will become The King Of Collaboration. However, you need to have rich set of information in your hands in order to set up context for collaboration. Such set of information in PLM can come only from multiple applications – requirements, analyzes, design, manufacturing planning, etc. Collaborative tools will need to go beyond a specific application to be really useful in the future.

4. Collaboration – not social. I think the name for “social” inside of organization is “collaboration”. It will take some time to understand it, but this is really true. In place of social networks, friends, connections, etc. will come organizational structures and collaborative work. However, lots of social nets practices will be adopted for new collaborative organizations.

5. Growth in enterprise search. I think, enterprise search will need to learn from success of web search. Today is still not happening. However, as much as organizations produce more and more data, search will become an important function. Today search is the commodity and very primitive in organization and new collaborative application will have to change it.

Now, how it related to Google Wave? The Alpha preview of Google Wave was announced last year on I/O conference and got a lot of visibility, discussions and speculation. It was the fist time, after introducing of Google Mail, people have tried to get Google Wave invitation even for money. Few month later after initial I/O demo, Google released about 100’000+ invitation and, in my view, satisfied the need of researching communities. Now, the ugly truth is that despite huge expectations related to how Google Wave can improve and change people collaboration, for the moment, it doesn’t happen.

What are top failures of Google Wave, for the moment?

1. Isolation. Google Wave is terrible connected to the outside world. The technological promise is in place, but practically it still not happened in beta/alpha versions. It will take time to develop all connections that allow GW to become part of your day-to-day work.

2. Another application to run. This is related to previous point. But, today, you need to run it, follow this application, etc. This is like another mail. Somewhat you need to spend more time to work on…

3. Documents and other Google App integration. This is a place where Google needs to learn from Microsoft, in my view. Microsoft’s folks did a great job integrating SharePoint and Office Apps. Google Wave need to do the same with Google Apps. This will be part of their mutual success.

4. Inbox management. This is similar to mail inbox. And need to be improved. I still don’t know how, but feels like we cannot drag old email inbox problems into new collaborative world :).. This is a place to innovate.

So, what is my conclusion today? I think we will see growing interest in collaborative platforms and application in coming couple of years. However, organization will hardly accept “yet another application to collaborate”. The platform trend will be very strong and will require certain integration and “collaboration” inside of organization. The ideas of social networks, enterprise 2.0 will be proliferating in the organization and mature in the way of open collaborative platforms.

Just my thoughts.
Best, Oleg

Will Mashups Grow Up In PLM?

December 23, 2009

Short prompt to think about before Holiday break. Mashups. First coming to us with the world of Web 2.0 and dynamic web site content, mashup becomes an interesting function in many web applications. I think mashups are still very tiny business industry, but this technology was very successful in my view for some of applications like Google Map and not only.

Here is Wikipedia definition of Mashup:
In web development, a mashup is a web page or application that combines data or functionality from two or more external sources to create a new service. The term mashup implies easy, fast integration, frequently using open APIs and data sources to produce results that were not the original reason for producing the raw source data. An example of a mashup is the use of cartographic data to add location information to real estate data, thereby creating a new and distinct web API that was not originally provided by either source.

You can find some interesting ideas related to Enterprise Mashups and development around that in the recently created Open Mashup Alliance. Take a look on the following white paper:

So, my question today is as following. How do you see Mashup advantages in building of product data services and improvement of PLM applications? In my view, the technological foundation of mashups can be an interesting choice when moving PLM application to become more open and available in the way of online services.

Just my thoughts.

Enterprise 2.0 Adoption and Social PLM

November 27, 2009

I had chance to read about adoption of Enterprise 2.0. You can take a look on RearWriteEnterprise blog post here. To see high-tech, manufacturing, aerospace and defense on the leading places was a very interesting and positive surprise.

I put it in the context together with DS Social Innovation, PTC Social Product Development and newcomers like Vuuch Business Communities . I think, Web 2.0 and coming together Enterprise 2.0 is getting stronger. In parallel, I see growing interest of enterprises to organize their system differently. Less interest in big and expensive programs and more interest in lean enterprise 2.0 initiatives. This is a main trend, that will define how PLM 2.0 will look like in 2010-12 years.

This is just my opinion. What do you think? Do you have any plan for Enterprise 2.0 tools adoption?

Best, Oleg


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