Google+, PLM and the Product Data Sharing Models

July 7, 2011

Social is trending. It was specially true this weekend. The social hype taking individuals, organizations and social vendors. Personally, I want to write off, I’m not a very social person. I urge other people to be social by writing blog and distributing the content on multiple social networks. However, when it comes to consuming, I rather prefer something that will help me to consume social channels in a most efficient way.

Google is coming with Google+. I found the excitement about Google+ interesting. I had no chance to try out Google+. My social channels didn’t bring me the invitation to Google+. So, I cannot join the club of social geeks trying out Circles and other elements of Google+. At the same time, I read quite many articles shared by top geeks writing non-stop about Google+. Navigate your browser to the following article - Google+ Is a Marketing Sensation and you will get a taste of what I’m talking about.

Google+ made me think about model of information and social channels. Navigate to the following article on TechCrunch - Zuckerberg not so subtle dig at Google Circles. The interesting thing there is related to the analyzes of social groups and sharing models – symmetric and asymmetric. Facebook is supporting completely symmetric sharing model. You need to get your fried confirmation to establish connection and share information. At the same time, Google+ followed Twitter and created completely asymmetric social channels in Google+ Circles.

Asymmetric vs. Symmetric Sharing Model

There are two fundamental sharing model – asymmetric and symmetric. Google+ has an “asymmetric sharing” model where you can share one-way with people, but they don’t have to share back. Facebook has a “symmetric sharing” model where two people mutually confirm that they are friends, and then can start sharing stuf with each other privately or publicly. Twitter has an “asymmetric follow” model where people Tweet out publicly and anyone can follow what they are broadcasting without that person necessarily following back. It’s one-way.

PLM and Product Data Sharing 

It made me think about PLM and the importance of the future data sharing models. One of the fundamental needs of product development is to be able to share information with the right people at the right moment of time. Sounds simple? Yes. You can tell me now – this is what PDM/PLM Collaboration is all about! Last 20 years of development of various “data management and collaboration system” ended with a complete win of email and Excel spreadsheets when it comes to the point where an organization needs to decide how to share information. Data sharing is still a huge problem in every product development organization. To solve it, organization needs to focus on creation of a model to support efficient product data sharing. Should we create a symmetric model (similar to Facebook) or to allow people to be connected to the right content at the right point of time (asymmetric circles or twitter lists)?

What is my conclusion? For the last 10-15 years, PLM vendors invested a significant effort in the development of systems that can control data. However, not much was done in the area of data sharing and data consuming. This is something PLM can learn from Google+ and Facebook. Efficient product data sharing is a key for PLM to become a mainstream tool to support product development in many manufacturing organizations. Unfortunately, most of the PLM systems are not there yet. Right place to innovate. Just my thoughts..

Best, Oleg


PLM Compound Data and Google Collaboration

January 14, 2011

I made a short note today. Google enhanced the capability of Google Docs with embedding video playback. Navigate your browser to the following Google blog describing how to realize it. In addition, you can take a look on the document providing the specification about what video formats are supported.

The importance of rich media content is increasing over the time. Google improves their capabilities to share content. It can be an interesting option for people who considering Google Apps as an option for collaboration inside of organizations. It made me think, Google Doc can be in the future enhanced with the ability to embed players like JT-Openand 3DVia to provide even richer content. The upload procedure is pretty simple. You just upload video to your Google Docs. When you open document, the players automatically turns on.

One question remained not answered. The ability to search these videos and rich media content can be a powerful capability. Google is not saying a word about that.

What is my conclusion? Collaboration tools like Google Docs and Google Apps are increasing their power to support more scenarios beyond basics only. They have an option to challenge specialized tools coming from PLM vendors in a near future. In my view, this is kind of alarm for big PLM bears…
Best, Oleg


Will ChromeOS be the Next Big Thing for PLM?

December 29, 2010

I read GigaOM – The network computer arrives… finally! About three weeks ago, Google launched the Chrome application store and demonstrated Chrome OS, its browser centric netbook operational system. The Google’s philosophy behind Chrome OS is to build a browser that largely designed for applications rather than a browser for documents we have today.

Google posted a full video record of the event on the Youtube. You can get it by navigating your browser to the following link. If you have some free time during the winter break, watch the Google Chrome OS show. I made few notes when watching these videos:

- Chrome OS is about web and sharing
- Chrome OS is about low cost personal computing
- Chrome OS is about simple application access

If you short on time, watch the following video to have a basic idea about Chrome OS.

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Enterprise Use Case for Chrome OS

At the time consumers might be checking options of Chrome OS vs. other alternatives like iOS and cool Apple devices, enterprises can find reasonable to adopt Chrome OS. Enterprise has a strong need for low-cost computers designed to do a certain task cheaply and without maintenance. Think about mainframe terminals in the past. So, back to the future. Chrome OS and HTML 5-based web apps that runs inside the browser are a perfect solution.

What is my conclusion? End user adoption is a significant problem for PLM software vendors. Complexity, Installation, Implementations – all these factors stops PLM proliferation in organizations. Cost is another aspect. It seems to me, Chrome OS has a potential to become a platform to deliver a value of PLM application to users in manufacturing organization.

Best, Oleg


PLM Wave In a Box?

November 29, 2010

Google Wave Dead. Long live Wave In a Box (WIAB). Navigate your browser to the following link and you will learn that despite terrible things that happened to Google Wave and the Google’s team in charge of this product, it is still alive and even have some interesting turns ahead.

Google Wave and Apache Incubator

According to publications, a new Apache-incubator proposal would see an open source version of Google Wave technology. Initially, community expects to rely on the support of vendors like Novel, SAP and some others. If you read the following article in PCWorld, you can learn Wave has many supporters, such as US Navy and some others. Take a look on a Wiki page of Apache Incubator Proposal.

"Apache Wave is the project where wave technology is developed at Apache. Wave in a Box (WIAB) is the name of the main product at the moment, which is a server that hosts and federates waves, supports extensive APIs, and provides a rich web client. This project also includes an implementation of the Wave Federation protocol, to enable federated collaboration systems (such as multiple interoperable Wave In a Box instances)."

Catch PLM Waves?

I can see a good chance PLM companies can rely on WIAB to improve their collaborative capabilities. The technology is there and hopefully will be developed by a community. This can be an interesting turn, especially for companies with Open Source mindset. Almost year and half ago, I wrote 6 reasons why Google Wave can change PLM Collaboration. I think, the need is still here. If I’m thinking about companies like Vuuch innovating around new forms of collaboration or Aras Enterprise Open Source model, I can see some benefits for them to leverage Wave technology. It can be an interesting to compare a possibility of Vuuch/Wave vs. PTC/SharePoint from the standpoint of functionality and cost.

What is my conclusion? Open Source projects are trending nowadays. Here and there, I can see examples of Open Source innovation. In my view, Google Wave can be a good platform to boost collaboration. Time will show if companies in PLM domain will recognize the opportunity behind WIAB. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM and Google TV: Not for Average People?

November 22, 2010

I was reading NYT on my flight today. The following article made me feel bad.Google TV, Usability is Not Included. I didn’t buy Google TV yet. I’m still checking my options. Read the article and made your conclusion. The idea of turning TV screen in full scope computer screen is fascinating, but I’m thinking about the end user. Can I explain to non-computer-savvy person how to switch browser screen? Mission impossible.

PLM Complexity Trends

The complexity of the Google TV explained by NYT made me think again about some PLM implementations. How many times you’ve been facing multiple screens, options, connections. I think, PLM implementation problem lays in their fundamental intere

st to expose the complexity of product development processes, dependencies and data connections. Even looking on new software in the enterprise space, I can see these complexity symptoms. I figured out 3 main PLM complexity trends.

Modeling complexity
This is normally happening when engineers are trying to apply all possible and impossible combinations of data models to reflect the situation in an organization. However, in many cases, I see it as not needed. A lot of situations can be solved by applying much fewer simple models. When you build your data model, just ask engineers to simplify it. If you do it constantly, you will see that you end up with half of features.

Presentation complexity
In my view, PLM software is still keeping the previous desktop paradigm. It means to put as much as possible information in front of customer’s eyes. This is a mistake. In order to fix it, send your people to learn mobile applications. The limited resources of mobile screen real estate drove people to change a paradigm. In addition, ask to move to action-based presentation concept. You provide only information needed for the task decision and show a subset of that options.

Process complexity
Last, but not least. There is a need to map processes into the organization. However, when starting to do so, keep in mind you don’t want to replicate all implementations you had in place before you started to transform your organization with PLM system. You can discover processes that simply not needed.

Simplicity Always Wins
If you think about modern trends in hardware, software and almost everything, you can see a strong trend for simplification. When I developed my first PDM/PLM products, the question of "documentation" was absolute. The need to have a documentation was very critical. What was discussable is how much documentation you need and how fast you can deliver it. Nowadays, everybody understood, that in order to stay alive, you need to create products that not require user manuals.

What is my conclusion? My conclusion is simple. Simplicity wins! To understand the true meaning of this is not simple. PLM software people need to understand it in order not to become dinosaurs with user manuals. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM and One Big Spreadsheet

May 12, 2010

Everybody in the engineering and manufacturing loves MS Excel. I had chance to write about it multiple times before. You can take a look on few of my previous talks about MS Excel and PLM- Why do I like my PLM Spreadsheets? and PLM Excel Spreadsheets: From Odes to Woes. The reaction of customers on using spreadsheets in PLM is always positive. In my view, there are few aspects why Excel is welcome in the engineering communities- flexibility, granularity and ownership. You can always define what you want, format it in the way you want and what is the most important piece – own it! Nobody will take your Excel file. You can keep it everywhere, you can access it anytime, and you can do with this everything. There is no special licenses, no training needed. However, the biggest disadvantage of such a way is NO collaboration. Yes, you can send your Excels back and forth via email, but this is not what I’d call collaboration in the modern world.

Real Time Collaboration and Spreadsheets
Google and Microsoft are two companies that understand the power of spreadsheets very well. These days both companies are working to take Excel and spreadsheets to the next level of collaboration. You can see recent announcement of last version of Google docs is presenting ability to work collaboratively on Google Docs. Together with new features that closing some of the gaps with MS Excel, you can see Google Spreadsheets as a decent tool to take care of PLM data.

In parallel, coming announcement of Microsoft SharePoint 2010 later this week will introduce new set of the functionality a-la Excel related to data handling in the spreadsheet and collaboration. Microsoft Excel Services is a very interesting technology started in SharePoint 2007 and getting many enhancements in the new version of SharePoint

PLM Big Spreadsheet
I see spreadsheet as a way to innovate in PLM. In the end, if this is the best way to collaborate between people in design, engineering and manufacturing, we can take it as a lowest possible denominator in our PLM applications. I found multiple time during meeting with customers, the capabilities of PDM/PLM products compared with capabilities of Excel or spreadsheets. Think about mapping all PLM data you have to a single big spreadsheet and give it to users.

What is my conclusion? In my view, PLM needs to shift strategies in achievement of sophisticated features. Low gear… The next PLM sophistication can come from the side of simplicity. Make all requirements, documents, BOMs, manufacturing plans available in Excel-like format and give it to customers. This will be One Big PLM Spreedsheet. I think it will be cool. What is your take on this?

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg

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PLM And New Types Of User Experience

May 5, 2010

User experience is important. It comes with all cool gadgets, Web 2.0 websites and iPhone apps. I think, people started to understand it even in enterprise organizations. I can hear lots of people voices asking when enterprise tools will become cooler than today. The obvious answer of PLM and other related vendors for many years was 3D. Everything looks better in 3D – visualization, animation, etc. I want to focus on few examples of trends that can potentially introduce new types of user experience.

Augmented Reality
The latest trend in 3D space is augmenting reality. It helps us to mix virtual and real 3D spaces into a single one. The nice thing about it is that it helps you to realize the potential of your product before it even comes to prototyping and manufacturing. I had chance to see many examples of augmented reality. One of the best ones is iQ Toyota. The impressive piece of this video is how you can create a virtual disassemble of the car.

3D Working Environment
This example is actually coming from the BumpTop acquisition Google made this week. BumpTop is a nice idea simulating real 3D environment on your desktop. And it is specially interesting, since the existing desktops remain unchanged the last 10-15 years, and it sounds like a potential change in this place. I can imaging it coming to the product design environment too.

Voice Collaborative Communication
In my view, this is the most unusual one. I’ve been watching Siri - assistant application since it was introduced last year on iPhone. This is a nice example of collaborative application that interact with user in a very unusual and intuitive manner. I posted about this apps few mounts ago in my article – What Are You Questions PLM Virtual Assistant? So, this company was acquired by Apple earlier this week, which means for me Apple is investing in more intuitive ways of collaboration and communication. I think, this is also something that can fit very well today’s product development environment.

So, what is my conclusion? I can definitely see something new is coming in user experience and communication. The trends in  communication and collaboration made by non-PLM software manufacturers can outrun design and engineering software vendors. PLM vendors are dealing with a huge amount of legacy code and legacy implementations. However, this is a time to think about what can bring next potential leap in collaborative manufacturing, engineering and design software.

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg

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