Happy Holidays from Beyond PLM!

December 28, 2014

Dear Friends!

For the last 6 years Beyond PLM became part of my life. As my readers, you are the main reason why it happened. You’ve read, commented, shared, discussed, debated and helped me to write more and share. You have made a huge impact on the way I think and understand engineering and manufacturing. I wanted to say BIG THANK YOU for that! New Year will bring new thinking, new projects and I look forward to share it with you very soon.

I wish you and your families a wonderful Holidays season and a very successful 2015 with lot of new opportunities.

Oleg @BeyondPLM


Community Based Planning and Future PLM Industry Roadmap

July 4, 2012

Social becomes a norm these days. It is interesting to see how many things surrounding us transformed and wearing "social clothes" these days. One of the elements of social impact in the realm of manufacturing and engineering software is an increased influence of "communities". Software vendors and customers recognized the value communities can bring to improve the quality of software and the efficiency of internal and external processes.

Engineering and manufacturing software is characterized by a high level of requirement diversification. Therefore, requirements and functionality are one of the most argued topic in PLM software. Recently, I observed an interesting social experiment – an attempt to bring customers into the discussion of what the software should do.

One of the examples came from Aras Corp and related to PLM Roadmap on the website. The roadmap is a web site with a publicly available plan of features of Aras Innovator. Web site gives you an ability to vote for a particular feature exactly in the same way you can do "Like" or "+1" in social networks. The idea seems to me great and provides an excellent example of openness and flexibility in functional planning.

Another example came from Autodesk. Navigate to the following link and see Autodesk discussion forum. According to my understanding, each forum belongs to a particular module, product or package. Users have an ability to discuss ideas in this group and have a possibility to "Vote" for a specific functionality by providing "+Kudos" to a particular idea.

PLM roadmap challenge

If you take 3 people and ask them about PLM features and functions, you are in a high risk to have at least 5 opinions. Actually, it is not a joke. To have an agreed PLM roadmap is a challenge. Very often, even experienced product managers, can be challenged by how to drive an optimal roadmaps and implementation priorities.

What is my conclusion? How to plan PLM software functionality? I can see it very often as a challenge for many companies. Community based voting can provide a flavor of openness to customers. It seems to me as an innovative way to think about planning process. At the same time, I want to go even future and share PLM functional breakdown outside to create an industry PLM roadmap. What do you think about this idea? Speak your mind. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Microsoft Socl and Social PLM Thoughts

November 21, 2011

Do you know what is Microsoft Socl? I didn’t know until yesterday. However, now I know. It is a new research project by Microsoft, which supposed to become a next social network. Mashable just wrote about it four days ago here. Who is behind this project? This is what Mashable article says:

First published by The Verge on Wednesday, Microsoft tells Mashable that, “Microsoft’s FUSE Labs is an internal research group working on a number of forward-looking projects related to future possibilities around social search. Socl is one of the projects that we are exploring. We’ll let you know as soon as we have more to share.

However, watch the video:

You may ask me- how it is related? We already got MySpace, Facebook, Google+… now what? – Socl. Here is the point. As you probably know, I’m less interested in social networks, but more interested in PLM management.

Will PLM lose social competition to CRM?

The PLM vendors recently speaking a lot of “social” and how it is going to change their product offering. I had a chance to write about it multiple times. However, I want to point out to one specific blog I wrote 2 years ago (24-Nov): How many social platforms we need for enterprise? I wanted to get back to the same question again when I was watching socl video by Microsoft. At the same time, PLM vendors are developing social platforms – PTC, Dassault, Autodesk… Everybody is trying to play this social card.

I can see a very significant problem for all PLM social solutions – they are disconnected from people. Don’t take me wrong – obviously people are using PLM solutions in enterprise companies. However, the majority of people are not. Remember, time ago, PLM competed with ERP about “who” owns the item definition. ERP won, PLM lost the competition. Why do you think it happened? In my view, here is the reason – you have to to touch “Item Master” to manufacture the product. So, you will use ERP and it manage Item masters. You are not necessarily needed to touch “item” to run PLM. You can do it, of course. However, it happens much rarely. The same happens with social and CRM. If you are contacting your customers – you must be social. Therefore, everybody will touch Salesforce.com Chatter or similar social platform from CRM provider. However, PLM social platform will be downgraded to people that touch PLM platform only.

What is my conclusion? Social platforms cannot change the position of a system in the organization. You need to have people around the social platform to make it work and progress. It happens to CRM, but it probably won’t happen to PLM. So, maybe PLM vendors need to focus on something 100% of the users need? Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Social PLM Inbox and Changing Paradigms

November 19, 2010

The Facebook announcement about introducing of FB messaging system triggered a flood of posts. I’ve been looking over them for the last couple of days. I liked the following one – Locked in paradigms. This is my favorite quote about what Facbook is doing:

I very much get it that this is [Facebook messaging] a lot bigger than email and that’s kind of the point. Facebook apparently isn’t interested in building an email system and because they don’t already have an email system that acts like Gmail or Yahoo Mail they can break free from that paradigm.

Facebook Messaging Paradigm

Take a look on the following video. I found it impressive. The idea of simplification in communication and message tracking is powerful. Facebook is taking on an email paradigm and trying to change it. You don’t need to keep an email address of people you want to talk to. You just look for them on FB and talk. Simple? Yes. However, only if these people are on FB.

Product and Social Context

The battle of Facebook with Google isn’t exactly a topic for my blog. However, the idea of paradigm breaking made me think about some attempts to leverage the power of social business in PLM business. Few days ago, I posted an article about the potential of social systems like 3DSwYm to turn PLM into a mainstream. The key point, in my view, was about how to improve content sharing in the organization to streamline collaboration between people. Chad Jackson of Lifecycle Insights commented in a very interesting way:

With FB as well as many other social computing platforms, the context is always YOU. That assumption enables a whole host of simplifications in terms of the software system. Alternatively, the context in product development isn’t you, it’s the product, a project, a part or so on. That complicates things dramatically because you have to post/submit content to the right context and you also have to subscribe/follow the right context.

I found this a bit confusing. If I’m thinking about communication, it focused on the social aspects of communication. When I’m on FB, I’m communicating with all people and/or friends, depends on my privacy settings. Lately, FB came with the idea of ‘Groups’ which allows to think about community building in a similar way 3DSwYm, Chatter and other are doing. The context of communication is a content I put on Facebook. Alternatively, if I’m communicating with my blog readers, the context is my blog post. By finding an interesting content, I can interact with people on FB, Twitter and other social network.

If I turn it to product development, the picture is absolutely similar. I need to communicate with people. The purpose of my communication is business matters. Product design, changes, discussion, etc. Who is the people I need to communicate? The purpose of a social system is to identify them. If I will think about a system like 3DLive, Windchill Social Link of HD 3D, I can see how people can find who made changes for Assembly, Part, Drawing, etc. System likeVuuch, introduce an interesting way to find who are the people connected to Product, Part, BOM by enabling an explicit creation of these social links. The efficiency of a system to identify who is the right person(s) to talk to will define the overall value of the social system.

Will Social System Take Over the Email?

This is one of the most important questions to ask. Email is simple and dirty. People hate it and use it all the time. Facebook is trying to change this paradigm. They are eliminating the need to handle “email body” – to/cc/bcc/subject, and just communicate with people you’re connected to. Social system like Vuuch, 3DSwYm or Windchill Social Link can probably do the same. I found the following quote in another email by Chad Jackson – Vuuch: A unique approach to social computing is product development.

Centralized correspondence is a significant improvement over email. Despite availability of PLM collaboration capabilities, social media sites and instant messenger, I’ve found that email is the medium used most frequently for this sort of correspondence in product development today. I’ll get into the pitfalls of email for product development correspondence in a future post, but suffice it to say that emails can be forgotten, deleted or lost in your inbox. Use of a centralized server to manage the correspondence means it’s kept as a traceable trail that can be accessed by wider audiences at a later date.

Well, email also operates with a centralized server. Do you think a social system in product development will be able to lock everybody in the same server? My hunch is that this will be a very hard thing to do. Email is reliable because it operates in a virtual space of SMTP servers. Google talked about Wave Servers a year ago. PLM collaboration tried to lock people in a single point of a truth system. I can search in my Gmail. Is it equivalent to a single collaborative server? I don’t think so. However, it is still an email. It is relatively easy to find things in my gmail box. The question of simplicity is important. If “a social” or “whatsoever other system name” will be simpler compared to the email and can find people to collaborate in an easier way than your email inbox, it wins.

What is my conclusion? I can see the goal of a social system is very high and ambitious – to replace our old friend email. Facebook pretends to do so in the internet now. Companies like Vuuch will try to achieve it in a product development space. Google failed to deliver it with Google Wave. To learn this lesson is important. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

The Future of PLM Strategic Presentations?

August 25, 2010

Have you had a chance to see any PLM strategic presentation? I’m sure you did. You can find easy few of them by Google "PLM Strategy". How many times you’ve been looking on PLM strategic presentation and saying – hm, this is not exactly what I’m looking for. I was reading a USA Today article Graphic novel replaces business school text book yesterday. This is my favorite passage from this article:

"Textbooks are just plain boring," said Short, who is a professor of management at Texas Tech University. He said that standard business textbooks use a lot of disconnected examples and irrelevant stock photos, and he wanted to create something that would be "more like a movie," that would get the necessary points across while keeping students engaged.

PLM Presentations Boring?

A lot of PLM presentations are boring and can be predicted from the beginning. They contain a lot of pictures of products such as cars, planes, fashion and electronic to keep people eyes on it, but contain a little meaningful information. They are using complicated terminology that needs to be decoded and translated. Customer testimonials are also following strict and old fashioned way.

How To Engage with People?

The USA Today article made me think about a significant shift that needs to be made in the way we are presenting Product Lifecycle Management. I’d like to come with some ideas that can help to create a better PLM presentation:

1. Keep it short, focus on a single use case or benefit.
2. Use rich media – video, online slide presentation materials.
3. Interview customers and publish it.
4. Use comic video to explain what you are doing (Google is a master of such videos).

What is my conclusion? I think, what is important is to remember 7 seconds rule of attention. You need to keep person’s attention for the first 7 seconds. I think social media today provided a lot of examples how to do so. We need to learn how to use it. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

PLM and Social Connections

August 25, 2010

I’m continuing to explore various aspects of relations between PLM and social systems and tools in my blog. The social topic becomes interesting. However, I think social hype contains lots of misunderstandings and misconception. Few days ago, I had healthy debates with Chris Williams of Vuuch about PLM Social Detours. Chris is saying “PLM tools cannot be social. PLM targets structure, control and is only embraced by a small number of users”. This is the exact point I want to discuss today. The additional trigger to this conversation was the information about Cisco Pulse – a new tool developed by Cisco to empower people in an organization.

How To Connect People in Organization?

One of the latest innovations in Cisco related to adoption of social systems to empower people connection @work. Take a look on the following Cisco Pulse presentation.

Cisco Pulse presentation made me think about missing “social link” in the way PLM systems drive their enterprise adoption. For the moment, PLM relies completely on process management practices to expand usage of PLM tools in the enterprise. This is what drive people involvement into a product-related processes. However, this approach is absolutely ignoring the reality of communication between people in the manufacturing organization. The formal way to organize processes is probably not the best way to organize your work. There is a need to find a new way to build more efficient communication and collaboration in product development, manufacturing, support and maintenance.

Need for PLM Mainstream Adoption

The core idea of PLM is to provide a business strategy and tools to manage processes related to product development. One of the people concerns about PLM is “mainstream adoption”. PLM tools considered as too expensive and complicated to be adopted and used by all people involved into a relevant business process. There are multiple reasons why PLM got the status of “a privileged system”, and I covered and discussed it before on PLM Think Tank. As an example, take a look on one of my previous posts –  3 Main Factors of Mainstream PLM adoptions. It seems to me by bringing a “social connection” factor into PLM game can become one of the possible ways to expand PLM influence and level of adoption in organizations.

Social Connection vs. Follow a Friend

We are very familiar with “follow a friend” concept that drives mainstream adoption of social networks in consumer space. However, the very valid question when it comes to implementation of social systems in the enterprise organization is simple – who are my “friends”? Collaboration is not about friendship. Collaboration is about how to work with right people in the organization. They will become your “social connections”. And they are not constant. Your connections change all the time depends on work you are currently involved in.

What is my conclusion? I’m thinking about last 10 years of the internet and Web 2.0 innovation. It can bring some fresh air in the way people can collaborate and communicate in the enterprise manufacturing organization. PLM spent significant amount of time trying to formalize business processes and collaboration. It comes as a set of business process tools and industry and best practices. However, the complexity of the implementation is still very high. By bringing “a social connection” to PLM we can introduce a new way for people to collaborate. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

PLM Social Detours

August 18, 2010

I had a chance to read Enterprise Road Kill by The Vuuch Voice. The discussion Chris suggested in his post is going around usage of social tools in the enterprises. The idea of using social web experience in PLM is actively discussed by many people these days. Just to mention few references. Jim Brown published a very interesting publication Why Facebook Fail for Product Development? PTC is investing in Social Product Development with the new ProductPoint based on SharePoint’s social tools. In one of my previous posts, I discussed “Top 3 elements of successful social PLM strategy” – data, connectivity and devices. According to Chris, Enterprise Social Systems (ESS is a new invented term) will be capable of provide a better model for applying social software principles in organizations. In comparison to consumer social model of “following” or “friends”, the new ESS model defines “content” as a fundamental differentiation factor. It made me think in a broader scope of enterprise software trends and problems new software can solve for enterprise organizations.

Enterprise 2.0 Trend
E 2.0 is about to bring all experience of Web 2.0 and social web sites to enterprise. Thinking in the context of manufacturing organization is about to change the way people communicate. Nowadays, people can communicate easy online via IM, Skype, Facebook, Twitter and other social tools and websites. However, life is not as good inside of enterprise organizations. There are lots of rigid, complex and cumbersome tools. The implementations are long and expensive. Enterprise 2.0 supposed to change it.

Social vs. Collaborative
This is an interesting comparison, in my view. The “social web” or Web 2.0 was created as a web of collaborators. This is Wikipedia’s definition: The term Web 2.0 is commonly associated with web applications that facilitate interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-centric design and collaboration on the World Wide Web. Thinking about buzzword’s simplification, I need to replace a word “social” to “collaborative”. So, the fundamental question is how to re-use Web 2.0 technological and user experience to provide a better collaborative solution for organizations.

Content is a King
What make Web 2.0 powerful? This is my ultimative answer – content! Photo, video, blog article, message, comments – these are all elements of Web 2.0 content. What happens in the enterprise organization? Email is the mainstream content used by everybody in the organization. In order to collaborate successfully, the appropriated content need to be shared between people. Emails and Excel are two major tools that used today to successfully share content to collaborate between people. Rest of the tools is either complicated or very expensive or both.

Social Detour
What social detour can be provided by new tools to resolve problems related to people’s collaboration? I found the following quote from Chris’s post interesting:

OK so why not make the PLM tools social? PLM tools cannot be social. PLM targets structure, control and is only embraced by a small number of users. Design issues are connected to everyone in the enterprise and cross multiple applications. Imagine a simple design problem that connects together a purchase order, a part and people from purchasing, the vendor and engineering. This simple problem touches the CAD and ERP systems and maybe PLM (in many cases it would not), but most certainly it connects to people who will never be a PLM user.

If we want to address issues that require involvement of many people in the enterprise, we need to have a tool that everybody can use. Obvious. These tools need to use PLM content to collaborate. All major PLM providers are experimenting with social technologies to improve their collaboration tools. PTC Social Product Development with SharePoint, DS Social Innovation with BlueKiwi,Siemens with HD3D and TC communities. PLM is pretending on the role of a tool (or set of tools) that allows to everybody in the organization to collaborate on product design issues. However, this is not what happens. The reality is that Email and Excel are these tools today. PLM social detour is about how to improve PLM or create a new tool that can be used by broader community of people in the organization to collaborate. Web 2.0 and other social software experience can definitely help. To find appropriated Web 2.0 tools technologies and practices is the right way to do it.

What is my conclusion? PLM doesn’t proliferate well in organizations. The main reasons are complexity and cost of implementations. However, there is a need for better mainstream collaboration in the product development organization. Enterprise 2.0 trend presented a set of interesting options related to broad introduction of Web 2.0 technologies and experience of social websites (Facebook, Twitter and others). Will it serve as a “social detour” to take product development collaboration on the next level? This is a valid and important question, in my view.

Best, Oleg


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 287 other followers