PLM vendors are in risk to follow ERP dinosaurs

June 22, 2015

old-flying-cars1

When it comes to PLM and ERP, you may always get some feeling of rivalry at the air. PLM and ERP domains are not competing. However, ERP and PLM vendors are clearly competing for customers strategic mindset. After all, it always comes to the competition for strategic budget allocation.

For many years ERP vendors came first to the corner office of CIO. These days some ERP dinosaurs are fighting for surviving in a new era of cloud computing and SaaS software. Toolbox.com article – 6 Reasons Why The Dinosaurs of ERP Are About To Go Extinct provides an interesting perspective on what happens in ERP software domain and industries today. 6 reasons in the article is the answer why traditional on-prem software solutions provided by companies like PeopleSoft are eaten by rivalry of cloud newcomers.

The article made me think about trajectory of some implementations and vendors in PLM domain. I can clearly see some similarities. Do you think some 20-30 years old PLM vendors will follow the path of the dinosaurs of ERP? Here are some of my thoughts about PLM domain and on-prem / cloud trends.

1- Old platforms need to retire

For the last 15-20 years, manufacturing companies adopted 2-3 generations of PLM software. For some of them (especially very large companies), the process of adoption was long and expensive. It took time to align processes and systems together. At the same time, technology is moving forward. To move forward, many customers need to drop old products and move to support new operational systems, hardware, devices, internet browsers, etc. It is obviously raises a question of how to retire old platforms. But this is a very painful question for many companies.

2- IT managers and upgrades

Upgrades are painful and IT is the department that traditionally spending a lot of resources and cost to upgrade all systems for a company. Cloud systems are going to change it. Since data centers and cloud infrastructure are owned by software vendors, they are also taking responsibilities for the upgrade. Some innovative PLM vendors such as Aras is including upgrades into their subscription also on on-prem installations.

3- Mobile and site independence

Our working environment is changing. 10-15 years ago, out work was mostly on site. These days the workforce is distributed. People don’t need to be at their desk to do a job. Multiple locations is a reality even for small companies. Mobile devices are in everyone pocket. To have a system that capable to work in such environment is an imperative for every company.

4- How to get small customers on board

PLM vendors made multiple attempt to provide a solution for smaller companies. It never worked. I can list number of products that were announced, retired and discontinued. However, the importance of smaller companies will only increase. New technologies and online market communities are making smaller manufacturing more competitive. It will bring an additional need for cloud PLM systems.

What is my conclusion? Manufacturing companies are slow in their adoption of new technologies. PLM never been a first place to innovate for cloud companies. But the reality of the outside world and online business are bringing manufacturing companies to the point that they will need to have a competitive software for product development and manufacturing. Old systems won’t survive and will have to retire. It is a time for PLM vendors to think about innovation and new platforms. Otherwise, it might to be too late to build and too expensive to buy. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM and a future of deep linking

June 19, 2015

deep-linking-plm

I like links. The things about links are fascinating. It is about connection between products, people, companies and things. The nature of our life today is to stay connected. Therefore links are important. It is natural to see links appearing everywhere in engineering and manufacturing too. Think about a product and its dependencies. The information is naturally linked between assemblies, parts, documents, bill of materials, materials, suppliers, manufacturing, shop-floor, orders and many other things.

The nature of things in PLM to be connected. At the same time, the reality of engineering software is in fact highly fragmented. The time when vendors and customers believed in a single system (or database) that can contain and manage all information is over. Customers are using multiple applications and it is unusual to see two or more PLM systems in the same company. When it comes to supply chain, the situation is even more complex.

Application integrations remains one of the most painful aspect of enterprise software and PLM can clearly lead the wave of complexity involved into implementations. My article yesterday –How PLM can avoid cloud integration spaghetti was a warning to all folks that imagine that cloud will be a silver bullet to kill application pain. It doesn’t. The cloud integration can be sometimes even more complex compared to traditional integration hacks using SQL and ETL tools.

I want to continue discussing the topic of cloud integration. The topic I’m bringing today is related to so called "deep linking". If you’re not familiar with the topic, navigate to the following Wikipedia article – Deep Linking – to get some background information.

In the context of the World Wide Web, deep linking consists of using a hyperlink that links to a specific, generally searchable or indexed, piece of web content on a website (e.g.http://example.com/path/page), rather than the home page (e.g. http://example.com/). The technology behind the World Wide Web, the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), does not actually make any distinction between "deep" links and any other links—all links are functionally equal. This is intentional; one of the design purposes of the Web is to allow authors to link to any published document on another site. The possibility of so-called "deep" linking is therefore built into the Web technology of HTTP and URLs by default—while a site can attempt to restrict deep links, to do so requires extra effort. According to the World Wide Web Consortium Technical Architecture Group, "any attempt to forbid the practice of deep linking is based on a misunderstanding of the technology, and threatens to undermine the functioning of the Web as a whole".[1]

TechCrunch article – A brief history of deep linking brings an interesting perspective of trajectory of deep linking development on the web and in app word. Below is my favorite passage. It is important since it gives a notion of how to threat standards in internet and application world.

In order for me to write this article, and for you to be able to read it, we have to share a common language: modern English. The same holds true for directing users through deep links — in order to construct a deep link that an application will understand, we need to have some shared way of expressing information or addresses. In software engineering, a well-defined shared vernacular is defined by a “standard.”

The problem with standards, though, is that many of them do not actually become standard practice, and introduce as much fragmentation as they resolve. I could define the word “basilafacitarian” as “a person who likes basil a lot,” but unless it enters the common vernacular, it’s useless as a means of communication for me to tell you that I like basil.

The same is true for an app speaking to another app; unless the URL “myapp://show-item/id123” is mutually agreed upon, there’s no guarantee what the receiving app will do with it.

Coming back to PLM world, we can see customers and vendors are struggling with data and application fragmentation. It is not getting any better in cloud PLM world – we just move to another set of APIs and technologies.

What is my conclusion? The idea of setting standards for deep linking is interesting. It can provide some level of solution to stop proprietary silos, data islands and data pumping challenges to send data between applications back and forth. It is not simple and requires some level of synchronization between vendors and customers. We have already enough history on the web and in app world to learn and correct the course to control data and make it transparent at the same time. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


How PLM can avoid cloud integration spaghetti?

June 18, 2015

21-centure-spaghetti-integration

Enterprise integration is a messy space. It is always complex – applications, databases, new and legacy systems, complexity of requirements. People usually need to run at least dozen of applications to run things smoothly. It is never done out-of-the-box and it is always requires circles of implementations and professional services.

I caught the following picture tweeted yesterday by Stan Przybylinski of CIMdata. It provides an excellent view of integration complexity. Unfortunately, in many situations, integration is a major challenge in PLM adoption. To get full value of PLM, company should spend a fortune integrating data and processes – CAD, Bill of materials, ECO, etc.

data-silos

Cloud is coming to enterprise these days. In many ways it creates a new way to think about data, software, services and maybe integrations too. The new technologies and eco-system of services can make a difference. It also creates a significant demand for openness and interoperability. This is a main reason why PLM need to learn web APIs. Web services and REST APIs are changing the way integration can be done.

Technology can make a difference. However, integrations are still hard. Few months ago, I shared my thoughts how to prevent cloud PLM integration mistakes. It comes down to three main things – 1/ lost data semantics; 2/ limitation of data transfers; 3/ transaction management in distributed and cross site environment.

Unfortunately, cloud is not a silver bullet to solve integration challenges. The demand for holistic integration continuum is still in the future. In practice, cloud applications today are replicating bad siloed behaviors of on premise applications. I captured the following picture earlier this week at Boston New Technology meetup.

cloud-silos-apps

This picture is the great demonstration of how bad aspects of siloed on premise applications are moving to cloud environment. Migration of applications on cloud infrastructure such as IaaS can simplify IT’s life. However, it won’t make life of users simpler. From end user standpoint, applications will still run in a silo.

What is my conclusion? The danger is to move established on premise PLM paradigms to the cloud. Technologically new cloud systems can give an advantages in terms of integrations. REST API is one example – it is much easier to code integration scenarios using REST APIs and modern web based tools. At the same time, closed data paradigms and data duplication between silos can bring well-know data spaghetti from on-premise applications to the cloud. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


How many execs will be killed by Frankensoft PLM platforms?

June 17, 2015

plm-frankersoft-pic

I’ve been following CIMdata PLM roadmap for HTE event on twitter yesterday. Navigate to the following link if you want to see tweets. One of the topic that CIMdata put on the agenda was “PLM platformization”. You can take a deep look on what is behind CIMdata’s fancy definition of “platformization” by navigating to the following link – A CIMdata Dossier: PLM Platformization. According to Peter Bilello of CIMdata, platformization is the future of PLM.

plm-platformization

It made me think about the trajectory of PLM implementations in most of manufacturing organizations that already have some PLM experience. My hunch is that most of manufacturing companies in the world that are able to grasp the idea of PLM implementations already made at least 1-2 attempts to implement PLM. Some of these companies are probably running more than one PLM systems because of legacy, M&A or other reasons.

I cannot resist by placing the following “spaghetti” system picture below tweeted by Stan Przybylinski. I guess this is a very typical representation of how processes are managed using existing legacy software and bunch services.

plm-system-spaggetti

It made me think how “platformization” will solve a problem of PLM implementations. According to CIMdata, the challenge is a gap in PLM, which is created between vision, technology and implementation. I couldn’t agree more. The dilemma is always between vision and the next step. Some people want to see a big picture, some people just want to focus on the next step. PLM vendors clearly focused on a big picture and missed the next step.

ZDNet article Legacy tech can kill the CIO by Michael Krigsman gives you a very interesting perspective on how organizations are adopting new technologies. I like the following passage:

The cost of maintaining legacy infrastructures can crowd-out the company’s investment in new technology. Research from Forrester indicates that only 28 percent of IT investment goes toward innovation; the remainder supports old technology. Users may resist adopting new technology even when better alternatives are available. The so-called diffusion of innovation is an old problem, identified in a book first published in 1962, by Everett M. Rogers.

The former chief technology officer of Portugal Telecom, Manuel Rosa da Silva, said: Our legacy holds us back. Hiding all this legacy is like putting on cosmetic cream to hide wrinkles. Unless you take a machete to your legacy and kill applications, you won’t get anywhere.

What is my conclusion? Manufacturing companies invested tons of money and resources in the implementations of PLM systems. It allowed to gather experience and learn from mistakes. I think companies achieved great results too. I know many examples of brilliant PLM implementations. However, what is not clear for most of manufacturing companies today is how to make a next step into future of PLM and new platforms. For many companies it sounds like one more commitment to invest 5 years and millions of dollars into replacement of existing PLM assets. The question about platformization is coming exactly here and it look likes big picture is still not connected with the next step. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Picture credit ZDNet article and Workday


How people born after 1985 can influence PLM

June 16, 2015

plm-connected-world

Culture can eat strategy for breakfast and technology for lunch. When it comes to PLM, the implementation and organizational alignment are major risk factors. To change organization is hard and to shift it towards using new tools and processes is even harder. I recently wrote about it in my blog – PLM implementations and organizational change. You need to fight things like brain blockers, engineering acceptance and many others to move organization into a new world.

Tata blog post – PLM Impact on Organizational Cultures (and the reverse) by Lionel Grealou provides a good PLM definition as well as describes to scope of changes standing in front of successful PLM implementation. The following passage caught my special attention

…. changing an organization leads to impacting/changing its culture, and vice versa. Any process improvement and business change will imply either cultural change or cultural adoption. And because PLM is rooted in engineering, product development and manufacturing, it directly concerns the backbone of manufacturing organizations.

Various business drivers have changed the scope and influence of PLM processes and technologies. In the past 20 years, the manufacturing industry have moved significantly, from concurrent engineering to collaborative engineering, from physical co-location to global virtual collaboration, from PDM to PLM (enterprise-wide) scope, from in-sourcing to outsourcing, from traditional R&D to open innovation, from (relatively) simple to complex and integrated requirements, from semi to fully integrated PLM-ERP processes, from slow to fast changing environment, from local to global competition, from product-centric to service-centric manufacturing, and from basic automation to industry 4.0 (ongoing change – with internet of things, cloud, big data analysis, etc.).

So, business drivers are changing. Why is it so hard to change organizations. I think, the key question here is about people. New generation of people can impact existing software paradigms. Which means existing PLM practices are on fire. Quartz article – What it feels like to be the last generation to remember life before the internet gave me the right level of inspiration to think even more about the role of millennials in enterprise software. Article speaks about people who was born before 1985 and can understand both analogue and digital worlds (hint: I’m one of these people)

These people, says Harris, are the last of a dying breed. “If you were born before 1985, then you know what life is like both with the internet and without. You are making the pilgrimage from Before to After,” he writes. It is a nice conceit. Harris, like your correspondent, grew up in a very different world, one with limited channels of communication, fewer forms of entertainment, and less public scrutiny of quotidian actions or fleeting thoughts. It was neither better nor worse than the world we live in today. Like technology, it just was.

Being in this situation puts us in a privileged position.”If we’re the last people in history to know life before the internet, we are also the only ones who will ever speak, as it were, both languages. We are the only fluent translators of Before and After.”

The thing that I found most important is the notion of "connectivity". And this is a chance that applies to manufacturing world too. Manufacturing companies are moving into the new era of connectivity. New manufacturing companies will be able to leverage connectivity to design and build products differently. It will become one of the strongest competitive advantage. "Analog August" is a good idea for those who can afford it, but it sounds like mission impossible for modern manufacturing communities – connectivity is not an option anymore.

What is my conclusion? Most of PLM systems we have in production these days were created by people born before 1985. Fundamental PLM concepts were developed in earlier 2000s. I think, a new era of connectivity doesn’t apply well to these systems designed for siloed companies. The demand for connectivity will change new paradigm of PLM. Will it provide an idea how to change PLM implementations too? This is a good question to ask. Existing systems generated tons of experience and information. How to preserve a value and move into new digital world? The generation who can speak both "digital" and "analog" languages, can be in the position to make a transition. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


PLM Vendors: Cloud Service Comparison

June 15, 2015

plm-cloud-compare

Cloud is taking PLM vendors by storm. Just few years ago, the question if manufacturing companies will adopt cloud raised lot of debates. You probably remember my posts – PLM competition and true cloud solution and PLM cloud: differentiation and anti-cloud rant. Fast forward into 2015 – I can see almost all PLM vendors are actively engaging into industry discussion about cloud solutions. Public cloud is getting more traction and I stated it in my earlier post – Is public cloud reshaping PLM landscape? Time to recheck…

Earlier today, the PTC article – Demystifying Cloud Services by Christa Prokos caught my attention. The article provides a good insight on different aspects of providing cloud services such as IaaS, PaaS, SaaS. The article is also connecting it to the notion of public, private, hybrid and virtual private clouds.

It made me think about summarizing what I know about PLM vendors strategies and cloud capabilities. I admit that I don’t have full information and can rely only on public sources of information. So, I created the following draft table. If it makes sense to you, let me know. If you have some information and think I missed something, please comment as well. I will maintain updates to this post.

plm-vendors-cloud-services

What is my conclusion? In 2015, cloud is probably not a marketing differentiation for PLM sales people. However, the devil is in details. You need to get your hands dirty to figure out what “cloud” vendors are talking about. Earlier this year, at COFES 2015, I gave a briefing about PLM and cloud. You can take a look here to learn more. There are few questions that left not answered and, in my view, will require a heavy focus by PLM vendors – cloud adoption trajectory by manufacturing, economic of cloud offering and how cloud PLM can change an existing PLM implementation paradigm. It seems to me PLM vendors made a first shot to fill a spreadsheet with cloud check boxes. But jury is out to check what and how PLM cloud cloud can deliver. Just my thoughts.

PS. The PLM cloud services comparison table is a draft. I’m looking forward for your comments – I’m sure missed some company specific points and I need your help to finalize it.

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of cuteimage at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


How to re-imagine PLM? Intro to my talk at PI Congress 2015 in Boston

June 12, 2015

PI-congress-boston

PI Congress is coming to Boston this year. The program just became available online and you can see it here. PI Congress (formerly known as Product Innovation) is well known as a conference with a strong focus on product and practical use engineering and manufacturing software in the industry. I remember my first experience at very first PI event in London back in 2011.

I’m excited to share topics I will be speaking and discussing at PI Congress this year.

The first session – Re-imagining the PLM Landscape for Future Business will share some of thoughts about current status quo in PLM industry and market. This is a presentation and I will share my observations and ideas how to align the current state of manufacturing business and PLM development. Below you can find a short description of the session:

Re-imagining the PLM Landscape for Future Business (Room 2)

The PLM market has reached a plateau; SMEs do not have the resources to throw at large evaluation and deployment projects and larger companies are dissatisfied with a technology that has changed very little in the 10-20 years since it’s roll-out and offers limited short-term ROI.

The disconnect between customer demands and platform capabilities has led to the need to ask some very important questions as to the future of the PLM industry and the need for change to avoid extinction.

This session will cover: Exploring the desperate need for vendor and software transformation and conflicting paradigms; Understanding the three major inhibitors of current market growth – global collaboration, integration and fast ROI; Re-thinking existing design, product data management and business process paradigms; Clearer cloud strategies as a solution to this rut; Limitations of turning to cloud because of the security, human factor and integration; Re-aligning the software offering with the need for more agile, flexible and global operations

My second session is actually a focus group meeting about next generation of manufacturing companies. It is more a discussion rather than a presentation. I’d like to share my thought about changes in manufacturing landscape, new generation of manufacturing driven by new technologies, business models and opportunities. It will cover wide rages of trends from makers movement and open hardware platforms to hardware startups, incubators and accelerators.

Focus Group – PLM & The Next Generation of Manufacturing Company (Room 4)

The past 3 years has witnessed the dawn of a new generation of manufacturing company that relies on crowdsourcing, crowdfunding and open source practices to bring their designs to market. The opportunity lies in that new and innovative products can be produced with very low initial investments but challenges soon arise, including:

Agile Methods – the new generation of companies are operating differently; Intensive social design activity – products and their designs/functionalities go viral before prototypes are finished; Manufacturing scale-up – socially developed products create a hype that demands fast and scalable manufacturing; Engineering and manufacturing complexity

What does this generation of manufacturer mean for the current software landscape and what mutual learnings can be learnt between traditional and these new-age manufacturers?

What is my conclusion? PI Congress 2015 agenda looks very promising. I can see a good balance in a presence from manufacturing companies, industry and vendors. Of course, I’d love to see you attending my presentations, focus group or just hanging out during the break sessions. The landscape of manufacturing is changing very fast. Large companies are transforming by using new technologies and products. A new generation of manufacturing businesses is establishing just in front of us for the last 3-4 years. It is a good time to be in manufacturing business, which creates lot of opportunities and cool development. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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