How engineers find path from emails and messages to collaboration?

March 14, 2014

email-message-collaboration

We are really bad about managing ourselves. The natural people behavior is to create mess. Life is getting more dynamic these days. We are swamped into the ocean of information, data streams, social networks, emails, calls, etc. If you want me to do something, send me an email. I’m pretty sure you are familiar with such type of behavior? I’m sure you do. This is our way to get our of mess, so we can track everything. It is true for both private and business life. One of the most requested feature in all PLM workflow systems I developed was to send notifications via email. HRB article Stop using your inbox as to-do list speaks about why we should stop this bad behavior. I liked the following passage:

The reason so many of us fall into the trap of conflating email and task management is that email is inextricable from much of what we do in work and in life: many of our tasks arrive in the form of email messages, and many other tasks require reading or sending emails as part of getting that work done.

While there are those who solve this problem by simply tracking their to-dos using the task manager within Outlook (or another email platform), that approach comes at too steep a cost. Keeping your tasks in your email program means you can’t close that program (and its attendant distractions) when you want to plow through your task list. Having both activities as part of one application also means that you’ll still have to flip from one view to the other; even if you open a separate window for your task list, you risk losing sight of it in a sea of open emails. Most crucially, defaulting to the task manager that is built into your email client means you don’t get to choose the particular task manager that works best for your particular kind of work, or work style.

Email became the pile of all activities I need to do. It is a mix of emails, tasks, alerts and everything else that eventually comes to my inbox to distract me. I want to resolve this mess. At the same time we all panic when messages are starting to come into multiple channels, since we are afraid to miss them. So want both – to keep all messaging activities together and focus on what is important and what needs to be done. It is a time to come with David Allen’s Getting Things Done method. Such method and systems can work for individuals, but what happens in groups, especially when these groups are sharing common tasks? This is where we get social these days.

Social became such a buzzword for the last few years. How many times you’ve heard "Facebook for xyz" or "Twitter for abc". I guess a lot… One of the companies that comes to my mind in that context is Yammer. The idea of Yammer was simple – go viral by combining people messages in activity streams. Microsoft snapped Yammer for $1.2B few years ago. Now Microsoft is converging Yammer with SharePoint – an attempt to create social collaboration system. Mobile has very strong impact on our life these days. Does mobile+social is a future big deal? For some of people it is really big deal – especially when we speak about Whatsapp acquisition by Facebook. Companies are recognizing the importance of messaging platforms. Example in engineering and CAD space – Autodesk (disclose – my current employer) just released mobile group messaging application Autodesk Instant.

So, social chat, social messaging, social networking are good. However, where is the line that turns emails and messaging into collaboration? The difference is big. What can differentiate between social email facilitating communication and system that allows people to collaborate (work together)? I posted Will Microsoft-Yammer kill social PLM? Not yet… The topic differentiating messaging and collaboration is context (piece of data). This data is presented in a contextual form allowing people to make operations and activities together. The simplest "collaboration" is commenting on Facebook photo. In the context of engineering activity, it can be more complex. What about drawing or 3D model? This is a good context for common work. So, collaborative nature of the system is first of all to allow access and common activity on the contextual data. Technically it can be done by sending email with link to the file on FTP site. But it is so 95…

What is my conclusion? I don’t think there is a clear boarder between email,messaging and collaboration. It is blurred. However, access to contextual information and data representations such as photo, spreadsheet, drawing or 3D model is the most important thing that differentiate between any type of fancy email / messaging and collaboration. By accessing these pieces of information together people can work together and get job done in an organized form. Engineers are surrounded by huge amount of complex information. So, collaboration is clearly way to go. However, don’t underestimate simple messaging, especially for some downstream tasks. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


CAD cloud colalboration from Autodesk, GrabCAD and SolidWorks

February 4, 2014

cad-collab-cloud

Collaboration was always in the focus of engineering software. Started earlier with CAD and product data management, software vendors tried to create an environment where engineers can easy collaborate and share information about design. The boundary of collaboration never been limited to engineering department. You might remember “extended enterprise collaboration” stories back in 2000s. That was probably first attempt to provide an easy way to share information among engineering and other teams. In my view, early collaboration software provided by CAD and PLM vendors had two main diseases – complexity of user interface (or how we call it these days – user experience) and complexity of computer infrastructure needed to be installed and maintained by IT departments.

The situation is going to change these days. User interface is clearly getting in focus of development teams. Most of CAD and PLM companies are recognizing the importance of smooth user experience. The demand of users set by public web giants such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and not by old-school enterprise software vendors. Cloud technologies are going to simplify IT jobs and provide new generation of IT infrastructure.

So, design collaboration space is getting hot. Established CAD vendors and newcomer start-up companies are trying to innovate by providing new environments and collaboration philosophies. I picked up 3 companies that in my view can provide a good example of the future CAD cloud design collaborative environment – Autodesk, GrabCAD and Solidworks.

Autodesk 360

Autodesk introduced Tech preview of new Autodesk 360 product. Core77 blog article Autodesk 360 Tech preview: it’s like Facebook for designers provides a very good coverage and screen shots. Here is the passage summarized what Autodesk 360 does:

autodesk360

The company has created a Facebook-like interface for projects and design teams; collaborators log on to a cleanly-designed dashboard page containing “all of the data, projects, people, tasks, discussions, activities, issues and alerts that are associated with design or architecture projects that they are working on.” Clicking on a project, for instance, is like clicking on someone’s Facebook wall; you get a linear view of all developments concerning that project, with your fellow collaborators’ updates taking the place of comments. People can upload relevant files as updates, and anyone with access can view any file, regardless of whether it’s an Autodesk format or not. (This includes non-design data, like spreadsheets and such.) And yes, Autodesk 360 can also be used from your phone or tablet, just as with Facebook.

GrabCAD Workbench (Partners Space)

GrabCAD is a newcomer in CAD collaboration space. Started as a space for engineers to collaborate few years ago (funny enough, it was mentioned many times as a “Facebook for engineers”), these days GrabCAD is moving fast to become CAD collaboration solution provider with their GrabCAD Workbench product. GrabCAD blog – Why GrabCAD created a next-generation release process? can give you some insight on GrabCAD strategy and philosophy. Here is what I captured:

gc-collaboration-cad

GrabCAD started as a way for engineers to collaborate on engineering projects. Over time, we engineered the secure system GrabCAD Workbench first for external collaboration, then, with CPD, for PDM-style internal collaboration. Unlike PLM systems, which mostly started as CAD-centric data management tools, we have approached the problem by first understanding the social and business problems our customers need to solve. This unique perspective caused us to partition the private engineering workspace from special “Partner Spaces” that make sharing such data secure and foolproof. While the engineering team is working away, each partner has access to the version released to them. The Partner Space also contains a limited and more appropriate set of tools for external collaboration, so the partner sees only what they need to.

SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual (Dashboard)

Last week at SolidWorks World 2014 in San Diego, Dassault SolidWorks made an announcement about new product SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual (SWMC). The product was long awaited and raised lots of discussion and controversy in blogosphere and CAD press. My single best link to follow different opinions about SWMC is SolidSmack’s article – What we found out about SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual and Future of SolidWorks. Another good reference is Graphic Speak article – The business case for SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual. What captured my attention in SWMC announcement is introduction of so called – 3DEXPERIENCE 3D Space. Here is how it was explained by Graphic Speak:

3dexperience-3dspace

Mechanical Conceptual introduces a new way of sharing data that’s integral to the 3D Experience Platform. Called the 3D Dashboard, it functions like the Windows Explorer for SolidWorks or any other desktop application. All models are saved to the dashboard in a so-called workspace that can be shared with co-workers or customers. The dashboard is accessible by a Web browser. Clients who don’t have Mechanical Conceptual can simply log in to view models

What is my conclusion? Customers have huge demand to improve collaboration. People are expecting collaboration should be as easy as sharing your photos on Facebook. However, complexity of design environment is much higher than sharing photos. This is a clear challenge for all vendors regardless on their status and experience. The simplicity is the hardest thing to deliver. However, it is not all about future of collaboration. In my view, cost will become the next important challenge. Who will be able to provide the best combination of features, user experience and cost will probably lead future CAD collaboration space in the cloud. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


The future of PLM vendors differentiation?

January 26, 2014

plm-vendors-differentitation

Differentiation. Competitive advantage. Value sales. I’m sure you’ve heard these buzzwords many times. Competition is part of everyday business life. Usually, I don’t speak about competition. I searched across my blog and founded only one reference to competition related writing – PLM Competition Toolbox. But I want to look in my crystal ball today. Here is the article that made me do so. Over the weekend, I’ve been reading Joe Barkai’s blog post – How To Win Without Differentiation. Article speaks about how to develop differentiation strategies and what to do when differentiation is not coming easy. I liked the following passage:

When value differentiation is too vague and difficult to demonstrate, price competitiveness does not work. Potential buyers seek other ways to drive their decisions, and, as Vermeulen points out, they rely on other factors, such as the seller’s brand, status in industry, and prior relationships. In other words, the buyer switches from assessing and comparing features and costs to differentiate based on the brand’s credibility and trustworthiness.

The article made me think about PLM vendors competition and differentiation. PLM industry is dominated by small number of large vendors (namely alphabetically – Autodesk, Dassault, Oracle, PTC, SAP and Siemens PLM). There are some specific competitive niches each of these companies were developed for the last 10-20 years. However, looking on websites and public marketing materials about PLM solutions, I can see less visible difference. These companies are targeting similar businesses and within time it is not simple to get value differentiation between brands.

Enterprise software is an interesting business. One of the characteristics of software for engineering and manufacturing is lifetime customers and legacy software. The lifecycle of customers in this domain is relatively long. It goes from extremely long in defense, aerospace programs to long in automotive and others. To get familiar with engineering software (such as CAD and PLM) takes time and effort. You need to cross educational barriers. So, when you already “in”, the entrance barrier for competitor is getting bigger. Overall investment and significant amount of customization play another role. This business is different from selling smartphones. After spending few millions of $$$ on a specific solution, it is very hard to justify the replacement of this solution with a competitor.

So, what will differentiate PLM vendors in coming 10 years? What will become future competitive advantage? Technology will obviously play some role, but I mostly agree with Joe – “Don’t oversell technical wizardry. Buyers of enterprise software and services consider your product roadmap and long-term commitment to the space as much as they do to your product features and engineering skills. So, it is very hard to create sustainable technological advantages in this market. Very few companies succeeded to do it in the past and kept it for a long time.

However, there is one thing that getting more and more value points. I call it “vertical experience”. Sometimes vendors call it “industry practices”. However, it can go much more beyond what vendors are doing today in this space. I can see specific vertical solutions focused on design patterns, bill of material management, change management, services, suppliers related to particular segment or industry. The niche can be big enough to serve business of service providers as well as provide an impact on overall vendor business. This is a place where PLM vendors will be able to show big value to customers and fast implementation ROI. It is not simple and it takes time and dedication.

What is my conclusion? Vertical (or industry) specialization can become a future goldmine for PLM vendors and solution providers. To develop deeply integrated solution including specific behaviors in data and process management is not a simple task. Customer experience is something that very hard to gain. However, once achieved it can be leveraged for a long time. Industry verticals can become a future differentiation factor for large vendors and startup PLM companies. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


7 rules for selecting PLM software in 2014

January 17, 2014

plm-software-selection-rules

Enterprise software choice is a complex decision process. The time when you was able to buy a software from trusted XYZ vendor and sleep safe is over. These days IT and other software decision makers are facing challenges related to technological and business options related to new business models, cloud technologies, specific vendors, user experience and many others. You need to swim in a sea of changes in enterprise market in order to decide what software to choose.

Very often you can hear debates about what is Product Lifecycle Management – vision, business strategy or software. Whatever PLM means, companies and people responsible for PLM strategy and software need to make their buying decisions related to PLM software, vendor and implementation.

Last year I posted about how you can select PDM software in 5 simple steps. The last step was open ended and assumed that you need to make strategic PLM decision. Here is a quote from last year article:

"If you company is looking how to manage product development processes beyond controlling and sharing CAD (product) data, you need to evaluate PLM system. Don’t make a PDM choice without making your PLM decision first".

Today, I want to propose few rules that can help you in the decision process related to PLM software and vendor selection. It is not about how to build your overall PLM strategy – I will mostly focus on software and vendor choices.

1. Find real PLM use cases compatible with your requirements. Use trusted advisers that will help you to navigate to examples of PLM software usage. PLM software market place is opaque. There are lot of online information, analyzes, comparison and testimonials about PLM software. To make real financial, technological and product assessment of vendor is tricky. However, you should remember to buy a software that can perform according to your need.

2. Analyze your company engineering software (CAD and PDM) and enterprise environment (ERP). Regardless on grand PLM vision, you have to integrate PLM software with environment, which includes connection to CAD/PDM, interoperability with ERP system(s) as well as many other design, engineering and manufacturing system coming from other vendors including homegrown software developed by IT department and contractors.

3. Don’t buy immediate technological advantages. For most of PLM systems, technologies doesn’t change much for the last 10-15 years. Even if PLM software vendor claims some technological uniqueness today, it will be adjusted in 2-3 years by new development, another new technologies and technological acquisitions PLM vendors are making. If you want to make some tech-driven decision, do it ‘test based’ for a specific use case and/or process in your company.

4. Cloud PLM is first about software eco-system and IT strategy. Cloud can bring lots of advantages. However, if your company is still on premise and IT is conservative, think carefully before pushing into cloud PLM race. You can burn time and resource on convincing your company and solving "general cloud software obstacles" before getting PLM value pay off.

5. PLM usability is relative. Everybody wants (and claims) to be easy to use like Google these days. However, devil is in details and enterprise software is different from consumer web. Also, what looks simple for you will be different for your colleague. Test by yourself, but don’t underestimate software evaluation by people outside of IT ecosystem. There are few books and online resources for UX (user experience) passionate people – try them out. Start from Steve Krug’s book Don’t Make Me Think – it will help you to build a sense of simplicity and own guidance.

6. Don’t buy PLM vendor roadmaps. Most of roadmaps are aspirational. You must look on available software releases and community of users. Community will give you an indication of how careful vendor is following their roadmaps, promises and (mostly important) long term software compatibilities.

7. Open source software isn’t much different from functional and technological standpoint. Open source software is not cheaper and simpler – it is just a different business model. There are variety of open-source flavors and you need to read all legal provisions. Involve your legal advisers to help you to go through language and meaning.

What is my conclusion? In my view, PLM software domain will be turbulent in 2014. New companies, technologies and business models are coming to disrupt and change existing industry landscape. However, your PLM software buying decision will probably stay with you more than 1-2 years. So, my recommendation is to review available software, make trials, experiment and build use cases. These days software vendors are open to convert customers into their trusted advisers. Don’t afraid to be a part of the PLM vendors’ development process and decision making. In most of cases, it is fun and you will love it. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


The challenging face of dual PLM clouds

December 28, 2013

plm-dual-public-private-cloud-challenge

Cloud PLM is a not a new word any more. Established vendors and newcomers in PLM world are developing strategies and implementations how to embrace PLM cloud. In my article few months ago, I’ve talking about multiple faces of the cloud – public, private, hybrid, collocation. Jim Brown, well-known PLM analyst and my long time blogging buddies is covering different visions of PLM vendors in his Tech-Clarity blog these days. Two first articles covered Autodesk and Dassault. It is interesting to see a difference. Autodesk vision described by Jim in the following passage:

Autodesk is embracing the Cloud like no other PLM vendor – Autodesk has made big gets on the cloud. They introduced CAD on the cloud (Fusion360), simulation on the cloud (Sim360), and a host of other new “360″ products to join PLM360 on the cloud. As one of my analyst friends tweeted the Autodesk keynotes mentioned “cloud, cloud, cloud, and cloud.”

Opposite to that, Dassault strategy is quite different and focuses on strategic choice of private cloud (even if technically claims no difference between public and private cloud). Here is an interesting passage from Jim’s post outline Dassault vision:

My final comment on DS strategy is about the cloud. Given the SOA architecture behind DS’ solutions one might expect DS to embrace the cloud wholeheartedly. DS execs were clear in pointing out that they support the cloud – but that they believe the on premise cloud is the viable option for companies today. It’s an interesting stance given that they appear to have the technical capabilities required but are choosing to opt away from the public cloud. This is an area to watch.

The question of private and public cloud strategies is important. Even cloud is a new trend, PLM vendors can gather some experience from challenges that non-PLM vendors are experiencing with implementing different cloud strategies. ComputerWorld article Why Microsoft SharePoint Faces a Challenging Future speaks about SharePoint dual strategy to maintain existing SharePoint 2013 on premise version as well as developing new SharePoint Online. The article is worth looking and contains lots of interesting examples. The following passage is my favorite:

Many enterprises use and like SharePoint. Microsoft likes it, too, because it’s one of the company’s fastest-growing product lines. But making enterprises support separate cloud and on-premises versions and telling SharePoint app developers not to work in C# and ASP.NET may make for a rocky relationship as time goes by.

Customization is an important aspect of every enterprise deployment. PLM is not an exclusion. Existing PLM deployments are full of customization made using existing development tools. Even more, on-premise deployments can provide some customization flexibilities that hardly can be achieved in public cloud implementations.

What is my conclusion? Dual cloud strategy sounds very compelling and we can hear about it a lot. However, to achieve real "cloud duality" can be tricky. Another level of complexity is to maintain transparent private/public customization and configuration using existing and new PLM technologies and tools. IT managers, PLM advisers and customers should take a note. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Unthink and rethink 3D search?

December 7, 2013

3d-search

I just came back from Autodesk University 2013 that took place earlier this week in freezing Las Vegas. One of the memos that I brought back was about unthinking and rethinking everything we do today. The thing that struck me the most was the passage from Jeff Kowalski keynote- Jeff Kowalski, CTO: We need to look outside and rethink our tools, people, work and insight to navigate world today #AU2013.

It happened that topic of 3D search came few times in conversation with people at AU2013, which brought me back to one of my earlier posts – 3D Shape Search in CAD and PLM. The idea of 3D search or 3D shape search isn’t new. However, in my view, the difficulties of an input made 3D search very complicated. Compared to text search, to make an input in 2D or 3D geometrical form is not a simple task.

Meantime, the technology is moving fast. Two most powerful changes we can see is 3D printing and 3D scanning technologies. To capture reality of existing objects, modify it using modern design tool and 3D print it is not a dream anymore. It made me think that 3D search can get a new life – we just need to combine it together with 3D scanning technologies. I was looking something to support my idea and, funny enough, found video that almost does the same scenario by CADENAS.

What is my conclusion? New tools and technologies will make us to re-think the way do things. 3D search can become a powerful function when combining with 3D scanning or design tools that can be used to make easy creation of basic geometrical form. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Autodesk University 2013 Keynote: Outside PLM

December 3, 2013

I’m attending Autodesk University (AU 2013) these days in busy Las Vegas, NV. If you had a chance to attend AU in the past, probably familiar with craziness of conference halls, busy session schedule, smell of Vegas hotels and… if you got lucky, nice view from your room.

vegas-1

vegas-2

The main event this morning was AU2013 keynote led by Carl Bass, Autodesk CEO and Jeff Kowalski, Autodesk CTO. The keynote theme "The answer is outside" was inspiring. You may think what is that about. Here is the way I’ve got it – tools are important, but our mindset is more important these days. We need to shift towards the ability to re-use things that already created by other people and companies. I want to quote Jeff Kowalski – "Search first, make second". This is probably the most interesting perspective on how user experience is going to change these days. I learned a new buzzword – VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain. Complex. Ambiguous). This is a new world we live in according to Jeff.

au-keynote-1

au-keynote-2

au-keynote-3

Carl Bass was mostly focusing on great experience of Autodesk customers using cloud tools. I can see it as a final set of trilogy – vision (2011), product (2012), customers (2013). it shows the accomplishment done by customers as a learning point in the next turn of the future product development. Carl mentioned full scope of Autodesk products – Autodesk 360, PLM360, BIM360, SIM360 and many others.

au-keynote-5

au-keynote-6

au-keynote-7

Another interesting story was related to a growing ecosystem of cloud vendors and product. The example Jeff Kowalski used in his keynote was GrabCAD – online community of engineers.

au-keynote-4

What is my conclusion? I want to pickup two important things – customers are getting to the cloud, using cloud products, learn and provide feedback how to improve products in the future. Another one – data exploration experience. This is all about our ability to re-use staff and not re-invent things from scratch. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


The Future Unbundling Strategies in CAD/PLM

November 6, 2013

unbundle-cad-plm

Engineering software has a long history of aggregation and disaggregation. In CAD, it was long time about new features vendors added to CAD tools. Ultimately, it was a long run towards new features. Later in the history, CAD industry came to the idea of integrating of various add-on systems into CAD environment. So, we got simulation, CAM and many other features and systems. In addition to that, data management tools (PDM) drove their own road – first independent from CAD and later on more integrated. Later on, PLM ideas came and provide an additional set of tools, features and systems. The latest history of design and PLM tools development introduced even more "integrated product lines" with CAD, PLM and many other systems. These days leading vendors are providing product suites with huge number of tools and subsystems bound together.

I was reading Unbundling: AOL, Facebook and LinkedIn article and reviewed a very fascinating diagram about Craiglist. Here is an interesting quote:

There are a swarm of services, often mobile first or mobile only, trying to peel off parts of the Craigslist offer, or do things Craigslist should have been doing. AirBnB is only the most obvious. Chris Dixon has a good note about this here, and Andrew Parker produced this great graphic back in 2010.

craiglist-unbundled-services

Major CAD/PLM vendors are selling big product suites, which can be considered similar to Craiglist. CAD / PLM product suites are providing lots of functionality. However, each function or service is probably not "best in class". PLM analysts and duelists Jim Brown and Chad Jackson discussed it in their video blog – CAD: Granularity vs. Integrated Suites.

Another interesting interesting perspective was presented by Adam O’Hern in his blog – Why I will pay $1372 for a fillet tool? Adam is writing about tools diversification and CAD subscriptions value prop. Adam is bringing the example of Autodesk Fusion 360 as cost effective tool that can be used as a substitute for some of features of SolidWorks. Here is an interesting passage about CAD tool diversification:

I use whatever combination of tools offers me the best cost-benefit ratio for whatever task I’m trying to achieve. In my various corporate jobs I’ve used CATIA, UGNX, Rhino, and Alias for design work, and each has its own advantages. For the last five years or so I’ve found that a combination of SolidWorks and MODO–along with various plugins, scripts, and sidecar tools–has provided the best price:utility ratio for my specific 3D design needs.

The unbundling article made me think about what will happen if we will follow similar strategy for CAD and PLM. Here is my top 3 assertion:

1. CAD and PLM is too big to sustain as a one big aggregated solution provided by a single vendor. This is a polystate diversified space that needs to be covered by multiple solutions, features and vendors.

2. Vendors are never good enough to see what exact problem customers want to solve. Especially when it comes to large manufacturing companies and complicated supply chain eco-systems. That’s way armies of consulting services as well as diversified products must be applied to provide a final solution.

3. Customers often don’t know what problem to solve. For most of the situations product development is a complex problem. It requires the team of people to work on. In addition to that, large organizations are involved into politics and confrontation related to usage of different enterprise software and tools.

What is my conclusion? If my assertion is correct, future unbunlding of features and services from CAD/PLM product suites can provide a potential opportunity to diversify market and solution options available for manufacturing companies. Cloud and SaaS models will be very helpful in this process. It is much easy to use unbundled cloud services compared to old set of CAD/PLM tools. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


The future battle for PLM upfront cost

November 5, 2013

PLM-zero-upfront-cost

Transformation of business models is one of the most important trends that happens today in the industry. Take a deep breath… it doesn’t mean companies don’t want to be compensated for the work they do. These days it is just about how to define the right business model that reflecting the relationships between all participants in the business.

The last tsunami related to the software price happened after recent announcement of Apple to make lot of their software including their OSX free. Over the weekend, I’ve been reading Forbes article – The Upfront Software Price is Now Free. Read the article and draw your conclusion. Even if the majority of the focus is related to what happens between major software giants – Microsoft, Apple and Google, in my view, it will have an impact on enterprise software too. The following passage is important.

With software being distributed either as web applications or through models that required a connection to the internet, software gained the ability to be distributed on a subscription basis or subsidized through advertising. Over the past few years, application software has increasingly moved to an initial price point that edges closer to zero on a consistent basis.

It made me think that changes of distribution model can be an additional driver to transform them way PLM (and other enterprise software) will be distributed and licensed.

The discussion about PLM software price, licenses and total cost of ownership is not new. First time I raised the question about coming business model transformation on my blog back in 2009 – Is Free the future of PLM? Since that time, the discussion went in different directions. You probably remember the Future PLM business models panel discussion I moderated during PLM Innovation 2012 in Munich. Another post, which is actually very co-sound with the idea of transformation as a result of changes in distribution model – PLM Cloud and Software licensing transformation.

However, in addition to cloud, SaaS and Web, there is another driving force behind changing PLM software business model. It is open source. Take a look here – PLM: Open Source vs. Free. In my view, open source is another powerful opportunity to change PLM business model status quo. In PLM business, Aras Corp. is driving this change since 2007 by promoting a very unique "Enterprise Open Source" model. Navigate to another article just published on Aras website – PLM Licensing is so Old School. Here is an interesting passage:

If your PLM software deployment gains wide-spread adoption (a goal of every successful PLM implementation), you will need to purchase more licenses. PLM license expenses can be huge up-front, but broad, global roll-outs are where the costs absolutely skyrocket. Effectively, the PLM project becomes a victim of its own success.

The last point about PLM upfront licenses preventing wider adoption of PLM software in the organization is interesting. PLM vendors are looking towards how to make PLM products available downstream in manufacturing organizations as well as in the supply chain. The high end-user cost is clearly not helping to make this dream come true.

What is my conclusion? In my view, PLM cost future trajectory is going towards "usage" and not "upfront cost". It is true in other places, but for PLM it can be a significant change that energize future increase in PLM software adoption and… consumption. It will be driven by major factors such as internet distribution channels as well as open source and service engagements. I don’t see big difference here – both strategies basically removes upfront cost and focus on usage. The changes are unavoidable. Business transformation train left the station. It is just a question of time. In my view, all PLM vendors are actively researching what does it mean for their current businesses and how to act (or react). Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Why engineering technology has 10 years adoption cycle?

August 11, 2013

I’m relaxing in sunny Tel-Aviv, removing jet lag and preparing for coming working week here. For those of you not aware, Sunday is actually working day in Israel opposite to Friday, so it is a bit confusing shift after U.S. During my travel time from Boston, I had an opportunity to catch up on my social stream. Some of news made me think about adoption of new technologies in engineering and manufacturing software.

The article I stumble upon was Cadalyst review of SolidEdge University 2013. Navigate your browser here to get some additional information. The topic that caught my attention was related to SolidEdge partnership with GrabCAD. GrabCAD (well known as open engineering portal) is recently getting lot of traction by making announcement about partnership with Autodesk and Siemens. Here is the passage in the article I specially liked:

…the company announced it has become the first to partner with the open engineering web site GrabCAD to facilitate real-time model sharing and review on the cloud for those users who want it. Users will be able to upload files directly from Solid Edge ST6 to GrabCAD Workbench, controlling access as they see fit.

One of the latest GrabCAD moves was introduction of GrabCAD Workbench – secured environment for collaboration using private and public cloud environment. Here is how GrabCAD workbench defined on GrabCAD website:

GrabCAD Workbench is built from the ground up for CAD. We display all major CAD files right in the browser, no special software required. View the design in 3D, explore exploded and section views, and "pin" comments and markups right on the model. Uploads are easy – just drag and drop the full folder structure and we do the rest.

You can get more detailed list of features here. GrabCAD features are including – viewer for CAD files, easy upload, notification, automatic revision control, versions backup and security encryption.

There is something that struck me when I was reading about Workbench features. It reminded me one of projects I was working on back 10 years ago – mySmarTeam (later re-branded as Enovia Community Workspace). I googled old SmarTeam announcement from earlier 2000s. Navigate to this link to read more. Here are few passages from that old press release:

mySmarTeam.com enables product teams to form virtual development communities and instantly share product related information with the different parties involved in the product design and change process, including customers, suppliers, partners, purchasing agents, outsource manufacturing, sales, and marketing. mySmarTeam.com is a user-friendly, browser-based project management environment, that allows product development teams to store, search, view, download and review product specifications and configurations, CAD drawings, Bills of Material, and any other type of documents on the web. Because it is based on the powerful SmarTeam PDM engine, mySmarTeam.com provides functionality for managing product revisions such as check-in, check-out and release, version control, and organizing projects into folders.

According to Avichay Nissenbaum, vice president of product marketing for SmarTeam, "Portals such as mySmarTeam.com provide an affordable, convenient way of expanding the use of PDM to numerous such groups who otherwise might not have on-line access to information. The ability to create a community around an area of interest, expose the appropriate data to that community with the proper security measures, will dramatically reduce errors, speed response time to market requirements, resolve customer issues, and overall time to market."

Avichay’s statement about community around area of interest was the most remarkable. Isn’t it what we are doing now, 10 years later with social tools and social networks?

Speaking about technology adoption cycle and in a spirit of Sunday, I want to point you on another interesting article – The Long Boom: A History of the Future, 1980 – 2020 by Peter Schwartz and Peter Leyden. Navigate your browser to this link to read more. The article speaks about different trends and trajectories of economical and technological development. One of them is related to the birth of networking economy. Here is the passage I found amazingly match to what happened with engineering and manufacturing collaborative tools:

Research by a few economists, like Stanford University’s Paul Romer, suggests that fundamentally new technologies generally don’t become productive until a generation after their introduction, the time it takes for people to really learn how to use them in new ways. Sure enough, about a generation after the introduction of personal computers in the workplace, work processes begin mutating enough to take full advantage of the tool. Soon after, economists figure out how to accurately measure the true gains in productivity – and take into account the nebulous concept of improvement in quality rather than just quantity.

What is my conclusion? There are lots of changes and innovation these days in enterprise environment. Businesses and customers are looking how to improve their productivity, reduce cost and optimize for new business realities. However, you need to be aware about adoption cycle and be prepared for that. Here is my recommendation for all PLM / PDM innovators these days – go and review 10 years old projects. I’m sure you will find something that can be ready for adoptions these days. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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