Innovation, networks and PLM database paradigm

October 14, 2015


Last week I traveled to Louisville, KY to attend CIMdata collaborative innovation and product development workshop. The agenda is here. Two presentation in the agenda caught my special interest.

One was a presentation by Taylor Dawson, evangelist at FirstBuild Product Development in the Age of the Internet. FirstBuild is an interesting outfit created by GE Appliances and Local Motors. It is a new model for appliance industry, engaging a community of industrial engineers, scientists, engineers, makers and early adopters to address tough engineering challenges.

What does it mean in a nutshell? The following two slides can give you an idea. The main point is the fact interaction between engineers, manufacturing and customers. It leverage flexibility of microfactory approach and agility of communication in the internet era.



The second presentation was done by Local Motors co-founder and CEO Jay Rogers. Named – Welcome to Local Motors and the Third Industrial Revolution: The story of Local Motors and the 3D Printed Car, it gave a very interesting perspective on how Local Motors is innovating via collaboration in distributed global community.



The thing that bold in both examples is distributed community. PLM industry vendors are talking about communities for the last 5 years. There is a chance you’ve heard about “social PLM” in the past. It failed without getting much traction.

Thoughts about distributed communities made me think about networks as an organization behind the community of engineers, makers, contract manufacturers and suppliers. Here is a slide from my presentation at CIMdata workshop.


You can ask what is the difference between this picture and what we have now. Aerospace, automotive and other industries are relying heavily on a network of suppliers already today. Here is the thing – the PLM paradigm behind current OEM/Supply chain relationships is database driven. Look behind the scene and you will see large PLM databases spinning in data centers with expensive PLM implementations. Nothing wrong with databases, but single RDBM architecture cannot scale endlessly.


With cloud and IoT technologies the trend towards distributed computing and network organization is coming. If you have some time, navigate the following interview with A16z partner Peter Levine on why mobile phones are future of datacenters. It speaks about future distributed computing architecture trends. Here is an interesting passage:

I think it’s very early, but I can see a world where endpoint distributed computing becomes more popular, just like we saw when corporate IT shifted from mainframes and onto workstations and PCs. Are there hot projects right now? Not yet, but I’m starting to see university work being done in this area.

There’s also a very interesting trend, relating to the relationship between datacenters and endpoint computing. If you look back over the history of computing, it started as mainframes or terminals. As PCs or work stations became prevalent, computing moved to the edge and we had applications that took advantage of edge computing, and the CPU and processing power at the edge. Cloud computing brought things back to the center. There has been an ebb and flow in enterprise IT, of centralized versus distributed.

Distributed architecture combined with memory-centric storage can end up with new type of data architecture. An interesting example I captured in the article – Tachyon projectmemory-centric distributed storage system enabling reliable data sharing at memory-speed across cluster frameworks.

What is my conclusion? Distributed teams, data and networks – these are reality of new manufacturing environment and initiatives. These realities will demand for PLM abstraction different from single PLM databases managing processes in large manufacturing organization. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at


Has PLM innovation stalled?

October 12, 2015


We love to speak about latest gadget features and disruptive technologies. Earlier this month, CNet posted about “telepresence robot” is currently holding a place for a woman in Sydney who will be one of the first in the world to own Apple’s latest smartphone. Wow… it sounds great, but here is an immediate disappointment – the new smartphone biggest difference is invisible.

Stories about enterprise software progress and innovation can disappoint too. Companies are spending huge amount of money on sales and marketing activities to demonstrate their financial strength and vendor sustainability. Dreamforce 2015 was one of the biggest enterprise software conference in the world organized by A very interesting data point about the event is here – Dreamforce has almost become bigger than Salesforce and it accounts for more than half of annual revenues.

Over the weekend, I read the article – You Call this Progress? I liked the article. The following conclusion passage was my favorite:

I think we should admit that our hypothetical 1885 person would be more bewildered by the passage of 65 years than the 1950 “modern” human. I think we should admit that the breathtaking pace of major breakthroughs has actually declined. That’s different from stopping, note. I think we need to take our energy predicament seriously, and acknowledge that we have few new ideas and don’t have any consensus on how to design our future infrastructure given the pieces we already know very well.

It made me think about PLM development progress. It is impossible to track 100 years back for PLM, but I can honestly think about comparison between 1995 and 2015 which can give us solid 20 years distance of innovation. And to be more specific about what is PLM, my commentary is specifically about what CIMdata defines as cPDM.

No question – PLM software is getting better. We finally got enterprise software vendors to acknowledge the importance of user interface importance. And you cannot ask to tolerate bad performance. For the last 2-3 years, all PLM vendors came to the agreement about importance of “cloud technologies” and the fact companies will be interested how to bypass hardware purchase and to use system hosted somewhere. But the problem is that after all PLM tech innovation companies still need to spend time and effort to get these systems “implemented” and adopted. Which highlights the fact traditional PLM reached their limits – costly, slow ROI and hard to bring new business functions.

I’ve been sharing my thoughts about PLM and manufacturing in a networked world last week at CIMdata Collaborative Innovation & Product Development Workshop in Louisville, Kentucky. Here is a slide from my presentation:


In a nutshell, 20 years ago and now, PLM (cPDM) was about two main things – to define data model and to set workflow processes. Then spend time on importing of legacy data and synchronizing between silos. The marketing changed, but these fundamental things remained unchanged.

The problem with “data+workflow” PLM vision is that humans (especially engineers) often have a tough time expressing exactly what they want. Items, parts, classes, business objects, data models, workspaces, primary identificators, attributes, characteristic, parameters, classification, links, references, semantics, data model, information model, knowledge model, etc. Also, very often, humans may not know what the heck they want. Many decisions have political flavor and when PLM system is usually stays for at least 10 years, for many people the decision is still about “no one ever got fired for buying IBM”.

What is my conclusion? If I bring engineers from 1995 into today their biggest surprise might be actually large flat screens. Enterprise systems changed very little and for many companies and still managing data with Excel spreadsheets. It is still hard to grasp the idea of how to implement PLM system. The data model of items, parts, documents, bill of materials, changes still looks the same. And it is still enormously hard move data between people, systems and organizations. Perhaps this is something to think about before inventing new PLM buzzword. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

PLM and New Manufacturing in a Networked World

September 22, 2015


For the last decade, many industries learned lesson or two about disruption and how internet and other technologies can change the reality of their businesses. It happened to publishing and newspapers. The way we consume news is radically different (although we still can see printed newspapers around). Uber and Airbnb are leading the trend of changes transportation and hospitality business.

I think changes are coming to manufacturing too. For the last few decades, manufacturing became global with companies leveraging market, design, engineering and manufacturing facilities located around the globe. The growing specialization in specific manufacturing verticals created industry of contract manufacturers and suppliers. Most of these companies are acting like independent entities, obeying some rules and trying to optimize their behavior.

Small is a new big. You don’t have to be a large company with established manufacturing facilities to manufacture things today. New production technologies and global manufacturing environment created a new opportunity for small teams and companies to innovate to create new products. But these small entities have to be organized in a different way. Hence an increased demand for collaboration, communication and optimization.

Next month, I’m going to learn more about new manufacturing and innovation at CIMdata workshop – A CIMdata Collaborative Innovation & Product Development Workshop. The detailed agenda is here. I’m super excited to join an group of innovation leaders Taylor Dawson of FirstBuild, John B. “Jay” Rogers of Local Motors and Dr. Svetlana Dimovski of BASF and to share my thoughts and learn about future of manufacturing in a new connected world.

Here is a short passage from CIMdata workshop introduction:

With rapid advances in digital technology and hyper-connectivity around the globe, the early 21st century has all the signs of a transitional time with no clear pathway to the future. Complexity is increasing as familiar boundaries are being altered forever and information is growing exponentially. While PLM has been embraced by many as a successful business strategy and more recently has emerged as a platform for innovation, significant challenges remain. Companies want to embed business processes with intelligent workflows in the tools to help easily identify experts, get close to customers, collaborate externally with partners, and reduce operational cycles with better internal collaboration, yet they struggle with strategic, cultural, and technology questions.

It made me think about future relation of manufacturing and networks. The dependence on networks in our lives is growing every day and is not just limited to communication. Manufacturing companies are going to have a lesson of networked world. It will be impossible to optimize the performance of single manufacturing entity without relevant network information. It will not happen overnight. Companies will try to get connected and operate more intelligently. Those companies that will be able to transform into new connected reality and leverage the power of network will create a significant competitive differentiation for themselves.

What is my conclusion? Networks made a transformative influence on the way we live, work, and conduct business. Increasingly manufacturing companies are leveraging market, design, engineering, and facilities located around the globe. The networking paradigm will apply to manufacturing companies and will be transformative. The growing specialization in specific manufacturing verticals will create a new type of manufacturing company, one that is capable of leveraging networks, allowing them to optimize performance, improve collaboration, and reduce cost. Intelligent PLM software with a networked mind can provide a competitive power to future manufacturing. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of watcharakun at


How many execs will be killed by Frankensoft PLM platforms?

June 17, 2015


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.


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.


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

Bill of Materials (BOM) and product lifecycle open loops

May 19, 2015


It is hard overestimate the importance of Bill of Materials for product development. In my keynote at ProSTEP iViP symposium in Stuttgart earlier this month I’ve been sharing my thoughts why developing of single BOM across multiple disciplines in critical for organization. I wanted to bring few examples that can demonstrate why having a single BOM strategy can bring benefits to product development and manufacturing organization.

Earlier today, at Siemens PLM connection event in Dallas, I captured the following slide demonstrating an integrated approach in design, manufacturing, planning and production. What is really interesting is how as-design, as-planned and as-build views in PLM are integrated with design, manufacturing, planning and production.


Few days ago, I the following article by 3D CAD World article caught my attention – Progress in closing the product lifecycle’s loops  by Peter Bilello, president of CIMdata. The article speaks about the importance of collaboration across diverse enterprise groups.

For many years, the PLM industry has greatly benefited from a steady stream of improvements in collaboration among ever more diverse enterprise groups—in data interoperability, for example, and in the transparency of workflows and processes. The development, manufacture and support of globally competitive new products are, however, still hamstrung by the remaining open loops new and old.

Later in the article it came to the topic I was looking for – Bill of Materials. According to article, BOM is a biggest remaining challenge to make integration running smooth. Here is the passage, which explains that.

Between engineering, manufacturing and finance, a big remaining challenge is the bill of materials (BOM) in its many forms—the as-designed BOM, the as-engineered BOM, the as-manufactured BOM, and so on. Generated and managed with PLM and often executed by enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, BOMs themselves are loop closers. PLM-ERP connectivity and interoperability are steadily improving, but some open-loop issues are resolved only after time consuming face-to-face meetings.

What is my conclusion? Single BOM could be a great thing if vendors will figure out how to implement that. As you can learn from Biello’s article, PLM-ERP has open-loop issue and BOM is a tool to close that. However, companies are concerned about bringing single BOM strategy since it can raise lot of organizational challenges for them. At the same time, the demand for better integration and collaboration can put companies in front of decision to bring single BOM to close open loops between engineering, manufacturing and production anyway. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at


Cloud is not the way to rethink PLM. Then what?

April 1, 2015

CIMdata PLM forum yesterday was a good place to discuss ideas that from a first look can sound a bit crazy. One of them – how to rethink PLM. Wait… you can say. We just came to some sort of understanding about what is PLM and how to sell PLM values to management. There are enough references online from customers that sharing information about how to plan, implement and maintain PLM environment. Why do we need to rethink it?

Here is the thing. My attention caught by the results of the following poll during CIMdata forum (see below). What will be the biggest market disruptions. The results are a bit surprising. The future PLM disruption isn’t coming from cloud, social or new user devices. On the other side, new business models came to the focus.

So, what does it mean to PLM?


The simple and straightforward answer on this question – customers are looking for cheaper PLM licenses or subscriptions to ease future proliferation of PLM in an organization. It might be true and there is a demand to lower license cost. Now, imagine the dream- to license price of PLM is $0 (zero). Does it make a significant change in the way you think about PLM? Maybe a bit. But I don’t see the PLM adoption problem solved by doing that. Actually, there is one PLM vendor who is not selling PLM licenses, but selling optional subscription – There is high interest to discover new PLM business model developed by Aras, but other PLM vendors are catching up providing subscription based PLM licenses too. So, where is the problem?

One of things I want to discuss is implementation lifecycle. In other words what it takes organization to agree about PLM implementation. The first and most critical step in every PLM implementation is planning. This is a step when company is engaging with business and technical sales people. It is also the time when companies are actively collaborating internally and with PLM consultants to create and/or tailor PLM implementation plan. There is nothing wrong with that, but…. it takes time and it is very costly process. What is the alternative, you can ask? This is $1M question and I’m not sure have an answer.

However, here are some of my thoughts.

1- PLM planning and implementation should turn agile. For the last few years, agile became de-facto product development standard for software companies. PLM vendors and manufacturing companies should discover agile world for PLM implementations. It goes around 3 main things- how to start fast; how to capture data painlessly and how to solve interoperability problem. More thoughts about PLM agile practices here.

2- Take PLM away from corporate process alignment. There are no perfect companies (although some of my friends from manufacturing companies may disagree). Every company is messy in their own way. We should disconnect PLM implementations from solving corporate politics and internal conflicts. Easy to say, but hard to implement. In my view, focus on providing useful tools that company can leverage fast can be helpful.

3- Look on PLM as a tool to manage a complete product lifecycle. Today most of PLM implementations are starting in engineering department and crawl towards manufacturing and support organizations. PLM industry did it for the last decade and it is proven as complex and painful process. What if PLM tools will provide a way for company to manage product lifecycle by focusing on critical milestones – requirements, product data, marketing, design, manufacturing, supply chain, sales, support.

What is my conclusion? The existing paradigm of PLM is to focus on engineering lifecycle and resolving complexity of existing business processes. It is complex and has few critical points of failure. Crawling through corporate politics and conflicts to create process management tool is costly and slow. It is a time to rethink PLM with new paradigm of lifecycle management. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

CIMdata PLM forum: platformization and obsolescence

April 1, 2015


I’m returning home from CIMdata PLM market forum in Ann Arbor. For those of you who are not familiar with CIMdata and this event, take a moment of time and look here. Today’s event is the first in a row of "CIMdata world tour" to review 2014 PLM market analysis. You can see agenda and list of topics discussed at forum today. You can also take a look on the twitter stream here. The day was packed with information and it will take some time to digest it. The information about PLM market share, numbers, dynamics and vendors specific is available from CIMdata. PLM market grew up 6.8% in 2014 to $37.2B (vs. 5.8% forecast), which is obviously a good thing.

Two topics caught my special attention today – PLM "platformizaiton" and PLM "PLM obsolescence". I want to share my observations and thoughts about it after presentations and discussion at CIMdata forum.

PLM platformization

This is a new buzzword CIMdata is coming to discuss a broad trend in PLM industry. How existing PLM products and tools will be transformed into "business platforms"? In my view, the topic is important but controversial. It is going back to the reality of many PLM implementations – a diverse set of tools used by a company in a different areas of design, engineering, manufacturing, supply chain, etc. "Platformization" is a process, which supposed to run product development differently, innovate and transform PLM tools into new type of business process.

In my view, the discussion about platform is very important. It can make PLM industry more integrated and open. However, it raises many questions: 1/ What is a difference between business platform and integrated set of tools. 2/ How platforms delivered by PLM vendors will form a business platform for a specific customer; 3/ How multiple platforms will co-exist in a universe of large and small manufacturing companies.

According to CIMdata, "platformization" is not coming to replace PLM, but supposed to bring a better vision of PLM business and innovation.

PLM obsolescence

What is a lifecycle of PLM implementation? How often companies are replacing PLM systems? How to create a sustainable product development environment which will support manufacturing company for a period of product lifecycle (some of them are 25+ years)? These are very interesting and important questions.

Manufacturing companies are seriously concerned about sustainability of PLM platforms and tools. To replace PLM system was often a very painful process. Companies often considered this step only after PLM vendors stopped to develop and support PLM products. A traditional approach of "rip and replace" was criticized by customers, vendors and industry community. At the same time, vendors and customers didn’t find many alternatives to a brutal process of PLM platform replacements. In my view, cloud can impact PLM platform sustainability because of increased interest of vendors to support software lifecycle.

What is my conclusion? I found platformization and obsolescence topics connected. Here is the thing… Vendors and customers are concerned about sustainability and progress of PLM platform development. The "rip and replace" approach was always problematic for customers and manufacturing vendors. Even so, many vendors handled that in the past. We are coming to the point of time when customers won’t be able to afford a big bang PLM replacement processes. The fundamental issue is to rethink the way we are managing product lifecycle – existing PLM paradigm. Industry is looking how to make continues delivery of PLM platforms together with new solutions. Companies are more connected these days. Future PLM solutions should enable collaboration between different players in PLM eco-system and remain sustainable for a long time. Just my thoughts..

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at


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