Why Cloud PLM will dominate in superior UI experience?

July 20, 2012

Let’s talk about User Interface today. Something that we call UX (User Experience) nowadays. The importance of user experience can be hardly undervalued. The days when a user interface wasn’t important gone, and customers are demanding from software vendors to provide a different level of product usability.

What is the path to a good UX?

Well. We agreed – user experience is a very important thing.Take a look on the picture below. I’m sure, many of you, reading now this blog post and watching this picture can go in your product development, PDM, PLM system and find some similarity with this UI.

However, how practically we can achieve these results? One of my favorite online publications, UX Magazine, published an interesting article – Overhauling a UI Without Upsetting Current Users. I recommend you to have a read. I found to the concept of “redesign by evidence” interesting and valuable. However, my favorite passage is related to “usability testing”:

Usability testing is very different from beta testing. In beta testing, users will typically only report usability problems that make it very difficult for them to accomplish a task—in other words, things that are very clearly bugs. They typically won’t report that they found something challenging or unintuitive. People don’t always like to admit that they failed at something. Also, beta testers (or at least the ones who take time to report issues) are often fans of the product, and are therefore also power users. They may have already learned to work around or ignore usability issues.

This is a key, and many PLM systems failed to accomplish that. To test systems with “mainstream users” and not only “product fans” is very important.

Cloud PLM and Usability Testing

In my view, cloud product architecture and development introduces new opportunity to develop a better user experience. Cloud is eliminating long development cycles and making software to be available on demand. It creates a possibility to experiment with individuals as well as user groups in a very granular form. It allows to achieve a next level of usability testing almost identical to the level consumer web brands have these days.

What is my conclusion? Cloud product development opens new horizons for PLM. Cloud product development and testing provide new platforms and capabilities for usability testing and variety of user experiments. As a result, PLM companies will have an opportunity to achieve an improved level of UI quality compatible with the quality of consumer and web products. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Autodesk, Cloud and PLM for $19.95…

March 1, 2012

BAM…BAM…BAM… Finally, it happened. Autodesk PLM 360 is here. It was a long run for Autodesk to converge from the story of “Anti-PLM rap” to “PLM for everyone“. Yesterday, I was watching a webcast session from Autodesk Manufacturing HQ in Lake Oswego, OR. Autodesk’s approach to PLM is to make it available to everyone from the cloud on any device. According to Autodesk, PLM revolution is finally here:

My historical record about PLM and Autodesk

PLM and Autodesk was a popular theme on my blog for the last 2 years. First time was writing about that was two years ago in January 2010. Navigate to my post PLM for individuals – integrated or die? My bet two years ago was that Autodesk will try to leverage internet technologies to delivery a different solution. I thought, Autodesk would be trying to make PLM different. Another post – Autodesk, Data Management and Why PLM question. Read the following passage from my past back in 2010:

Autodesk is going on a very narrow bridge and trying to connect customer’s demands to have a rich scope of data management functions and integration with design tools like Autodesk Inventor. At the same time, Autodesk is trying to avoid getting into positioning data management as a “PLM strategy”.

Another post about Autodesk and PLM (one year ago) – Autodesk: from PDM to MLP? This is what I wrote in my conclusion:

I think the game around enterprise data becomes more important than before. Data is a key asset in a manufacturing company and Autodesk customers can put their demands very high. These demands are moving Autodesk Vault and other data-management management products towards additional functionality. Process oriented workflow is one of the most remarkable I noticed in Autodesk Vault 2012. To increase functionality and keep the low level of complexity for Autodesk product will be the next challenge for Autodesk engineers and product managers.

Autodesk PLM and Salesforce.com

So, Autodesk is betting on the cloud and wants to repeat Salesforce.com success to deliver the variety of PLM apps for any purposes. To see what apps Autodesk offers for the moment, navigate your browser to the following link.

Application is probably a key thing to make it successful. Randal Newton of GraphicSpeak in his article Autodesk launches cloud-based PLM yesterday; only time will show if Autodesk will be able to deploy PLM applications to a diverse set of companies. Here is my favorite passage:

We expect Autodesk to brag in a few weeks about how many companies have downloaded Autodesk 360. The promise of scalable, affordable PLM is just too alluring to ignore. It won’t be the simplicity or the cloud-based mechanics of Autodesk PLM 360 that make it a hit, however, but the ability of the apps. Only time will tell if Autodesk has done its homework well, as companies of all sizes give it a pilot deployment.

Is there PLM for $19.95?

One of the things mentioned by Autodesk was about to make PLM affordable for everyone. During the webcast yesterday, Autodesk announced that first 3 users are free. However, looking on the pricing model, it is not obvious. The starting price is $25 per user per month. It also looks expensive compared to Salesforce.com pricing model. Again, it is hard to compare functionality, but there is no PLM for $19.95 available yet…

My experience with Autodesk PLM

Autodesk provided me an account to use Autodesk PLM almost after autodeskpm360 website became open. It is still too early to say something specific about what is my opinion. I had some initial trouble to log in, but it was resolved almost instantly. Rob Cohee sent me correct credentials to login. You can see my home screen of Autodesk PLM 360:

What is my conclusion? Autodesk made a significant turnaround from rejecting PLM to claiming Autodesk PLM revolution to come to every manufacturing company. If I think Darwinian, it can be a confirmation of the Autodesk ability to adopt to the reality of today’s world. One of the conclusions I’ve made last week during PLM Innovation conference in Munich – PLM is strategic now. Autodesk is claiming PLM revolution and emphasizing “technology” as one of the enabling factors. It means technologies behind Autodesk PLM 360 is what made Autodesk PLM possible. I’m looking forward to seeing technological whitepaper about Autodesk PLM 360 with some details going beyond marketing buzzwords. Time will show what Autodesk is serving us in PLM cloud box.

Best, Oleg


Invisible Data Management for PLM

May 12, 2009

The latest trends in software development definitely lean towards simplification. People tend to avoid complex stuff. I think most of us agree that we rather than expecting customers to read User Guides, we want to provide an intuitive user experience, and use 3D and CAD software focuses on simplification. As the use of this software becomes more natural in the customers’ operation, products that don’t require training will definitely leapfrog over products that require education and a high learning curve. So, with all these things on our mind, how we can make the next major shift in Product Lifecycle Management to becoming… yes, Invisible!

I’d like to figure a few core implementation principles that can help us make this invisibility a reality.

1. Cloud on our mind

We need to stop thinking about a “place to store our work”. Cloud (or corporate cloud) is a technical answer to “where to store”. This place needs to be big enough and widely available in order NOT to burden people about how to save their design, Bill of Material, Item etc.

2. Tagging and Classification

My design, product data, Bill of Materials and everything else I create during my job functions need to be tagged and classified. I don’t need to be part of this job. I already mentioned Tagging in my previous posts. I think, folksonomy-based classification combined with some automatic guidance will help us avoid “boring data entering” and other “data selection” procedures. In general, my work needs to be natural and focused only on <my tasks>.

3. Collaborative (Social) Networks in the Organization

We need to translate the benefits of social networks in the organization to the level of self-identification. These networks need to be created based on the organizational information and conceptual definition of processes. Mapping of people/roles/processes need to be done automatically. As soon as this happens, the issue of “workflow” management in the organization will disappear. The system will route tasks/messages without asking users additional and complex questions.

4. Natural Language Processing (NLP)

Last, but not least. Even after many years of computing, people still prefer communicating in their natural language. PLM needs to invest more in communication using natural languages, at least the written language (i.e. you can build commands to enhance/enrich/develop user experience on top of NLP tools).


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