Google Maps, Knowledge Graph and high-end PLM user experience

May 28, 2014

To present product information visually is not a simple tasks. It combines multiple domains of information – 3D model, design specification, material characteristics, simulation, etc. This is one of the most critical places to innovate for major CAD and PLM companies.

Few years ago I was writing about PLM visual reporting in CAD and PLM. I specifically mentioned two applications – Siemens HD-3D/PLM and Dassault 3D Live. I’m not sure if Siemens and Dassault marketing are still keeping the same names, but I can see both vendors are continuously developing the idea of information representation in HD-PLM and 3DEXPERIENCE. Recent announcement about Dassault 3DEXPERIENCE platform to stop using files and "link to data" is another confirmation about future merge of 3D CAD and other related data in a single environment using the same screen real estate.

Dassault Systems V6/3D Experience


Siemens PLM (HD-PLM)


My attention was caught by the information about Google Knowledge Graph (GKG) support by Google Maps. If you follow my blog, you probably had a chance to read about Google Knowledge Graph – Why PLM need to learn about Google Knowledge Graph?; PLM, Google Knowledge Graph and Future Decision Support and How PLM can join semantic enterprise graph?

On few screenshots below, you can see how GKG information about different objects can be accessed from Google Maps.

Object meta data on the map



Actionable data on the map (book hotel room & rate)


Additional contextual information about the object on the map


I found this information extremely interesting. Here is the thing. In my view, Google Map is one of the best applications on the web combining graphical map data with other information. The data is interconnected. Google Knowledge Graph information connected with Map information is presenting a very interesting experience when Map plays a role of contextual navigation tool to other data. At the same time, GKG info panels can provide an access to other information.

What is my conclusion? It is hard to visualize complex contextual information. I found lots of similarities between how Map and GKG data can be mixed together and the way 2D/3D information can be mixed with other product information (metadata, simulation, etc.) To use proven visualization paradigm can help to get fast user adoption. It will be interesting to see how high-end PLM user experience will evolve within time. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

What comes after PLM?

September 18, 2012

One of the questions, that was very popular in my childhood was about "life on Mars". Nowadays, thanks for NASA and Curiosity, this question became practically obsolete. Let me speak now about PLM. What if all questions about what is PLM, how companies can implement PLM and many others disappeared. Hard to believe, but let’s dream about it this situation :). Obviously, my next question is the following – "what comes after PLM?". You may think people are not asking this question. Actually, they do and I found few interesting opinions about what comes "after PLM".

Dassault and 3D Experience

According to Dassault System CEO and President, Bernard Charles, sees 3D experience as the next horizon that comes after PLM. Navigate to the following link to read “3D Experience is the next horizon after PLM”. Dassault is thinking about cloud computing, social networking, virtual reality and search-based analytics as a foundation of life after PLM. I found the following passage very interesting:

An iPhone is a winner because it provides a great experience that’s about more than a product. It’s about how you take advantage of any physical good and its contribution to how you run your business or conduct your life. 3D Experience is about doing that. It’s the next horizon after PLM. The fundamental value is about how we can offer our customers the ability to put the consumer or their customers at the center of the product creation pipeline in a holistic sense including design, engineering, simulation and production.

Interesting enough is how Charles defines the combination of social tools with a significant focus on cloud and user experience.

Supply Chain Execution

Another example is coming actually from a complete different space. NGC groups publish the report – Report from NGC:After PLM, What Comes Next? Perfecting Supply Chain Execution. Navigate to the following link to get a copy of the report (note – registration is required). The report includes case studies on VF Corp. and Landau Uniform; analyst insight from WhichPLM‘s Mark Harrop and Leslie Hand, Research Director, IDC Retail Insights; and a Q&A with Mark Burstein, president of sales, marketing and R&D, NGC Software. The main point of the report is that efficient SCM (Supply Chain Management system) provides the most logical step after PLM implementation. Here is my favorite passage:

PLM is a very important enterprise system, but its main focus is on product line planning and the subsequent development of the line until it is adopted. Global sourcing/SCM tools track and manage the movement of the physical product until it is delivered. SCM begins with distribution of the initial purchase order to the selected vendor, and then continues with tracking materials procurement, production work- in-process, quality audits and shipment logistics until the finished goods are received at the final destination.

What is my conclusion? PLM doesn’t live in isolation. PLM becoms more visible and important in organizations these days. There is a simple reason for that. PLM serves as a core system helping engineers and everybody in the coming to run product development processes. Vertical integration is important, therefore, connecting and expanding PLM system towards the supply chain is a possible strategic direction. Supply chain might have different priorities depending on the company and type of operation. Speaking about user experience, I believe it becomes more important these days, since the demand of people is driven by consumer websites and mobile applications. Just my thoughts. What is your take?

Best, Oleg

From Design Collaboration to CAD Social Tools

August 15, 2012

Social is a magic word many people use nowadays. After social networks “grand-success”, many people in PLM industry are thinking how to apply the power of “social” to improve existing PDM and PLM. The topic that asked by most of the people is how to improve collaboration by applying some of know best practice developed by social networking.

AutoCAD Design Feed

I’ve been reading announcement made by Autodesk about AutoCAD WS Design Feed. Navigate to the following blog post to learn more. I found it quite interesting. Discussion feed became very popular tool in social collaboration. We can see examples of discussion threads in tools like Facebook and Twitter. Similar tools (but in the context of enterprise and business) are available in tools like Yammer and, etc.

The idea of Design Feed is exactly that. Here is how it explained in AutoCAD WS Blog: Using the Design Feed you can attach a post to a specific point or area in your drawing to draw attention to a feature of your design and encourage discussion.

What I especially like in this tool is the idea of “context”. You can select a point of interest in the drawing such as entity or space area. Context makes the conversation powerful.

Design Collaboration Origins

“Collaboration” word is a tricky in PDM / PLM business. Companies really overused the purpose and meaning of what collaboration does. To me, collaboration was always the ability of people to work together. One of the earlier examples of design collaboration was presented by Dassault Systems in 3DLive back in 2006. Watch the following video for more details.

Pay attention how different people can collaborate on the context of 3D model. You can find a lot of similarities with “social discussion” tools.

“Design discussion” Origins

Another interesting example from the earlier days of social tools for CAD designers related to Vuuch. One of the early ideas of Vuuch is so-called design discussions or Facebook for files allowed to engineers and other people to create a “discussion” in the context of a specific CAD file. View Vuuch video that was made couple of years ago presenting this feature.

What is my conclusion? The value of marketing flyers and buzzwords is decreasing these days. It less matter to people how you call the tool. How to get a job done? Engineers and other people in a company are trying to answer to this question. I can see how social paradigm plays in collaborative and social tools. To provide context driven simple user experience seems to me a key. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Sunblock Cream and PLM Acceptance Problem

August 5, 2012

plm-sun-block-spf-70-300x278.jpgI’m spending this weekend on Cape Cod with my family. When hiding from active afternoon sun, I stumble on blog post by Jos Voskuil (aka virtualdutchman) – Our brain blocks PLM acceptance. I recommend you this read. I found it fascinating. Jos is getting into detail analyses of PLM flaws led to the fact PLM is still not as popular as iPhone, Google, Facebook and, for the worst-case, ERP software. The following flaw was my favorite:

Flaw 4: Anchoring. Anchoring can be dangerous—particularly when it is a question of becoming anchored to the past. PLM has been anchored with being complex and expensive. Autodesk (Autodesk PLM 360) is trying to change the anchoring. Other PLM-like companies stop talking about PLM due to the anchoring and name what they do different: 3DExperience, Business Process Automation…

Living engineering software world for the last 15-20 years, I was enjoying Jos getting into variety of reasons why PLM is not approaching the level of acceptance PLM marketing people and some of PLM vendors want. "Anchoring to the past"idea is actually one, I think, PLM vendors need to be specifically focused on. The behavior of some PLM implementers and vendors sometime reminded the following formular – "When Plan A doesn’t work, go to Plan A”.

What is my conclusion? When trying to hide from unusually active Cape Cod sun, I was looking for sunblock cream – simple combination of pain-value. In my view, this is how PLM vendors need to start to behave nowadays. To have a solution that can help to engineers and other people in a company to get a job done. Easy. Well, actually not. The simplicity is hard. Just my thoughts..

Best, Oleg


CAD Project Cloud Collaboration… What?

July 19, 2012

The life around us is changing fast. Consumerization. BYOD. Cloud. Social. We are in the middle of the biggest technological change that happens in front of our eyes. What does it mean for engineers? Apparently engineering needs are no much different from what it was 10 years ago. The fundamental need to work together (avoid word "collaboration"), exchange design (files, data?) and see the history of changes actually remain the same for a very long period of time. However, the life and environment around us are a bit different these days. The consumer behavior influenced our mind and push us to explore new opportunities.

I was reading SolidSmack’s blog post – GrabCAD Revamps to Push Out CAD Project Possibilities. This is not the first time I’m referencing GrabCAD on my blog. The dynamic and growing startup initially focused on creating of "Facebook for Engineers" recently shifted gears toward CAD collaboration. It looks to me the idea of collaboration and usage of 3DViewer, CAD history (versions) is a way to re-think the reality of cloud work for engineers? I found the following conclusion made by Josh Mings interesting:

Where could it go from here? Competition is heatin’ up in the web-based 3D collaboration scene, and it’s likely not going to slow down. GrabCAD has huge user base, the web presence and the combination of CAD library, 3D file viewing and private sharing, which makes it a very good resource for a project space–limited to an extent, but simple to use. There is no version tracking yet, but viewing at the ‘Files’ tab shows how it’s being pushed toward more organization and file options. But is version tracking really needed?

Josh is speaking about competition. So, I decided to take a look – who is around to do a similar type of job. I found few products and technologies.

Autodesk 360. New cloud tool coming from Autodesk. The idea behind Autodesk 360 is to provide unified cloud experience to people using CAD and other design tools. You can upload files to Autodesk 360, preview them and use basic collaboration.

BuzzSaw. Another product from Autodesk. BuzzSaw is focusing on collaboration around projects (mostly use in AEC and construction domains). The idea of project space and ability to upload files and make them available is a dominant one in BuzzSaw.

AutoCAD WS. This is another paradigm shift product coming from Autodesk (the WS stays for Web Services). In a nutshell, AutoCAD WS is Google Docs just working with CAD (DWG) files. It is on the cloud, and you can upload and download files. Mobile clients convert AutoCAD WS in a popular tool you can use when "on go".

n!Fuze. This is a relatively new product from Dassault Systems. Focus of n!Fuze is how to make SolidWorks CAD (but not only) files available and shareable between people.

3DVia. Online community created by Dassault System. People can upload CAD files and share them. Dassault sees 3DVia as a part of their future broad consumer strategy 3DSwYm (See what you mean). 3DVia is probably more useful when you work with CATIA. However, I’m not aware about limitations in working with other CAD systems as well.

In addition to these specific tools, I’d be mentioning few "generic purpose" technologies and products that can provide cloud, community and file sharing capabilities – DropBox, Google Drive, Sky Drive, Office 365.

What is my conclusion? I think, software for engineering industry is ready for the biggest "rethink impossible" moment these days. Challenge fundamentals. Achieve impossible by making things simple again. Will it be done by large companies or small startups? It really doesn’t matter. Winners will be companies that can adapt faster to new technological and business realities. Just my thoughts.

Best, Oleg


A moment before CAD files cloud mess…

May 3, 2012

It is hard to find a day without new announcement or breaking news related to the cloud these days. Companies are running fast to catch "a place under a cloud". The debates about the cloud are growing. Those of your reading my blog regularly, already had a chance to read multiple posts I published about the cloud. Maybe before continue to read, I’d recommend you to navigate to the following post – Product Lifecycle Data and Cloud Trap Debates. I tried to present a balanced view on advantages and risks related to cloud solutions these days.

I want to talk about CAD and the cloud or even more specific – CAD files and the cloud. Two leading companies in CAD space – Autodesk and Dassault Systems are presenting solutions allowing to store (or even synchronize) CAD files to the cloud. Dassault was probably pioneering this solution with SolidWorks n!Fuze. However, Autodesk clearly outperformed Dassault System by introducingAutodesk 360 providing 3GB of free storage for every AutoCAD user as well as other features – viewing, collaboration and sharing capabilities. Another Autodesk product – AutoCAD WS can store drawings directly to the cloud (I think both AutoCAD WS and Autodesk 360 paths need to converge somehow in the future).

The ability to store and sync CAD files using cloud services and storage is a powerful option. At the same time, the "Save As To Cloud" option is not much different from "Save As File". Everybody knows how messy file vaults look like in every company. Dou know how many CAD files are stored on local hard drives, USB discs, network storages in your company. The amount of un-managed files and data is growing. For the last 15-20 years, we didn’t succeed to create a reliable data-management option for all these files. There is a potential danger that all this "file mess" will be flowing to the cloud gates and will turn into CAD cloud mess. In my view, it creates an interesting opportunity to manage cloud-gates in more reliable ways to get data organized and prevent messy file uploads. It is a complicated problem, and it will require dedicated work of vendors to make it right. Do you remember Apple failure? I can imagine similar situation happens with any CAD cloud synchronization features.

What is my conclusion? Cloud is a powerful technology. Engineers, architects and other CAD users are sensitive to information. The ability of cloud services to create a mess can put a potential of cloud services at risk. CAD vendors need to bring a solution that will allow to cloud CAD file storage to become manageable and reliable. Otherwise, we are at risk to say – "It is not a technology stupid". Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Dassault: 3D Experience, V6 and Cloud

March 11, 2012

Few weeks ago, during SolidWorks World 2012, Bernard Charles, President and CEO of Dassault System announced 3D Experience. I posted about it on my blog before. You can navigate to the following link to read more about it – V6, 3D Experience and "after PLM" party. If you are following me on twitter, you noticed I’ve been visited Dassault System office in Waltham, MA yesterday. There is an advantage to be located close to PLM highway in Boston. So, when visiting DS office for some business meetings, I used this opportunity to ask people about 3D Experience, V6 and cloud. Here are few thoughts based on my discovery, conversations with DS people and customers about 3D Experience and "after PLM".

3D Experience and Consumer Behavior

Bernard Charles is clearly the best person to listen about 3D Experience. Josh Mings of SolidSmack interviewed Bernard Charles just few weeks ago during SolidWorks World 2012. I recommend you to watch it over the weekend on HD screen in a "couch mode". I’m sure you will learn a lot and also will have fun.

Think about software, I can how world is moving towards "experience" from the old paradigm of "function". One of the key elements, in my view is so called "consumer behavior". Take a look on the slide from my presentation during PLM Innovation conference 2 weeks ago in Munich.

Consumer behavior is what going to drive next wave of customer adoption. PLM was (and still is) long time "function-oriented" software. The shift towards "processes" PLM companies tried to accomplish brought some success, but mostly in large companies. The future PLM adoption is dependent on a new Gen-Y type of people and new software. The focus is how to get a job done, similar to how iPhone app can give you direction or order a table in the restaurant.

V6 platform

To create V6 platform was a big deal for DS. Similar to what happened at Siemens PLM with TeamCenter Unified and some other PLM companies. It was about a single platform that was required to unify everything at DS. Thinking about some similarities of ERP world, it was like SAP R/2/3 platform or Oracle Fusion (still debatable how efficient Oracle Fusion is). So, DS made a compromises learning things from various versions of Enovia, MatrixOne and SmarTeam to create a new platform called V6.

The idea of CATIA / V6 connection was about how to create brand new immesrive behavior and solve some old problems in Enovia / Catia integration. Customers and industry watchers took a "bundle" behavior as something dominant. In general, my feeling that DS failed to deliver a positive message with CATIA V6 empowered by Enovia V6, even if this software have a lot of powerful characteristics and functions.

Cloud and V6

Back in November 2011, during DSCC 2011, Bernard Charles announced that DS spent 2B to create the best cloud online (PLM?) platform in the world. I don’t remember if Bernard mentioned "PLM" in that context, but my assumption is that DS V6 platform is indeed PLM platform. So, it is a cloud. Thinking about "anti-cloud PLM rap" I posted few days ago, I want to understand better what makes V6 cloud. If DS assumption about how run Enovia v6 on hosted servers is about cloud, we still have some lessons to learn. Watch my blog next week for more discussions about cloud and multi-tenancy, which is one of the important characteristics that can take PLM cost down.

What is my conclusion? If you had a chance to read about Stanislavski – a Russian actor and theatre director, you’re probably familiar with his famous statement "theater begins at the coat-check-stand". Take a look on the pictures I captured during my visit to DS office, and you will see parallels.

3D Experience starts at a front door to DS Office. Some people can say it meaningless, but I would disagree. This is a place where change begins. The biggest problem is how to make it happen. Few months ago, I presented the slide above during AU 2011 in Las Vegas.

Will future PLM experience will be 3D Experience? Time will show. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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