Will CAD / PLM companies develop DB management systems?

March 1, 2014


The history of databases and database management systems knows many periods. Most of us developed strong association between database management systems and relational databases (RDBMS). Since 1970s, when Edgar Codd invented relational database during his work at IBM, RDBS became widely adopted. For the last 20-30 years, most of PDM / PLM developers selected RDBMS as a default choice and foundation of their solutions. Until very recently, RBDMS was a straightforward decision to manage product data in organizations. There are multiple reasons for that. One of them is compliance to the requirements of enterprise IT. Because of wide adoption of RDBMS, enterprise organizations and their IT felt comfortable to run enterprise applications on top of well known and widely adopted database back end system.

However, changes are coming to database industry too. Database and data management technology is going through cambrian explosion of different options and flavors. It is a result of massive amount of development coming from open source, web and other places. Few months ago, I spoke at TechSoft3D tech talks in Boston about PLM and future of data management in 21st century. You can find my post and link to the presentation here. The technology shifts towards usage of different database management systems or even multiple database management solutions these days. Database is a tool. When you develop complex data management solution, you may decide to have multiple databases to achieve your goal and optimize your solution. Here is a slide from my last year presentation showing pros and cons of different data management solutions.


Modern CAD / PLM applications are bringing new requirements and needs to database management systems. The complexity of application is skyrocketing. At the same time, customers’ demand to have systems highly flexible and configurable. Customization, high scale and transparency, new complexity of meta data management – this is only short list of challenges PLM developers are facing these days. New cloud software development paradigms created a completely new set of needs towards high availability, performance and cost. I’ve been talking about future of database technologies for CAD/PLM solutions two years ago. Navigate here to read my previous post. My conclusion back that time that PLM vendors will face the need to have new types of databases and data management solutions.

My attention was caught by GigaOM article two days ago – CAD giant Dassault leads new $14.2M investment in NuoDB. NuoDB is four years old database startup out of Cambridge, MA is promising to shift what we know about RDBMS into the next level. According to publications and press releases, NuoDB wants to re-write the rules for a 21st century database. Another GigaOM article presents 12 rules NuoDB defines to create a superset of existing RDBMS. Some interesting buzzwords you can see there – elastic scale out, single logical database, dynamic multi-tenancy, non-stop availability, etc.

Another one year old publication informs that Dassault Systems has tested NuoDB on their desktop and web applications. This fact confirms that Dassault is looking how to future develop cloud capabilities of their 3DEXPERIENCE (also known as V6 cloud platform). Here is my favorite passage:

Dassault Systemes, maker of 3D design software, has tested NuoDB on its Web and desktop applications extensively over the past year, said CTO Dave Tewksbary. In a presentation, Tewksbary went through NuoDB’s list of feature and performance claims and gave the company strong passing grades. However, Dassault focused on smaller implementations of the database during its tests, according to Tewksbary. "We haven’t gone as far as we’d like to go." Given the complexity of Dassault’s products, officials are eager to see how NuoDB performs when running on hundreds or thousands of nodes.

What is my conclusion? Cloud system development can change what we knew about databases and database management systems. The challenges of CAD and PLM companies to develop and maintain a diverse and highly scalable database management solution can turn them to be more interested in specialized cloud-oriented databases. Running from private and public cloud, enterprise software is not limited anymore to mainstream RDBMS prescribed by company IT. Even more, companies will be interested to develop and use the most efficient and cost effective database management solutions. It will help to develop future differentiation in technology and cost. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

The future of PLM vendors differentiation?

January 26, 2014


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


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


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

PDMish, PLMish and other CADPDLM bundles…

November 20, 2013


Engineering and manufacturing software is full of interesting TLAs that companies continuing to invent even these days. Only yesterday GrabCAD introduced Workbench enhancement under somewhat that can be considered as a very traditional name – Collaborative Product Development (CPD) Platform.

Chad Jackson, my long time blogging buddy published an article with fascinating title – ENOVIA Data Management: Less PDM-ish, More PLM-ish. Chad made a review of Enovia data management capabilities from Dassault System briefing. Read the article with multiple embedded tweet-quotes. Besides playing PDM vs. PLM naming game, article brings an important perspective of where Enovia data management architecture is going. Here is an interesting passage I captured:

CAD models have never been simple files. Lots of stuff have been, and continue to be, jammed into them. They contain far more than just geometry. They contain part numbers, so drawing BOMs populate automatically. They contain material properties, such that mass properties can be calculated. Over time, as more and more enterprise considerations needed to be taken into account, more non-geometry stuff has been jammed into CAD files. The problem with all this stuff in CAD files was that, unlike many other types of files, operating systems couldn’t understand the structure of information in CAD files.

So, what Enovia is doing differently? According to Chad’s comments -

Dassault Systèmes are trying to liberate all that stuff jammed into the CAD file. Here are some notes from my briefing with them. In short, they are taking non-geometric items in CAD files an turning them into meta-data that lives in ENOVIA. They are being turned into individual pieces of information that can be modified separately and independently from every other piece of information and the geometry. Of course, this meta-data is related and will live as a database item right alongside the file that contains the geometry.


It made me think about future trajectories of CAD/PDM/PLM integrations. I’ve been describing possible options in one of the posts last year – Multi-CAD PDM integrations: yesterday, today and tomorrow. The idea of CAD/PDM bundle I expressed there is in my view a reflection of what CATIA/Enovia is doing in data management. As I mentioned there, it solves the problem of version compatibility as well as provide a significant advantages in terms of functional richness. This is exactly what Chad demonstrated with CATIA/Enovia examples.

What is my conclusion? Integration remains a place where lots of innovation is happening. CAD, PDM and PLM integrations is a very challenging space. Customers have a huge demand to have vertically integrated product providing sufficient amount of features and what is mostly important a completely new level of user experience. It sounds like we can see more investment in this space coming from traditional vendors. CAD/PLM companies will try to integrate existing products into vertical suites connecting data and providing support for integrated product scenarios. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Will Tesla Motors build their own PLM system?

November 4, 2013


History of CAD and PLM development knows examples of home grown systems. 20-25 years ago, the idea to build their own CAD and PDM system was considered as an absolutely normal option. Since that time, many things changed. In my view, the last decade clearly demonstrated PDM/PLM trend towards using more OOTB (out-of-the-box) and ready to use solutions. I’m not sure what was a success rate (if somebody owns statistics, please share), but I can confirm a clear intent of manufacturing companies towards usage of packaged software provided by CAD/PLM vendors.

However, the business dynamics and requirements are changing very fast these days. Therefore, I wasn’t very surprised when I learn about how Tesla Motors (probably one of the most hyping and progressive car company in the world these days) is building their custom IT solutions. Navigate to TechCrunch article – Being A CIO At Tesla Motors, A Startup That Builds Cars And Its Own IT. The short writeup is speaking about how Tesla Motors is focusing on building a unique set of IT systems. Specifically it was related to building their own, Tesla-tailored ERP solutions. According to the article Tesla is focusing how to build an environment compliant to Tesla’s speed, agility and e-commerce demand. Here is an interesting passage:

The speed and agility Tesla needed in an ERP environment could not be found in the market, Vijayan said. SAP’s ERP tech was clearly not working for other car manufacturers… In four months, Vijayan and his team of more than 250 built the ERP system, which serves as the foundation of the electric carmaker’s operations. Now every department is using the same system without the need for making custom connectors, so different systems can work together. The company also built a world-class e-commerce system that is designed to help people buy cars as seamlessly as possible.

Tesla needed to build its own IT and its own e-commerce system due to the fundamental difference in its business model. For decades, auto manufacturers have sold their cars through local dealers, a fixture of every town in America. But Tesla sells its cars directly to customers. All the materials, the processes and the features need an operation that is uniquely designed so Tesla can sell its cars online.

Such high level of difference with standard ERP behavior made me think about potential of Tesla to go and build a complete customized PLM system tailored to needs of Tesla designers and supply chain. TechCrunch article says nothing about PLM and other design systems. The public references related to Tesla and PLM confirmed what I knew back in 2010 Tesla made a strategic decision to move towards Dassault System Catia V5 and Enovia V6 solutions. The original Dassault System press release is here. The only video about PLM and Tesla online I found is highlighting Tesla use of Dassault System tools. Watch this short movie. You will clearly see CATIA and ENOVIA V6 Design Central and Engineering Central with BOM management options.

What is my conclusion? I have no clear answer on the question placed in the title of this post. The IT innovation in manufacturing companies is getting interesting these days. The dynamic of business, pace of changes and specific customer requirements will require IT managers to innovate beyond the level of OOTB tools. Thinking about PLM space, customer focused configuration options combined with complexity of supply chain can be very challenging these days. These days Tesla is practically building a single model car – Model S. However, with new car model (model X) is coming soon, I can see the level of complexity growing as well as the needs for specific unique PLM system. It would be very interesting to see the change in the future. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

PLM Data Tagging Is Getting Some Traction

October 3, 2013


Tagging is one of the most popular ways to classify information. Tagging became a mainstream way to classify information in almost every web application these days. Initially introduced on photo sharing websites, tagging expanded almost everywhere. Tagging is an important feature of every "Web 2.0" solution. You can read more on wikipedia here. Here is snippet of definition.

Labeling and tagging are carried out to perform functions such as aiding in classification, marking ownership, noting boundaries, and indicating online identity. They may take the form of words, images, or other identifying marks. An analogous example of tags in the physical world is museum object tagging. In the organization of information and objects, the use of textual keywords as part of identification and classification long predates computers. However, computer based searching made the use of keywords a rapid way of exploring records.

I can divide tagging solution into two separate groups – automatic (machine) tagging and user-driven or collaborative tagging. The second one became popular on the web and called "folksonomy". Opposite of predefined classification (taxonomy), folksonomy is a collaborative way to classify information mostly in social and web applications.

A folksonomy is a system of classification derived from the practice and method of collaboratively creating and managing tags to annotate and categorize content;[1][2] this practice is also known ascollaborative tagging,[3] social classification, social indexing, and social tagging…. [S]ome of the characteristics of folksonomies by identifying two types: broad and narrow. A broad folksonomy is one in which multiple users tag particular content with a variety of terms from a variety of vocabularies, thus creating a greater amount of metadata for that content. A narrow folksonomy, on the other hand, occurs when a few users, primarily the content creator, tag an object with a limited number of terms.

Classification is an important element of every data management and information solution. PLM/PDM systems are (obviously) included. In my view, tagging can reduce the complexity of information search and discovery. I’ve been pitching "Tagging" as an innovative way to simplify data access in PLM systems. Navigate to my historical blog from 2009 – How Tagging can prevent PLM from a Compulsive Obsessive Disorder Problem?

Until now, I haven’t heard about any implementation of tagging in PLM systems. Earlier today, I was reading CIMdata update about Dassault Enovia products – ENOVIA Product Update: A CIMdata Highlight. One of the snippet of this publication referenced to a new solution produced by Dassault – IFWE Compass. Here is a passage speaking about "automatic tagging solution":

The IFWE Compass user interface—This new face of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform was shown briefly at the June Industry Analyst event, but this daylong session allowed us to see it support many more use cases. The automatic tagging and indexing of all managed information (called 6W) should provide significant benefits downstream. This tagging approach is not seen in offerings from other PLM solution providers.

What is my conclusion? Despite visible simplicity, tagging is hard task to accomplish. It required significant amount of data processing, computational power and sophisticated algorithms. It is hard to get it done automatically and it requires specific "collaborative" effort to apply it in a "folksonmical" way. My hunch Dassault acquired tagging technology from the acquisition of search vendor Exalead few years ago. The precision of tagging (especially when it done automatically) is a key. So, it would be very interesting to see implementation of this solution in a specific customer data corpus. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Dassault IFWE and PLM Cloud Switch

August 2, 2013

As you know, cloud is one of the topics that near and dear to me already long time. I’ve been covering PLM vendors and their cloud strategies for few years now. Maybe you remember my very old post from 2009 speaking about How will PLM applications change when they move to a cloud? Today it is almost history. Couple of other historical posts related to different phases of CAD and PLM cloud development – PLM Vendors, IT and Cloud strategies, PLM Cloud: Differentiations and anti-cloud rant? and Will Enterprise PLM embrace hybrid cloud?

While I was taking few days off with my family on Cape Cod, I found the following announcement made by Dassault Systems quite significant. Navigate to the following link to read more. In a nutshell, Dasasult announced new cloud portfolio of products available on premise, public cloud and private cloud. Here is my favorite passage explaining what cloud means for Dassault:

…the cloud is more than infrastructure and a delivery mechanism. The cloud is a way of working. It is where consumers voice their needs, their ideas, their feedback. It is where innovation is fostered and ideas take hold.

Dassault released the following video previewing IFWE Compass presenting the cloud portfolio in interconnected way. Take a look – the video is inspiring and provides compelling messages. I’d be very interested to see products when they will become available.

Dassault announcement made me think about PLM cloud switch. Looking on a perspective of cloud technologies and PLM trajectories for the last 4-5 years, I can confirm that PLM cloud switch actually happened. Practically all leading CAD/PLM companies confirmed in a certain way their commitment to have cloud strategy. Aras cloud, Autodesk cloud, Dassault cloud, Siemens PLM TeamCenter cloud. It would be interesting to see potential future announcement coming from PTC about their cloud strategies sooner than later.

What is my conclusion? PLM Cloud Switch happened. The devil is in details now. PLM comes to the phase when cloud/no-cloud won’t be a decision point anymore. Customers will have to explore the differentiation of cloud strategies, functions, implementations and make a decision. Functionality will be important, but implementation speed will make a difference as well. In the past, PLM implementations took long time. It was bad, but on the other side it locked down many customers from migrating to another (sometimes competitive) solution. It is interesting to see how new cloud switch strategies will make a difference now. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Will IBM return to PLM software business?

March 4, 2013

It is almost 2 years since Dassault Systems completed the transaction to acquire and integrate IBM PLM operations into DS. The historical IBM/DS press release is here. At the same time, IBM is continue to focus on product innovation. Navigate here and may learn about IBM product development innovation, system engineering and lifecycle support. In parallel, the adoption of PLM software is growing. More companies in the world are implementing PLM and requires more products, systems, solutions and services in PLM. For the last 3-5 years we can see how IBM is pumping infrastructure software companies… Does it mean we will see again IBM services and services solving manufacturing and product development problems? I’ve been reading Seeking Alpha’s article “So What Does IBM Mean When It Says It’s In The Solutions Business?” explains what type of solutions IBM will be providing in the future:

“It is not individual packaged products per se, but groups of related software products, services, and systems. And we know at very high level where IBM is going to focus its solutions efforts. IBM has always been about software, services, and systems – although in recent years the first two have taken front stage. The flip side is that some of these solutions areas are overly broad. Smarter Analytics is a catch-all covering the familiar areas of business intelligence and performance management, predictive analytics and analytical decision management, and analytic applications.”

I found the following video about IBM usage of system engineering to streamline smarter product development quite interesting.

During the last PI Congress in Berlin 3 weeks ago, CIMdata was talking about the need of integration between configuration management, PLM and system engineering. Peter Bilello of CIMdata mentioned such integration as an absolutely needed element of future of product innovation.


What is my conclusion? Business intelligence, decision support, system engineering and integration. These functions are quite desired by manufacturing companies to solve prod development problems. Large companies these days are looking how to streamline product development processes. Enterprise PLM business seems to be impossible without system services and integration support. IBM is collecting a significant software stacks that can be used for this purposes. Maybe we see IBM renaissance in PLM soon? Just a thought…

Best, Oleg

Why PLM Experience is a bad idea?

November 26, 2012

Experience. This word is getting into our lexicon and we start using it often. It is a nice word. We like it. It reminds us success of Apple, flawless way to find information using Google maps, slick Macbook Air and many other things that we started to call “experience” now. I took few days off blogging. If you follow my social channels, you noticed my Florida experience. Navigate here to take a look on my Everglades experience as well as mobile photo stream experience with kids. During this vacation break, I continued my experiments with two photographic experiences – iPhone and Canon EOS. I made it first couple of months ago during my Israel trip. My initial conclusion about the experience was mostly about the picture quality tradeoff. However, last week, most of my experiments were about expanding experience scope to the overall process of photo capturing, processing and sharing. Here is my conclusion in a single word – connected. Canon experience was mostly disconnected. At the same, iPhone experience was connected and social. Speaking in business terms, I had low cost and fast ROI with iPhone solution – decent quality pictures were uploaded and shared almost in real time. Most of my Canon EOS pictures are still somewhere between flash cards and computer discs.

I want to switch to PLM now. Nowadays, PLM vendors are also thinking about Experience. You can think about the experience like a fashion. To check about fashion you go to Paris. Maybe it is just a coincidence, but Dassault Systemes was the first PLM company officially re-branded their PLM into 3DExperience. Coming late after all CAD/PLM bloggers already posted about DS 3DExperience, I made my first check with blog posts. Deelip posted What Exactly is 3DEXPERIENCE? couple of days ago. Here is my favorite passage from his post:

Simply put, 3DEXPERIENCE is the term that Dassault Systemes is using to describe the tools and infrastructure that it offers its customers to help differentiate themselves and their products/services from their competition. Basically, Dassault Systemes is offering their customers ways to offer their customers downstream a better experience while using their products thereby enhancing the value of their products a great deal. 3DEXPERIENCE is really as simple as that.

Another blog by Jos Voskuil – My take on 3DExperience provides an additional insight how 3DExperience can be explained and compared with PLM. Here is the explanation I captured:

I see the 3DExperience strategy from DS in this light. The classical scope of PLM tools and practices does not provide a base for the current and future markets. The solution is bigger than tools, it is the focus on the total experience (I could not find another name either). Dassault Systemes new 3DExperiences is understandable as a way to introduce a bigger picture than PLM alone. If every company needs THE EXPERIENCE approach has to be seen. In addition I believe DS still needs to work on more understandable examples where the 3DE approach is a differentiator. For sure there is PLM inside.

PLM and “Other Experience” Observation

I want to dig a bit in the definition of word “experience”. Navigate to the following link in Merriam-Webster dictionary. Here is one of the definitions – experience is practical knowledge, skill, or practice derived from direct observation of or participation in events or in a particular activity. Another link to Wikipedia. Experience as a general concept comprises knowledge of or skill of some thing or some event gained through involvement in or exposure to that thing or event.[1] The history of the word experiencealigns it closely with the concept of experiment. For example, the word experience could be used in a statement like: “I have experience in fishing”.

Here are few examples of “experience” in our everyday consumer life. Google Experience – you type, search, got results in the way of accessing website, weather information, flight status, maps, directions,etc. Mac computer experience – you buy a computer, experience your personal interaction including unpacking, installing, transferring data and and getting everything you need to start your work. iPhone experience – you get your phone combining all important everyday tasks in a mobile way – phone calls, emails, internet access and digital camera. Facebook experience – you register, connect to people and share photos with your friends and family.

I tried to compare my consumer experience examples with the definition of 3DExperience captured from Jos’ blog: 3DExperience – “a way to introduce a bigger picture than PLM alone” or Deelip’s blog – Dassault Systemes is offering their customers ways to offer their customers downstream a better experience while using their products thereby enhancing the value of their products a great deal. None of these definitions gave me something that I can “experience” similar to iPhone, Google, Facebook.

PLM – Agents vs. Users

Here is my hypothesis about PLM experience. I think, in many aspects, overall, PLM has no direct experience with users. PLM, as a business software, sold to companies. In most of the cases, IT and other people responsible for PLM in an organization are taking the decisions based on zillions of factors – functions, cost, usability, openness, etc. However, IT is not making any real activities with PLM software. IT doesn’t design, manage data, exchange information, etc. IT plays a role of “agents” to purchase PLM for a company. At the same time, in most of the cases, real users are disconnected from the process of decision making. In best situations, end users are responsible for evaluating of software during the test drive.

PLM Agents (IT) can clearly speak about “PLM buying experience”. They can speak about PLM business value, ROI, cost. At the same time, IT agents have no clue about what end-users are experiencing when they face actual software.

What is my conclusion? You need to use a device or software to learn the experience. PLM is not different. However, I can see multiple aspects of experience. There is no “single PLM experience”. It is probably good for marketing brochures. You need a different resolution to build a good experience. The experience is good in details. In consumer software, one click can kill you. In business software, you need to differentiate between user experience, business experience, company experience, reseller experience. One size doesn’t fit all. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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