PLM Wrappers and Motor City 1970s

November 21, 2012

Are you familiar with PLM platform diagrams? You can see lots of them in presentations, marketing materials, websites and conferences. Last year, during one of my presentations about PLM technological alternatives, I pulled bunch of these diagrams together. You can see them on the slide below. Usually, vendors call them “PLM platform” or “PLM architecture” diagrams.

One of the observations, I’ve made is that all these diagrams are using similar words and categories to explain what it does. Different colors, styles, pictures, growing number of boxes, but these platforms are essentially repeating themselves from year to year. Interesting enough, if you remove identity of companies, you can hardly lose the orientation – most of the diagrams are in indistinguishable.

I call this effect PLM wrappers. It reflects the interest of vendors to develop and package different vertical solutions and add-ins. Recent Dassault conference introduced a new name – “experience”. Read the following post by Jim Brown providing a good summary of what “experience” is. This is my favorite passage:

You will hear the new term floating “3D Experiences” around a lot from Dassault. Actually their are two more terms you may hear, “Social Industry Experiences” and “Engineered Business Experiences” but I took away that they are effectively different names for the same thing. Dassault teams are looking at specific business processes across their product lines (or “Brands” as DS likes to call them) to focus on what their customers in specific vertical markets need to do in order to get a job done. The best definition I heard came via twitter from Monica Schnitger quoting DS VP Stéphane Declée:

It made me think about American car manufacturers assembly lines back in 1970s. Remember how car manufacturers produced different car options? To change production line was too complex. The cost of changing assembly lines was too high. Ford, GM and other companies operated them “as is”. The difference between car models came in a form of body panels, chrome parts and options. Under all these options, the cars were essentially the same old vehicle.

What is my conclusion? The cost of re-engineering of PLM platforms is too high. PLM vendors are playing “catch-up” strategies by trying to achieve a completeness of their solutions and platforms. The number of boxes on PLM diagrams is growing. Will it make PLM solutions better? I doubt. The key question about flexibility and cost of change remains not answered. Automotive manufacturing history is well know. You can learn about it from Wikipedia. What will happen with PLM City in 10 years? A good question to ask. Detroit is not my favorite place on the planet these days. YMMV (your mileage may vary) is the standard disclaimers used by car manufacturers in Motor City. Just my thoughts and opinion…

Best, Oleg


Why PLM is more complicated than Google?

November 16, 2012

Integration is a tough job. Especially when it comes to the enterprise software. The typical manufacturing company landscape is siloed it contains many systems – office application, email, content management, CAD, CAM, CAE, PDM, PLM, etc. Beyond that set of systems, every company has ERP and few additional enterprise systems. In my view, the demand of people these days is to have integrated environment. In PLM, the discussion about “integrated vs. best of breed environment” can get very hot. As an example you navigate to the following Tech4PD video debates by Jim Brown and Chad Jackson – Granularity vs. Integration: Suites vs. Best-in-class PLM.

Interesting enough, I found the web environment these days has near the same level of integration as enterprise environment. Google’s environment very often provides an appealing use case too. Think about Gmail, Calendar, Google Drive, Web and some additional Google systems. How to help people to have integrated and seamless environment? Integrated search is one of the ways to solve the problem. Google is trying to solve the problem by providing integrated Google personal search that capability to reach outside of Gmail and collect information from other Google applications. I submitted to evaluate this feature using my personal gmail account and hope to share my feedback with you later.

PLM vendors are experimenting with integrated search user experience too. You can see them in the different examples of technological and product announcements as well as acquisitions PLM companies made during past 2 years – Dassault Systemes Exalead, Autodesk Inforbix, Siemens PLM Active Workspace, Aras Enterprise search and some others.

However, integrated search is a complicated problem. Even Google – the absolute technological leader in a search domain is confirming the complexity of search beyond the web. Navigate to the following article to read more – Google Amps Up Personal Search to Combine Gmail, Calendar, Drive and More published by All Things D last month.

To me, the most notable passage in this article is related to the complexity of the integration and integrated search.

Back in August, Google noted its Gmail index is as large or larger than its Web corpus, but with much higher and more complicated privacy requirements. All of these personal search experiments are available only in English and for personal Gmail accounts.

What is my conclusion? Search and data is a difficult problem. Enterprise and PLM environment clearly provides a more complicated case compared to public web in terms of search, content processing, permission and business logic. Brutal computing force helps, but it is not an ultimate solution for integrated environment. You need to have domain knowledge and probably apply some advanced engineering to solve this problem. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Picture credit newmediaandmarketing.com


PLM Cloud Interest and AAA PLM Players

October 29, 2012

The interest to cloud PLM is growing these days. At the beginning of this year, I discussed future PLM business model during the PLM Innovation conference in Munich. You can navigate to my historical post here. You can see lots of conversations about cloud these days. However, until now, only one from major PLM players – Dassault, was playing cloud game. As it was mentioned by Bernard Charles during DSCC 2011 event, Dassault invested 2B into building of the unique online cloud platform. This is not true any more. Earlier last week, Siemens PLM announced the availability of TeamCenter on the cloud. Navigate here to read Siemens PLM announcement. According to Siemens PLM:

Teamcenter on the cloud enables companies to move some, or all, of their computing infrastructure to a third-party cloud service provider versus investing in their own hardware. This gives customers cost effective access to enterprise grade IT infrastructure and resources without the need for capital expenditure. Siemens now supports Teamcenter on three of the leading cloud services, Microsoft Windows Azure, IBM SmartCloud™ Enterprise+ and Amazon Web Services. The company has completed a certification and enablement program for Teamcenter delivered on each of these service provider’s IaaS offerings.

I found an interesting writeup about TeamCenter on the cloud made by PJ of TEC. Navigate to this link to read -Siemens Teamcenter Going to the PLM Cloud. PJ is analyzing what is behind TeamCenter cloud announcement. This is an important passage, in my view, which explains that:

While the benefits such as faster time to value, dynamic scalability, and lower TCO are indisputable, this is just the typical first cloud-enabling step of moving the infrastructure to the cloud. Certainly, there is also the benefit from accessing the PLM system from the Internet, and at the analyst event, we also saw a demo of a mobile user interface (UI) in the cloud. But our understanding was that Siemens is not yet going to provide a subscription model or a multitenant cloud.

At the same time, PJ concludes that despite cloud announcement, TeamCenter is not adopting ‘cloud PLM’ business by moving towards subscription model. I didn’t find any mentioning of subscription prices as well as information about future announcement. Siemens PLM press release mentioned only “business flexibility”, as was mentioned by TeamCenter cheif Eric Sterling. Here is the quote:

“The key benefit of Teamcenter on the cloud is the business flexibility it provides,” said Eric Sterling, Senior Vice President, Lifecycle Collaboration Software, Siemens PLM Software. “In today’s ever changing global landscape, the flexibility to dynamically manage infrastructure on the cloud gives customers the ability to scale up computing resources with demand and more importantly, scale down costs if demand decreases. This enables organizations to effectively manage IT budgets as an operating expense versus capital expense which can improve profitability.

AAA PLM?

I learned an interesting term in PJ’s article – “Triple A” PLM players. As I mentioned in my earlier article, Open Source and subscription-based model used by cloud PLM apps are two major PLM business disruption forces. PJ summarized it by calling three vendors – Aras, Arena Solutions and Autodesk PLM (AAA):

Siemens acknowledged that its main interest is still the perpetual license play. The vendor admitted that the so-called Triple A PLM players—Arena Solutions, Aras Corp., and Autodesk 360 PLM— are disruptive forces in terms of PLM deployment and licensing. Siemens pledged to be responsive to the market—i.e., it is constantly reviewing its practices—but everything needs to be good for both the vendor and its customers. Term-based licenses and Siemens Finance Services were suggested as possible options in the meantime.

PLM cloud awareness

I usually do my “reality check” on Google trends. You can see that now “PLM cloud” is now a visible trend. At least, you can see it on Google’s trends, which confirms the growing cloud interest from players and customers in engineering and manufacturing space. Even it is not saying much to prove the adoption and customer experience with cloud PLM, it is a confirmation of the trend and strategic direction.

plm-cloud-google-trend.png

What about PTC / Windchill?

After TeamCenter cloud announcement, PTC Windchill is the only product (vendor) that didn’t refresh their interest in a cloud PLM play. Windchill has long time an agreement with IBM about hosting of Windchill on IBM servers. You can see this offering is available here, but I PTC didn’t provide any recent updates about that offering as well as a preview about future availability of Windchill on the cloud. You can only see IBM application on demand delivery model here.

What is my conclusion? In my view, customers are starting to recognize the value of the cloud technologies for PLM. It comes in multiple aspects – IT infrastructure optimization, business models allowing to pay for services as you need them, global access and many others. It would be interesting to see how cloud technologies and product offering will be developed by PLM vendors in coming years.

Best, Oleg


PLM Innovation: Who will provide PLM to Boeing in 2015?

October 25, 2012

I’m in Atlanta these days attending PLM Innovation Americas conference. Today is the first day, and I’m still expecting many things to come. Nevertheless, here is the thing that made me to blog. I’ve been attending first keynote made by Kevin Fowler or Boeing Commercial Airplanes . The name of the presentation – The sky’s the limit? Reaching for the value of PLM at Boeing Commercial Airplanes. The presentation provided a very interesting retrospective on how PLM developed at BCA (Boeing Commercial Airplanes) for the last 20 years. In my view, Boeing is one of the companies that stands at the root of PLM development back 25 years. Boeing fundamentally influenced the way PLM tools were developed by vendors like Dassault Systems and Metaphase (now Siemens PLM).

Growth of PLM system was driven by the need to support development and manufacturing processes. The ultimate request was to provide additional features to product development processes. Boeing moved from spatial integration (777) to build integration (737-next-gen) and functional integration (787). It means more and more features. The following slides show a very interesting trend related to Boeing PLM Value.

As you can see, functionality is growing. However, total cost of ownership is growing too, which is not very good sign. The most disappointing factor is related to usability of PLM systems. The usability of PLM tools is going down, which confirms the fact PLM is struggling from complexity and user experience. The level of information complexity at Boeing is impressing – 1B (Billion) parts to manage during the release of aircraft, Boeing has 12000 aircrafts in service and operation, Boeing employees are sending 63M (Million) emails during the month. Boeing engineers need to use multiple tools during their working day.

However, the most important message I captured from Boeing presentation was related the future evolution of PLM system. According to the Boeing, all PLM systems Boeing is currently running are approaching their end of life. Take a look on the following slide presenting four generations of Boeing PLM systems. Actually, it represents only three generations. Boeing put a question mark on the generation of PLM tools that need to come in 2015.

What is my conclusion? It is very interesting to see how large companies are turning towards usability of PLM tools. In the past, usability wasn’t a big deal for enterprise companies. Nowadays, end users cannot tolerate bad user experience. According to Boeing, their users are opening about 19 user interfaces to get data. Future PLM systems need to come with a different level of usability and user experience. The expectation level will be set by iPhone, Google, Facebook and other consumer tools. PLM vendors need to make a note. Important. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM Think Tank – July Top 5

July 29, 2012

Usually, we expect some relaxation during summer time. Even we are still in end of July, this summer already provided lots of events, news and surprises. Last week was dominated by news about financial activities of Dassault Systems and PTC. Week before was marked by Autodesk acquiring SocialCam for 60 million dollars. I can see lots of activity and innovation happen in engineering and manufacturing software. One of these innovations is introduction of modern browser techniques to the space of CAD and Viewer collaborations. Companies like Sunglass.io and GrabCADannounced their viewing capabilities available. I will continue to monitor the industry from "beyond PLM" viewpoint and share this news with you. Now, let me move to the traditional top 5 stories.

What is the future of PLM databases?

Database technology is a fundamental part of everything in enterprise software. However, after 25 years I can see some changes demanded. The complexity of product lifecycle problems brings the need of new concepts in data modeling and data management. One of the main questions – how to break the boundary of a single database? This is a key question, in my view. It will solve the problem of logical scalability and provide a platform for future information discovery.

Why Engineers don’t like company private social networks?

In my view, Facebook IPO put some cold water on some ‘social heads’. I think, PLM companies are missing some points in the space of social networking for enterprise. Here is my list of suspects – complicated user experience created by social PLM pioneers, anti-social engineering nature, engineer’s focus on “cool stuff” and ignorance of corporate oriented tools.
Co-browsing and future of CAD design collaboration

Collaboration in design is endless topic for innovation. I think the idea of collaborative browsing can “hold the water”. How many times you worked with shared screen on your computer? I did it many times. To have multiple engineers working on the same design can be an interesting option in your future CAD application in the browser.

"Alte-Zachen" PLM and new business models

In my previous life, ‘Alte Zachen’ person was taking old stuff away. I never knew what happens to this stuff after. The same about “second hand” PLM software. What will be the value of re-selling and buying existing licenses? I can some interesting work for lawyers to be done in this space. The main personage of “Pretty Woman” movie was buying companies having financial troubles and sell them apart for a significant profit. Will future PLM innovators buy existing PLM alte zachen for their future profit? A good question to ask… Just my thoughts.

PLM Dress Code Factoids

The dress code of PLM events is different from CAD and consumer events. Few people in PLM industry are still dreaming about how to follow ERP success. PLM companies and event organizers are dreaming about how to bring more executives to their events. They are key players in PLM strategic decision making. Dress code is part of the agenda to make PLM event comfortable for execs. I guess CIOs and other corporate execs feel wrong sitting next to engineers in blue jeans. I also believe some country and location specifics can be considered too. I rarely see suits and ties during events in Israel and California. At the same time, it looks quite appropriate in Germany and some other places in Europe.

Best, Oleg

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net


PLM, Mobile Devices and Capturing Input

July 25, 2012

Any mobile device these days is an extremely powerful capturing tool. With the latest development of front and back end cameras, the ability of the mobile device to perform as a scanner, image and video recorder becomes second to none. The ability to capture photo and video open lots of opportunities to innovate. One example – look on the statistics of camera usage on Flickr:

Another example. Just think about latest acquisition made by Autodesk – SocialCam, company focused on social video sharing. One of the fundamental capabilities on SocialCam app was to capture video by a mobile device (like iPhone or Android).

I can potentially imagine many other (fewer socially fancy scenarios) where using a camera can significantly change and even disrupt existing processing many manufacturing companies have in place these days. Think about maintenance, support, operation, manufacturing problem reports, field construction reports and many others. It also can be applied in analyses and other CAE tools. The most interesting "capturing capability" I’ve seen was in Autodesk ForceEffect application.

Another example of content capturing and merge is 3DVIA mobile app:

I think about two capabilities PLM/PDM systems lack today – ability to capture input from mobile devices and the ability to manage a significant amount of media content. Let me speak about them a bit more.

Capturing Media Input (Photo, Video)

It sounds like a simple task, but in fact, it lacks almost in all PLM tools (even those that claim they are HTML5 mobile browser compatible). Welcome to engineering reality. You can see applications running in the mobile browser, but it lack of proper support for camera and other capturing capabilities.

Content Management and Storage

Once captured, image and/or video needs to be handled and managed well. It starts from the initial storage and transmission. Then it goes to the ability of PDM/PLM system to manage this content, which can be significant in size, requires the ability to be sorted, search, applying meta-data, relating to other information sources and many others. You hardly can find these capabilities in most of the available PDM/PLM systems. They are not adjusted for such a type of content.

What is my conclusion? Most of CAD, PDM and PLM vendors today are claiming mobility and support for modern devices. However, in many cases, it is about taking "existing system" and saying – it is available on a mobile platform. I wrote about it in my post – PLM mobile gold rush. Did vendors miss the point? At the same time, not to miss small details becomes so important. This is something PLM vendors need to learn from mobile app developers in consumer space and web. Extra-click and bad user experience can destroy the future of your app. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Why Engineers Don’t Like Company Private Social Networks?

July 22, 2012

Couple of weeks ago, I discussed the potential of Yammer / Microsoft bundle to influence PLM field – Will Microsoft-Yammer kill Social PLM… Not yet. Actually, it seems to me Yammer indeed created some influence on what startups in PLM field are doing.Vuuch, last announcement introduces the ability to create company discussion groups.

In a nutshell, it looks exactly like Yammer idea. The employees of any company can register with their company emails and get an access to discussions inside of the same domain. Here is the link to a short video I found in the email from Vuuch:

Social PLM attempts

In my view, Vuuch is one of the leaders in trying to apply "social-networking" ideas in product development and enterprise. I can see similar attempts coming from large vendors too. The videos below show Dassault 3DSwYm and Windchill SocialLink experimenting with the idea of communities for product development.

Can we ask engineers to behave in a social way?

When you speak about communities, the adoption is a key. Yammer claimed 5 million users and 85% of Fortune 500 companies are using Yammer. Here is the link on Yammer’s Crunch base profile :

With a Freemium model, Yammer enables employees to voluntarily adopt the service. A premium version is available to paying customers and includes additional administrative and security controls, integration with other applications, priority customer service, and a dedicated customer success manager. More than 5 million users, including employees from 85 percent of the Fortune 500, have adopted Yammer’s Software-as-a-Service solution.

I wasn’t able to find numbers related to user adoption of social PLM tools. Are you aware about successful implementation of private social communities in product development and manufacturing? I wanted to raise a provoking question – what is wrong with social PLM communities? Is it about not attractive content, user experience, absence of interest and/or need?

Recently, GrabCAD raised quite many splashes in the engineering space – 250,000 engineers, 45,000 CAD models and 3M downloads. However, GrabCAD is not in the business of private communities for product development. Taking into account their latest announcement, I have to say "not yet". Another interesting example of community building is Local Motors – the place for people (engineers included) to create influencing vehicles together.

What is my conclusion? I think, PLM companies are missing some points in the space of social networking for enterprise. Here is my list of suspects – complicated user experience created by social PLM pioneers, anti-social engineering nature, engineer’s focus on "cool stuff" and ignorance of corporate oriented tools. These are just my guesses and thoughts… I’m interested in your opinion. Speak your mind…

Best, Oleg

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net


PLM Cloud and New Microsoft Office Reality

July 16, 2012

For many years, Microsoft and Office were 100% associated with PC. Not any more. If you follow earlier news from today, Microsoft announced of the biggest releases for a long time – Office 2013. Long awaited release brings lots of new stuff in the Microsoft Office eco-system. Navigate here to read more from Business Insider Live blog post. The following picture is a very good one slide summary of what Office 2013 is about.

So, cloud is one of them. And it seems to me a very important one. Microsoft is going in a very sophisticated way to introduce the cloud to the masses via the hybrid Office 2013 approach that took roots first in Office 365 – PLM Excels and Microsoft Cloud Office 365. My assessment one year back that vendors need to start thinking about what will happen in the day Office will run seamlessly between cloud and PC. Here, the day just came. Here is a passage from the previous post – by default Office App store documents in the cloud, but you can save them locally.

The official statement Microsoft is taking about the cloud and PC combination. Navigate to the following post to read more – What Office 2013 will mean for your business. The following passage makes it clear

Microsoft has been saying for years that Office isn’t just the familiar desktop applications; it’s a family of applications plus servers that enable extra features in the applications, so running Office on the desktop without the Office servers means you miss out. Get Office 2013 through Office 365 and you get the servers as well. Unless you chose the Office 365 Home Premium plan – which is intended for consumers and comes with 20GB of document storage on SkyDrive – buying an Office 365 subscriptions to Office 2013 also get you Office 365 accounts with the Exchange, SharePoint and Lync services.

What is my conclusion? Microsoft Office is a dominant part of many PLM implementations. Excel is the most widely adopted PLM technology. Maybe the last statement is a joke, but only “half joke”, in my view. Microsoft is steering the wheel towards cloud and services. It will work in favor of PLM vendors pushing toward the cloud as an opportunity -Autodesk PLM 360, Arena Solutions, Dassault and Aras. It will be interesting to see the reaction of other PLM market players. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM and Physical Experience

July 14, 2012

Design and engineering world are changing fast these days. 20 years ago, the objective of CAD and other engineering software vendors was to replace “drafting board”. Then analysis, simulations and digital mockup came to place. It allowed to model and optimize some of the product development and manufacturing stages such as physical testing, clash analyzes and others.

However, technology is not standing still. I can see more technologies applied actually in the world of real physical products. We can track manufactured items with RFID devices, airplanes, cars and other transportation tools are equipped with many devices that can track and control behavior of products during their real physical life. I wanted to bring some interesting examples. Earlier I posted about Google self-driving cars. A month ago, Nevada DMV issued first registration to test Google self-driving cars on public streets. The following pictures shows what “driverless car” can see.

One more example. Earlier this week, I learned about research Ford project focusing on connection between car and driver. Navigate to the following link – Ford’s Effort to Design a Car That Knows When You’re Stressed. In a nutshell, Ford is trying to capture biometry from car driver and apply it to car behavior. One of the most fascinating is “don’t disturb” feature. Here is my favorite passage:

Ford is researching ways to make the car more aware of how the driver is feeling and when they might need some sort of assistance. In the case of the ill-timed phone call, a driver-aware car could switch a connected phone to “Do Not Disturb” mode for a minute or so, until things even out and it’s safer to answer a call (hands free, of course).

Another example is actually coming from the opposite side – modeling and simulation. I was reading Kenneth Wong Virtual Desktop blog – Driven by Software: Dassault Systemes Launches Smart, Safe & Connected Car. Kenneth is talking about last announcement of DS related to development of embedded software systems for cars. Dassault is not planning to develop cars. According to the article, DS software is making early vehicle validation.

Dassault Systemes’ solution is a collection of “applications implemented in a modular approach and focused on early virtual vehicle validation.” In the company’s own words, it’s a “new transportation & mobility solution experience for embedded systems.”

The following video of Dimola- Dynamic model behavior and simulation demonstrate some of the ideas.

These are only two examples, but there are many more evidence about applying modeling algorithms and software allowing to control the behavior of cars and other manufactured products – BMW autonomous driving system, “intelligent co-pilot” for drivers developed by MIT PhD student and other examples.

What is my conclusion? The connection between virtual and physical experience is one of the fields that will drive lots of innovations in a near future. To be able to model physical behavior at the stage of design connected with the ability to control physical device can be an interesting field to explore. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


What is the future of PLM VARs?

June 22, 2012

Transformation is coming to many places these days. Look how the internet, mobile, cloud (and not only…) transformed our world. You can hardly can find a place that behaves similar to how it was back 10-15 years ago. However, wait a minute… What about CAD, PDM, PLM VARs? Are they the same as before? Our consumption behaviors are changing, the ways we are buying software are changing. Maybe it is a time to re-think the way we sell the software too?

I came to this topic few times before. Navigate to The future of PLM Consultancyand Will PLM Channels survive cloud era? to read my previous posts about that topic. Two main conclusions – 1/cloud is not destroying consultancy business; 2/the transformation of distribution and service channels will be impacted by cloud software.

Few days ago, I came across an interesting article – VARs want SuperVAD with sales and tech skills by CRN Sam Trendall. I can see the demand for technical skills as something very typical for Engineering and PLM sales channels. With the high level of product complexity and cloud service delivery, technical qualification will be one of the differentiation factors for VARs to compete. Another important service is go to market. The cost of customer acquisition is one of the most critical factors for successful cloud services’ sales. Here is an interesting quote from CRN article:

A survey of VARs across Europe, commissioned by VAD Exclusive Networks, finds that the big three distribution virtues coveted by resellers are, in order of importance: technical excellence; marketing support; and credit facilities. Some 70 per cent of respondents consider lead generation to be a value-added service of the utmost importance. Two-thirds said the same of the ability to act as a VAR’s proxy in technical pre-sales environments, while round-the-clock Level 1-2 post-sales support was highly prized by 64 per cent of resellers.

There are several companies experimenting with cloud PLM software – Autodesk (PLM 360), Dassault Systems and Arena. Siemens PLM and PTC are not providing any cloud services today. PTC Windchill hosted by IBM is probably an exclusion (I haven’t heard about it already long time). I never heard about SolidWorks VARs selling n!Fuze product. In my view, the most interesting place of experiments among VARs is Autodesk. How Autodesk will organize PLM 360 distribution and services? This is an interesting question to ask.

What is my conclusion? In my view, technical skills and online marketing services will be the differentiation factors for VARs in the future cloud PLM business. We are in the beginning of this process. Interesting and challenging time with lots of opportunities. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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