Dassault PLM for next generation – zero files and cultural change

May 23, 2014

plm-ds-cultural-change-3dexperience

Usually, it takes time and money to implement PLM system for a large company. This work requires understanding of customer business processes, learning about problems, establishing strategy and making actual implementation. This is what many people implementing PLM is calling – business transformation. It takes time to people to adopt to a new way of work and new product development processes.

I have mixed opinion about business transformation. It is clearly good thing- to establish new and clean way to manage product development. However, it comes together with price tag of implementation complexity – a result, PLM stuck to provide solution for SME. As we speak, many manufacturing companies are looking for agile alternative of complex and expensive business transformation PLMs.

The new buzzword of modern technological reality is "experience". We don’t develop software application any more – we design experience. This is a nice term and it clearly came as a result of modern software web and consumer oriented platforms. Apple and some other companies played a significant role in that change. Changes are coming to PLM world as well.

I just learned, about future Dassault System plans to re-invent PLM with 3DExperience. I’ve been reading Engineering.com PLM/ERP article – "Demolish the silos in PLM": Why Dassault’s Bernard Charles believes in the 3D Experience. Have a read – this is an interesting article about future DS plans.

So what I found there? Cultural change. Not more and not less. New Dassault PLM platform will will demand cultural change. Well, what does it mean practically? It is not clear yet. I found few passages that brings some engineering language about meaning of 3DExperience.

“The zero error BOM (Bill of Materials) demands a zero file solution. 3DEXPERIENCE brings the zero file world into the engineering environment; what we do is to connect directly to product data, not to files”.

"CAD for instance, has been a separate world all these years, where you’ve been collecting requirements from disconnected environments, and the same types of barriers surrounds the job all the way through product development to manufacturing."

The main idea behind DS’ 3DExperience is to provide the IT tools needed to break down the silos and connect the development work not only to software, electronics and manufacturing, but also to the end-customers.

Breaking silos was PLM objective for many years. I’ve been discussing it on my blog before. For example, take a look here -PLM, Organization and Information Silos: Good, Bad and Ugly. Bill of materials solution has also very siloed organization – PLM: Bill of materials and silo syndrome. For the last 20 years, breaking organizational silos was always IT task focused on information integration. I remember few successes, but it was a very complicated and tedious work. Will 3DExperience do it differently? Who knows. The jury is still out to watch it.

What is my conclusion? I think, the key question is related to cultural change. How new 3D Experience platform will support the way organizations are transforming into horizontal, flat and connected structures? If the process of natural organization transformation will match new concepts and philosophy of 3Dexperience platform, we might see some good outcome. The biggest problem of PLM for the last 10-15 years was adoption that required organizational transformation. If cultural change will eliminate the need of PLM to fight for organization change, we can see the adoption level of 3DExperience system skyrocketing in the future. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Top PLM Vendors. Let’s face it – every vendor has its strength…

May 20, 2014

PLM-vendors-SWAT

One size doesn’t fit all. This is especially true in enterprise software. It also applies to engineering organization and manufacturing companies. Every organization is trying to come with a strategy how to organize engineering, product development, manufacturing, maintenance and other related functions. So, the same applies to PLM vendors. It is hard to make “apples to apples” comparison of PLM vendors and products. Details are important and without knowing small parts, it is hard to recommend as well as publish something that can be re-used in a general way. However, what to do if you need to choose or at least make some comparison of PLM vendors and their products? I’m sure you are familiar with SWOT analysis. It made me think about PLM vendors SWOT…

My first reaction was – no… this is probably mission impossible. In the past Gartner made Magic Quadrants. It provided a reliable source of information to compare software products and vendors. The last PLM Magic Quadrant (PLM MQ) I remember was done in 2007. I think Gartner stopped to produce them. I reproduced last PLM MQ in my blog – PLM Perfect Storm 2012. I hope you will agree with me – it is very hard to made any decision based on that chart.

PLM analyst Jim Brown from Tech Clarity produced a very interesting set of publications recently – Strategic visions of major PLM players. In addition to that, Jim also published separate articles describing PLM vision for Autodesk, Dassault Systems, PTC and Siemens PLM. It is a very good read – I certainly recommend you to spend few days analyzing what is strategic mind of key PLM vendors.

Honestly, I cannot see how possible to create a generic PLM vendors SWOT. Kill me if you want. A specific comparison can be done for one customer case or industry. Nevertheless, I didn’t want to give up and wanted to finish this post. It made me think about what is single top strength of every PLM vendor. Well, this is probably doable… Because, each of these top 4 vendors is doing many different things, I need to scope what I mean by PLM here. The agreement about “what is PLM?” is another interesting discussion topic. I won’t go there today. In current post, I limit PLM to what called cPDM (according to segmentation proposed by another analytic company – CIMdata).

So, too many disclaimers… This is a time to show things off. Here is the list of top 4 PLM vendors with single, most significant strength. I listed vendors alphabetically, to prevent any speculation about order or priorities.

1- Autodesk PLM

Autodesk is a new player in PLM market. Back in 2012, Autodesk introduced cloud PLM offering – PLM360. A combination of this story together with Autodesk broad reach in all industries and markets is clear advantage. So, here is Autodesk PLM strength: Autodesk PLM360 cloud story, channel and partnership opportunity.

2- Dassault Systems

The history of Dassault PLM is going back to first large PLM implementations Dassault made in aerospace and defense industry. In my view, Dassault focus was to create an ultimate integration story between CATIA products and related parts of data management and collaboration of ENOVIA. Thus, I can see CATIA-ENOVIA vertical integration as the major Dassault Systems’ PLM strength.

3- PTC

Originally started from Pro-E (now Creo) product line, PTC developed and acquired several PDM/PLM products. These days, PTC PLM offering relies on Windchill platform. Windchill is a very mature product that keeps the original pure web architecture. Windchill scalable product and architecture is clearly strongest part of PLM from PTC.

4- Siemens PLM

Siemens PLM has probably the largest PLM (cPDM) marketshare covered by multiple TeamCenter products developed in the past. These days, TeamCenter is Siemens PLM flagship platform absorbing all existing and new developed PLM products and customers. Therefore, I consider TeamCenter product line maturity and install base as the biggest strength of Siemens PLM.

What is my conclusion? What do you think? Do you agree with my analysis? PLM products are multifunctional. PLM industry is complex. I wanted to mention “single the most significant strength” that applies to both – company and product. Every specific case can bring additional aspects that can highlight variety of characteristics and product parameters. If you are selecting PLM now, I can recommend to read my old post – How to choose PLM? , which is a bit outdated (from 2010) and check another one – 7 rules for selecting PLM in 2014. Again, as usual, nothing scientific. These are only my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Update (22-May-2014)

As I expected, this post raised lots of comments. I appreciate all my readers that came back with comments and questions for the last 2 days since I published this post. The largest amount of comments addressed the absence of two products/vendors from the list – Oracle/Agile and SAP PLM.

5- Oracle / Agile PLM 

Historically, Oracle acquired Agile PLM, which was one of the biggest neutral (not involved into CAD-related business) PLM vendors. For the moment, the core strength of Agile PLM is Oracle market share and family of product as well as out of the box functionality related to BOM management.

6- SAP / PLM

The core strength of SAP PLM is the fact it comes from SAP. The usage of SAP in a company as a platform is long term strategic decision. As soon as company decides for SAP, the strength of PLM addition from SAP will allow to cover all aspects of product development processes that not involving design and engineering.

What is my conclusion (22-May-2014)? To create good comparison is an interesting work. Few months ago, I’ve been posted about Crowdsourcing and PLM consultants’ future. For the moment, I feel like this post is making real field test. Again, appreciate all comments that help to make this article better.

Another minor update for blog title. Number “4” is not relevant, so let’s get rid of it.

End of Update (22-May-2014)

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Disclaimer: I’m Autodesk employee now. In case you want to see it, here is my LinkedIn profile. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are my own only and in no way represent the views, positions or opinions – expressed or implied – of my employer (present and past).


Will CAD / PLM companies develop DB management systems?

March 1, 2014

cad-plm-database-future

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.

PLM-and-database-options

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

plm-vendors-differentitation

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

plm-software-selection-rules

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

plm-dual-public-private-cloud-challenge

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

cad-model

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.

cad-pdm-bundle

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


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