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Visual Design Collaboration: Bundle vs Unbundle?

August 20, 2015


Collaboration in is an interesting topic. Whether you are a 3-person team or a 10,000 person OEM manufacturing company, some of the same rules for successful collaboration apply. The more you share what you know the more value it creates. To understand specific personal or use case context is absolutely critical to successful collaboration regardless on what technology you may use.

The rules of collaboration are changing these days. New collaborative technologies coming from web, mobile and social network experience are coming to disrupt what traditionally considered as a good collaboration practice. In the past, we used an old “mom test” for collaboration software – collaborative application should be easy enough for my Mom to use it (she is smart and well educated, but she didn’t grew up with computers). That was probably a good idea back in 1995 when desktop computers and Windows disrupted office environment.

Fast forward into 2015, many rules established by desktop computers where broken by web and mobile products. The disruption in a workspace is coming from younger generation. The Content Strategist Blog brings an interesting comparison of how differently Milleninals, GenX and Boomers are consume content. They same rules apply to collaboration. If the old “Mom test” spoke about simplicity that Mom can get, the new rules my trigger a question about what collaboration style new generation of people can get. Maybe it is a question how to bring SnapChat type of collaboration into design process?

All together made me think about what is the optimal strategy for design collaboration that will better address the needs users in engineering and manufacturing scaling from needs of individual makers to large OEM manufacturing shops.

Traditional design collaboration approach is going around 3D design. Most of the tools developed by CAD and PLM vendors for the last 10-15 basically created a way for users to access 3D product representation with additional set of functions like redline, comments, etc. The core complexity of these tools related to seamless access of diverse set of information – 3D, 2D, specification documents and contextual information coming from data management tools. These bundling made it complex to develop and use.

Unbundling is an interesting business strategy used in many application domains these days. Read my earlier blog about that – The future unbundling strategies in CAD / PLM. The potential of unbundled services can be significant. Existing bundles are complex and inefficient. People don’t use all functionality and look for something simple and easy to grasp. However, unbundle can be hard. Read my Why unbundle 3D is hard for PLM vendors? As much as people are valuing simplicity and ease of use today, vertical integration remains a very important thing for many companies.

Last year I started a discussion about PLM tools, bundles and platform. Since then, few new interesting products and came to the market that pursue the value of design collaboration – I should mention two cloud CAD products Onshape and Autodesk Fusion 360. Also, I have to mention engineering communication and collaboration tools provided by GrabCAD. However, I want to bring to examples today to show two distinct approaches in development of design collaboration products – bundle vs. unbundle.

The first one is Visual Collaboration product Aras Corp. introduced in the last version of Aras Innovator. Navigate to the following link to read more. In the following video you can get a full demo of visual collaboration fully integrated with PLM product. The approach taken by Aras to bring visual collaboration to all users is absolutely valuable. Everyone in an organization can collaborate in the 2D/3D and any other design context.

My second example came from new startup company founded by ex-Facebook product designers – Wake.io. Read more about Wake.io story on TechCrunch – Designers Ditch Perfectionism For Instant Feedback With Wake. The idea to solve a problem of collaboration in a community of product designers made them think about product that capture and share a very simple design collaboration process. The following video can give you an idea of that about:

What is my conclusion? Both bundling and unbundling approaches have pros and cons. Vertical integration is important, but simplicity and capturing a specific design workflow without overwhelming users with additional information can be valuable too. In my view, unbundling is trending. This is the way to create new products solving painful problems. The same collaboration problems engineers and other people are experiencing when designing products can be applied to other places as well. An example of Wake.io is a hint to CAD and PLM companies to think where future disruption can come from. The same way Slack disrupted existing collaborative approaches practiced by companies today, new products like Wake.io can disrupt future of 3D and engineering collaboration. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image credit GrabCAD



Will Minecraft Experience take off in design and PLM?

July 20, 2015


We speak about new technological trends and how to simplify enterprise implementation. At the same time, large CAD and PLM deployments are experiencing integration and user experience challenges. File based paradigm is the one all mainstream CAD systems are supporting. The challenges of enterprise integration and complex user experience are real and customers are experiencing it every day.

The article Collaborative Design Software in Today’s medical development is discussing few trends and gives few examples how to solve these problems. It brings back the idea of gamification, but takes it for real with the example of Minecraft software. Here is the passage from an article:

Gathering online to design buildings and cities, more than 100 million people worldwide are registered users of the low-resolution video game Minecraft. In early 2015, the pocket edition of the game for iOS and Android devices passed the 30 million download mark. Called by some the Legos of the 21st century, Minecraft is more than just a game, it’s a sign of where design is going.

The idea of cloud software that can stitch fragmented data is appealing as something that will take off in the future PLM platforms. This is where execs from both Autodesk and Dassault Systems are agreeing. According to Carl White of Autodesk:

“When we came off the drafting board into CAD, we were looking for ways to get rid of the roadblocks in design,” says Carl White, senior director of manufacturing engineering products at software provider Autodesk. “One of those last roadblocks is fitting different designs together. With the cloud, you’re not dealing with different designs. You have one version of the product, and everyone’s using that.”

Somewhat similar idea of integrated experience is coming from Monica Menghini of Dassault Systemes.

“Our platform of 12 software applications covers 3D modeling (SOLIDWORKS, CATIA, GEOVIA, BIOVIA); simulation (3DVIA, DELMIA, SIMULA); social and collaboration (3DSWYM, 3DXCITE, ENOVIA); and information intelligence (EXALEAD, NETVIBES),” explains Monica Menghini, Dassault executive vice president and chief strategy officer. “These apps together create the experience. No single point solution can do it – it requires a platform capable of connecting the dots. And that platform includes cloud access and social apps, design, engineering, simulation, manufacturing, optimization, support, marketing, sales and distribution, communication (PR and advertising), PLM – all aspects of a business; all aspects of a customer’s experience.”

Both examples are interesting and can provide some space to fantasy about future ideal experience when files are gone and applications are integrated. However, the real life is much complex and can set many roadblocks. Here are top 3 things that design software companies need to solve to open roads towards future PLM minecraft universe.

1- Platform openness. It is hard to believe customers will use a software package from a single vendor. What is the future concept of openness that will be powerful enough to support companies’ business and don’t block customers workflows?

2- Legacy data. Engineering and manufacturing companies are owning a huge amount of existing data. This is live IP and knowledge. How to make them available in new platforms? This is not a trivial problem to solve from many aspects – technical, legal and time.

3- Educational barrier. Technologies are easy, but people are hard. Vendors can bring new technologies and platforms. At the same time, people will be still looking for known and familiar experience. Yes, new generation of people likes web and online. But engineering and manufacturing workforce is different.

What is my conclusion? Minecraft experience is a brilliant marketing idea. However, I’d be thinking first about customer adoption and transition. After all, many great product initiatives were dead on arrival because of customers had hard time to adopt it and use it in a realistic environment with existing data and everyday problems. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

What stops manufacturing from entering into DaaS bright future?

January 7, 2015


There are lot of changes in manufacturing eco-system these days. You probably heard about many of them. Changes are coming as a result of many factors – physical production environment, IP ownership, cloud IT infrastructure, connected products, changes in demand model and mass customization.

The last one is interesting. The time when manufacturing was presented as a long conveyor making identical product is gone. Diversification and local markets have significant impact. Today manufacturing companies are looking how to discover and use variety of data sources to get right demand information, product requirements and connect directly with customers. Data has power and the ability to dig into data becomes very valuable.

As we go through the wave of end of the year blog summaries, my attention caught Design World publication – 7 Most Popular 3D CAD World Blog Posts of 2014 . I found one of them very interesting. Navigate your browser to read – Top Ten Tech Predictions for 2015. One of them speaks about DaaS – Data-as-a-Service will drive new big data supply chain. Here is the passage I captured:

Worldwide spending on big data-related software, hardware, and services will reach $125 billion. Rich media analytics (video, audio, and image) will emerge as an important driver of big data projects, tripling in size. 25% of top IT vendors will offer Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) as cloud platform and analytics vendors offer value-added information from commercial and open data sets. IoT will be the next critical focus for data/analytics services with 30% CAGR over the next five years, and in 2015 we will see a growing numbers of apps and competitors (e.g., Microsoft, Amazon, Baidu ) providing cognitive/machine learning solutions.

The prediction is very exciting. Future data services can help manufacturing companies leverage data to optimize production, measure demand and help manufacturing a diverse set of product for wide range of customers. However, here is a problem. I guess you are familiar with GIGO – Garbage in, Garbage out. When you deal with data, there is nothing more important then to have an access to an accurate and relevant data sets. Big data analytic software can revolutionize everything. But it requires data. At the same time, data is located in corporate databases, spreadsheets, drawings, email systems and many other data sources. To get these data up to the cloud, crunch it using modern big data clouds and make it actionable for decision processes is a big deal.

What is my conclusion? Data availability is a #1 priority to make DaaS work for manufacturing in coming years. The ability to collect right data from variety corporate sources, clean, classify, process and turn into action – this is a big challenge and opportunity for new type of manufacturing software in coming years. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

photo credit: IvanWalsh.com via photopin cc

How PLM can ride big data trend in 2015

December 22, 2014


Few month ago, I shared the story of True & co – company actively experimenting and leveraging data science to improve design and customer experience. You can catch up by navigating on the following link – PLM and Big Data Driven Product Design. One of the most interesting pieces of True & Co experience I’ve learned was the ability to gather a massive amount of data about their customers and turn in into a information to improve product design process.

Earlie this week the article What’s next for big data prediction for 2015 caught my attention. I know… it is end of the year “prediction madness”. Nevertheless, I found the following passage interesting. It speaks about emerging trend of Information as a service. Read this.

The popularity of “as-a-Service” delivery models is only going to increase in the years ahead. On the heels of the success of software as a service models, I believe Information-as-a-Service (IaaS) or Expertise-as-a-Service delivery models are likely the next step in the evolution. The tutoring industry provides a good blueprint for how this might look. Unlike traditional IT contractors, tutors are not necessarily hired to accomplish any one specific task, but are instead paid for short periods of time to share expertise and information.

Now imagine a similar model within the context of data analytics. The shortfall most often discussed with regard to analytics is not in tooling but in expertise. In that sense, it’s not hard to imagine a world where companies express an interest in “renting” expertise from vendors. It could be in the form of human expertise, but it could also be in the form of algorithmic expertise, whereby analytics vendors develop delivery models through which companies rent algorithms for use and application within in their own applications. Regardless of what form it takes in terms of its actual delivery, the notion of information or expertise as a service is an inevitability, and 2015 might just be the year IT vendors start to embrace it.

It made me think about how PLM can shift a role from being only “documenting and managing data and processes” towards providing services to improve it by capturing and crunching large amount of data in organization. Let speak about product configurations – one of the most complicated element of engineering and manufacturing. Mass production model is a think in a past. We are moving towards mass customization. How manufacturing companies will be able to get down cost of products and keep up with a demand for mass customization? Intelligent PLM analytics as a service will be able to help here.

What is my conclusion? Data is a new oil. Whoever will have an access to a most accurate data will have a power to optimize processes, cut cost and deliver product faster. PLM companies should take a note and think how to move from “documenting” data about design and processes towards analytical application and actionable data. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Future of design: how to connect physical and digital entities?

December 3, 2014


Technology can help us to expand horizons of possible and impossible. I’ve been experiencing this expansion earlier today while watching AU2014 keynote session online while physically traveling to Denver, CO. Twitter and streaming video are quite efficient way to stay in touch with event virtually everywhere. If you missed AU live streaming earlier today, you can catch up on it in recording here.

Autodesk’s CEO Carl Bass was talking about changes computers bring in our lives and how it impacts engineers. He spoke about interaction between physical and digital worlds. Scott Sheppard summarized key points of Carl Bass speech here. I specially liked the following passage:

Computers and software are great tools, but only if the data they are computing is in the right form. When they know what to do, computers can do awesome things, but they are almost useless when we have problems we can’t communicate in terms they understand. Technology is the driving force behind the biggest changes in the future of how we design, engineer, and make things. There are two fundamental shifts in play: (1) The first is narrowing the gap between the physical and digital world — essentially what’s on the two sides of the screen; (2) The second big change is getting the computer to understand the relationships and interactions of the people and companies doing the work.In each case, our ability to represent the problem in the computer determines how well we can use the computer to solve it.

One of the key things I captured is related to understanding of relationships between physical and digital assets. This is where things are getting really interesting. This is also something that connected me to Jeff Kowalski’s story about design for live objects.

It made me think about how future design can be connected to real information we are capturing today online. Google is ahead of many other companies in building online knowledge base about the world we live in. It comes in variety of digital forms – maps, traffic, information about physical entities and many others. If I will try to connect Jeff’s example with self made bridge, I guess information about this bridge, city and traffic is already available on Google in different forms. So, how future design companies will create technologies with information that can be intertwined between digital and physical entities?

Google Knowledge Graph is one of the technological elements to represent a diverse set of information about physical and digital entities. I’ve been writing about it before. A new article caught my attention few weeks ago – Insightful Connections Between Entities on Google’s Knowledge Graph. Read the article and draw your conclusion. Here is the most interesting passage speaking about data connections:

The node in a data graph may represent an entity, such as a people, places, items, ideas, topics, abstract concepts, concrete elements, other things, or combinations of things. These entities in the graph may be related to each other by edges which connect them. Those may represent relationships between entities. For example, the data graph may have an entity that corresponds to the actor Tom Hanks and the data graph may also contain information about other entities such as movies that Tom Hanks and others have acted in.


Google Knowledge graph is not the only way to embrace connection in digital world. Facebook, LinkedIn and other web companies are focusing on building of information graphs about digital assets and physical entities. I’ve been touching it in my semantic enterprise graph post. Together with design and engineering information it can provide a view of future physical and digital universe.

What is my conclusion? The border between digital and physical entities is getting blurred. According to Carl Bass, in the future we will capture physical entities and re-use it for design of new products. We will capture experience of live object and build models to make analysis and improve them. It will require deep understanding and management of connections and relations to create a giant model of future hybrid universe of physical and digital world. Just my thoughts and thanks Autodesk for inspiration.

Best, Oleg

Disclaimer: I’m Autodesk employee. However, 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.

PLM and Big Data Driven Product Design

September 25, 2014


One of the most interesting trends to watch these days is big data. It started few years ago and I can see different dynamics related to usage and value proposition of big data. It certainly started as a technology that revolutionized the way we can capture and process large amount of data. This is where everybody get into Hadoop. However, to have a possibility to process data is just a beginning. What and how can we get value of this data? How can we efficiently use this data for decision processes? These are the most important questions on the table of data scientists, data architects, IT managers and software vendors.

I touched big data topics on my blog several time before. In one of my earlier posts – Will PLM vendors dig into Big Data? two years ago, I discussed big data opportunity and adoption rate in different industries. However, in many situations, I’ve seen vendors are approaching big data in a too wide and abstract way. It sounds like “just collect data and see the magic”. Take a look on my writeup for more details – Why PLM cannot adopt Big Data now?

I’ve been tying to come with more specific examples of how companies can use data. My attention caught by smart data collective article – Data Driven Lingerie few days ago. It speaks about company True&Co, which is focusing on design and e-commerce lingerie based on absolutely incredible data driven approach. Here is a short passage from article, which explains that:

True & co is an interesting company that combines data and design to create an opportunity for consumers to share data with the company, thereby improving the appropriateness of the product to the customer. True & co claims to be the first company to fit women into their favourite bra with a fit quiz – no fitting rooms, no measuring tape, no photos. The data they collect allows them to match the customer to over 6000 body types on their database.

I recommend you to spend 12 minutes of your time and watch True&Co CEO Michelle Lam speaks about data driven product experience.

I found very interesting to see how True&C use data not only to empower e-commerce experience, but actually design products with a specific requirements. It is fascinating example of how specific data collected from millions of customers can be used to classify product requirements, distinguish product configurations and optimize supply chain.


Product configuration is a very complex field. Traditional PLM implementations typically demonstrating aerospace and automotive industries to describe the complexity of configurations. It is unusual and interesting to see 6000 product configurations of bras tailored to specific customer requirements. This is a very unique experience and good example of specific big data applications.

What is my conclusion? With growing interest in product customization, we are going to see requirements to manage product configurations everywhere. Sometimes it is driven by personalization and sometimes it is driven by diverse set of customer requirements. The example of True&Co is maybe unique these days. However, I think, the trend is towards empower designers and manufacturing companies with data insight to develop better product. Big data can help companies to create a unique product experience, to design better products and optimize resources. This is a future as I can see today. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

How to visualize future PLM data?

August 12, 2014

collective experience of empathetic data systems

I have a special passion for data and data visualization. We do it every day in our life. Simple data, complex data, fast data, contextual data… These days, we are surrounded by data as never before. Think about typical engineer 50-60 years ago. Blueprints, some physical models… Not much information. Nowadays the situation is completely different. Multiple design and engineering data, historical data about product use, history of design revisions, social information, data about how product is performing coming in real time from sensors, etc. Our ability to discover and use data becomes very important.

The ways we present data for decision making can influence a lot and change our ability to design in context of right data. To present data for engineers and designers these days can become as important as presenting right information to airplane pilots before. Five years ago, I posted about Visual Search Engines on 3D perspective blog. I found the article is still alive. Navigate your browser here to have a read. What I liked in the idea of visual search is to present information in the way people can easy understand.

Few days ago, my attention was caught by TechCrunch article about Collective Experience of Empathetic Data Systems (CEEDS) project developed in Europe.

[The project ]… involves a consortium of 16 different research partners across nine European countries: Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and the UK. The “immersive multi-modal environment” where the data sets are displayed, as pictured above — called an eXperience Induction Machine (XIM) — is located at Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona.

Read the article, watch video and draw your conclusion. It made me think about the potential of data visualization for design. Here is my favorite passage from the article explaining the approach:

“We are integrating virtual reality and mixed reality platforms to allow us to screen information in an immersive way. We also have systems to help us extract information from these platforms. We use tracking systems to understand how a person moves within a given space. We also have various physiological sensors (heart rate, breathing etc.) that capture signals produced by the user – both conscious and subconscious. Our main challenge is how to integrate all this information coherently.”

Here is the thing. The challenge is how to integrated all the information coherently. Different data can be presented differently – 3D geometry, 2D schema, 2D drawings, graphics, tables, graphs, lists. In many situations we can get this information presented separately using different design and visualization tools. However, the efficiency is questionable. Many data can be lost during visualization. However, what I learned from CEEDS project materials, data can be also lost during the process of understanding. Blindspotting. Our brain will miss the data even we (think) that we present it in a best way.

What is my conclusion? Visualization of data for better understanding will play an increased role in the future. We just in the beginning of the process of data collection. We understand the power of data and therefore collect an increased amount of data every day. However, to process of data and visualizing for better design can be an interesting topic to work for coming years. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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