PLM and Big Data Driven Product Design

September 25, 2014

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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.

trueco-product-data-driven-design

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


Who will make PLM sexier?

July 24, 2014

sexier-plm

Cool factor is trending in software these days. The time when software was ugly is probably in the past. Everyone wants to have a "cool app" – on the picture above you can clearly see the trend. Does it apply to enterprise software and PLM? It is a good question. Back in 2012, I asked it in my post – PLM: Ugly vs. Cool. While nobody specifically focused on how to develop cool PLM software, I can see an increased interest for improved user experience from PLM vendors.

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UX magazine article Is there Room for Sexy in Enterprise Design? caught my attention few days ago. I found the discussion about emotional factor interesting and important. I especially liked the following passage:

The question enterprise technology companies need to ask themselves is “what does sexy mean to your enterprise customer?” Put another way, how do your customers want to feel when using your products?Every product, whether we realize it or not, produces an emotional reaction. As Donald Norman articulated in his seminal book Emotional Design, customers find aesthetically pleasing products more effective. Customers even “love” these products. Norman identified the commercial value in evoking some passion towards products, such as Gucci bags and Rolex watches. MailChimp’s Director of User Experince, Aarron Walter, took this one step further with his book, Designing for Emotion. He posits that the goal of emotional design is to connect with users and evoke positive emotions, which will make your users want to continue interacting with your product.

Article speaks about EchoUser research of emotions with enterprise customers. The following emotions are make sense to enterprise crowd – powerful, trust, flexible, calm, pride, accomplished. Cool and sexy are not in the list. So, is there a place for "cool and sexy" in PLM? For long time PLM was associated with "complex" and "expensive". At the same time, most of PLM commercial videos are cool and sexy. Sport cars, luxury airplanes, fashion shows, mobile devices. You rarely can see PLM video without such type of product examples.

I think, many PLM professionals these days are still trying to keep the association of PLM with complexity. My hunch, they are trying to justify expenses. Customers might think complex solution requires more budget, longer consultancy and service project. However, the other side of complexity is to feel absence of reliability and trust. This is not a simple decision for PLM consultants and software vendors.

What is my conclusion? People don’t like cumbersome software these days. There is no place for complex user experience even in enterprise software. What emotions should drive CAD and PLM software? How engineers should feel about software? I’d like to connect the results of engineering and manufacturing process with PLM tools. You cannot make good products with wrong tools. So, something should happen with PLM software. Complex PLM software is a wrong tool to build future cool products. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

photo credit MidoriShoes


Drawing Callouts and Future Google PLM Design

June 27, 2014

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For me, Google is one of the symbols of simple software design. Therefore, Google developers event is always a good place to get inspired with ideas and new technologies. Google I/O was this week in San Francisco. I had now chance to attend the event, but was able to watch video streaming of keynote and few other sessions. One of the things Google introduced this year was Material Design - a new approach to rethink user experience to make it more natural, consistent and clean. Watch the following video to learn more.

Material design presentation made me think again about how to develop simple PLM experience. The topic isn’t new. I’ve been talking about it already for few years. Remember my presentation almost 3 years ago at AU 2011?

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The time of complex and cumbersome enterprise user experience is finally over. Simplicity is an obsessive motto of every enterprise software company these days. However, to develop good UX is a big deal. It requires time and effort. “Don’t make me think” is my favorite quote by Steve Krug about how to develop good UI. How to do so? This is a tricky question. In my view, one of the key elements of this process is to capture elements of well known customer behaviors. You need to learn how people work today. It is extremely hard to change existing user behaviors.

I’ve been reading GrabCAD blog post -BOM Find Numbers: Don’t Get Too Attached. Read the article – it is short and sweet. I’m sure you are familiar with “drawing callout” and find numbers. It was absolutely must feature on paper drawing. Should we keep them in the future? This is a question Ed Lopategui is asking in his post? His conclusion – not really. Here is a passage explaining that:

Find numbers will make little sense in the future, so it’s probably best for everyone if you don’t get too attached to them. There will come a day where the find number is finally retired, and we can move on to the next chapter of BOM management. How can you get to that future faster, you might ask? That’s the easy part: move away from all those outdated BOM authoring tools (like Excel for one), and adopt a modern, integrated BOM editing capability.

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I liked BOM find numbers example. New technologies can clearly help us to interlink between BOM and 3D models. It is good to shift away from managing Bill of Materials in Excel spreadsheets. At the same time, maybe we need to think twice and not to kill familiar user behavior and experience? Maybe we can re-use it for the future clean user interface design. Users are familiar with existing experience and it can help them to understand how to use the system.

What is my conclusion? Existing engineering behaviors have long history going back to drawing boards, paper drawing and engineers collaborating live in one room. Digital technologies are ripping off these behaviors. We create digital models and collaborate using internet and computer screens. New ideas and technologies are good. At the same time, it is might be a good idea to learn from existing behaviors and preserve some of them in the way that will simplify digital collaboration and design. It will definition good for user adoption. What to keep and how to combine existing behaviors and technologies? This is a very good question. I’m sure it will inspire PLM innovators for coming years. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


CAD and Future Office Design Walls

March 26, 2014

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Collaboration is inspiring. It is very overloaded word in engineering space. Collaboration is often used in the context of CAD, design and engineering environment to allow engineers and other people to work together when they are located remotely and disconnected from each other. This is sort of mainstream collaboration scenario – to connect people.

While, this is absolutely true and important, I want to raise another perspective on collaboration. What about people working in the same office? How team of designers located in the same office can collaborate and discuss their ideas. What can help to the team to exchange information and discuss what they do. You may think – it is not a problem. When people co-located, the collaboration is not an issue. I don’t think. Sharing information together in the same place, exchanging ideas and discussion design options can be equally hard.

I’ve been thinking about office collaboration comparing it to our home communication. Our homes are getting more and more digital these days. Think about such a popular communication as photo sharing. Everybody knows Facebook, Instagram and other social apps. I’m sure you use it a lot, but it is mostly imply to the situation when you share photos with people connected by internet. However, rules are different if you are at house or in the party. You want to exchange photos and information. Facebook is too complex and won’t provide you the way to collaborate. My attention caught by Google Photowall announcement. This application allows you to share and stream information from multiple mobile devices to Chromecast player connected to TV set. Read more here. The following video give you an idea how it can work:

Google Photowall app made me think about potential opportunity to help engineers and designers to collaborate at office. Are you familiar with the way people stick drawings on office walls for review and discuss design options? What is you can replace it with special "design wall" collaboration app that will beam drawings on the screen from multiple devices and computers? It can be scalable, easy and won’t require to print paper and stick it on the wall. To me it sounds like a good digital alternative for 21st century.

What is my conclusion? We are moving into digital life everywhere. Screen size is getting bigger. New visual experience will replace the traditional paper communication. It is fascinating to see how it will happen. It is not in the future. It is here and coming. Just my thoughts…

Oleg


How CAD/PLM can capture design and engineering intent

November 8, 2013

design-eng-intent

It was a big Twitter day. Twitter IPO generated an overflow of news, articles, memorable stories. For me, twitter become a part of my working eco-system, the place I use to capture news, exchange information and communicate with people. If you are on twitter, try Vizify to visualize you twitter account. I did it here. The most insightful information for me was the fact I tweet 24 hours a day… (well, I don’t know how Vizify deal with my time zone changes). It made me think about what impact Twitter-like ecosystem can provide on engineers and designers. It came to me as a continues thoughts about failure of Social PLM – Why Social PLM 1.0 failed and What PLM can learn from public social data?

I’ve been reading an article and interview with Biz Stone, Twitter co-founder and entrepreneur – Be emotionally invested. It is a good story. Read it, especially if you are involved in startup activity. One of interesting pieces that caught my attention was a story about Google working environment. Here is the passage:

“I used to just walk around. I don’t know if I was supposed to, but I’d just open doors and see what people were doing.” One led to a guy surrounded by DVRs. Stone asked what he was doing. “I’m recording everything being transmitted on TV all over the world.” Another led to “a sea of people operating illuminated foot-pedal scanning devices. “We’re scanning every book ever published.”

Another interesting article that caught my attention was about an interesting behavior – deleted tweets. Navigate to read – Why do people delete their tweets? University of Edinburgh researchers have been looking into the motives behind deleted Twitter missives. You can read more about this study here. The funny part of this mechanism is that it implements the old idiom – Word spoken is past recalling. Here is passage explained the research and how it works.

Right now there’s no way to tell whether you’ll be proud of your rousing 140 character defense of James Franco in a few years, or deeply, deeply ashamed. But hiding the evidence isn’t hard. Deleting a tweet is not a complicated process. If you don’t like what you wrote, you can trash it in a few clicks. And there are services like Tweet Delete that help you mass-delete older tweets.

These two examples – capturing of information streams from global and personal perspective made me think about how potentially we can capture engineering activities and discover design intent of decision making factors similar to techniques used to identify deleted tweets and other related twitter user behaviors. The challenge of CAD/PLM environment compared to Twitter is obviously security and open APIs. It is hard to capture information from design and engineering systems. In most of the cases, the information is secured and access is restricted.

What is my conclusion? There is a huge potential in analyzing of design and engineering activity from capturing information about people behavior. My hunch, it can become one of the places CAD/PLM companies and startups might crack to discover a future potential of design optimization and decision making. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


2D-3D CAD Transformations and Design Interaction

September 13, 2013

I want to continue the topic of design interaction started in my CAD and Design Interaction: 50 years in 3 videos post. CAD software started as a vision to replace drawing board and, eventually, it was 2D. 3D CAD and the vision of 3D design came later in the game. It wasn’t simple to create 3D objects in first 3D wireframe CAD packages. Solid feature parametric modeling was a huge innovation open a new page in 3D design and design interaction. However, I can see a new trend – we can re-create 3D objects from physical objects and / or photographs of physical objects. To have an easy way to recreate 3D objects can increase the level of adoption of 3D design software. Until now, my only experience in this field was Autodesk 123d Catch.

By itself, it is an amazing tool to create 3D objects. However, if you’ve been listening to startup pitches, you probably familiar with the phrase "there is a better way". From Huff post publication few days ago, I learned about Israeli company 3-sweep claiming they can create 3D objects from a single 2D photo by making only few selections. Watch the video. It is cool and impressive.

Here is how founders of the company defines their approach:

"Our approach combines the cognitive abilities of humans with the computational accuracy of the machine to solve this problem. Our technique provides the user the means to quickly create editable 3D parts– human assistance implicitly segments a complex object into its components, and positions them in space."

Read another article from Singularity Hub. Here is an interesting passage confirming the intent of 3-Sweep technologies:

Ariel Shamir, of the Interdisciplinary Center at Herzliya, and Daniel Cohen-Or and Tao Chen of Tel Aviv University hope to knock that barrier down with software they’ve developed that allows the user to extract the beginnings of a 3-D model of an object from a single photograph. “The key idea is that you could create 3D objects based only on single images,” Shamir told Singularity Hub. “We wanted a model that would be simple for almost anyone to use.”

What is my conclusion? The debates about moving from 2D into 3D are already couple of decades long and jury is still out. In last few years 3D scanning became an interesting trend. While price of 3D scanners is going down together with 3D printers, the opportunity of 3D object creation from existing physical objects becomes real. However, the size is still matter. Also, it is not always possible to scan a physical object. The ability to recreate 3D objects from simple 2D photos can revolutionize design process by bringing another way to interact and design objects. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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