How PLM can avoid cloud integration spaghetti?

June 18, 2015

21-centure-spaghetti-integration

Enterprise integration is a messy space. It is always complex – applications, databases, new and legacy systems, complexity of requirements. People usually need to run at least dozen of applications to run things smoothly. It is never done out-of-the-box and it is always requires circles of implementations and professional services.

I caught the following picture tweeted yesterday by Stan Przybylinski of CIMdata. It provides an excellent view of integration complexity. Unfortunately, in many situations, integration is a major challenge in PLM adoption. To get full value of PLM, company should spend a fortune integrating data and processes – CAD, Bill of materials, ECO, etc.

data-silos

Cloud is coming to enterprise these days. In many ways it creates a new way to think about data, software, services and maybe integrations too. The new technologies and eco-system of services can make a difference. It also creates a significant demand for openness and interoperability. This is a main reason why PLM need to learn web APIs. Web services and REST APIs are changing the way integration can be done.

Technology can make a difference. However, integrations are still hard. Few months ago, I shared my thoughts how to prevent cloud PLM integration mistakes. It comes down to three main things – 1/ lost data semantics; 2/ limitation of data transfers; 3/ transaction management in distributed and cross site environment.

Unfortunately, cloud is not a silver bullet to solve integration challenges. The demand for holistic integration continuum is still in the future. In practice, cloud applications today are replicating bad siloed behaviors of on premise applications. I captured the following picture earlier this week at Boston New Technology meetup.

cloud-silos-apps

This picture is the great demonstration of how bad aspects of siloed on premise applications are moving to cloud environment. Migration of applications on cloud infrastructure such as IaaS can simplify IT’s life. However, it won’t make life of users simpler. From end user standpoint, applications will still run in a silo.

What is my conclusion? The danger is to move established on premise PLM paradigms to the cloud. Technologically new cloud systems can give an advantages in terms of integrations. REST API is one example – it is much easier to code integration scenarios using REST APIs and modern web based tools. At the same time, closed data paradigms and data duplication between silos can bring well-know data spaghetti from on-premise applications to the cloud. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


How many execs will be killed by Frankensoft PLM platforms?

June 17, 2015

plm-frankersoft-pic

I’ve been following CIMdata PLM roadmap for HTE event on twitter yesterday. Navigate to the following link if you want to see tweets. One of the topic that CIMdata put on the agenda was “PLM platformization”. You can take a deep look on what is behind CIMdata’s fancy definition of “platformization” by navigating to the following link – A CIMdata Dossier: PLM Platformization. According to Peter Bilello of CIMdata, platformization is the future of PLM.

plm-platformization

It made me think about the trajectory of PLM implementations in most of manufacturing organizations that already have some PLM experience. My hunch is that most of manufacturing companies in the world that are able to grasp the idea of PLM implementations already made at least 1-2 attempts to implement PLM. Some of these companies are probably running more than one PLM systems because of legacy, M&A or other reasons.

I cannot resist by placing the following “spaghetti” system picture below tweeted by Stan Przybylinski. I guess this is a very typical representation of how processes are managed using existing legacy software and bunch services.

plm-system-spaggetti

It made me think how “platformization” will solve a problem of PLM implementations. According to CIMdata, the challenge is a gap in PLM, which is created between vision, technology and implementation. I couldn’t agree more. The dilemma is always between vision and the next step. Some people want to see a big picture, some people just want to focus on the next step. PLM vendors clearly focused on a big picture and missed the next step.

ZDNet article Legacy tech can kill the CIO by Michael Krigsman gives you a very interesting perspective on how organizations are adopting new technologies. I like the following passage:

The cost of maintaining legacy infrastructures can crowd-out the company’s investment in new technology. Research from Forrester indicates that only 28 percent of IT investment goes toward innovation; the remainder supports old technology. Users may resist adopting new technology even when better alternatives are available. The so-called diffusion of innovation is an old problem, identified in a book first published in 1962, by Everett M. Rogers.

The former chief technology officer of Portugal Telecom, Manuel Rosa da Silva, said: Our legacy holds us back. Hiding all this legacy is like putting on cosmetic cream to hide wrinkles. Unless you take a machete to your legacy and kill applications, you won’t get anywhere.

What is my conclusion? Manufacturing companies invested tons of money and resources in the implementations of PLM systems. It allowed to gather experience and learn from mistakes. I think companies achieved great results too. I know many examples of brilliant PLM implementations. However, what is not clear for most of manufacturing companies today is how to make a next step into future of PLM and new platforms. For many companies it sounds like one more commitment to invest 5 years and millions of dollars into replacement of existing PLM assets. The question about platformization is coming exactly here and it look likes big picture is still not connected with the next step. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Picture credit ZDNet article and Workday


New enterprise software reality for PLM vendors

February 21, 2015

enterprise-software-new-reality

I’m planning to attend PI Congress event in Dusseldorf next week. As part of the preparation, I’m taking a look back on past events. Back in 2012, I was presented at PLM Innovation 2012 event in Munich about PLM and consumerization. You can navigate and see my presentation. One of the topics I discussed was related to enterprise software and future impact on enterprise IT. The changes were coming to enterprise IT and we can see it clearly now. Business insider article Today’s IT department is in fight for its life can help you to understand the significance of changes.

enterprise-IT-on-fire

Changes in enterprise IT made me think again about what changed in enterprise software. I want to come with top three significant changes comparing to 2012 – Distributed, Connected, Cloud.

what-changed-in-enterprise-software

1- Distributed. Nothing happens these days in a single place. Regardless on what type of company and industry sector are you working, you have to deal with the situation when you customers, partners, suppliers, engineers, manufacturing facilities are located everywhere. This is a new reality and it is getting reflected into enterprise software.

2- Connected. Another thing. People need answer now, at the right moment. People are expecting a different speed from business and enterprise software must provide an answer. Social networks and web disrupted the way enterprises are operating nowadays. Everyone is staying connected.

3- Cloud. Enterprise moved from discussion about cloud into practical implementation of cloud software. It is not about why to implement cloud. It is about how to do it right. Enterprise software vendors and their customers are looking how to find a right solution for today and tomorrow.

What is my conclusion? The reality of today is distributed enterprise software. Essentially, there is no single location for any organization. If you developing PLM software today, take the distribution factor as the most fundamental requirement. Second is communication – the information is flowing between people at high speed and frequency. The right information is in chat, messenger, shared content. How to pickup this information and make it connected to people decisions is a critical aspect. The last one is cloud. There are lot of confusion about what is cloud and how it can be done for organization. But, every organization is going to discover how cloud is impacting what enterprise IT is doing. No escapes here. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


What is PLM software replacement cycle?

December 13, 2014

plm-recycle

PLM selection is complex process. It takes time to make a decision, evaluate, build a pilot and implement PLM system. I’ve been thinking about how this process can change in the future. Navigate to my Future PLM selection post to catch up. One of my discoveries was the following data point about age of ERP system.

Bluelinkerp blog – When should you replace your ERP software brings an interesting diagram – the majority of ERP implementations is up to 7 years old. The chart based on data provided by Aberdeen study – Aging ERP – When your ERP is too old.

erp-system-age

This data point is not scientific, my I can predict that company is replacing ERP system every 7-10 years. This number is actually aligned with similar numbers I’ve heard from ERP resellers in the past.

It made me think about replacement cycle of PLM systems. I guess we can probably see a similar trend in the PLM market too. PLM systems are aging and we can probably discover lifecycle of PLM implementations. Sort of PLM recycling. I’ve been trying to find some information to support it, but didn’t find much references online.

Joe Barkai’s blog – Product Innovation Congress 2014 San Diego brings some interesting fact about PLM system replacements. Here is the passage from Joe’s blog.

There appears to be much activity in selecting, replacing and upgrading PLM software. Some were first time PLM buyers, but there were a surprising number of companies expressing dissatisfaction with the exiting solution and seeking a “better” PLM system. I did not conduct a structured survey, but anecdotally it appears that a good number of those in search of a PLM replacement are users of ENOVIA SmarTeam and ENOVIA MatrixOne.

My observation: The continued search for a “better” PLM system will continue to drive activity and put pressure on PLM vendors to deliver greater value in enhanced functionality, lower cost, faster deployment, and new delivery and ownership models. The move of reluctant PLM vendors such as Oracle Agile to offer a cloud delivery model is but one recent example and I except other PLM vendors are in the process of following suit. This dynamic keeps the door open for vendors such as Aras PLM that continues to challenge the hegemony of the incumbents.

That being said, buyers should realize that the PLM software itself isn’t a substitute or remedy for flawed and suboptimal product development processes. For each dissatisfied PLM user company you will find many others who are highly successful and are able reap the full potential of the very same PLM software. It isn’t the SW. It’s you. Don’t blame the vendor.

My hunch most of large manufacturing companies already made few PLM system implementations. They made mistakes and probably want to fix them. In addition to that, businesses and systems requirements are evolving. People turnover is another factor. Enterprise systems lifecycle can be triggered by new people coming to the role of managing enterprise and engineering IT. So, 7-9 years, is a good time period to make analysis, fix problems and re-think PLM implementation and strategy.

What is my conclusion? Understanding of PLM software replacement cycle and lessons learned from an implementation can help to build a better PLM industry eco-system. It is less about blaming vendors of companies for software problems. It is more about understanding of business, technologies and implementation needs. Just my thoughts….

Best, Oleg


How to sell PLM to enterprise IT

October 31, 2014

Enterprise IT adoption cycle diagram made by Simon Wardley made me feel sad and funny at the same time. I found it one of the best visualizations of many situations I’ve been in the past when working on PLM sales and implementation situations. This is a brilliant reflection of technology adoption route for IT department – ignore, prevent, tolerate, allow, integrate (credit Joe Drumgoole tweet).

enterprise-IT-adoption-cycle

It made me think about how to prevent a conflict with enterprise IT earlier in the PLM sales process. Today, I want to share some of my recommendations. These steps helped me in many situations. This is not a silver bullet, but I found them useful. PLM system and implementation cannot live in isolation. It has to be integrated with many other systems and processes in organization. Therefore, to learn them early during the sales process can be very beneficial.

1- Learn about enterprise IT

You need to make yourself familiar with basics of enterprise IT. You can bring engineering people to help you at this stage, but you need to get basic information about company enterprise infrastructure, data centers, data management. You need to learn how IT is managed. Is it local team? Does company use outsource IT consultant and service company, etc.

2- Get information about related enterprise software

PLM system cannot live in isolation. So, it will use databases, connect and use variety of application services, integrated with ERP and CRM systems. It will help you a lot to gather information about enterprise software. More specifically, you need to learn about fundamentals of how company is doing item master management, material planning and manufacturing BOM.

3- Find matched solutions

Do some homework and research to find similar solutions and/or references to products already used by a company. It will help you to find precedents and patterns you can refer during the review with IT organization.

4- Ask for meeting with enterprise IT to discuss PLM values and architecture

Don’t wait until late stage to discuss architecture and specific deployment aspects with IT organization. Do it earlier in the process to identify potential conflicts of infrastructure and process implementation – security, data ownership, workflows related to manufacturing planning and supply chain. During the meeting, try to show how IT organization will benefit from adopting PLM solution. It can come in many places – better data management, process optimization, collaboration with suppliers, data integration. Very often, IT organization suffers from complexity of processes IT people need to support. Explain to IT how PLM solution can help if you will have one more vote inside of organization.

5- Make reference call with IT people

Find existing customers that you can reference with similar enterprise infrastructure and solution landscape. Nothing can be more convincing IT people, than speaking to people having same roles in another company. In many situations it can help to solve problems much faster.

What is my conclusion? Enterprise sales requires communication with IT people in organization. One of the mistakes is to think that you need first to convince business and engineering people about PLM solutions. In my view, this is wrong approach. You need to work proactively with IT, otherwise IT can destroy the deal at very last moment. To get references from existing well-known customers is one of the best ways to pass IT. To have certification and/or partnerships with vendors, which products already used and can be referenced is another complementary approach. If you see a major conflict in architecture, system approach or IT strategy, you better get an alert about that early in the process. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Diagram by Simon Wardley’s blog – Bits or Pieces? (CC BY SA 3.0)


3 reasons why size won’t matter in PLM future?

August 21, 2014

plm-small-big-future-1

The debates about small vs. large PLM implementations are probably as old as PLM software. Joe Barkai recently came with several very controversial blog series – Is PLM Software Only for Big Guys? One of these posts – Do PLM Vendors Think SMBs are Just Like Large Enterprises, Only Smaller? Note the following passage:

In my market research in PLM, PDM and related fields, and consulting work with engineering organizations, I often find that SMBs don’t think of themselves as being just like the “big guys”, only smaller. They believe they possess different culture, work habits and operational models, and perceive PLM as a tool ideally suited for large organizations with sizable engineering teams designing complex highly engineered products.

Another Joe’s post is questioning – Can PLM software benefit small company?

Looking at the profile and size of engineering companies using PDM software, especially those showcased by mainstream PDM and PLM vendors, one might easily reach the conclusion that these systems are, indeed, designed with the “big guys” in mind. This perception may be reinforced by PLM and ERP vendors that have announced products designed for the SMB market and abandoned them a few years later, when rosy revenue expectations weren’t achieved. Remember, for example, PTC’s ProductPoint and SAP’s Business By Design? Small engineering teams have come to think of PLM software as unnecessarily complex and limiting operational flexibility, not to mention the high cost of the software, IT overhead, and the pain of keeping the software up to date.

It is true, that historically of CAD and PDM systems came from large defense and aerospace industry. Since then, lots of innovation in PDM and later in PLM domains was about how to simplify complex and expensive solutions and make it simple, more usable and affordable. 80% of functionality for 20% of price… It worked for some CAD guys in the past. Is it possible in PLM? PLM system fallen into the trap of the simplification many times. As soon as new affordable solution came out for SME companies, it was demanded by large enterprises as well. You can hear an opinion that price was a key factor and PLM vendors didn’t find a way how to sell both enterprise and SME solution with right packaging and price differentiation. Not sure it is true, but to shutdown SME focused PLM solution is not very uncommon in PLM industry.

I shared some of my thoughts about why PLM vendors failed to provide solutions for SME. One of my conclusions was that cost and efficiency are key elements that can help PLM vendors to develop a solution for this challenging market segment.

However, Joe’s posts made me think one more time about “small vs. large” PLM challenge. I want to share with you my 3 hypothesis why size won’t matter for the future PLM solutions.

1. Horizontal integration

Large monolithic businesses with strong vertical integration are displaced by granular and sometimes independent business units with diverse sets of horizontal relationships. Businesses are looking how to optimize cost in everything – development, supply chain, manufacturing, operation. I imagine these businesses will demand a new type of PLM solution that can be used by network of suppliers and business partners rather than by single vertically integrated organization.

2. Technological transformation

In the past, many PDM and PLM vendors assumed SME solution as something that shouldn’t scale much, can run on a cheaper hardware and low cost technology and IT infrastructure. Cloud, web and open source technological trends changed the landscape completely. While most of existing PLM solutions are still running on the infrastructure developed 10-15 years ago, I can see them looking for new architectures and technologies that with no question can scale to cover a diverse set of customers – small and large.

3. Business dynamics

Business environment is changing. Businesses are more dynamic. New requirements are coming often and the demand to deliver a new solution or changes went down from years to months. In such environment, I can hardly imagine monolithic PLM solution deployment that can sustain for a decade as it was before. I would expect PLM vendors to think about new type of platforms and set of agile applications serving variety of business needs.

What is my conclusion? Business, technological and organization changes will affect future landscape of PLM platforms and applications. Small is new big. New technological platforms will be able to scale to support a diverse set of customers. Vendors will be moving from shipping CDs to provide services out of public and private clouds. As a result of that, the difference between PLM for SME and Enterprise PLM will disappear. Future PLM solutions will come as platforms with diverse set of agile applications. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Importance of data curation for PLM implementations

August 4, 2014

curate-data-mess

The speed of data creation is amazing these days. According to the last IBM research, 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. I’m not sure if IBM counting all enterprise data, but it doesn’t change much- we have lots of data. In manufacturing company data is created inside of the company as well as outside. Design information, catalogs, manufacturing data, business process data, information from supply chain – this is only beginning. Nowadays we speak about information made by customers as well as machined (so called Internet of Things).

One of the critical problems for product lifecycle management was always how to feed PLM system with the right data. To have right data is important – this is a fundamental thing when you implement any enterprise system. In the past I’ve been posted about PLM legacy data and importance of data cleanup.

I’ve been reading The PLM State: Getting PLM Fit article over the weekend. The following passage caught my special attention since it speaks exactly about the problem of getting right data in PLM system.

[…] if your data is bad there is not much you can do to fix your software. The author suggested focusing on fixing the data first and then worrying about the configurations of the PLM. […] today’s world viewing the PLM as a substitute for a filing cabinet is a path to lost productivity. Linear process is no longer a competitive way to do business and in order to concurrently develop products, all information needs to be digital and it needs to be managed in PLM. […] Companies are no longer just collecting data and vaulting it. They are designing systems to get the right data. What this means on a practical level is that they are designing their PLM systems to enforce standards for data collection that ensure the right meta data is attached and that meaningful reports can be generated from this information.

PLM implementations are facing two critical problems: 1/ how to process large amount of structured and unstructured information prior to PLM implementation; 2/ how constantly curate data in PLM system to bring right data to people at the right time. So, it made me think about importance of data curation. Initially, data curation term was used mostly by librarian and researchers in the context of classification and organization of scientific data for future reuse. The growing amount and complexity of data in the enterprise, can raise the value of digital data curation for implementation and maintenance of enterprise information systems. PLM is a very good example here. Data must be curated before get into PLM system. In addition to that, data produced by PLM system must be curated for future re-use and decision making.

What is my conclusion? The complexity of PLM solutions is growing. Existing data is messy and requires special curation and aggregation in order to be used for decision and process management. The potential problem of PLM solution is to be focused on a very narrow scope of new information in design an engineering. Lots of historical record as well as additional information are either lost or disconnected from PLM solutions. In my view, solving these problems can change the quality of PLM implementations and bring additional value to customers. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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