Future PLM platforms: between a rock and hard place

December 4, 2014


Manufacturing landscape and technology are changing fast these days. Most of existing PLM platforms were developed 15+ years ago. Therefore, a question about new PLM platforms is getting more vocal. What will be a foundation for that platform? How existing implementations and technologies evolve? What will be a role of standards in a future PLM platforms.

Engineering.com article Product Innovation Platform: Plug’n’play in next generation PLM – TV-report caught my attention yesterday with the discussion about what will become a future PLM platform. Verdi Ogewell speaks about multiple dimensions of future PLM platform – federation, standards, behaviors as well as brings opinions of customers on how they see future of PLM platforms. The key question debated in the article was raised in the beginning and related to “single system”. Here is my favorite passage:

Can a single system cover everything from product realization to distribution, from services to smart products and maintenance? There are certainly those who thinks so. Dassault Systèms, Siemens PLM and PTC have set their sights on an ambitious vision of the PLM market. But there are sceptical voices too, like analyst Gartner’s Marc Halpern and CIMdata’s Peter Bilello. “No, this will not be,” they asserted during the recent PDT Europe conference in Paris where the main theme was, “Shaping the PLM platform of the future”.

It made me think about future PLM platforms in the context of marketing and technological dynamics. PLM market is very competitive. At the same time, most of the decisions usually have very long time impact. Therefore every customer win is long term win. In my old article – PLM platform wars: who is right or who is left?, I’ve been talking about ‘openness’ as a strategic advantage. In my view, it is still very important factor. Customers dislike “closed” systems. From technological and business standpoint, what can become a foundation for a new platform? Navigate to my blog -The foundation for next PLM platforms. I outlined four potential developments that can form a new PLM platform – (1) model based system engineering, (2) unbundled 3D service, (3) product development standard, (3) database technology and web infrastructure. These things can interplay together.

At the same time I can clearly see two major trends in establishment of new PLM platforms – (1) single platform trend; (2) federated platform. I want to elaborate a bit more about these options.

1- Single platform. For many years it was a strategy for almost every PLM vendor. Seriously, I don’t believe somebody realistically can think these days about single vendor providing a complete set of tools for OEM manufacturing company. Nevertheless, vendors are developing tools and acquiring technologies to create the most comprehensive product suites. At the same time, a single platform is a high risk for manufacturers. Customers are trying to diversify their investment between multiple vendors and products.

2- Federated platform. Customers and vendors are often articulating ‘federation’ as a very desired state of future platforms. Here is a thing. Federation is a good vision. The implementation is hard and expensive. For last few decades, PLM vendors invested huge amount of resources in development and implementation of enterprise integration middlewares, technologies and projects. To implement federation is quite expensive and time consuming. I can see some technological promise here coming from modern web and cloud technologies, but taking into account existing enterprise assets it is still highly sophisticated task.

What is my conclusion? Growing complexity and longevity of manufacturing products are raising questions about future PLM platforms. One of the the biggest problems is set of conflicting constraints. Customers are afraid to risk and put all product information into a single vendor systems. At the same time, federated platform is more miracle and vision rather than reality that you can get and implement tomorrow. Standard-based approaches are promising, but slow to ramp up. And, last but not least, new platform ROI is a biggest issue. Imagine, we have a future federated PLM innovation platform built as a result of multiple vendor effort and leveraging existing industry standard. To migrate existing disparate customer environments into a new platform will be multi-year project with very high cost and questionable ROI. I have no doubt, time is coming to rethink the concept of PLM platform. How to do so is a big question. Can manufacturing industry collectively afford it? This is a another good question to ask. Just my thoughts…

Best Oleg

Legacy Systems and Future Coolness of PLM Software.

May 30, 2013

Enterprise software sucks. How many times we’ve heard that for the last 5 years? Probably too many… I remember one of the first articles about that back in 2007 – Why Enterprise Software Sucks? by Jason Fried. The article got almost 100 comments, which confirmed that the topic does matter. Earlier this month, I found an article re-thinking the view on enterprise software – Why Enterprise Software sucks – 6 years later. Take some time and read these articles. There is a clear confirmation that trend towards developing better enterprise software is positive. While you can still see lots of crappy software used by enterprise organizations, enterprise software and SaaS is seeing lots of innovation. At the same time, legacy systems is one of the main factors that prevents enterprise software from innovation. Here is a very important passage:

One of the main reasons that enterprise software sucks is because enterprises are still using software from the 1990′s (or worse). Putting traditional enterprise systems in place is expensive, time consuming, and requires massive customization. Once it’s deployed, it gets relied on by other software, workflows, and processes. Over time, it becomes mission critical and a load bearing wall. Companies are entrenched in their systems and don’t dare touch it if it’s “working” (think: Windows XP).

Let’s get back to PLM. Think about typical situation of manufacturing company using PDM/PLM legacy systems. The deployment cycle of legacy PDM/PLM systems is 3-5 years from initial product introduction and demonstration. Installation and customization can potentially take up to 1-2 years to get it done. As a result of that, companies are using PDM software developed back in early 2000s. The average investment into an existing PDM/PLM deployment can be in the range from $0.5M up to millions of dollars. The level of complexity to update an existing system is high. The migration is combined from multiple factors – data import, customization of new systems, people training. Companies need to pay a lot of money to re-implement software and processes, which is a complicated decision in terms of product ROI.

What is my conclusion? The roots of future enterprise software coolness is deep in enterprise legacy products. The ability to transfer data and processes from old systems to new environment and keep ROI of these projects high – this is a major goal of new enterprise vendors these days. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

PLM: from EGOsystem to ECOsystem

December 1, 2012

I just came back AU2012 in Las Vegas. Among many meetings, I had during AU, I attended Innovation Forum – The Reality of the cloud. The reality of events these days that you can attend actively by participating in social networking via Twitter. One of the tweets during the cloud presentation was Chad Jackson’s: – Think about data as an eco-system.

"Think about data as an ecosystem" from the #Cloud #Innovation forum at #AU2012 twitter.com/ChadKJackson/s…

— Chad Jackson (@ChadKJackson) November 29, 2012

It made me think about PLM as data eco-system. Watch Gerd Leonhard presentation- The future of the internet (SoLoMo) futuristic presentation with strange title – Big Data, Big Mobile, Big Social. I found it is interesting. Navigate here to take a look.

Few slides caught my special attention in the context of PLM and Data Ecosystem discussion. One of them is related to Paul Baran research back in 1960 (way before the internet and even early PLM systems). He was pioneering some of early work related to computer networks. Navigate to the following link to read more. Here is an interesting passage:

The pioneering research of Paul Baran in the 1960s, who envisioned a communications network that would survive a major enemy attacked. The sketch shows three different network topologies described in his RAND Memorandum. The distributed network structure offered the best survivability.

Another slide that sticks in my memory was the comparison of Egosystem and Ecosystem. That slide made me laugh. Especially when I put it next to one of my previous post about PLM Egoism. Think about PLM system transformation. A year ago, during AU2011, I was talking about transformation from Database to Networks. This slide is representing the way how ego-centric PLMs need to be transformed into reliable and modern PLM eco systems.

What is my conclusion? Today’s PLM EGOsystems are not sustainable. The centralized approach made PLM implementation weak and not able to survive long term lifecycle, evolution and business changes. The result is heavy PLM systems that require propriety maintenance. Change management of these systems is either expensive or impossible. It is a time to think about data networks and networked system models. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

pictures courtesy of gleonhard presentation

PLM and IT Consumerization (PLM 2012 in Munich)

February 23, 2012

I had two very busy days in Munich attending PLM Innovation event. There were lots of great conversations, ideas and demos. Earlier today I had a chance to share my ideas of how Consumerization of IT will influence the future of Product Lifecycle Management. Below, I’d like to share slides of my presentation.

In a nutshell, consumerization shows a significant influence the technological disruption of modern web and mobile technologies in the enterprise. iPhone was a first event. Business as usual is not an option anymore. Five major disruption factors – mobile, social networks, consumerization, cloud and big data will influence future of PLM and enterprise, in general. Just my opinion…

Best, Oleg


PLM Jungle or PLM State?

October 7, 2010

I read a blog post by Stephen Porter of Zero Wait State called – The PLM State: Why can’t we all just get along?. I think Stephen raised an important question of vendors co-existence in the engineering software ecosystem. It made me think about PLM Software Landscape and trends going around.

PLM and Enterprise Software Trends

In my view, there are few important things that happen today in PLM and engineering software world. I’d like to name few of them – vertical integration, increased speed of change and influence of consumer software. Vertical integration becomes more and more important in PLM. Customers are not interested to spend time integrating products. Customer demanded to have things integrated and work together from the beginning. It raises many questions about how vendors will maintain integrations. Speed of change represents growing dynamics of businesses. Engineering and PLM software will need to adjust their clocks with businesses. 12 months changes processes seems to be as something that business will stop accepting very soon. The cost of change becomes even more important. It raises a lot of questions related to traditional software release frames and speed of updates. Influence of consumer software becomes crucial. I think, we love all new applications and devices that came to use for the last 5-7 years. You can see a clear difference between "weekend life" and "business week" life. I can see a clear demand of customers to adopt "consumer behaviors" in the enterprise.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

This is another very important aspect to mention. During the last 10-15 years, PLM and other enterprise software companies tried to apply best practices and other strategies related to software product unification. My conclusion after these years is simple – one size doesn’t fit all. The need for diversification becomes more and more clear. Solutions are moving towards customization and differentiations of users in the organization. It will imply a growing amount of multi-vendor software use by customers.

Focus on Customers

Last, but definitely not least. The relationships between customer and vendors are moving in a very interesting direction. It reflects the overall software trends towards openness and customer excellence. The growing amount of Open Source, SaaS and other new business models will decrease customer’s lock-in on a specific software. It reflected in what customers will be looking for in the future PLM and Engineering Software.

What is my conclusion? I think, changes are coming to PLM Jungle from the outside world. Current models will not survive. The wave towards more dynamic business, openness, and customer un-locking is too strong to ignore.

Best, Oleg

PLM Philosophies Collide

September 29, 2010

Somebody asked me last week about how I see th future of PLM… Does it look like-BOM or like-Workflow? I found this question very interesting. Bill of Materials and Workflow (or process management) are fundamentally two most important pieces of PDM and PLM systems for many years. So, we have them already in place. However, thinking about the future – what will be a dominant solution? Do we need re-invent the wheel? Is there any conflict here? I want to elaborate about both to see what future PLM looks like.

Bill of Material World

BOM is considered as a foundation of design, engineering and manufacturing. You can see it everywhere – design BOM in CAD system, Engineering BOM, Manufacturing BOM, Support and Service BOM. You can follow a product lifecycle by discovering different bill of materials. You can find lots of methodologies and systems that help you to handle your Bill of Material world. These things are really complicated. Bill of Materials represents many issues related to product development and in the end of the day you can think about a virtual Bill of Material representing everything.

Workflow World

Processes (or how we can simply call them Workflows) are very important for an organization too. They are a life blood of every manufacturing organization. Organization is running business processes and making overall execution of the business. We can classify them as local and global cross-department. Local are mostly focusing on departmental processes. The more interesting and challenging thing are cross-departmental processes. These processes are connected people working in different departments. Cross-departmental processes are very important if you think about the overall product lifecycle.

PLM Philosophies Difference

So, why I put BOM world against Workflow world? You can draw your organization in terms of Bill of Material and, at the same time, in terms of organizational processes. Is it about philosophy or about real development practices? In the early days of PDM and PLM, the main focus was absolutely on files, data management, revisions, Bill of Materials. Later, PLM system discovered “process world”. This “discovery” was part of the competition between PLM and ERP world. PLM systems made an upscale to compete in the high society. The “process approach” presented organic change to fit product development processes in organizations.

What is my conclusion?

I think, this question represents one of the biggest philosophical collide in engineering and manufacturing software. What will be the winning behavior in the future? It is hard to say. In my view, the end-game solution will need to provide answers to both sides of the problem. BOM and Worklow need to be equaly included into PLM solutions. Only together they can keep an organization to manage efficiently product lifecycle. Just my thoughts. What is your take?

Best, Oleg

The Future of TLA in Engineering Software?

September 22, 2010

Yesterday, I attended COFES Russia / isicad 2010 forum in Moscow. My presentation on the forum was about my view on the future of TLA (Three Letter Acronyms) in Engineering Software. You can see slides of my presentation below.

Later I run the round table about the future PLM technologies. Here are my key takeaways. Last decade was a decade of consolidation in Enterprise Software and PLM. Not much was done beyond that. Consumer software, the Internet and specially Web 2.0 applications will provide a significant impact on the future of technologies and products in Engineering and Manufacturing Software. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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