Accelerate 2014: PLM360 and the state of manufacturing industry

September 18, 2014


I’m attending Accelerate 2014 PLM360 event these days in Boston. This is the first ever live gathering of Autodesk PLM360 community. According to Ron Locking who kicked the event yesterday, it comes to a total number of about 200 attendees combined of customers, partners and industry analysts.

So, why Boston? The welcome joke triggered by analysts Chad Jackson, Jim Brown and Stan Przybylinski speculated – it was all about “beer innovation” that inspired Autodesk people to have this even in Boston. However, in my view, we have more reasons for that – high concentration of PLM companies around PLM highway, vibrant community of manufacturing companies and startups as well as cross-road location between Europe and U.S. Event is taking place in Boston District Hall in the middle of Seaport district. The place brought my memories back to Smart Summit (first SmarTeam customer event in 2000). Back that days, the only building in Boston Seaport district was Seaport Hotel. Now, Seaport district looks completely different.


Getting back to “beer innovation”, I found an interesting association between U.S. beer craftsmanship and state of PLM and manufacturing industry these days. It comes to empowering of small companies to innovate. It happened to small breweries in U.S. back in 1978. It is a good lesson to learn. Here is a passage about brewery innovation:

On October 14, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed H.R. 1337 into law, which legalized the home production of a small amount of beer or wine for personal consumption.Since then, the United States has witnessed a resurgence of brewing culture and the widespread proliferation of small breweries. By March 1986, five brewpubs had opened in the United States. The total number of breweries rose from 42 in 1978 to over 2,750 in 2012, reaching or exceeding the number of breweries estimated to have existed during the colonial period. Virtually all of this growth is attributable to small, independent breweries.Today, the U.S. craft beer industry employs over 100,000 individuals brewing 15.6 million barrels of beer per year, generating roughly $14.3 billion in retail sales.

Back to the event itself. Who attended? I found a very interesting mixture of companies attended the event. First and most important is to see a diverse set of manufacturing companies using PLM360 and sharing their stories. Second – a very interesting bunch of partners and service providers representing new “cloud” ecosystem. The last, but probably the most interesting are companies that related to so called “new manufacturing companies”. These days small manufacturing are starting to make difference. And actually, you can see it very well by looking on the list Accelerate 2014 attendee list – Quirky, Dragon Innovation and few others. These companies represents a complete new story in manufacturing industry. Enabled by internet and modern technologies, new manufacturing companies are representing a complete new way to develop products. And, their demand is to have new design and engineering tools.

Specifically I wanted to focus on how PLM can help to new manufacturing startups. Manufacturing is hard. To get from zero to one in manufacturing is not simple. However, to come from one to many is probably even more challenging. It requires a complete new approach and new tools.


Agility, speed and flexibility. This is probably a word that explains in a best way how manufacturing companies are using PLM360. It is interesting to see that these definitions are common between both group of customers – larger established manufacturers and new growing startups. Large companies are learning how to solve specific product development business problems using tools like PLM360. At the same time, small companies are learning how to bring some order in their ad-hoc product development environment. So, both groups have something to learn from each other and it looks like PLM360 can give them some common grounds to innovate as a community.


Innovation was one of the most frequently discussed topics during these two days. The product innovation panel discussion gathered a diverse set of attendees – analysts, customers, vendors.


PLM360 is one of the tools coming as an answer on “manufacturing challenge”. However, it doesn’t come alone. PLM360 comes as part of new cloud eco-system Autodesk develops these days – Autodesk A360, Autodesk Fusion360 and some others.


What is my conclusion? The modern manufacturing world is a complex combination of new challenges and old problems. New manufacturing companies, communities, new type of products, unprecedented level of product complexity even for small manufacturing – all together representing a new state of manufacturing industry. It requires new approach in design and product collaboration tool. PLM360 gives some good examples and lesson learned in that space. Just my thoughts..

Best, Oleg

Disclaimer: I’m Autodesk employee. 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.

Cloud PLM and disruptive technology economic impact

June 14, 2013

We love word “disruptive”. It is so nice and tasty. However, very often, we use it without thinking twice what does it mean. Read materials from many startups and large companies – you found lots of statements about “disruptive technology” or “disruptive innovation”. Wikipedia article provides a very decent definition of what disruptive innovation and technology mean.

A disruptive innovation is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually goes on to disrupt an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology. The term is used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically first by designing for a different set of consumers in the new market and later by lowering prices in the existing market. The term “disruptive technology” has been widely used as a synonym of “disruptive innovation”, but the latter is now preferred, because market disruption has been found to be a function usually not of technology itself but rather of its changing application. Sustaining innovations are typically innovations intechnology, whereas disruptive innovations change entire markets.

I’ve been reading McKinsey Names the Most Over-Hyped (and Under-Hyped) Major Technologies Out There article earlier this week. McKinsey made an analyzes of projected economic impact of disruptive technologies. I found the diagram interesting.

Navigate here if you want to read a full report. I also found the following passage notable.

In its latest report, MGI set out to answer an even more unanswerable question: What will be the economic impact of the dozen most “disruptive” technologies, including utility devices that talk to each other, cars that drive themselves, and printers that can print printers? Their summary graph is the image that kicks off this post. In a sentence: There’s mobile Internet, and then there’s everything else.

What is my conclusion? To predict a future is one of the most risky things. McKinsey ranked cloud as #4 by a potential economic impact. In my view, cloud can make a difference. Will cloud drive future difference of enterprise software and PLM systems? Pure speculations… Nevertheless, I like McKensey’s numeric approach. PLM vendors must take note – the time of fluffy marketing is about to end. Data first. I’m looking forward to see numbers presenting an economic impact of cloud enterprise systems and to compare with a traditional enterprise software stack. Interesting time. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

PDM: re-invent the wheel or innovate?

May 2, 2013

Engineers hate PDM. It is an axiom known to all people touching engineering and manufacturing software. Nobody gets up in the morning and looking for PDM software. Most of product development people are considering PDM as an evil that they need pay taxes to get right revision and don’t overwrite changes made by his colleagues. The value proposition of PDM is obvious. Navigate your browser to the reports made by Jim Brown of Tech-Clarity here. Here is a conclusion:

The conclusion from that report was a clear indication that Product Data Management (PDM) helps companies control control and secure product-related data, improve the ability to quickly find and reuse information, and share product knowledge with other departments. The report went further to point out that the companies indicated the results of better control, search, and collaboration are increased efficiency, improved quality, reduced cost, and the ability to bring products to market much faster. So it was easy to make a conclusion from that report that PDM helps companies improve the metrics that drive product profitability.

At the same time, the same Jim Brown in his online dispute with Chad Jackson agreed that PDM is overkill for small and medium design team. I posted about it few weeks ago in my post – PDM: Rightsize, Wrongsize, Overkill? The current status quo of PDM is that majority of engineering and manufacturing companies are not using PDM. The optimistic estimation of amount of CAD seats managed by PDM software is probably 15-20%.

Recently, I saw two startup companies decided to challenge the space of collaboration and PDM using cloud solutions – GrabCAD Workbench and Sunglass PDM.

GrabCAD – company known because of a website providing online storage for CAD models and place to promote your engineering skills via different challenges. GrabCAD is coming with Workbench – an online solution that provide a secured location to share CAD design and collaborate in teams. Josh Mings smacked a review of GrabCAD workbench here. The following passage can explain what Workbench does:

Workbench provides a secure location for sharing models. Inside this environment, people can upload files (3d, 2d, docs, etc.), comment on files and further collaborate on the project files. The 3D viewing interface provides additional tools to section, measure, explode and place ‘pins’ on the 3D object itself. The idea is to replace less secure methods of collaboration like email, FTP, Dropbox or other online share sites, providing a single point interaction for the model and the people.

GrabCAD is planning to come with 3 levels of collaborative solutions – Professional, Team and Enterprise. Pricing is not available yet, but the first (Professional) is available now for limited beta. I requested a try for me and waiting it to be available soon. is come to the market as a online collaborative site with 3D viewing solution. Currently Sunglass is introducing what they call “product data management to 3D distributed cloud platform”. GraphicSpeak Randall Newton put an interesting writeup about Sunglass PDM here. The following passage is my favorite:

Nobody gets up in the morning and says, “Hurray, I get to work in our PDM software today.” Most product designers and engineers consider the data management side of using CAD for product design to be drudgery. The more product data management can be unified with design data and the processes of team workflow, the less onerous keeping the data current will seem. Only time and customer feedback will tell us if Sunglass has created a winner.

At $20 per month per user, the price of Sunglass PDM is a factor of ten less expensive than most PDM products on the market. But they offer a much richer, more nuanced approach to data management. Ease of use will be the key to early success.

Target low end PDM white space

Both Sunglass and GrabCAD are using modern web development concepts together with cool user experience. GrabCAD is leveraging the community of more than 500K engineers using GrabCAD website to upload/download CAD files. Both companies are thinking how to fill the gap current PDM packages like TeamCenter, PDMLink or SolidWorks Enterprise PDM left untapped. From the examples I’ve seen, Sunglass and GrabCAD are proposing an alternative experience to traditional PDM. At the same time, most of traditional attributes left without changes.

What is my conclusion? User experience and S3 cloud storage. Community of engineers and dashboard with CAD plug-ins. Most of these attributes were introduced by old PDM tools in the past. Will it be enough to change the mind of conservative engineers about the role of PDM systems in their working processes? Everything new is actually well-forgotten old. The history of software has many things like this. Cost is a huge factor also. Only time will show if GrabCAD or Sunglass created a winner in new PDM space. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

PI Congress: Product development as we have known it, is dying…

February 25, 2013

I spent the beginning of this week in Berlin attending PI (Product Innovation) congress. Navigate to the following link to learn more. The event is a successor of PLM Innovation conference happened in the past in London, Munich and Atlanta. The even was organized by Market Key in partnership with CIMdata. This year event was expanded to cover product design in addition to PLM related topics. The event is vendor neutral. With about 300 guests and representation of many CAD and PLM vendors, it provided a good place to discuss and get updated about what happens in product development world (PLM included). The primary focus of the event was clearly about customer presentations. Even so, PI congress was blessed by several well-known keynote speakers – Steve Wozniak, Prof. Martin Eigner and few others. In addition to that, exhibition provided a good opportunity to see demos and speak to vendors. Below some of my thoughts as an outcome of two event days.

PLM – changes are coming

I must credit Peter Bilello of CIMdata for a truly provoking title of this blog post. I took it from his presentation: The future of PLM – enabling radical collaboration. We are facing changes driven by two major factors – new social-savy workforce and “maker” movements. I specially liked the following slide from Peter’s presentation – Radically connected… Kids.

We have new reality and new people. These people will influence future priorities of manufacturing companies and will drive industry changes as individuals. We can debate timing of when it will happen, but this is more tactical. Strategically, new social workforce will drive future changes in the industry.

Another interesting aspect of product development changes is related to new technologies. They are going to impact product design as it is today. Key factors here are connectivity, social networking and big data. All together they are changing the way product designed and manufactured. The transformation comes from the connection these technologies are establishing between development processes and business goals.

Large successful mono-PLM projects

A significant part of PI Congress was dedicated to customer presentations. This is one of the sweet spots of this conference. To listen to customers and how they implement existing product and technologies is the main reason to come. This year, PI Congress introduced few remarkable presentations from The Boeing Company, GETRAG, Dana Holding, Andritz, Kennametal, Autoliv and few others. I found these presentations very interesting and educational. It shows that value of PLM is recognizable by companies and organizations are strategically focused on driving more PLM implementations to improve their development processes.

The downside experience of these implementations (I call them “mono-PLM”) is related to effort and cost. Most of them are multi-year and focusing on how to replace a zillion of legacy application with a single PLM platform like it was presented on a picture above. All these implementations are good and provide value to companies. However, some of these companies are not comfortable even to speak about the cost of these implementations. In my view, this is an indication of potential cost/value ratio problem.

Interdisciplinary integrated PLM

The complexity of PLM implementation is growing. Integration theme was dominant in most of the presentations done by customers, analysts and industry experts. Here are few examples showing the importance of information assets integration during PLM implementation.

Speaking more, Peter Bilello of CIMdata discussed the convergence of Configuration Management, PLM and System Engineering as the only way to solve the problem of complexity.

What is my conclusion? I want to get back to my conclusion about PLM perfect storm 2012 one year ago. In my view, we will see more changes and disruption in coming years. Three main driving factors – cost of implementations, complexity of product development and consumerization of IT. All together, they will provide a perfect eco-system to innovate. My recommendation to customers these days is not to make 5 years commitments. To vendors – don’t trust status quo. Your potential competitors are not reading emails and still working from a garage space. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

PLM, Fun and Innovation

February 4, 2013

Fun and coolness are trending topics these days. Are you doing boring business or having fun? Fun is much better and, speaking seriously, much more productive. That’s why the most efficient ways to educate kids are usually involving some elements of fun and games. Enterprise IT and business software are probably one of the most conservative places. Go to many companies IT departments or speak to business consulting and you can find yourself in a social environment back 15-20 years back with not much fun. Consumerization and BYOD trends created some holes in old fashion business software culture, but the overall balance is still very much conservative.

So, what about PLM fun? Frankly, not much PLM fun these days. Nevertheless, I can see some positive changes. Thanks for social media, social networks and blogs, PLM companies and PLM consulting people are now talking in an open way about what PLM is about why a way they propose to approach PLM is different. Sometimes, it is very funny like in the following video clip of Gangnam compass explaining Dassault 3DExperience style.

However, pure PLM is still very boring place according to one of my blogging buddies Jos Voskuil. Navigate to his recent posts – How come PLM is boring? I found his post quite entertaining. Find few minutes and have a read Jos’ post. It reminded me old IBM days when every manager knew that nobody will fired after signing a contract with IBM. In other words, regardless of how you perform if you sign with IBM, your life is saved. You can see a similar line here. According to Jos, changing the way to work is the problem and not PLM software as it is now. So, if you find the way to connect you business problems with PLM technology you are on the right path. The change is what important according to Jos. Here is the passage:

It is not the friendly user-interface of PLM system XYZ or the advanced technical capabilities of PLM system ABC,  that will make a PLM implementation easier. Nothing is solved on the cloud  or by using a mobile device. If there is no change when implementing PLM, why implement  and build a system to lock yourself in even more?

Speaking about innovation, cloud remains one of the topics that drive most controversy in PLM. The buzzword itself, history of the topic and vendors strategies are creating a combination of complicated terms. Almost all PLM vendors today are reported about “cloud-ready” or “cloud-enabling” technologies. In that context I wanted to bring funny video from 2009 showing Oracle’s CEO Larry Ellison speaking about cloud technologies. You can watch more here.

I specially liked the following phrase- “Our industry is so bizarre. We just change a term and think we change the technology”. It is so true… The amount of buzzwords is the marketing materials of PLM companies produces on one side and the amount of “business practices” introduced by PLM consulting on the other side is skyrocketing. Enterprise software is undergoing the most radical shakeup since the turn of the century. These days, I’d recommend college “101” courses and “for dummies” series of books for many enterprise software and consulting people.

In few weeks, I’m going to attend Product Innovation Congress in Berlin. The same event was called PLM innovation before in 2012 and 2011. Looking on the list of attendees and companies presented it sounds like a solid business event.  Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Prof. Martin Eigner, practically all PLM vendors and many other attendees. I’m looking forward to learn about innovation and find some fun there.

Best, Oleg

PLM Innovation and Top 5 PLM trends

October 31, 2012

Last week I attended PLM Innovation event in Atlanta. If you haven’t had a chance to follow my blog last week, you can catch up on this post – PLM Innovation: Who will provide PLM to Boeing in 2015? In my view, Boeing presentation during the event provided an important "mind changing" message. Today, I wanted to provide more organized and systematic view on trends I discovered during the event from presentations and talks with people. Here is my take on top 5 trends in PLM software and industry:

1. Usability. Usability. Usability…

You cannot stop it. Bad user experience is "so ’95". You can see how PLM companies are focusing on that. Take a look on the following slide presented by Boeing. I think, it is very self explaining:

Here are few examples of PLM vendor strategies in this space – Autodesk PLM 360 cloud alternative, Dassault 3D Experience, PTC Whindchill 10 focus on user experience, SAP Visual Enterprise, TeamCenter Active Workspaces. So, vendors recognize the importance. The delivery of user experience is a tricky thing. It takes time, experiments and effort to deliver good user experience. It is not a simple task.

2. Global Access

Today even smallest manufacturing companies and business are global. You cannot build the system today assuming on a single location. PLM industry has a long history of investment in global access. Web architecture, global collaboration and data sharing. The biggest challenge and opportunity I can see these days is related to the ability of vendors to bring new technologies from web to PLM space. Large companies and small startups are investing in this space. Few examples – Autodesk PLM 360 on the cloud, Dassault Enovia V6 online, GrabCAD, and others.

3. Affordable business models and simple pricing

PLM is too expensive. You can hear this message very often. One of the clear messages I’ve heard during PLM Innovation is related to how PLM vendors can provide a simple and affordable pricing model. Take a look on the slide below presenting how and why the existing pricing model are limited PLM business.

Fundamentally, customer’s demand is to have a predictable pricing model.

4. Mobile Applications

Mobile is a king of the road. Everything is going mobile these days. So, if you don’t have a mobile strategy you are literally dead. The biggest challenge for vendors is how to deliver mobile applications right. One of mobile challenges is related to platform and device diversification – there are too many platforms and devices. Another one is business and licensing. Sales usually are not interested how to sell an app for $4.99.

5. Beyond engineering

Last, but not least. Historically, PLM was very focused on design and engineering business. However, companies recognize an increased value of PLM to be delivered downstream in the company beyond engineering. PLM is recognized as a system(s) that can manage and distribute information about product across the lifecycle.

What is my conclusion? I think we move from "changes are coming" to "changes are here" status now. The focus of customers like Boeing on usability introduce the new era of PLM software. Enterprise IT (PLM included) is finally "on fire" to deliver systems with desired quality. The next five years focus will be on how to deliver PLM leveraging massive experience in technology and business of consumer and web business. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

PLM, Innovation and Getting Things Done

March 30, 2012

This week was extremely busy. I was traveling to attend Autodesk Media Summit in San-Francisco. You can read about it in my previous post. However, I wanted to talk about Innovation before this weekend. Have you heard about this buzz? It became so popular to talk about how software helps you to innovate these days. PLM vendors are joining this buzz as well. Well, everybody wants to be innovative. Easy answer. Obviously, I want to be innovative. Because it is so easy applies, PLM marketers took into the portfolio of PLM sales machine. The connection between PLM and Innovation became stronger for the last couple of years. You can see it on many websites of PLM-related companies and marketing materials. Almost two years ago, I posted – What are the metrics for PLM innovation? The idea was to discuss how you can measure innovation in the organization in order to prevent dilution of the term. Nevertheless, I believe the problem is still here.

I was reading Virtualdutchman blog of Jos Voskuil earlier this week about PLM and Innovation. Jos is taking the topic of Innovation in a very systematic way. Jos drives his conclusion about what are key company processes PLM can help you to innovate in. Read Jos’ conclusion below:

PLM does not kill innovation and although the PLM Vendor marketing is not very explicit, there are three areas where PLM supports Innovation. In a (subjective) order of priority I would say: 1/ New Product Introduction – bringing the highest revenue advantages for a selected invention; 2/ Invention discovery – by providing R&D a 360 view of their customers and market landscape enable inventions to happen in your company; 3/ Portfolio Management – to assist in selecting the right opportunities to focus.

I’m actually in agreement with Jos. PLM can help people to innovate. However, the story of innovation reminded me the story sales people were telling about the differences between vitamins and pain-killers. Vitamins are making your life better. Pain-killers are helping to remove your pain. It is very important to be able to innovate, take a right decision in NPD (new-product development) or discover for better ideas. However, in my view, it is all vitamins. Opposite to that, to have an ability to manage change processes, get access to the correct version of BOM or calculate product cost to be manufactured according to the specific order is something organization need to do every day.

It made me think about what is in people mind on a daily basis, so if PLM does it – people will use it immediately. Not innovation. I want to get a job done. Every day. People are absolutely dependent on tools that help them to manage everyday life activities – release drawings, run BOM changes, ordering components and product shipments. The following funny video of Kanban2go is not related to PLM, but it is so true.

What is my conclusion? People want to get a job done and go fo skydiving or skiing. I like the idea. However, the manufacturing planning process is frustrating. I cannot find my last drawings, or I need to re-build a product prototype from a baseline nobody can memorize or retrieve. There are many other frustrating tasks. In my view, to help people to get a job done will be the next big thing in PLM. Not to plan about 10-year future innovation (although it is important), but get rid of tasks standing between people and the weekend. I think PLM vendors need to take a note. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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