New enterprise software reality for PLM vendors

February 21, 2015


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.


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.


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

Cloud PDM: stop controlling data and check shadow IT practices

January 21, 2015


An interest of customers in cloud PDM solution is growing. I guess there are multiple factors here – awareness about cloud efficiency and transparency, less concern about cloud security and improved speed and stability of internet connections. If you are not following my blog, you can catch up on my older blog articles about cloud PDM – Cloud PDM ban lifted. What next?; Cloud PDM hack with Google Drive and other tools; Cloud can make file check-in and check-out obsolete. The confluence of new technologies around cloud, web, mobile and global manufacturing is creating a demand for cloud (or web based) solution helping distributed design teams.

So, where is a challenge for cloud PDM? My hunch, the biggest one is how to sell cloud PDM to manufacturing companies. I can divide all customers into two groups – larger manufacturing companies that already implemented PDM solutions and smaller manufacturing firms that are still managing CAD design with folders, FTP and Dropbox accounts.

Analysts, researchers and PDM marketing pundits are trying to convince companies that cloud PDM can become a great enabler for collaboration and leaving CAD data “not managed” can bring even greater risk to organization. There is nothing wrong with that… PDM was build around the idea of how to take a control over data. However, the idea of “control” is not something engineers like. Ed Lopategui is speaking about engineers and control in his last blog – The day the strength of PDM failed. Here is a passage I liked:

The second reason, which is not so legitimate, is a loss of control. The reason so many engineers pine about the days of paper-based PDM in document control departments (or instead nothing at all) is that world could be circumvented in a pinch. It was flawed because it was run by humans, and consequently also replete with errors. Replaced with immutable and uncaring software, engineers working in groups nonetheless become irritated because they can’t just do whatever they want. You see this very conflict happening with regard to source control in software development circles. The order needed to manage a complex product necessarily makes manipulating pieces of that engineering more cumbersome. It’s one thing to be creating some widget in a freelance environment, it’s another matter entirely when that end product needs traceable configuration for a serialized certification basis. And that will happen regardless of how the software operates.

Here is the thing… Maybe cloud PDM should stop worry about controlling data and think more about how to bring a comfort to engineers and stop irritating users with complex lifecycle scenarios? It made me think about practice that known as “shadow IT”. For the last few years, shadow IT and cloud services have lot of things in common. Don’t think about shadow IT as a bad thing. Think about innovation shadow IT can bring to organizations.

Forbes article “Is shadow IT a runaway train or an innovation engine?” speaks about how shadow IT can inject some innovative thinking into organization. This is my favorite passage:

As we reported last month, one corporate employee survey found that 24% admit they have purchased and/or deployed a cloud application — such as, Concur, Workday, DropBox, or DocuSign. One in five even use these services without the knowledge of their IT departments.

The rise of shadow IT may actually inject a healthy dose of innovative thinking into organizations, at a time they need it most. The ability to test new approaches to business problems, and to run with new ideas, is vital to employees at all levels. If they are encumbered by the need for permissions, or for budget approvals to get to the technology they need, things will get mired down. Plus, shadow IT applications are often far cheaper than attempting to build or purchase similar capabilities through IT.

What is my conclusion? Stop controlling data and bring a freedom of design work back to engineers. I understand, it is easy to say, but very hard to implement. To control data is a very fundamental PDM behavior. To re-imagining it require some innovative thinking. It is also related to the fact how to stop asking engineers to check-in, check-out and copy files between different locations. Maybe, this is an innovation folks at Onshape are coming with? I don’t know. In my view, cloud PDM tools have the opportunity to change the way engineers are working with CAD data. Many new services became successful by providing cloud applications and making existing working practices much easier than before. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg
photo credit: Dean Hochman via photopin cc

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).


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)

Security and permissions are showstoppers to adopt search

June 25, 2014


Search and information discovery is a big deal these days. Inspired by Google and other web search giants, we want information at our fingertips at the right time. I’ve been following topic of search long time. You can jump on few of my previous articles about search – Oslo & Grap – new trajectories in discovery and search; Why engineers need exploratory search? and Pintrest will teach CAD companies to search.

You may think cost and complexity are top problems of search technologies. Crunching lots of data and connecting relevant information requires application of right resources and skills. You will be surprised, but there is one more element that drives low adoption of search in manufacturing companies – security.

Information age articles Enterprise search adoption remains low – survey speaks about survey done among 300 Enterprise IT professionals conducted by Varonis Systems. According to this survey – enterprises are afraid good search solution will allow to people o find information with no permission. Here is the passage which explains that:

The respondents were surveyed at two major security-themed industry events, the RSA Conference in February and Infosecurity Europe in April. When asked to choose the biggest obstacle to enterprise search adoption, 68% cited the risk of employees locating and accessing files they should not have permission to view. Further, even if an enterprise search solution perfectly filters out results based on established permissions, the majority of respondents indicated they are not confident that their organisation’s existing permissions are accurate. Additional obstacles to enterprise search adoption most commonly cited were accuracy of the results (36%), end user adoption (29%) and the ability of solutions to scale enough to index all the data (24%).

It made me think about complexity of manufacturing companies and enterprise organization in general. Established permissions are part of the story. The search results permissions are as good as data that enterprise systems are supplying to search software. GIGO (Grabage in, Garbage out). For many IT organization, management of security and permissions is a big deal. Think about typical manufacturing company. Tomorrow, search system can find all CAD files that were occasionally copy/pasted in different locations and shared between organizations outside of existing PDM/PLM tools. What else, multiple "publishing solutions" created variety of published copies in different formats. Add SharePoint and similar technologies sometimes adopted by divisions against approvals of central IT. Good search solution can be a litmus test to many IT organizations.

What is my conclusion? Manufacturing enterprises are complex. As I described, it driven by strategic, political and cultural lines. Search is disruptive technology that has a possibility to cross these lines and expose many elements of corporate IT problems. So, once more, we learn that only mix of technological and people skills can solve the problem. Strategists and technologist of search vendors should take a note. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

[categories Daily PLM Think Tank]

PLM real implementations: too long to be on-time?

July 7, 2013

One of the looongest US weekends I remember is going to end. This is a time to get back from relaxing holiday atmosphere to business reality. I’ve been skimming social channels and stumbled on PLM statistics posts published by my good friend and PLM blogging buddy Jos Voskuil. Navigate to the following link – PLM statistics–the result. Read and make your opinion. Jos’ main conclusion – PLM is more vision than tech. PLM implementation is a journey that takes time, effort and resources. Some interesting and funny things came out of comparison of experience and PLM implementation time. Here is the passage I liked:

Here, it was interesting to see that more than 60 % of the respondents have over 8 years of experience. As mentioned related to the previous questions it is necessary to have a long term experience. Sometimes I meet a “Senior” PLM Consultant (business card) with two or three years of experience. I believe we should reserve the word “senior” for PLM with a minimum amount of 5 years experience. And it is also depending on the amount of projects you were involved in. Interesting thought came into my mind. Some vendors claim the provide extreme rapid implementations for PLM ( 2 weeks / 30 days / 3 months). If this is real PLM you could do 25, 12 or 4 PLM projects per year full time.

It made me think about PLM implementations in the way they exist today – journey type of specialized implementation requiring time and effort. I certainly agree with Jos- to change the way companies work requires vision, time and effort. In some situations, PLM implementations are coming to change product development processes established during decades.

However, here is a different angle to look on PLM problem. Business is very dynamic these days. Business environment, ecosystem, technology, human resources, business landscape. What if the current lifecycle of many PLM implementations is not very inline with business needs? It reminds me one of the old PTC slides from COFES Israel – people just want drink beer!

What is my conclusion? New enterprise landscape and business reality will be require a different approach in everything – IT, computing models, enterprise software and implementations. We’ve seen lots of changes in consumer technology space, open source and other places happened over the past 10 years. People are looking how to build new products faster and provide a quick respond on customers demands. So, my hunch some of PLM journeys will be late to deliver results. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Why PLM needs to shift focus from buyers to users?

June 3, 2013

Enterprise systems for long time are well-known as a place where IT plays the role of the king on the road. ERP, CRM and many other enterprise systems and implementations proved that. If you want to sell to enterprise organization, you need to focus on key IT people, preferable on CIO, Chief of Engineering, Manufacturing etc. Earlier this year, I had a healthy debate about this topic following my blog post – PLM, Viral Sales and Enterprise Old Schoolers.

The disruption in Enterprise IT is one that I see as one of the most interesting trends these days in enterprise space. The following presentation caught my attention yesterday – The challenges and opportunities of business in the disruptive tech era. I recommend you to take a look on this even the presentation is 56 slides. However, the following slide stands out and resonate with the point I wanted to make about IT.

Let’s get back to PLM domain. In the existing ecosystems, there are two major ways to sell and implement PDM/PLM projects. One can be made indirectly mostly via CAD vendors channels. The complexity of these implementations is limited and these implementations (with some small number of exclusions) are limited to catch the level of enterprise IT. Another one is a direct channel developed by PLM and ERP vendors selling PLM implementations to top level management in IT organizations. The higher level of IT people is better.

I can see multiple reasons why existing IT is not getting excited about technological disruption in PLM and other enterprise organization. The disruption means changes and changes are usually come with the lost of control and existing status. For example, cloud means no servers need to installed, implementations can be done remotely and product development has a better chances to focus on user experience and business needs rather than on how to implement and run enterprise deployments.

What is my conclusion? The future of PLM implementation will shift focus from PLM buyers to PLM users. At the end of the days, people need to get job done. PLM needs to focus on user needs, user experience and the ability of systems to help people in everyday business life. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

PLM Cloud Concerns and Dropbox Reality for Engineers

December 4, 2012

Last week at AU, I attended Innovation Forum – The Reality of the cloud. The presentation made by Theresa Payton of Fortalice LLC caught my special attention. It was about security. Check later here. Security is loaded and complicated topic. Physical security is one of the top 5 concerns of customers related to the decision of using cloud services. Even if consumption of online services is growing crazy, companies are very careful in placing their missing critical data assets to the cloud. Especially when it comes to IP (intellectual property). Navigate here to read what SearchCIO blog is saying about that. You need to register to read full article. The following passage is interesting:

To be sure, some cloud services are pretty lightweight, such as filling out a form to schedule an online meeting. But for mission-critical applications or storing data in the cloud, you need to ask tough questions: "What does their data center look like? Are they willing to show you a diagram? Backup plans? Security documents?" asked Jessica Carroll, managing director of IT for the United States Golf Association, which uses the cloud for business continuity, as well as for collaboration with 1,500 golfing associations nationwide.

Contact any CIO in the industry and his team will drain you down with the endless list of questions about security. However, here is a news for you, Mr. CIO. I don’t know if you are aware, but 34% of your engineering staff is placing data on the cloud in their Dropbox accounts. What is more surprising – half of them are aware they are doing it against the company rules. Navigate to the following link to read more and see some diagrams – Guess what Mr. CIO? One in five of your employees uses Dropbox at work.

One out of five of 1,300 business users surveyed said they use the consumer file-sync-and-share system with work documents, according to new research by Nasuni, an enterprise storage management company. And, half of those Dropbox users do this even though they know it’s against the rules.

However, the fact employees are putting files in the Dropbox is just half of the problem. Since they are using private accounts, the information remains there even after an employee is leaving the company.

“The sensitive data stored in Dropbox is not secure and just as importantly, not controlled by IT. This means that if an employee leaves the company, the information that [a] user has stored goes with them, creating a significant risk of data loss or exposure. Furthermore, as the amount of sensitive corporate data stored in Dropbox increases, the online file-sharing service will become a more attractive target for hackers and other malicious groups.

What is my conclusion? Think about PLM and Excel. Who won the game? I think the answer is clear – Excel. Each time, PDM/PLM software was incompetent to provide a reliable solution, Microsoft Excel won PLM competition. Now, guess what? If company and corporate IT continue to abuse users’ demand to have flexible and easy access to information, the information flow will go from proprietary data and file servers directly to Dropbox and similar "easy to use" cloud services. Companies need to pay attention. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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