Will PLM Vendors Jump into Microsoft Cloud Window in Europe?

April 11, 2014

european-plm-cloud

Cloud is raising lots of controversy in Europe. While manufacturing companies in U.S. are generally more open towards new tech, European rivals are much more conservative. Many of my industry colleagues in Germany, France, Switzerland and other EU countries probably can confirm that. Europe is coming to cloud systems, but much slower. I’ve been posting about cloud implications and constraints in Europe. Catch up on my thoughts here – Will Europe adopt cloud PLM? and here PLM cloud and European data protection reforms. These are main cloud concerns raised by European customers – data, privacy and specific country regulation. With companies located in different places in EU, it can be a challenge.

Earlier today, I’ve heard some good news about cloud proliferation in Europe coming from Microsoft. TechCrunch article – Microsoft’s Enterprise Cloud Services Get A Privacy Thumbs Up From Europe’s Data Protection Authorities speaks about the fact Microsoft enterprise cloud service meets the standards of data privacy in several European countries. Here is a passage that can put some lights on details and what does it mean:

But today comes a piece of good news for Redmond: the data protection authorities (DPAs) of all 28 European member states have decided that Microsoft’s enterprise cloud services meet its standards for privacy. This makes Microsoft Azure, Office 365, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Windows Intune the first services to get such approval. The privacy decision was made by the “Article 29 Data Protection Working Party,” which notes that this will mean that Microsoft will not have to seek approval of individual DPAs on enterprise cloud contracts. In its letter to Microsoft (embedded below), chair Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin writes, “The MS Agreement, as it will be modified by Microsoft, will be in line with Standard Contractual Clause 2010/87/EU… In practice, this will reduce the number of national authorizations required to allow the international transfer of data (depending on the national legislation).”

Majority of PDM / PLM providers are friendly with Microsoft tech stack. Some of them are completely relies on MS SQL server and other Microsoft technologies. Most of them are supporting SharePoint. Now, these PLM vendors have an additional incentive to stay with Microsoft technologies for the cloud. It can be also a good news for manufacturing companies already deployed PDM/PLM solutions on top of Microsoft technologies and developed custom solutions.

What is my conclusion? The technological landscape these days is very dynamic. The time, one platform worked for everybody is over. In light of technological disruption and future challenges tech giants will be using different strategies in order to stay relevant for customers. Will European cloud regulation keep PDM/PLM players with MS Azure and other Microsoft technologies compared to alternative cloud technological stacks? How fast will take to other players to reach the same level of compliance? These are good questions to ask vendors and service providers. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


How engineers find path from emails and messages to collaboration?

March 14, 2014

email-message-collaboration

We are really bad about managing ourselves. The natural people behavior is to create mess. Life is getting more dynamic these days. We are swamped into the ocean of information, data streams, social networks, emails, calls, etc. If you want me to do something, send me an email. I’m pretty sure you are familiar with such type of behavior? I’m sure you do. This is our way to get our of mess, so we can track everything. It is true for both private and business life. One of the most requested feature in all PLM workflow systems I developed was to send notifications via email. HRB article Stop using your inbox as to-do list speaks about why we should stop this bad behavior. I liked the following passage:

The reason so many of us fall into the trap of conflating email and task management is that email is inextricable from much of what we do in work and in life: many of our tasks arrive in the form of email messages, and many other tasks require reading or sending emails as part of getting that work done.

While there are those who solve this problem by simply tracking their to-dos using the task manager within Outlook (or another email platform), that approach comes at too steep a cost. Keeping your tasks in your email program means you can’t close that program (and its attendant distractions) when you want to plow through your task list. Having both activities as part of one application also means that you’ll still have to flip from one view to the other; even if you open a separate window for your task list, you risk losing sight of it in a sea of open emails. Most crucially, defaulting to the task manager that is built into your email client means you don’t get to choose the particular task manager that works best for your particular kind of work, or work style.

Email became the pile of all activities I need to do. It is a mix of emails, tasks, alerts and everything else that eventually comes to my inbox to distract me. I want to resolve this mess. At the same time we all panic when messages are starting to come into multiple channels, since we are afraid to miss them. So want both – to keep all messaging activities together and focus on what is important and what needs to be done. It is a time to come with David Allen’s Getting Things Done method. Such method and systems can work for individuals, but what happens in groups, especially when these groups are sharing common tasks? This is where we get social these days.

Social became such a buzzword for the last few years. How many times you’ve heard "Facebook for xyz" or "Twitter for abc". I guess a lot… One of the companies that comes to my mind in that context is Yammer. The idea of Yammer was simple – go viral by combining people messages in activity streams. Microsoft snapped Yammer for $1.2B few years ago. Now Microsoft is converging Yammer with SharePoint – an attempt to create social collaboration system. Mobile has very strong impact on our life these days. Does mobile+social is a future big deal? For some of people it is really big deal – especially when we speak about Whatsapp acquisition by Facebook. Companies are recognizing the importance of messaging platforms. Example in engineering and CAD space – Autodesk (disclose – my current employer) just released mobile group messaging application Autodesk Instant.

So, social chat, social messaging, social networking are good. However, where is the line that turns emails and messaging into collaboration? The difference is big. What can differentiate between social email facilitating communication and system that allows people to collaborate (work together)? I posted Will Microsoft-Yammer kill social PLM? Not yet… The topic differentiating messaging and collaboration is context (piece of data). This data is presented in a contextual form allowing people to make operations and activities together. The simplest "collaboration" is commenting on Facebook photo. In the context of engineering activity, it can be more complex. What about drawing or 3D model? This is a good context for common work. So, collaborative nature of the system is first of all to allow access and common activity on the contextual data. Technically it can be done by sending email with link to the file on FTP site. But it is so 95…

What is my conclusion? I don’t think there is a clear boarder between email,messaging and collaboration. It is blurred. However, access to contextual information and data representations such as photo, spreadsheet, drawing or 3D model is the most important thing that differentiate between any type of fancy email / messaging and collaboration. By accessing these pieces of information together people can work together and get job done in an organized form. Engineers are surrounded by huge amount of complex information. So, collaboration is clearly way to go. However, don’t underestimate simple messaging, especially for some downstream tasks. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


The future battle for PLM upfront cost

November 5, 2013

PLM-zero-upfront-cost

Transformation of business models is one of the most important trends that happens today in the industry. Take a deep breath… it doesn’t mean companies don’t want to be compensated for the work they do. These days it is just about how to define the right business model that reflecting the relationships between all participants in the business.

The last tsunami related to the software price happened after recent announcement of Apple to make lot of their software including their OSX free. Over the weekend, I’ve been reading Forbes article – The Upfront Software Price is Now Free. Read the article and draw your conclusion. Even if the majority of the focus is related to what happens between major software giants – Microsoft, Apple and Google, in my view, it will have an impact on enterprise software too. The following passage is important.

With software being distributed either as web applications or through models that required a connection to the internet, software gained the ability to be distributed on a subscription basis or subsidized through advertising. Over the past few years, application software has increasingly moved to an initial price point that edges closer to zero on a consistent basis.

It made me think that changes of distribution model can be an additional driver to transform them way PLM (and other enterprise software) will be distributed and licensed.

The discussion about PLM software price, licenses and total cost of ownership is not new. First time I raised the question about coming business model transformation on my blog back in 2009 – Is Free the future of PLM? Since that time, the discussion went in different directions. You probably remember the Future PLM business models panel discussion I moderated during PLM Innovation 2012 in Munich. Another post, which is actually very co-sound with the idea of transformation as a result of changes in distribution model – PLM Cloud and Software licensing transformation.

However, in addition to cloud, SaaS and Web, there is another driving force behind changing PLM software business model. It is open source. Take a look here – PLM: Open Source vs. Free. In my view, open source is another powerful opportunity to change PLM business model status quo. In PLM business, Aras Corp. is driving this change since 2007 by promoting a very unique "Enterprise Open Source" model. Navigate to another article just published on Aras website – PLM Licensing is so Old School. Here is an interesting passage:

If your PLM software deployment gains wide-spread adoption (a goal of every successful PLM implementation), you will need to purchase more licenses. PLM license expenses can be huge up-front, but broad, global roll-outs are where the costs absolutely skyrocket. Effectively, the PLM project becomes a victim of its own success.

The last point about PLM upfront licenses preventing wider adoption of PLM software in the organization is interesting. PLM vendors are looking towards how to make PLM products available downstream in manufacturing organizations as well as in the supply chain. The high end-user cost is clearly not helping to make this dream come true.

What is my conclusion? In my view, PLM cost future trajectory is going towards "usage" and not "upfront cost". It is true in other places, but for PLM it can be a significant change that energize future increase in PLM software adoption and… consumption. It will be driven by major factors such as internet distribution channels as well as open source and service engagements. I don’t see big difference here – both strategies basically removes upfront cost and focus on usage. The changes are unavoidable. Business transformation train left the station. It is just a question of time. In my view, all PLM vendors are actively researching what does it mean for their current businesses and how to act (or react). Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


How to stop comparing PLM and SharePoint?

October 29, 2013

compare-sharepoint-plm

SharePoint is a long debated topic in PLM ecosystem. Starting from the early success of SharePoint back in 2006-2007, many companies are asking question about SharePoint and PLM system comparison. SharePoint took a significant market share using a successful licensing policy to embed the introductory version of SharePoint into Windows Server license. Another strong point of SharePoint was a very good integration with Microsoft Office. At the same time, despite a significant mainstream success, SharePoint still raised many questions about how manufacturing companies can leverage SharePoint to manage CAD drawing, collaborate and share engineering data.

I addressed SharePoint point on my blog many times. If you never had a chance to read my SharePoint related articles, maybe you can start by Why PLM should care of SharePoint? Another post that will help you to learn more about SharePoint and PLM could be this one – PLM and SharePoint Technical Definition.

Microsoft and PLM vendors had long debates about how to partner about SharePoint. The results of debates and partnership was mixed. Some of vendors (eg. Siemens PLM) made a long commitment by integrating between TeamCenter and SharePoint. The examples are TeamCenter Community, SolidEdge Insight (SolidEdge XT, SolidEdge SP). Other vendors like PTC, tried to establish multiple products that re-using SharePoint infrastructure (Windchill SocialLink, Windchill ProductPoint, etc.). Some of them succeed and some of them failed. You can read more here. Other vendors tried to investigate more into service contracts to integrate SharePoint with PLM products and infrastructure.

Microsoft SharePoint business is big these days. At the same time, it started to show some indication of weakness that might be typical for enterprise type of solution. In a nutshell it became complex, hard to deploy and costly (especially in the situations when organization required to scale up SharePoint to a fully blown enterprise solution). Read my article SharePoint got infected with PLM disease. Microsoft is trying to react on the new SharePoint status. From what I see, Microsoft is transforming SharePoint from product into infrastructure. You can find more information about this activity in my post – Will PLM Benefit From “SharePoint Death”?

Recently, another interesting information about SharePoint deployment came to my attention. Navigate your browser to ArnoldIT blog – SharePoint Not on the Radar. The writeup quoting some research surveys made by AIIM. I found the following passage important.

AIIM conducted a survey and found that only 6% of its respondents found their deployments successful, while 43% are struggling with implementing SharePoint, and another 28% say that progress has stalled in their SharePoint projects. That only touches the shallow end of the SharePoint pool. Many companies are also running multiple versions of the software, which can only lead to compatibility issues.

Another interesting publication research made by consulting outfit – Razorleaf. Navigate to the following link to access Razorleaf’s PLM and SharePoint white paper. Here is an interesting passage from Razorleaf article:

SharePoint is poised to become an ubiquitous document and content management system with great capabilities for ad hoc collaboration, whereas Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is a similar but more structured system focused on product development content. By integrating SharePoint and PLM (the Product Data Management (PDM) components of PLM), users can blend the benefits of both to enable ad hoc collaboration on top of rich, structured product data and information.

Another similar conclusion is coming from Aras PLM blog – Why Can’t We Just Use SharePoint? The discussion in the article is about why SharePoint is not capable to replace PLM software. Aras blog is mentioning two significant capabilities missed in SharePoint – context / relationships management and missing workflow capabilities. Without agreeing on specific elements, I have to admit that general conclusion in the following passage seems to be right:

SharePoint is a powerful tool that has a very useful place in your PLM strategy, however, unless you are ready to invest significant time and resources into customization (i.e. building all the PLM functionality), it is not a replacement for choosing and deploying a real PLM system.

What is my conclusion? Back in 2006-2007, SharePoint provided an interesting and easy to deploy set of tools perceived by everybody as something that might have a potential of PLM system. Since that time, SharePoint gravitated more towards "platform". At the same time, PLM is more focusing on cloud vertical solution and business application. Will their paths meet in the future? This is a very good and important question to ask. I’m doubt about that. Meanwhile, the difference is so obvious, in my view. So, to stop comparing PLM and SharePoint should be a clear goals. The complimentary paths are possible indeed. Just my thoughts…

Best,Oleg

PLM-sharepoint.pdf


Will PLM Benefit From “SharePoint Death”?

September 23, 2013

PLM has love and hate relationships with SharePoint. For the last 5-8 years, SharePoint becomes a symbol of mainstream corporate portals, basic document and content management and set of collaboration tools well integrated with Microsoft Office platform. Microsoft used very sneaky freemium strategy of integrating SharePoint basic version into Windows Server license, so everybody who is buying it, was able to use basic level of SharePoint. The result – growing market share, ecosystem of partners and service providers. SharePoint business became popular.

SharePoint developed an interesting position in CAD/PLM ecosystem. The original attempt of SharePoint, to be used as a platform for PDM/PLM systems failed. After 10 years, only one company (Siemens PLM) is using SharePoint as a platform for their products – SolidEdge Insight XT (recently renamed into SolidEdge SP to emphasize tight connection with SharePoint). After big marketing campaign, PTC discontinued Windchill ProductPoint. Common PLM vendors strategy with regards to SharePoint is to report availability of the integration with SharePoint tools. Usually, it provided to confirm compliancy with IT/SharePoint strategy and to acknowledge significance of SharePoint install base.

However, the morning sun never lasts a day. SharePoint is lately going through the lifecycle and changes. I’ve been reading CMS Wire article – Reports of SharePoint’s Death are Greatly Exaggerated. Read the article and make an opinion. The article speaks about transformation of SharePoint ecosystem, growing dominance of Office brand and evolving of SharePoint into invisible collaborative service platform. Here is an interesting passage:

The concept of “SharePoint for end users” will go away, because end users will interface with SharePoint via Office (365 or no) or mobile apps as much as they do via browser. And speaking of the browser, what you see there can be heavily customized and made responsive. Microsoft itself has made this easier than ever in 2013, and things like device channels and variations barely scratch the surface of what’s possible. If SharePoint provides the services to all those devices … well, it’s basically a platform (again) for admins to maintain and developers to improve, but decidedly not a product aimed at end-user consumers.

Office is a well-known brand name and Microsoft clearly trying to fix problems of SharePoint in usability and amount services needed to make SharePoint work for customers. Interesting enough, I can see this problem is one of the fundamental problem behind the failure of SharePoint – PLM partnerships alliances. PLM resellers and services organizations were in competition with SharePoint and other IT service organizations.

Microsoft strategy is to fix SharePoint usability with Office 365 user experience. In parallel, by shifting towards Office from "SharePoint for users", Microsoft demonstrates some weakness and decreased SharePoint value proposition. The following passage can give you a glimpse of what it looks like. It speaks about huge amount of SharePoint business built around problems with usability and tailoring SharePoint to specific customer-oriented scenarios:

Look, it’s great that there’s so much help out there for end users struggling with SharePoint usability. Large and thriving websites, communities and consultancies have been built around this problem. But does anyone really believe that Microsoft enjoys or appreciates the fact that a billion-dollar business has inspired so much thought and activity around its weaknesses? If they can get people to happily use SharePoint (and more importantly, purchase licenses) without ever consuming it in its native environment, you’d better believe they will.

Similar problem exists in PLM eco-system as well. Problems with usability, huge amount of customization and services – these are attributes of aged mainstream PLM platforms and not only. PLM sales people can confirm they are competing with SharePoint based offering and services in many situations.

My hunch is that changes in SharePoint eco-system can work well for PLM business. The trend to converge SharePoint into invisible collaborative platform with Office365 facade can remove SharePoint sales focus from enterprise content management and document management. Microsoft will become more focused on collaboration and share of information for Office tools.

What is my conclusion? PLM struggled to compete with broad and extensive SharePoint presence. It created significant competition between vendors and confusion among customers. Very often SharePoint sales confused manufacturing companies with functionality SharePoint can provide to manage engineering data. Switching focus on Office365 and usage of SharePoint as a Office collaboration platform will bring clearness and improve potential competitiveness of PLM tools. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Is SAP HANA the future of PLM databases

February 7, 2013

I’m on the road in Europe this week. Europe met me with snow in Zurich and not very reliable internet connection later in Germany. On the plane, I was reading about future investments of SAP in HANA (new in-memory database) that suppose to revolutionize enterprise software industry. Navigate to the following link and have a read – SAP’s HANA Deployment Leapfrogs Oracle, IBM And Microsoft. I found the following passage very interesting.

What SAP has done is to provide one database that can perform both business analysis and transactions, something its rivals are able to provide only by using two databases, according to Gartner analyst Donald Feinberg. “It’s the only in-memory DBMS (database management system) that can do data warehousing and transactions in the same database. That’s where it’s unique.”

Databases is a fascinating topic. At the end of the day, the enterprise software industry (and not only) is solely relies on database for most of the applications. The days PDM apps were running on proprietary databases and filesystems gone completely. The last one I knew was PDM workgroup. In my view, SolidWorks is still running bunch of customers using this solution, but nobody is taking database-less solution seriously these days. Most of PDM and PLM applications are running on MS SQL and Oracle databases. Despite PLM power of IBM, I haven’t seen any significant usage if DB2 for PDM/PLM. Another interesting quote, I found about HANA is related to competition. According to author it will take few more years until Microsoft and Oracle will be able to catchup.

SAP has taken a big step ahead of rivals IBM, Microsoft and Oracle with the announcement on Thursday that its in-memory database called HANA is now ready to power the German software maker’s business applications. The pronouncement is sure to darken the mood of competitors, who one analyst says will need several years to match what SAP has accomplished.

I’ve been writing about HANA and applications before on my blog. Take a look here. Also, you can find lots of interesting resources online here. Applications of HANA database are interesting and when it comes to analyzes of massive amount of data makes a lot of sense in context of product development and manufacturing.

For SAP customers, HANA-powered applications can speed up the sales process dramatically. For example, today when salespeople for a large manufacturer takes a large order from a customer, they may not be to say on the spot exactly when the order will be fulfilled. That information often comes hours later after the numbers are run separately through forecasting applications.

What is my conclusion? Customers are interested in real solutions that can save money to them. Technology is less relevant in that case. Ability to answer practical questions is more important. SAP has money and customers. Many years, SAP is using database solution from main competitors – Oracle and Microsoft. Will SAP be able to pull new technology to revolutionize this market? Will Microsoft, Oracle and open source databases will be able to catch up this game? An interesting question to ask these days… Just my thoughts.

Best Oleg


PLM Collaboration and Microsoft Office 2013 Cloud Strategy

November 12, 2012

Microsoft is releasing to manufacturing Office 2013 version. For many years, Office was a symbol of Microsoft’s desktop empire. Not anymore. You can find it interesting, but the major focus on Office 2013 is… cloud. Navigate your browser to the following article – Microsoft Office 2013: Best New Features for the Enterprise.The following passage was my favorite:

Probably, the most dramatic change in the new version of Office is how it’s linked to the cloud for a wide variety of purposes in ways that either didn’t exist or were much more limited in Office 2010 and previous editions.

For starters, a tight integration with Microsoft’s SkyDrive online storage service is intended to make it simple and convenient for end-users to save their files in the cloud both in Office 2013 and Office ProPlus. This ties into the increasingly popular workplace use of services like Box.net, Dropbox and Google Drive, which simplify not only access to files but also sharing them with colleagues, leading to better collaboration.

I recommend you another article – Microsoft’s Wave of Office, Server Product Releases Brings Flood of Questions to get exposed to few interesting facts about Microsoft Office 2013 cloud dependencies. One of them is related to SharePoint and Workflow processes. Here is a very interesting passage:

By default, SharePoint 2013 runs newly created workflow services on Windows Azure, and you have to install the old Windows Workflow engine on SharePoint 2013 instances in order to run previously used workflows.

PLM collaboration and Microsoft Cloud

PLM vendors are not standing aside of cloud development these days. One size doesn’t fit all and PLM vendors are trying multiple strategies. From very conservative IaaS option announced few weeks ago by Siemens PLM and up to services provided by Arena Solutions and Autodesk PLM 360. Speaking about Microsoft, Aras PLM cloud enabling is heavy lifted by dependencies on Microsoft Azure.

Introduction of Microsoft Office 2013 cloud option can enable some interesting shifts and changes in PLM collaboration. Manufacturing companies are heavy dependent on Office products (specifically on Microsoft Excel). Until now, desktop and file nature of Excel was a significant inhibitor to collaboration. By connecting Office 2013 to cloud Microsoft can change a game for many manufacturing companies (especially small ones). It can provide some advantages to PLM cloud vendors that can connect their services to Office cloud offering.

What is my conclusion? Cloud adoption is increasing. Period. Microsoft’s move to the cloud is a good sign for PLM companies experimenting with cloud, and it provide more grounds to develop connections between Microsoft Office cloud services and PLM cloud products. Collaboration and content sharing can be a first priority on the list. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Will Google lose in the enterprise (and PLM)?

October 19, 2012

It was long time since I talked about Google and PLM. Probably, it was too long. Yesterday night, I got a tweet message Simon Floyd of Microsoft (@floydinnovation) suggesting me the following next blog title (Google gives up on PLM). Well, I didn’t know Google even considered to be in PLM game. My Google/PLM attitude was always somewhat more passionate about Google products rather than Google ability to run enterprise business. Earlier this year, I posted – PLM and Google Enterprise. Simple conclusion – Google is not coming to PLM tomorrow.

If somebody thoughts Google come tomorrow with PLM product, no worry. This is probably won’t happen. No Google PLM 2012. When I think, Google technologies are fascinating, the absence of focus and experience with enterprise companies, makes Google teeth-less in front of large enterprise software dogs.

Even if Google is not coming tomorrow to solve your PLM problem, the data approach of Google is something that PLM vendors can adopt. Adam O’Hern wrote a nice piece about PLM and Google approach.

Navigate to this link to read – PLM Should be like Google. Really. Here is another interesting passage:

Google doesn’t insist on hosting the entire internet on its own servers the way most PLM systems do. Wherever your files happen to be, Google will find them. Furthermore, Google doesn’t discriminate about data types. If a bunch of hyperlinks vouch for the validity of a file—no matter the type—Google serves it up. Of course it helps to use SEO-friendly content, but that’s up to you, the user, not some rigid system imposed from the top down.

However, the topic of Google and Enterprise is interesting and requires some additional analyzes, in my view. I’ve been reading Information Week blog last week- Google Enterprise, I’m not impressed. Take some time, read the article and make your own opinion. John McGreavy is discussing the ability of Google to handle enterprise customers. Google’s honestly believes that consumer product quality is enough for enterprise and "millions of users cannot go wrong". I’m share this opinion partially. However, the enterprise game is not only about products. It is a lot about what we call "enterprise attitude". I found the following passage explains well the situation:

It’s all in the numbers for Google. Hundreds of millions of users can’t be wrong. It signs up people for its software tools, and then it figures out how to make money. Enterprises can take it or leave it, and Google knows we will take it, the execs all but suggested. I’m not so sure. While we’re integrating consumer technology into our business, we also deliver many purpose-built systems to provide a competitive business edge. We depend on reliable, focused vendor support. We need to understand future product direction. We need partners that don’t chase shiny new things for a living and understand the discipline of delivering shareholder value through risk-managed innovation and execution. (SAP, listen up.)

Don’t miss comments to the article. Navigate here to read them. Lots of them are addressing Microsoft vs. Google debates. I found most of the comments consistently pointing to the following weak points in Google Enterprise business – pricing, support, administration scale for large enterprises.

What is my conclusion? Enterprise is a complex space that requires a balance of product quality, sales strategy and support processes. This is something big elephants like IBM, Microsoft and SAP can do better than Google. Does it mean Google’s products cannot be used for enterprise? Clearly no. Will Google invest into future enterprise product offering and PLM? I’m not sure it will happen in a near future. Will Google products works well and will continue to inspire enterprise software developers? My answer is yes. Just my thoughts and opinion.

Best, Oleg

Picture credit to SolidSmack blog.


Will SharePoint and Yammer struggle from PLM problem?

September 17, 2012

As you probably know, enterprise social vendor Yammer is now part of Microsoft SharePoint division. As always, after integration, the question you want to ask is how both products will interplay together. Immediate after acquisition, I posted – Will Microsoft-Yammer kill social plm? – not yet… One of the conclusions I’ve made was about the ability of a collaborative system to provide a right context for communication. Few days ago, my attention was caught by Microsoft SharePoint Blog – Productivity Improvement with Yammer and SharePoint 2010. Chris Buckley brings a very simple use case of communication between SharePoint and Yammer.

Here’s the use case: You add a document to SharePoint, or maybe you’ve found a useful presentation or site within your company portal and want to share it with your team through a Yammer group on your company network. You can push a document with the comment from SharePoint directly to Yammer – adding tags and mentions, and bringing it to the attention of your followers or the relevant group.

I believe, the scenario is very applicable in the context of collaboration between engineers and other people in manufacturing company. This scenario made me think about the efficiency of communication. Sharing of document in Yammer can connect it contextually to communication that happens between people. On the other side, I’d expect to be able to share a part of the document or to highlight a specific contextual fragment. Otherwise, the communication reminds a traditional email.

What is my conclusion? The ability to share a context between multiple systems is critical for communication. So far, I can see very little attention in SharePoint and Yammer integration. Maybe SharePoint 2013 will bring some additional capabilities. Many PLM systems are trying to improve the way people collaborate today. However, the majority of them are struggling with the ability to share information in the contextual way. Similar to SharePoint / Yammer. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


What Outlook.com can make for PLM collaboration?

August 13, 2012

If you follow news these days, you probably paid attention to Outlook.com – newcomers from Microsoft and "Gmail twin brother". You can learn more about what Microsoft offers, navigate to the following link. Microsoft is quite aggressive by calling Outlook.com – next email for next billion mailboxes. You can check the following lifehacker article comparing Gmail with Outlook.com to see how new Microsoft’s web mail stands against Gmail. The next picture can give you a glimpse of what new email can do.

What caught my attention is that Microsoft is attacking the email problem from the same angle many of the companies today are attacking PDM, PLM and engineering collaboration – how to make it simple. Navigate to the following articleby Microsoft introducing new email. Here is the passage I liked:

Webmail was first introduced with HoTMaiL in 1996. Back then, it was novel to have a personal email address you could keep for life – one that was totally independent from your business or internet service provider. Eight years later, Google introduced Gmail, which included 1 GB of storage and inbox search. And while Gmail and other webmail services like Hotmail have added some features since then, not much has fundamentally changed in webmail over the last 8 years – though yesterday’s frustrations about the small size of inboxes are now things of the past. At the same time, email is becoming less and less useful as inboxes become cluttered with newsletters and social updates, and people increasingly keep up their personal connections in social networks instead of their email address books.

Will Microsoft re-invent gmail second time? Microsoft claims they invented webmail with hotmail back in 1996. It is true, hotmail came earlier than Gmail. Few days ago, I’ve got an unconfirmed note that there are more hotmails accounts in the world than gmail accounts. I cannot confirm that. Will Microsoft inject their outlook.com solution into existing Office and Outlook? This is a question that can make some difference to engineers and other people dealing with collaboration and PLM. At the end, lots of companies (even if they have the variety of enterprise app) are run by email.

Microsoft claims they invented webmail with hotmail back in 1996. It is true, hotmail came earlier than Gmail. Few days ago, I’ve got an unconfirmed note that there are more hotmails accounts in the world than gmail accounts. I cannot confirm that. Will Microsoft inject their outlook.com solution into existing Office and Outlook? This is a question that can make some difference to engineers and other people dealing with collaboration and PLM. At the end, lots of companies (even if they have the variety of enterprise app) are run by email.

What is my conclusion? Usage matters. Today majority of people in manufacturing organizations I know are using MS Office and Outlook. This is a first user interface most of the people open in the morning. If Microsoft can inject Outlook.com into this place, it will automatically pretend to serve as a powerful collaborative tool. Then the question will be how to embed PLM apps into this space. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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