August 10, 2013
Customization is a great deal in every enterprise software deployment. Despite all efforts of vendors to invent out of the box (OOTB) enterprise software deployment, most of systems are requiring significant customization and coding. This is not a healthy situations, but with absence of better choices, manufacturing companies need to look for systems that can be flexible enough and supporting easy customization. In one of my previous blogs – PLM customization is Data Management titanic, I’ve been talking about challenges of customization as well as mentioned example of customers migrating between heavy customized PLM systems.
A typical PLM customization includes variety of tasks including changes in data models, tailoring of user interface and integration with other enterprise systems. To make your hands dirty and write some custom code is almost unavoidable task in this situation. If you long enough, you probably remember, VB and/or VB script were king of the road in all implementations and customization for many years. You practically had no choice to make any changes and customization without knowing this language.
I often use Google Trend to capture dynamics of people interest. The following chart presents some dynamics between VBscripts and JS.
What is my conclusion? The landscape of software development is changing dramatically these days. Cloud, web and mobile development are main driving forces together with open source software. It will impact enterprise tools and introduce new requirements for integrating PLM products (and not only) in the enterprise and beyond. Important. Just my thoughts…
August 9, 2013
You think PLM is boring and complex. Actually it can be fun and easy. I think simplification is one of the most important trends today in enterprise software. It helps to take complex technologies mainstream. Mobile devices made it possible by combination of camera, power computing capabilities and accessing data on the cloud.
I’ve been positing about two application realizing the potential of capturing user input last year in my post – PLM, mobile devices and capturing input. Two applications I featured were Autodesk ForceEffect and Dassault 3DVia mobile.
Augment reality can go long way. If you remember my another post – COFES, PLM and Augment Reality. I featured some very interesting futuristic examples of augment reality usage in BIM.
However, some of vendors and companies in consumer product space is taking augment reality mainstream even today. Take a look on the following article in The Verge magazine – IKEA app projects virtual furniture into your living room. It looks easy and simple by use your mobile device in your home. IKEA app is gathering information from IKEA catalog or online could store.
What is my conclusion? To simplify technology and make it easy to use and affordable. This is a way for many PLM projects these days to show their value. I imaging many companies today have product information located in their PDM, PLM and PIM systems. However, how to make this information shine out? Mobile tech and augment reality is one possible way to make it happen. Just my thoughts…
July 10, 2013
Mobile development is skyrocketing these days. Everybody wants to be mobile. Enterprise vendors slowly discovering the power of mobile apps. However, to develop a robust and powerful mobile applications is not a simple thing. One of the biggest challenges many enterprise developers are facing these days is diversity of mobile platforms combined with high cost of development.
With high level of complexity required to deliver mobile enterprise apps like ERP, CRM and PLM, it is not surprising that software vendors are looking how to optimize mobile development. One of the potential challenges many of vendors are facing is so called "mobile web" vs. "native apps" development. I’ve been posting about it couple of months ago – Mobile PLM Native App Challenges. Mobile web can provide advantages of unified development, but limit the richness of native app development that most of users are regular to have on their iPad, iPhones and other mobile devices.
Complexity of mobile development created an interesting opportunity in mobile development space – hybrid mobile app development platforms. In a nutshell it means that you can develop your application using web development technologies (eg. HTML5) and it will be embedded via wrapper into native mobile app on iOS or other native mobile platforms. The following TechCrunch article gives you few references and examples of companies that embarked towards hybrid mobile development. Two names I captured from the article – PhoneGap and AppMobi. The last one was acquired by Intel few months ago. Take a look on the following video to get more info.
It made me think that development of hybrid mobile apps can be an ideal option for many CAD and PLM developers looking how to combine the power of rich user experience and beauty of native mobile application. Another video captured from TechCrunch article shows how TradeMonster created very powerful and rich user experience for iPad using hybrid HTML5/Mobile app framework.
What is my conclusion? To optimize enterprise software development on mobile platform is an interesting opportunity. With a pressure to deliver more apps with rich user experience in short time, PLM and CAD companies can think about hybrid platforms as almost ideal choice to optimize their software development cost. Just my thoughts…
May 28, 2013
Do you like acronyms and buzzwords? Not much, I guess. You probably familiar with that one – BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). For the last couple of years, BYOD trend transformed and disrupted IT policies in many enterprise organizations by permitting employees to bring personally own mobile devices (laptops, tablets and smartphones) to their workspace and use them to access corporate information as well as use corporate enterprise systems.
Earlier this week, I’ve learned a new one – CYOD (Choose Your Own Device). Navigate to the following link to learn about what Gartner defines as one of the hot enterprise trends in 2013 – Evolving communications: hot enterprise technology trends for 2013. Here is an interesting passage:
This year, Gartner has predicted that mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common web access device worldwide. As a consequence, increasingly connected consumers and professionals are instinctively evolving the way they communicate and operate. Amidst this surge in mobility, the most strategic enterprises are also proactively evolving their communications, recognizing key trends such as bring your own device (BYOD) and choose your own device (CYOD) as an enabler for business growth, rather than a problem that must be dealt with.
Here, speed could be a critical factor. More specifically, businesses that are swift and agile in the way they use and further the deployment of technologies within the organisation are more likely to realise important opportunities to improve internal productivity and efficiency, as well as seize the potential to further competitive advantage.
It made me think about some potential impact it will create on enterprise software vendors strategies. To increased role of mobile devices and mobile application will create a need to develop a diverse set of PLM apps independently running on mobile platforms leveraging corporate and/or cloud infrastructure. I shared some of the ideas of mobile communication and OTT application in my blog earlier this week – Will PLM pickup OTT mobile communication strategy.
What is my conclusion? The influence of mobile development in PLM will increase coming years. This is a good time for PLM vendors to move from "the same, but mobile" strategy new way to provide customers with new type of mobile applications. Speed will be indeed a very critical factor here. Just my thoughts…
May 23, 2013
Office and other productivity tools are un-separateable parts of product development environment. Some of them such Microsoft Excel literally can stop product development and manufacturing in many companies. I’ve been blogging about Excel and Office many times. Couple of weeks ago, I came back to this topic with my – PLM Excels and Future Downfall of Manufacturing post. If you remember my presentation about PLM development trends, Office is part of so-called DIY (Do-It-Yourself) PLM.
For the long period of time, Microsoft Office was (and probably still is) unbeatable by other Office providers. Word and Excel are ultimately de-facto standards. You cannot live without these two applications installed on your computer regardless on your role in manufacturing company.
At the same time, the competition in Office space is getting more aggressive. One of the Office competitors (Google App) was keeping the status of "good enough" alternative, which make impossible to use Google Docs and Spreadsheets as a real alternative to Excel and Word. There are some news in this space. Navigate to the following article – Google Is Prepping A Sneak Attack On Microsoft Office. Google is planning to play a catch up game with Office. Well, this is a not a very big news.
The following picture made me re-thing some of my thoughts about Google Apps, PLM and competition in this domain. Take a look below.
The keyword is "mobile". Google Apps are getting significantly better on mobile devices for the last year. The ability to edit and work collaboratively on mobile devices can be a groundbreaking feature and game changer in the ability of Google Apps to compete with Office. What does it mean for PLM? Collaboration is very important in product development and manufacturing. Even small companies can be distributed among 3 locations in different continents these days. Google collaborative functionality can provide a very easy and simple way for people to collaborate.
What is my conclusion? Mobile is disruptive. We like this word "disruptive"… It smells good to all technological geeks and bloggers. Will ‘mobile office’ change PLM excel competition ground rules? I think about capability of co-editing bill of materials in online spreadsheet using your iPad or Android device located in different places – manufacturing shopfloor in China and restaurant in Palo-Alto, CA at the same time. Do you like the idea? Well, I’m kidding. Dont’ work in restaurant on you BOMs :). Just my thoughts…
Image source – Google.
May 7, 2013
Mobile is hyping, trending, skyrocketing… You name it. Everything goes mobile these days. Many developers of enterprise apps are asking these days – what does it mean for me? PLM developers are one of them. How mobile apps are important for users of CAD, PDM, PLM and other engineering applications? In the past, I posted – Mobile PLM gold rush. Did vendor miss the point? My main point – mobile is about how to get a specific job done. It is about how to "read email", "approve task", "review change". However, it is clearly not about how to make "everything mobile" .
I was reading an interesting article few days ago. Larry Page Says Mobile Apps Won’t Hurt Search: ‘The Information Wants To Be Found’. Here is an interesting passage you may want to remember.
CEO Larry Page responded that he “always” gets asked about how the popularity of mobile apps affects Google search, but he’s “not super-concerned” about it. “We’ve been dealing with that issue for a long time,” Page said. “Fundamentally search is an amazing thing for publishers and software developers and other apps. I think, in general, the information wants to be found."
The statement resonate. PLM is first about how to make product information available for people. The right information at the right moment of time. PLM system should deliver this information regardless on type of device you are using – desktop, mobile, Google glass (:)).
What is my conclusion? The critical role of mobile apps in PLM is related to ability to deliver information and make a decision regardless on your location. Product development and manufacturing business is dynamic and distributed these days. Mobile apps need to support it. However, it is only possible by establishing core PLM services managing data and processes in a seamless way. Just my thoughts…
April 28, 2013
APIs. Just to eliminate any possible confusion, API stands for Application Programming Interface. Wikipedia provides very straightforward definition of API here. For many years, API was an important element of PDM, PLM and other enterprise software business. APIs enabled the possibility of any system to be expanded, customized and tailored to any customer needs. For many years, the availability of API was considered as ‘must have’ feature during any PDM/PLM system evaluation. Thinking about API usage in PDM/PLM system, I can segment it into two different aspects 1- ability to customize a specific system behavior such as data model, user interface appearance; 2- ability to integrate system with surrounding eco-system (eg. desktop applications, other enterprise application, etc.)
The second aspect of usage API to integrate with surrounding eco-system is getting more and more interesting. Almost a year ago, I posted on my blog – Why PLM need to learn Web APIs? If you haven’t had a chance to read it, catch up now, please. For me, growing web ecosystem provides an interesting prediction about what is going to happen next in enterprise software world. In parallel, I can remind you another blog – Mobile PLM and BaaS. Web provides a good oriented of how systems can be expanded. Web and mobile Apps expansion. This a way systems will expand, grow, gets customized and tailored in the future.
The following article was published on TechCrunch just few hours ago – Facebook And The Sudden Wake Up About The API Economy. Take a read – I found this article very solid. It made me think that importance of Web API infrastructure and openness among PLM system will be growing faster than I thought last year. Few acquisitions and partnership in the world of API makers – Intel / Mashery, Mulesoft / Programmable Web and very recently Facebook / Parse demonstrated, in my view, that the interest to back end application data combined with mobile app development is skyrocketing. API is a key how to make this data available and turn into profitable mobile (and other Apps). Here is an interesting passage from TechCrunch article.
With that scaling in number of APIs comes a virtuous circle for the developers that build compelling apps and APIs. The APIs extend the apps reach as they become part of distributed data network. As more people use the APIs so the app developer generates more data. As the data increases in scope, often the service will become an API. Facebook needs new streams of data to keep rolling out new digital products. Back end as a service providers like Parse provide SDKs and APIs that give developers access to infrastructure for storing basic data types, locations and photos. How Facebook uses this data is a question mark. But regardless, Pare serves as a constant replenishing source, nourished by the apps on the Parse platform that use APIs. Facebook now will decide how to package and segment that data to push more relevant advertising to its 1 billion users.
What is my conclusion? I would like to make a parallel between web platforms scaling to billion users and PLM platforms searching for a runway to grow up in every manufacturing company and to link manufacturers with customers, suppliers and business eco-system. Distributed data network is a key thing. Current PLM platforms were designed for “inside-firewall” reality have hard time to scale to web reality. To future PLM customers and evaluators – check your PLM platform of choice for the ability to grow beyond servers located in your backyard. PLM vendors must take a note about their future scale and ability to expand the ecosystem. Just my thoughts…
April 1, 2013
Mobile is coming to enterprise. Blackberry was a first device who cracked mobile enterprise. Enterprise mobile email delivered by Blackberry was king of the road many years. Then came iPhone, iPad and many other devices. The development for different mobile platforms is skyrocketing. There are many questions here. Every PLM vendors did a first step and developed "something mobile" for the last 2-3 years. After the first mobile strike, more serious questions are coming – what is the PLM mobile application strategy? How to support a diversity of platforms and devices?
Last year, I posted few blog articles with my thoughts about PLM and mobile. You can start by navigating to the following link – Mobile PLM gold rush: Did vendor missed the point? One of the big topics in mobile development is to choose between native mobile apps and mobile browsers – Mobile PLM: Apps vs. Mobile Browsers.
Nevertheless, the choice of mobile platform for enterprise and PLM remains open. Enterprise PLM vendors have hard time to make a choice and assign their development priorities. Few days ago, I was reading CIO article – Microsoft to make leaps in mobile enterprise. The article refers to the research made by Aberdeen Group. Here is an interesting quote and picture with numbers. Aberdeen plans to release its official findings next week
The survey looked at mobile app deployment plans by platform—Apple iOS, Android, Windows 8/Windows Phone and BlackBerry—covering both tablets and phones. "The plans for mobile app deployment in 2013 were a big surprise," says Aberdeen research director Andrew Borg. The data shows Microsoft Windows Phone 8 and Surface tablets poised to make a profound leap, as CIOs hope to retake control of the mobile enterprise. Apple iPhones and iPads may be reaching a point of saturation.
What is my conclusion? I think, PLM developers have a hard time to choice the right platform. I don’t see a single platform domination for the next few years. To me, the development on iOS platform is an obvious choice. The decision about other platforms is not clear. Microsoft clearly keep their presence on the agendas of enterprise CIOs and it makes chances of enterprise PLM to develop support for Windows mobile potentially high. Android platform most probably will become a major by population. Will it be the same for enterprise customers? This is a good question to ask. With the high diversity of devices, PLM vendors need to focus on platforms and backend technologies that can make their choice flexible and decrease a cost to support additional mobile platforms. Just my thoughts…
March 22, 2013
I learned a new buzzword yesterday. Have you heard about BaaS? Navigate to the following TechCrunch article – Kinvey Launches Enterprise Back-End Service For Building Mobile Apps That Move Data From Salesforce, Oracle And Other Sources. Kinvey is a startup that put a mission to scrap data from enterprise backend systems and make it available for cloud and mobile applications. Here is an interesting passage:
The new Kinvey For Enterprise back-end as a service (BaaS) platform allows developers to build mobile apps that can authenticate users and securely read, edit and publish data to and from enterprise data sources, such as Salesforce.com CRM and Oracle. Before, middleware ran inside the data center, often on proprietary software that locked customers into one vendor. Data now needs to pass freely between data centers and public cloud services across any number of applications. In these “heterogeneous,” environments, mobile apps changing everything. A company may use Sharepoint and Salesforce.com. To get that data into one mobile app they can’t rely solely on the provider’s API. They need a mobile SDK to get that data and feed it into the app.
It made me think about data problem many manufacturing companies are experiencing these days. The typical environment of enterprise company is heterogeneous- many existing systems, databases, files and other sources of information. Very often, companies are implementing PLM to scrap all existing data in the product development, manufacturing, supply chain and move it to a brand new PLM system. While it turns as a very beneficial project, it usually very expensive and time consuming.
In parallel to that we have a very strong mobile trend these days. The population of mobile workers is growing. According to IDC study, the number of mobile workers will reach 1.3B. It is a big number that will establish a huge demand for mobile applications.
The ideas of BaaS are interesting. The question of cost remains open for me.
What is my conclusion? Mobile is a next big thing that will happen to enterprise companies. Today, it is mostly limited to email. Can you imagine your business and professional life without mobile email today? I don’t think so. The next step is to make other data in the company “mobile and transparent”. I don’t know if BaaS is an ultimate way to solve the problem. However, the potential to do that is huge. Just my thoughts…