Mobile PLM will be a set of interconnected apps with deep links

November 24, 2015


Mobile devices have changed the way we live for the last 5 years. A decade ago, I was perfectly satisfied with the mobile email on my Blackberry. Everything else was on my desktop or laptop. Not any more. Now when everyone has a smartphone, Apps is a central place of the universe.

You have a problem, so there is an app for that. Everyone get this. So, eventually we had a gold rush of mobile app development for the last few years. But, here is a problem. We don’t use all these apps.

Business Insider article Having an app isn’t enough: The next phase of mobile now that everybody has a smartphone speaks about a new reality of mobile applications. Despite the number of mobile apps is increasing people are downloading and using the same amount of apps.


Another interesting thing I capture is related to the way apps are interconnecting. It called deep-linking. The following passage provides a good explanation of how it supposed to work.

Companies like Google and Facebook are looking to deep-linking as the new way to move between apps. For example, if you’re looking for a restaurant, you may search to find the right restaurant, but then want to look at their Yelp reviews. If a consumer has downloaded an app, Google’s deep-linking will prompt the person to open the app, rather than forcing them to open it from the phone’s home screen. “If the user has the app on the phone, let them navigate to the app from wherever they are…. But if they don’t, they shouldn’t hit a dead end and have a bad experience,”

It made me think about PLM applications and mobile development. I can see two trends here. The initial push from most of PLM vendors was to develop mobile application which does more or less the same as a desktop or web application. Today we have it done by most of PLM vendors. Here are few examples – Siemens PLM Teamcenter, PTC Windchill mobile or Autodesk PLM360 mobile. Another trend was to create many apps. Look for examples here – Autodesk mobile apps.

But none of these options can provide an answer on how mobile applications are interconnected and provide a specific solution to “mobile moments” that users might have. Some of my thoughts are here – How PLM vendors can find mobile moments. Here are few examples of mobile moments from different fields:

To succeed in your customer’s mobile moments, you must understand their journey and identify their needs and context at each potential moment. Then design your mobile application to quickly provide just what’s needed in that moment. Get information on a product while in a Best Buy store. Use a tablet to show a doctor a new Medtronic device. Retrieve maintenance history for a GE wind turbine.

What is my conclusion? I think we can see a new eco-system of mobile applications developed in front of our eyes. Deep linking between applications will be a way to keep mobile application focused on a specific problem (mobile moment), but at the same time to connect mobile application so customers won’t be required to discover applications from their mobile phone home screen. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Mobile PLM is not about “mobile” devices

November 10, 2015


For the last few years we’ve seen a wave of new “mobile” devices coming into business space. Mobile devices are changing the way we work. And I’m sure you can caught yourself using a mobile device you have in your hands at the same time you have a laptop or desktop computer in sight.

I’ve been following what CAD and PLM vendors are doing with regards to mobile devices and strategy. In my one of my earlier blog posts I shared why, I think, PLM vendors missed the point in mobile gold rush.

So far, I believe all PLM vendors are able to demonstrate PLM technology running of the mobile device. Here are few examples – Siemens PLM Teamcenter, PTC Windchill mobile, Autodesk PLM360 mobile. However, here is a question I have – how these applications are changing the way companies are using PLM technology. In other words, what is a “mobile moment” for PLM that allows people and companies to work in a different ways? For most of the situations, mobile PLM is a way to access the same PLM database with the information belonging to the company. I doesn’t matter much I can do it using my laptop or iPad.

But, I think, the problem of “mobile” in PLM has deep roots. Actually it is not about about “mobile devices” at all. It is a platform problem.

My attention was caught by Benedict Evans’ article – Mobile ecosystem and the death of PCs. The article brings a very interesting perspective on what is the meaning of mobile technologies. In a nutshell, it is not about specific mobile device. There are few examples in the article that can convince you that “mobile” is really imperfect term to define a specific device. What is really important is how “mobile” term is impacting the way we do our work everyday. And we can do that work in different locations. From that standpoint, screen size is probably an important characteristic to think about.

On this basis, instead of thinking of ‘tablets and smartphones’ as one category and ‘PCs as another, we should think of larger screen and smaller screen devices. That is, you will have something you carry with you (a ‘phone’) and may or may not also have something with a larger screen that stays mostly at home or in your office. In the past you might have chosen between a laptop or desktop – today you choose between a laptop, desktop or tablet, depending on what you want to do with it. That is, perhaps we should think of tablets as being as much ‘PCs’ as desktops and laptops are.

However, my favorite passage is the following one speaks about technology and platform development.

Each generation of technology goes through an S-curve of development – slow improvement of an impractical product, then explosively fast improvement once fundamental barriers are solved, and then slowing iteration and refinement as you solve every last issue and the curve flattens out. PCs are on that flattening part of the curve, just as the Rainbow was. They get perfect because you’re debugging the big things you invented in the past, and now your innovation is in the extra little things (such as the Rainbow using exhaust for extra thrust), and there are no big new innovation to debug. But meanwhile, the new ecosystem is catching up, and the curve of development and innovation for that generation will flatten out way out of reach. The new curve is crossing the old one. This is why they look similiar – this is why a Surface Pro and an iPad Pro look similar. They both exist right at the point that those development curves cross. The iPad might still be a little below, but its curve is heading up.

So, you can ask me how is that related to PLM? Existing PLM platforms reached their top performance today, exactly how piston-powered aircraft in the picture above. These technologies and platforms are certainly reached perfection. Even more, we can run an extension of these technologies using mobile devices. However, here is the thing – as much as these technologies are perfect, they are probably obsolete with fundamental assumptions related to conceptual assumptions, database technologies and scale.

What is my conclusion? Existing PLM platforms are perfect in their maturity. We are in an upper plateau of “S” curve. We can certainly see a very slow improvement for core fundamental technologies and products by most of PLM vendors today. All these platform development root back 15-25 years ago. This is a possible reason why PLM ecosystem is focusing so much on methodology, implementation techniques and management of changes in the organization. It is an absence of technological and product differentiators. It is a note for strategists and technologist to look for a new curve in PLM platform development. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Picture credit Benedict Evans blog.


Why PLM can’t eat, sleep and breathe mobile?

October 9, 2015


I’ve been on the road for the last few days. It occurred to me that I hardly imagine my travel experience without mobile applications – I used Uber to get to the airport, United mobile app to check-in and get on board, Google Maps to find location and Waze to help navigating when car navigation system stuck into construction and closed roads. I communicated with my colleagues and family using Slack and Google Chat. I was taking notes using Evernote mobile. I was able to upload my presentation slides using Google Drive mobile.

Now think about manufacturing company. In one of my earlier articles, I’ve been sharing my thoughts about Mobile PLM innovation continuum. I still believe manufacturing is a goldmine for mobile developers. At the same time I think something is missed to turn that opportunity in the reality.

My attention this morning was caught by VMWare blog article – Bringing Mobile Moments to the Enterprise. Check it out. The article speaks about 3 stages of mobile development in consumer market – Initiation, Evolution and Maturity.

Initiation was the initial influx of mobile devices, seven or eight years ago, when smartphones and tablets finally caught on. In the Evolution stage, websites were made more mobile-friendly and the development of mobile-specific applications steadily became a multibillion-dollar industry. In the third phase, Maturity, mobile-first and even mobile-only apps—like WhatsApp and Snapchat—were introduced to deliver maximum value for mobile users by making the most of smartphone and tablet hardware (including GPS, camera, wireless connectivity, a streamlined user experience, and so on).

While the consumer marketplace is now reaping the benefits of the Maturity stage, the enterprise world is still stuck somewhere between Initiation and Evolution. And it’s time for businesses to catch up.

The article made me think about why PLM is so slow to find its mobile moment. Think about manufacturing company. It can be small or large company. It doesn’t matter. Their design and engineering work is heavily dependent on desktop CAD systems saving information using files. These files can be synchronized to Dropbox or Google Drive, but you cannot do anything with these files on mobile device, besides to view them if you are lucky to have an app to support that (there are few available today). Moving downstream in the development stages, it gets even more complicated. Simulation, analysis, manufacturing planning, procurement, orders and shipments. The diversity of application is high and most of the applications are saving data using databases and files making them not available for easy extraction and visualization. Could you imagine the whole chain of operation experience happening on mobile devices?

What is my conclusion? Thinking about mobile development stages, we are still in early evolution stage. Almost every person in manufacturing company has mobile device. At the same time, the engineering and manufacturing application environment is not mobile friendly. Something should happen for application developers, so they will put focus on developing of mobile applications. It should start from the early focusing on design and requirements and then going to manufacturing, maintenance and support. Eliminate files, make application to focus on data and actions. Software vendors in engineering space should start thinking about mobile enablement for everything they do. This is probably the first steps to unlock PLM goldmine. Without that, PLM mobile moment won’t happen. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Ambro at

Crowdhooking PLM to organizational processes

July 8, 2015


To manage business processes across the manufacturing organization is not a simple job. This is a problem product lifecycle management (PLM) system is solving for manufacturing organizations of any size. Sounds great and compelling. PLM vendors can give you many examples of successful PLM implementations. Time for party? Actually not so fast…

The road to implement PLM is painful and requires a significant effort to be taken by a company implementing PLM as well as for PLM vendor and service provider. In my earlier blog – What’s wrong with “analog PLM”? I shared some of my thoughts on a traditional process of PLM implementations – mapping of existing company environment and processes into PLM data architecture.

At the same time, enterprise software is changing. The demand of many organizations (including manufacturing and industrial companies) is to make slow move towards agile and lean systems that won’t require “big bang” change with millions of dollar expenses. The idea of re-imagining PLM one business process at a time is compelling, but to make it happen is not a simple. How to make it happen?

Cloud and mobile are two magic words that often associated these days with a change in the way to enterprise and PLM software can be deployed and implemented. Unfortunately, these are not silver bullets. The challenge of enterprise companies is to avoid getting into cloud integration spaghetti with many new cloud applications and services.

It made me think about possible way to solve a problem of painful process capturing during PLM deployment. Today, it usually done by a team of application engineers getting together with customers to whiteboard business data models and processes. What if we can move it into hands of actual users? Sounds crazy?

My attention was caught by TechCrunch article – Hooks, The App That Lets You Get A Notification For Almost Anything, Lands On Android And Apple Watch. In a nutshell, Hooks allows you to bring notification from multiple mobile applications running on your iPhone or Android device.

Imagine a system that can help users to define hooks based on their existing work habits and processes. It can be events coming from CAD system or Excel spreadsheet. It can be notifications from your invoice ordering or even cloud ERP environment. Notifications will allow to people to take actions converted into a process. Sounds like a dream?

What is my conclusion? I can see a trend towards smart software and devices that can capture life and processes around us. I can capture what matters for me – it is probably not very complex job. “Crowdhooking” can be an alternative way to capture processes for organization. Think about it as an alternative to administrators to do hard work and define processes, which will be abandoned by majority of users in few month. We should leave old fashion administration work for smart software. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Top 5 PLM trends to watch in 2015

January 15, 2015


Holidays are over and it was a good time to think about what you can expect in engineering and manufacturing software related to PLM in coming year. You probably had a chance to listen to my 2015 PLM predictions podcast few months ago. If you missed that, here is the link. Today I want to give a bit more expanded list of trends in product lifecycle management to observe in 2015.

1- Greater complexity of cloud PLM implementations

Cloud adoption is growing in enterprise for the last few years and it is getting more mature. PLM vendors are making steps in the cloud direction too. Companies are moving from marketing and research to “nuts and bolts” of implementations. Switch to the cloud is not as simple as some marketing pundits predicted. It is more than just moving servers from your data center to somebody else place. The complexity of implementation, maintenance and operation will emerge and will drive future difference between “born in the cloud” solutions and existing PLM platforms migrating to the cloud.

2- The demand to manage complex product information will be growing

Products are getting more complex. You can see it around you. A simple IoT gadget such as door lock can combine mechanical, electrical, electronic and software parts. It introduces a new level of complexity for manufacturing and PLM vendors – how to manage all this information in a consistent way? To bring together design and bill of materials for every discipline becomes a critical factor in manufacturing company of every size.

3- New type of manufacturing companies will be attracting focus of PLM vendors

Manufacturing landscape is changing. Internet and globalizaiton enabling to create a new type of manufacturing companies – smaller, distributed, agile, crowdfunded. It requires new type of thinking about collaboration, distribute working, digital manufacturing and more. These companies are representing new opportunity and will drive more attention from PLM vendors.

4- Growing interest in mobile enterprise PLM solutions

Mobile went mainstream in many domains. Until now, engineers in manufacturing companies mostly used mobile for email. In 2015 I can see a potential to have a greater interest in mobile solution from manufacturing companies. Distributed work and need for collaboration will drive the demand to make existing enterprise systems more mobile.

5- The demand for big data and analytics in product lifecycle.

Data is driving greater attention these days. I even heard data “data as a new oil”. Manufacturing companies will start to recognize the opportunity and think how to use piles of data from their enterprise engineering and manufacturing system to drive some analysis and use it for decision making.

What is my conclusion? I think 2015 will be a very interesting year in PLM. Broader adoption of cloud, mobile and big data analytics will drive future transformation in engineering and manufacturing software. The disconnect between old fashion enterprise software and new tech vendors will increase. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

How PLM can use multiple mobile apps in a single screen

December 30, 2014


One size doesn’t fit all. We know that. Engineers are using multiple tools. Shifting context is complex. For years, CAD and PLM companies have been trying to create a single UI, system or application. Despite all these efforts, to integrate multiple applications or tasks is remaining a very challenging requirements. Going back 15-20 years ago, integration between PDM and CAD systems was a big deal. Today to have integrated data management and design environment is almost natural.

Mobile environment is introducing new type of integration challenges between application. It started as a complete “single app” environment. Slowly, mobile OS made a progress towards running multiple applications, context switch and multiple tasks. In many situations to run multiple applications simultaneously can help to streamline processes and provide seamless user experience. The number of mobile application developers is increasing and it will drive the demand to run multiple applications and integrate them together.

There are some good technological news here. My attention caught Gigaom article – Why 2015 may be the year of multiple mobile apps on one screen. It speaks about few mobile devices enabling to run multiple mobile applications in a single screen. Apple fans won’t be disappointed too. According the the following article Apple is also working on how to bring multiple applications into single iPad screen in iOS8.


It made me think about how engineering software will be able to leverage this technological opportunity. There are few scenarios that I see here – 1/ share and collaborate on 3D/2D data; 2/ presenting metadata (for example, bill of material) alongside with 3D model; 3/ use communication software in a background (video, voice, chat). I’m sure there are many more.

What is my conclusion? Engineering software is complex and often requires presenting multiple information data sets together. Functionally, multiple applications from different vendors can be used for that. To shift a context is complex task. Users will be looking how to have a better user experience and application integration. To use multiple apps in a single screen is a step in a right direction to provide better mobile CAD and PLM user experience. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

picture credit Gigaom article and Google Play Store

Mobile PLM innovation continuum

December 29, 2014


Mobile is one of the strongest trends in technology and business these days. I keep following technology and business events around mobile and speculate how and when PLM companies will leverage it for engineering and manufacturing software. My old post – PLM mobile gold rush. Did vendors miss the point? speaks about wrong path most of PLM vendors took with regards to mobile development. Maybe few years ago, some sales wizards thought, people will abandon desktop and laptop computers and move to iPads? I don’t know… Mobile is not a replacement for existing software. I see mobile as a new way to make software for people and situation where no solution was available before.

Mobile business is skyrocketing in consumer and e-commerce. You probably heard about Cyber Monday mobile moment. Things are not moving so quickly for enterprise software. PLM is included. You might remember my post earlier this year – Will PLM vendors work with Apple and IBM on mobile first? So far, mobile PLM development is following the path of creating wrapper on top of existing platform and user scenarios.

Forbes article Apple And IBM Seize The Mobile Moment To Energize Enterprise Software made me think again about potential of Apple and IBM in making a shift in mobile PLM business. Here is my favorite passage:

What they really will be saying, of course, is “make it like Apple,” but the Cupertino brand has not made inroads in the C-suite like it has in the psyche’s of consumers. Executives and their minions are consumers too, so Apple’s products are well-represented in the enterprise, but not yet well-supported by IT departments. When the deal was first announced, I described it as a “Victory Of Design Over Data.” IBM has a long history of good design, but, I wrote, “it is Apple that has mastered the art of making solutions ‘transparent’ to users.” Once I saw the actual apps in action, though, my take was more balanced. Yes, the model of simplicity that Apple offers is a key differentiator between this new approach and traditional enterprise software. But IBM’s mastery of legacy data systems and security combined with big data analytics are what enables these simple apps to be useful.


In my view, the key here is transparent user experience in combination with legacy data. This is something PLM vendors should think about. PLM product suites are holding tons of useful data. The way current PLM product are manipulating these date is bizarre. However, this data is a lifeblood of every manufacturing company. People need this data for decision making. Think about customer request, maintenance operation, engineering to order sales situation. There are many others. Look on examples of mobile application in Forbes article mastering user experience for a specific role-based situation. It makes people to want mobile application at first place. This is different from “mobile too” strategy proposed by most of PLM vendors.

As I mentioned in my Mobile CAD and PLM development options post, most of mobile applications are wrappers on top of existing back end systems. In my view, this is the best confirmation of viability of Apple and IBM business to develop mobile enterprise future.

What is my conclusion? Mobile is a goldmine for engineering and manufacturing software. My hunch, PLM is one of the biggest opportunities for mobile since it focus on cross company communication. To take pieces of data from multiple legacy back-ends and combine it into attractive role-based Apple-like experience can become a path for mobile innovation. It is business opportunity for vendors. PLM and ERP (vendors) can profit from piles of data in organization and create new role based mobile experience. It will become a path to expand and democratize PLM for many users. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Photo credit SKF mobile apps and Apple+IBM


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