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

Mobile CAD and PLM development options

December 10, 2014


Mobile PLM is one of the topics I’m following on my blog. You probably remember my post – How PLM vendors can find mobile moments. Today I want to speak about technological aspects of mobile development. For the last few years, mobile development took us into the world of multiple platforms and device compatibility. I posted about challenges of mobile and native web development in the past – Mobile PLM: Apps vs. Mobile Browsers? and Mobile PLM Native Apps Challenge.

If you think, mobile development is “native apps” now, there are some of good news on the horizon. ReadWrite article – What Google Has In Store For The Mobile Web brings few interesting data points about underline mobile development from Apple, Google and Microsoft. Article mentioned Apples WKWebView inclusion in iOS 8 as well as Microsoft’s WinRT. Google’s Chrome team is working to improve performance. If you want more technical details, the following article – The future of Web according to Google can give you deep insight. I found the following passage capturing the momentum well:

In other words, Google is about to bring the Web back to parity with native. In some ways, actually, it’s making the Web better than native, because the Web doesn’t have the same problem with app distribution that app stores have. As Google makes the Web a first-class citizen on mobile, there will be less cause to worry about Apple and Google duopolizing our newly mobile world.

One of the main aspect of to be in love with native mobile apps is offline. It is a huge factor and today native apps have an advantage here. However, it won’t stay that way for long time.

Offline is a big deal, it’s one of the most defining features of native apps vs. web in today’s climate. As Alex Russell put it in his talk: “It isn’t an app if it doesn’t run when you tap.” Once ServiceWorker lands [around the end of 2014], it’s only a short time later that we’ll see Push Notifications in the browser (they use ServiceWorker to coordinate). This will mean that, with a simple permission opt-in, a website will be able to notify you days, weeks, or months after you visit it. With the growing importance (and interactive nature) of notifications on mobile platforms, it’ll be great to see the web get to participate.

What is interesting that even today some iOS and Android apps are not purely native. Here is an interesting chart I captured from another ReadWrite article – HTML5 has a new best friend –and it is Apple, not Google.


These mobile web news made me think again about what it can give to CAD and PLM developers in a near future. PLM vendors invested in mobile development and you have mobile app for almost every PLM today. It added lot of complexity to development team – getting back to web can be a good news for development and product managers working to align mobile and web features. Offline wasn’t supported for most of mobile app, so it was never a case. However, offline work can be a big deal, especially for CAD tools.

What is my conclusion? CAD and PLM development (as well as most of enterprise software) has longer lifecycle compared to consumer application. To cut development cost can be interesting option for engineering team. Users will have benefits of better alignment in functionality between mobile and web versions. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Will PLM vendors work with Apple and IBM on Mobile First?

October 28, 2014


Few months ago, I posted about potential for Apple and IBM to open a door for mobile PLM future. Blog raised lot of questions, but I haven’t seen any groundbreaking announcements from CAD and PLM vendors since that time. Maybe I missed some press releases or maybe companies are shy to announce and work in a stealth mode.

One more news about the same topic caught my attention again few days ago. Business insider article Apple And IBM Hope To Change The Way People Work, Starting Next Month. I noticed few snippets of information indicating interest and stating that some development work is under go. Here are few passages:

"Hundreds" of corporations worldwide have "expressed interest" in MobileFirst to Apple, which is "actively working with over 50 of them to become foundational clients for MobileFirst solutions in their industries," Maestri said. The apps mostly focus on analyzing business data. IBM’s Schroeter says the first dozen applications will launch this quarter. Some apps will be out next month, Maestri told Reuters.

IBM gets paid to write the apps and then host them on its cloud, and it also has the chance to sell other things, like security software, and so on. "We also know that the deeper the apps go in the enterprise, the more it opens up avenues in enterprise," Cook said. "And that’s a key part of the IBM partnership and what I think customers will get out of that, which is more important than us selling, is changing the way people work."

IBM Mobile First website is up and running. You can browse to get more information. I found few interesting use cases under build category.

Navigate to this link to Rohde & Schwarz cuts mobile development costs by 60 percent. This use case speaks about cross platform mobile application development. More specifically it was about creating mobile enterprise infrastructure to generate applications. To integrate with existing enterprise backend infrastructure was one of the challenges PLM vendors and manufacturing companies are experiencing today. Here is an interesting passage I captured from case study:

Rohde & Schwarz wanted to create a mobile enterprise infrastructure that enabled it to support multiple devices and generate required applications. Specifically, the company sought to build, run and manage a range of applications for customers, partners and employees within an aggressive timeframe. However, the organization had certain challenges, including a need for cross-platform development as well as integration with back-end systems such as SAP and an existing mobile device management infrastructure.

It made me think about potential of specific PLM mobile application development. One of my earlier posts –Mobile PLM gold rush: did vendors miss the point? I’ve been talking about the fact, successful "mobile" strategy requires development of application to support specific use cases and scenarios. I continue to discuss the same idea here – How PLM vendors can find mobile moments . Here is a passage from my older post, which I believe is still very relevant:

Consumers are moving to mobile and requesting more and more interaction with businesses via mobile devices. To make “all tablet” won’t work for product development software. To stop and think about a specific productivity apps that can solve a particular problem is the right way to go.

What is my conclusion? I didn’t find any trace of CAD/PLM companies working with IBM/Apple on mobile apps. However, I still believe, mobile experience is completely different from what customers in B2B spaces are experience with desktop or even web applications. To success in mobile, PLM companies need to find customer "mobile moments" that focus on a specific use cases where mobile device will provide a complete advantage. To replicate existing product into mobile devices won’t be a right path to go. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of IBM case study.

The future role of voice in PLM processes

October 7, 2014


Processes and workflows is a big topic in PLM. If you think about PLM as a way to manage a full scope of product development processes in organization, workflow is a foundation part of technologies and tools to implement that.

The definition of PLM process is usually complex and can come as workflow or rule-based. You may ask – why is it complex? Very often the answer is simple – enterprise organization is complex as well as communication between people is complex too. However, this is still not a reason to keep them complex in the future. In one of my earlier posts about PLM processes and implementation confusions, I shared my classification of PLM processes into design collaboration and change processes. People are still one of the most complex part of process implementations. Especially, if you speak about engineers. To manage engineering processes is like herding cats. Read more in my PLM and Engineering (task) process management post. One of my conclusions – we need to simplify process management.

In a real life, email remains one of the key players in process-driven implementations. There is nothing wrong in email and the requirement to integrate PLM processes with email is still on the top of PLM process requirement list. I honestly think that I need to update my workflow dream list.

The question how to simplify workflow and make collaboration easy is on the top of workflow and process management professionals. Some of PLM mindshare companies are focusing primarily how to improve process management.

One of my previous ideas around process simplification was related to mobile technologies. Earlier today, my attention was caught by Benedict Evans blogVoice is the next big thing in mobile. Article speaks about different form of communication – text messages, instant messaging and vocie. Here is the passage I liked:

…there is a lot of scope to innovate around the actual voice experience in much the same way that we have seen around messaging apps.In messaging we have seen two levels of innovation in experience. WhatsApp delivers ‘SMS 2.0′ – it does the things that telco technologies like IMS were supposed to add close to a decade ago, but not much more, so far. On the other, we have things like Line, Wechat, Kik and Snapchat that actually change what messaging is, even before you look at the platform elements of their offerings. I suspect (but no more) that it is harder fundamentally to change what voice is than to create alternatives to a snippet of text, and so the basic voice experience might change less – the innovation, like WhatsApp, may be more about the handling and routing and setup. That is, it kills the dialer. That’s one way to look at Talko – it rethinks what ‘dialer’ mean when there is no DTMF (or pulse), and builds value around that.

I specially like the idea of "setup simplification" to make a call. Sometimes, to make a dial is complex or even impossible. Imagine, you have engineers and service technician working on the same problem. They are located in separate places. Modern 3D collaboration technologies can share visual information between them. They can even share photos or camera. But "chatting" or "IMing" in such situation can be a complex thing. To be able to establish voice communication can be a killer function.

Another example can be related to "change process" approval. The description of problem is often complex and requires clarification. Very often it leads to going back and forth in approval process between people with messages and explanation. To setup one minute voice communication can solve a problem.

What is my conclusion? Voice and mobile can become a killer approach to simplify communication and streamline PLM process management. It can decrease number of messaging loops, speed up approvals or improve customer service. PLM vendors are very much behind in mobile innovation. Voice is part of this gap. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 286 other followers