How collaborative economy will change PLM

December 19, 2014

plm-collaborative-economy

Have you heard about collaborative economy? If you are not familiar with the term, it is a time to get up to speed. I’m sure you are familiar with many examples of collaborative economy or so-called economy of share. Here is Wikipedia definition, which I found pretty accurate:

The sharing economy (sometimes also referred to as the peer-to-peer economy, mesh, collaborative economy, collaborative consumption) is a socio-economic system built around the sharing of human and physical resources. It includes the shared creation, production, distribution, trade and consumption of goods and services by different people and organisations.[1] These systems take a variety of forms, often leveraging information technology to empower individuals, corporations, non-profits and government with information that enables distribution, sharing and reuse of excess capacity in goods and services.[2] A common premise is that when information about goods is shared, the value of those goods may increase, for the business, for individuals, and for the community.[3]

The economy of share is growing. You can find an interesting perspective on presenting of collaboration economy in the following article by Jeremiah Owyang of Crowd Companies – The collaborative economy honeycomb.

Reading about growing collaborative economy made me think about significant influence on a world of things and the way people and companies are interacting during the process of designing, engineering, manufacturing and servicing products. It comes across many aspects of business and can fundamentally change business relationships and, as a result, influence product lifecycle.

Remember, existing PLM paradigms and fundamental ways companies are using engineering and manufacturing software were established back 40-50 years ago. The model CAD/PLM companies used for that came from large aerospace, automotive and defense companies. World we live in today is changing. So, how it will change product lifecycle management environment?

I captured few bold examples that can give you an idea of that change. Sharing economy environment is growing and evolving. Some of these examples can be transformed in the future or dissapear at all. But, in my view, it won’t change a trend of changes in manufacturing.

Distributed manufacturing and material production

Large companies that used to build existing PLM models already had distributed infrastructure. This infrastructure was centrally controlled and managed. It includes systems and infra to manage IP, transportation, etc. All together, it presented economically feasible model for manufacturing and distribution. Existing PLM system helped to execute elements of this model – design, engineering, services and others.

The emerging sharing economy model is different. It introduced new type of intellectual property management (including IP cooperation) and leverage a network of smaller players connected around the world leading technology innovation. This ecosystem made of network of workshops that can produce things locally. However, this model requires global physical coordination between players that located around the world. The demand for infrastructure and tools to support such type of model will be growing.

Peer production in manufacturing

Peer-to-peer is a form allowing connection between individuals and organizations and aggregate around the creation of common value. Building blocks of this model are cooperation, common knowledge, shared resources and open distribution. Open source software demonstrated a power of peer-to-peer production. Modern web was significantly influenced by this software creation model.

The model of peer production is now going beyond software in many domains. Manufacturing clearly will be impacted by introducing of new forms of relationships and production. Open source software created many tools that served needs of FOSS community. We might see similar situation in software for engineering and manufacturing.

Personal manufacturing

Manufacturing is transforming. What was before only possible for large companies and government is now scaling down to one. Regular people and small manufacturing shops with small investment capital are able to setup and grow up as their business will be growing. We know many examples of successful digital fabrication and personal manufacturing. Just go on Kickstarter and watch companies there.

However, most of Kickstarter projects are failing to deliver on time. They are facing problems with scaling their product development and manufacturing processes without right tools. I covered it in my blog – Why Kickstarter need PLM.

What is my conclusion? I only mentioned few examples of how economy of share is going to transform manufacturing. Future manufacturing processes will be network driven, which will introduce a complete new model for product lfiecycle management tools. This is where cloud PLM and other SaaS tools will have significant advantage. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


When BOM is not BOM

December 17, 2014

walks-like-BOM-quacks-like-BOM

Bill of Materials (BOM) is a central part of everything in product development. Sometimes, people call it product structure. Manufacturers are using BOM to define list of raw materials, parts and sub-assemblies with corresponded quantities need to manufacture a product. This is over simplistic definition. As usual, devil is details and BOM story is getting quite complex. Depends to whom are you talking, people see a different aspects of bill of materials – sales options, design hierarchy, product configurations, manufacturing process, service parts. Many systems are defining BOM differently. It depends on their roles and functions in overall product lifecycle.

In one of my recent articles – Thoughts about BOM ownership, I discussed some ideas about how BOM can be shared among organizations and enterprise software tools. That was my attempt to think about how to resolve a conflict between two major BOM stakeholder – Product Lifecycle Management and ERP systems. The BOM management landscape in the organization is complex. In my view, companies are not ready for a single BOM management tools – it was my observation 2 years ago.

At the time a major BOM master ownership dispute is between PLM and ERP vendors, I can see an interesting trend which can put some lights on how PLM companies are articulating their BOM strategies.

Dassault Systems ENOVIA is coming with their "zero BOM error" strategy. I posted about it earlier – PLM and Zero BOM errors: the devil is in details. In a nutshell, ENOVIA is trying to improve process of Bill of Material generation by direct connection between CATIA design and product structure. In my view, it might lead to potential formal elimination of EBOM, which will be replaced by a bundle of design and engineering information. Practically, product structure in CATIA/ENOVIA will represent everything that happens on engineering level. According to ENOVIA strategy, it will eliminate errors between design and engineering.

In parallel, I’m observing the way BOM is positioned by Siemens PLM. Teamcenter blog – Introducing BOM management speaks about BOM information as a vital part of many processes supported by PLM. I found interesting how "BOM management" term was replaced by "Product definition". Here is the passage:

I just noticed that as I am writing this I am using the words “bill of materials” less and “product definition” more. I would go back and correct – I wanted to keep it a surprise! But I think it’s ok – it helps me get to this next part. To us, it has become abundantly clear that one of the problems that come up when you talk about bill of materials (BOM) management is that the scope of what people might mean is so broad. To call all those things listed above “BOM Management” is not sufficient. We’ve collected these capabilities into an umbrella we call the Integrated Product Definition. This is an area where we have been leaders, and it continues as a high priority for us – we have the breadth and depth to address these issues like nobody else can.

In both situations, I can see a strategy by PLM vendors to redefine BOM and bring up the extended value PLM environment for customers. This is a very important transformation in my view, since it helps to streamline processes. The problem of synchronization between design and engineering environment is well-known and not solved in many companies. Teamcenter is connecting BOM management into varietly of topics such as part management, master data management, configuration management, coordinate change and variability and others. It helps to create a solid platform to manage product data.

However, the biggest fight over the BOM is between PLM and ERP environments. Engineering.com outlined it in their article – The next big boom in PLM is a battle over MBOM ownership. Muris Capital Advisors outlined the sam conflict in the blog post – The Battle for BOM Control. According to Bruce Boes of Muris Capital, service integrators will play a leading role in making alignment between PLM and ERP and forming BOM master model. Here is an interesting passage:

We predict that System Integrators have a unique opportunity and from our recent experience, the desire to bridge the gap and add value during integration with the BOM as a key point of integration. In doing so they open the market for process consulting and integration services surrounding the master model concept.

The last one make sense. In many PLM implementation projects, SI teams are actually leading development of PLM-ERP integration on site or using different middleware or integration toolkits. Unfortunately, the cost of these implementation is high and overall process is very complex.

What is my conclusion? PLM vendors redefining BOM by tight integrating of product information into development processes. From what I can see, both Teamcenter and ENOVIA are trying to redefine Bill of Material (BOM) as a wider topic. This is an interesting strategy to fight over MBOM ownership. Integrated "product definition" can help to streamline processes between engineering and manufacturing. However, the end game should be total BOM experience including all manufacturing aspects – manufacturing process planning, cost and orders. The last one brings PLM-ERP integration topic back on the table. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM software lifecycle and social development roadmaps

December 16, 2014

social-product-development

My post few days about PLM software replacement cycle turned into discussion about the way companies are implementing and maintaining PLM software, upgrades, new versions and planning investments into infrastructure and enterprise software. My attention caught Technia on demand webinar – The future of SmarTeam. It is an example of long software development cycle, maintenance, support and transition of enterprise software. I can see it typical for PLM as well as for enterprise software category, in general.

At the same time, there are some changes in enterprise software domain these days. Software development is getting more social. Social networks and other social activities are helping to develop better communication with customers. It helps to make better alignment with customers and socialize around software rodmap and features. On the last point, I found few examples to share with you from Aras Corp, Autodesk and GrabCAD.

Aras Corp., developer of enterprise open software PLM software – Aras Innovator is maintaining transparency and visibility around customer requests and development roadmap. Navigate to the following link to see Aras roadmap. An interesting feature here is customer voting mechanism, which helps to prioritize development.

aras-social-roadmap

Another example is Autodesk community. Navigate your browser to PLM360 IDEASTATION link. It gives you an opportunity to socialize your ideas directly with development team, voting for ideas and discuss details.

plm-360-idea-station

GrabCAD blog earlier today – GrabCAD’s product development process: how new features come to life brings some insight about GrabCAD development process, communication and features’ validation process. Here is a key passage from the post:

After testing and making sure things work, we introduce new features to our most passionate power users to get the last round of validation and give the first taste of what’s coming. Even if you are super happy about the solution you came up with internally, always get feedback from smaller group of people outside of the company before unveiling it to the world. Fresh sets of eyes can see your product in a totally different way. This entire process is fast. An easier project might take a day or two while more important functionality might take a couple of weeks to build. If a project gets finished and published, there’s no time to waste. New improvements are waiting to be worked on and the cycle starts again.

I didn’t find a way to see GrabCAD Workbench online- maybe GrabCAD folks can comment on that below.

I’m sure this is not exhaustive list of PLM vendors and examples how they are socializing around requirements and development roadmap. So, if you have more examples, please bring them in comments or send me via email.

What is my conclusion? Enterprise software world is transforming. Social media and networking are bringing new methods of open communication with customers. I can see a significant influence of open source and web development communities. I can see this trend is growing in the future. To communicate first, discuss with customer and then develop will become a new software development norm in enterprise too. Just my thought..

Best, Oleg

photo credit: Rich B-S via photopin cc


IoT closes design loop, but can overwhelm engineers by data

December 15, 2014

overwhelming-scale1

There is no shortage of talks about IoT these days. CAD and PLM vendors included. While each company is developing their own approach with regards to PLM and IoT, the overall trend shows growing interest from PLM vendors to see what benefits IoT can bring to their businesses.

Few months ago, I posted about 3 things PLM can do with IoT tomorrow. One of them was related to requirement management. More specifically, I guessed that IoT can become an intelligent approach to validate design hypothesis and get a better perspective on customer needs.

My attention caught by DE article Internet of Things take guesswork from design, which speaks exactly about the same topic. Here is an interesting passage-

Next-generation products outfitted with embedded sensors, actuators and other technologies will be able to detect things about their environment — temperature changes, for example, or an imminent part failure — and communicate that information in real time over the standard Internet Protocol to a database accessible by engineers. From there, engineers could analyze this trove of product-related data as part of their regular workflow to guide future product designs, address persistent quality issues, and inject more realism into verification and testing procedures.

Moreover, article brings examples of prototype application made by PTC based on ThingWorx and Windchill alerting engineers about product failures and providing product performance data.

ptc-iot-1

ptc-iot-2

These examples made me think about challenges related to growing data complexity of engineering solutions. CAD and PLM applications are not the example of simplest application. The demand for better user experience and simplicity is everywhere these days. IoT brings benefits of additional information, but increases a complexity of data and can be potential overwhelming for engineers.

What is my conclusion? We are overloaded with information these days. Products are getting more complex by adding electronic and software components. Our social interaction online brings even more information to product development, engineering and manufacturing. IoT creates a next wave of data, which in my view will become even bigger than everything we’ve seen until now. The future architectures of CAD and PLM solutions will have to count scale and complexity of future data. This is a note for PLM architects and IT managers. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


What is PLM software replacement cycle?

December 13, 2014

plm-recycle

PLM selection is complex process. It takes time to make a decision, evaluate, build a pilot and implement PLM system. I’ve been thinking about how this process can change in the future. Navigate to my Future PLM selection post to catch up. One of my discoveries was the following data point about age of ERP system.

Bluelinkerp blog – When should you replace your ERP software brings an interesting diagram – the majority of ERP implementations is up to 7 years old. The chart based on data provided by Aberdeen study – Aging ERP – When your ERP is too old.

erp-system-age

This data point is not scientific, my I can predict that company is replacing ERP system every 7-10 years. This number is actually aligned with similar numbers I’ve heard from ERP resellers in the past.

It made me think about replacement cycle of PLM systems. I guess we can probably see a similar trend in the PLM market too. PLM systems are aging and we can probably discover lifecycle of PLM implementations. Sort of PLM recycling. I’ve been trying to find some information to support it, but didn’t find much references online.

Joe Barkai’s blog – Product Innovation Congress 2014 San Diego brings some interesting fact about PLM system replacements. Here is the passage from Joe’s blog.

There appears to be much activity in selecting, replacing and upgrading PLM software. Some were first time PLM buyers, but there were a surprising number of companies expressing dissatisfaction with the exiting solution and seeking a “better” PLM system. I did not conduct a structured survey, but anecdotally it appears that a good number of those in search of a PLM replacement are users of ENOVIA SmarTeam and ENOVIA MatrixOne.

My observation: The continued search for a “better” PLM system will continue to drive activity and put pressure on PLM vendors to deliver greater value in enhanced functionality, lower cost, faster deployment, and new delivery and ownership models. The move of reluctant PLM vendors such as Oracle Agile to offer a cloud delivery model is but one recent example and I except other PLM vendors are in the process of following suit. This dynamic keeps the door open for vendors such as Aras PLM that continues to challenge the hegemony of the incumbents.

That being said, buyers should realize that the PLM software itself isn’t a substitute or remedy for flawed and suboptimal product development processes. For each dissatisfied PLM user company you will find many others who are highly successful and are able reap the full potential of the very same PLM software. It isn’t the SW. It’s you. Don’t blame the vendor.

My hunch most of large manufacturing companies already made few PLM system implementations. They made mistakes and probably want to fix them. In addition to that, businesses and systems requirements are evolving. People turnover is another factor. Enterprise systems lifecycle can be triggered by new people coming to the role of managing enterprise and engineering IT. So, 7-9 years, is a good time period to make analysis, fix problems and re-think PLM implementation and strategy.

What is my conclusion? Understanding of PLM software replacement cycle and lessons learned from an implementation can help to build a better PLM industry eco-system. It is less about blaming vendors of companies for software problems. It is more about understanding of business, technologies and implementation needs. Just my thoughts….

Best, Oleg


Cloud is an opportunity to set open standards for PLM

December 11, 2014

standard-cloud

One of the topic that usually drives lot of attention in engineering software is standards. Or absence of standards. The story of standards goes back long way to CAD formats and multi-CAD universe. I’ve been touching topic of standards and PLM earlier. Catch up on my posts – CAD/PLM standards and toothbrush problem and PLM standards: from formats to frameworks.

With the raise of cloud technology development, the question I wanted to ask how it will impact future standards creation. Does cloud provides a better grounds to build standards in services, data exchange and communication?

InfoWorld article Open standards face an uphill climb in the cloud bring a perspective on cloud standards and enterprises. The interesting thing here – we can see again the challenge standards are facing to compete with established large vendors. The following passage summarizes the situation:

Despite initial enthusiasm for open technologies, enterprises are favoring proprietary big-name cloud providers.When it comes to cloud standards, enterprises voted with their dollars. Most have focused more on Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google offerings than on standards such as OpenStack and CloudStack. Of course, AWS, Microsoft, and Google are cloud services providers, whereas open standards are enabling technologies. But vendors that have built their public and private cloud offerings around a standard (usually OpenStack) have not been on the short list of cloud technology providers for most enterprises. In fact, most vendors that pledged allegiance to open standards years ago — including IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Rackspace — have been largely overlooked by enterprises, which are mostly instead choosing AWS, Azure, and Google.

What is my conclusion? Cloud can revolutionize technological stack used in enterprise. This is an opportunity for companies to choose open standards, which will provide more openness and support establishment of new open PLM platforms. However, it is not happening yet. While large enterprise manufacturing voting with dollars and focusing on AWS, Azure and Google, small companies and individual makers can find cloud software using open standards as an interesting option. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Integration is holding back PLM cloud adoption

December 11, 2014

cloud-puzzle-integration

Cloud PLM adoption is growing. More PLM vendors these days are re-branding and re-building product and software architecture to keep up with fast moving cloud trend. This year I can see significant shift towards discussion about technical aspects of cloud implementation. The devils is in details and differentiate between variety of cloud implementation options is very important.

However, regardless on technological options, what do you think holding back all cloud implementations. In the past, the topic of security was one of the most debated among engineering software professionals and customers. Security is important. But what else

Forbes article Cloud Computing Adoption Continues Accelerating In The Enterprise speaks about different aspects of cloud business. I highly recommend you to read it -I’m sure you can find many interesting data points. My attention caught the following chart presenting top disconnects holding SaaS applications adoption:

The three biggest disconnects holding cloud-based infrastructure and applications back from greater adoption from an IT senior management perspective include concerns about the security (61%), integration challenges (46%) and information governance (35%). IT leaders perceive that line-of-business (LOB) leaders are most concerned about security (52%), difficulty measuring Return on Investment (ROI) and determining the accurate economic value of cloud solutions (37%) and a tie between information governance and cloud-based applications being able to meet enterprise and/or industry standards (32%).

cloud-software-disconnects-plm-forbes

Security is an obvious suspect. What was very interesting is to find Integration, standards and information governance as #2 and #3. As I posted few weeks ago, integration is one of the major challenges that influence broad PLM adoption and ROI. It looks like cloud applications adoption is even more dependent on the ability to integrate multiple SaaS and on premise applications.

What is my conclusion? Cloud adoption is growing. However, enterprise software landscape is complicated. Integration was always a challenge. However, cloud applications are bringing new type of challenges. PLM is data intensive with a lot of dependencies of data distributed between departments, databases and external companies-suppliers. New cloud technologies can make integration easier by leveraging modern web technologies. However, absence of standard and large amount of legacy software makes it really complex. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

photo credit: Adam_T4 via photopin cc


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 262 other followers