What PLM can offer to post-PC employees?

February 13, 2013

IT consumerization speed is probably underestimated. At the time we are discussing if enterprise workers need to use tablets, mobile devices and Apple computers, many of employees are actually using them. I’ve been reading InfoWorld article Get used to it: The post-PC employee has arrived. The article is pulling data from Forrester research based 10’000 information worker study. The following passage summarize the recommendation is a very clear way:

If you’re still arguing that iPads, Macs, iPhones, and Android devices are toys that faddist employees will soon get over, stop wasting your breath. If you believe a strict separation of work and personal information and activities can be imposed on information workers, stop wasting your time and money. If you’re not reworking your applications and Web services to be adaptive — that is, to work across multiple operating systems, browsers, screen sizes, and user interfaces — you’d better start now.

Here are some interesting facts and numbers I captured. The number of people accessing the Internet through PCs in the USA will shrink from 240 million in 2012 to 225 million in 2016. Tablets are using used at roughly the same levels (from 39% to 49%) everywhere – at a work desk, home, cafe and traveling. Use of multiple devices is coming (29% already use 3 or more devices). PC rules, but mobile is getting bigger. All these facts and numbers made me think about what PLM can offer today to such a "post-PC employee".

CAD is heavy focused on Windows desktop

Majority of CAD applications are running on Windows platform these days. Starting from professional 3D design packages like SolidWorks, Autodesk Inventor and ending up with CATIA, NX and Creo it is all about Windows. AutoCAD back on Mac since last year. Rhino provides Mac/OS version but it still limited. Even if you can find CAD available on Mac/OS or Linux, the majority of PDM/PLM integrations CAD are operating on Windows platform only.

PLM web interfaces is heavily on IE and Windows platform

Core PLM packages are essentially web-based. However, many of these web interfaces contain a significant portions of technologies and functions tailored to IE and Windows platform. The overall trend of PLM providers is to move towards modern web design and HTML5, which is a positive thing. However, it happens way too slow, in my view.

Mobile is ramping up fast, but without clear focus

The awareness about mobile apps is in the right place these days. However, the move of PLM vendors to mobile app is chaotic without specific goals and strategies. It looks that for most of vendors to provide "mobile version of something" was an imperative. At the same time, not many of them thoughts about specific mobile-oriented scenarios. In past, I posted Mobile PLM gold-rush. Did vendors miss the point? I still think, it is pretty much true for all mobile apps in PLM space.

What is my conclusion? PLM technologies and applications are complicated stuff. It took time for vendors to build it and achieve certain level of completeness. Some of vendors are arguing that technology is not a critical element of PLM software. For all these vendors it is better to understand that era of PC, Windows and IE is over. New post-PC employees will be using different criteria when buying their devices and bringing them to work. Vendors better take note now and start delivering. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Why Apple isn’t cool for engineers? Or you are here to work…

July 9, 2011

Apple isn’t cool.. Got your attention? Okay… Today is two years, since I switched my everyday life to MacBook. It is enough time to make some conclusion. I was almost ready to write my next blog post as some kind of "My last two years with MacBook Pro", but I stumbled on the following article – Keep it in your pants – Pet Peeve#1 in CAD Insider, written by Roopinder Tara. Spend few minutes to read that blog. The following passage is my lovely one:

I don’t have any Apple computers. Nor am I yearning for one. My daughter is. She is way cooler than me. But when I look around, I don’t see any engineer using them. Not for production work. Just writing this will ensure that I will be pelted by Mac enthusiasts, but like mysterious forces others insist upon, I still deny their existence without visual proof.

So, despite the fact I can be classified as "a blogger going on rants", I decided to put few stories related to what, in my view, is going around PC/Windows, Apple and engineers working in manufacturing companies.

You are here to work, not to play.

Does anybody remember this phrase? Actually, I do… very well. It was a very common answer on the complains about software that (to say politely) "less usable" than expected. Business software was built for business and not for a game. So, everybody supposed to RTFM and work with the software purchased by a company. I think it was very acceptable 10 years ago. However, voices of people that started to ask about usable software becomes more and more louder. Companies like SolidWorks proved that user experience does matter. Finally, I can see more and more engineers looking how to use cool software.

This is such a useless device…

This statement belongs to the engineering manager of one of the very respectful manufacturing company in US. And the device is "iPad 1". The conversation actually happened a year ago, and it was about few months after iPad was released to the market. When we are still waiting for evidence of a massive migration of manufacturing companies to iPad, I think this event is not as far somebody can image. I found the following example interesting (even if it comes from non-manufacturing domain). The article from NYT says the story about the legal firm migrating a few hundreds attorneys to iPad.

This week, Proskauer Rose, one of the nation’s largest law firms, began making iPad 2s available to all its lawyers. So far, 500 of the firm’s 700 lawyers have requested an iPad and a desktop computer over a laptop.

Btw, Few weeks ago, I got an email from the same engineering manager saying – "I’m starting to believe that you may be on to something with iPads…". Since the last time, we talked the same manufacturing company he is working for, switched completely from Blackberries to iPhones.

Visual Proof

Now let me talk about "visual proof". When I switched my life to MacBook pro, two years ago, very few of my closest friends and colleagues were running on Apple. However, going back in 2007 and 2008, I noticed a growing number of Apple computers around me on conferences and in public places. Back that time, my corporate laptop was IBM/Thinkpad. Two years later, I can see many people around me switched their lives to Apple computers. Enterprises and manufacturing companies are moving much slower, but it is just a matter of time.

What is my conclusion? Let me think about a computer as a device with its own lifecycle. It was a time computer was big, bulky and took a whole room in your company. These big computers proved their existence by solving particular unsolved problems. Microsoft made computers smaller and affordable. Thinking about post-PC era, I can see people considering computers a device that helps them to get an everyday job done. And it should take fewer hassle, problems, calling specialists or IT. So, criteria changes and it will definitely change the landscape of computer devices we are using. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

PLM and Post-PC Era

April 6, 2011

Picture-9.pngI found an increased trend of conversation around the "post-PC" topic. I found the conversation fascinating. Are we going to replace our PCs, workstations, laptops with mobile table devices like iPad 2? I’m not sure it is going to happen soon. I’ve been readingGartner’s prediction about PC market dynamics as well PC World article discussing the same topic. Nevertheless, I can see how mindshare PLM vendors are reacting on strong dynamics of tablet devices. Earlier last month, I posted 3D/PLM and iPad: Future or Baloney? I’m continuing to watch other CAD and PLM vendors coming to the "table" and introducing their iPad apps.

Early Adopters or Mainstream?

Autodesk was one of the first vendors coming to the tablet’s game. It started by introducingAutoCAD WS last year and followed by multiple additional Apps. In my view, Autodesk is still leading with the maximum number of various iOS apps. Dassault and SolidWorks came later this year and introduced3DVIA Mobile on iPad on SolidWorks World 2011 earlier this year. Few days ago, I found Siemens PLM introducingTeamCenter Mobility Apps. I found the following video interesting. Watch it and make you conclusion.

Mobile and Decision Making

I can see a clear trend to introduce mobile apps as something that drives to better decision making capabilities. It raises multiple use cases where end users are not necessarily needed to stick with the fully blown application tools on their PC to make a decision. I found TeamCenter app scope wider than other mobile applications introduced on iOS devices before.

What is my conclusion? I can see signs of post-PC era. I don’t think it means that we will replace our PC with mobile devices. However, it introduces a new dynamic in decision making that can help to accomplish their jobs, even if they are out of their desks. The new status quo can introduce a completely different set of expectations in front of PLM vendors these days. Important. Just my opinion.

Best, Oleg

Freebie. Siemens PLM didn’t pay me to write this post.


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