The future role of voice in PLM processes

October 7, 2014

mobile-voice-plm-process

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


Can PLM turn notifications into a process and vice versa?

June 10, 2014

ios8-notification-center

Notifications are fascinating. We are all love to get notified. Alarms, emails, meetings… Later came social notifications such as likes, discussion comments and others. Enterprise systems are sending notifications about process states and many others.

Recent Apple WWDC presentation provided a snapshot about next evolution point of OS/X notifications. When iOS 8 hits, the notification center can easy become a center of universe for your iPhone. The same happens on Android device- notification screen is pretty much in focus of everything.

Yosemite-notification-center

Wired article Why Notifications Are About to Rule the Smartphone Interface? provides an interesting insight on how notification functionality will developed and what is means for end users. Here is my favorite passage:

Interactive notifications will spur all sorts of new behaviors. (And yes, Android already has interactive notifications, but the ones in iOS 8 look to go beyond what KitKat can do.) Some of these will be simple, like the ability to reply to an email or text message. But they’re powerful in that you can do this without quitting whatever you’re already doing. And this interactivity is not just limited to system apps. Third-party developers can take advantage of this new capability as well, so you could comment on something on Facebook, respond to a tweet, or even check in on Foursquare. But others are going to be radical, stuff we haven’t imagined yet. Once developers begin to really harness what interactive notifications can do in iOS 8—and they will—it’s going to cause one of the most radical changes since third-party apps. With the advent of iOS 8, notifications are the new interface frontier.

It made me think, there is an opportunity for process management tools to leverage notification center ideas as well as use this spot for better experience PLM systems can provide. In most of the implementation, I’ve been involved, PLM systems are using email to get people involved into the communication about changes and process notification. Recently, instant messengers (IM) and live chats came to that place as well. New type of notification system can come to combine all aspects of communication into single interconnected experience. There is one more aspect. The ability of process management tools to capture existing notifications. It can be an interesting opportunity to simplify process planning for organizations.

What is my conclusion? Communication brings a lot of noise and inefficiency. This is a problem we have everywhere. On the other side, process is all about how to get people to perform in the most possible efficient way. It seems to me the new notion of notification can provide some alternative to old email exchange and buzzzzzes of alerts. UX architects and PLM technologiests should take a note. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM: Data vs Process – Wrong Dilemma?

August 7, 2013

Recent debate on Tech4PD brought back one of my favorite topics in PLM – data vs. process. The topic isn’t new, but it is not diminishing the importance. I found first appearance of my debates with Jim going to back in 2009. Navigate to the following link and read my old blog – PDM vs. PLM: Is it about the process? Another perspective on data vs. process in PLM was presented in my blog post – PLM: controversy about process vs. data managemen. The last one was inspired by Bell Helicopter presentation made during Dassault Customer Conference back in 2011.

Take a moment of time and watch the debate. I gave my vote to Jim. I like his broad perspective on setting organization on the right path with their working procedures. Jim also "packaged" his process opinion together with "file management", which made me assume that engineers will be able to identify right versions of a specific file/design. What made me feel sad a bit with regards to Chad’s position is his wiliness to focus on how to control all data in PLM – something I have hard time to believe as needed and even possible. To me PLM cannot control all data, but should rely on technologies to make data available for decision (and not only) processes.

The debate made me think about why Data vs. Process is probably a wrong dilemma in the context of PLM. In my view, the right focus should be on "lifecycle" as a core value proposition of PLM and ability of PLM to support product development. In a nutshell, product development is about how to move product definition (in a broad sense of this word) from initial requirements and design to engineering and manufacturing. If I go future, next stages of product definition will be related to maintenance and disposal. To define what represent product on every stage together with what is required to move product from one stage to another is a core value of product lifecycle and PLM.

What is my conclusion? After many years of debates about data vs. processes, I think time came to get to the next mature level of understanding how to get PLM work for companies. The focus on product definition for every stage of product lifecycle bundled together with procedures or requirements needed in order to move between stages can be a new way to define what PLM is about. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM and Engineering Task (Process) Management

December 13, 2012

PLM is all about process management. This statement comes to the play when people explain the value of PLM in the organization. Usually, when you think about process management, your mind is switching to some kind of "workflow thinking" mode, which assumes you need to follow the process from state to state by accomplishing tasks and activities. In every PLM implementation, this is a moment of time, people ask – how do we manage engineering processes? What toolset we need to have to make it happen?

I can see, engineering people, are bad organized. In many situations to run processes among engineers is similar to herding cats. To manage process in an engineering organization is a challenge. This is a place where PLM vendors usually fails to provide a reliable and simple solution. Engineers are asking for additional flexibility and vendors have a tendencies to provide a complicated solutions. Many PLM tools are providing sort of Workflow designer to create a process model. Later on, you can discover that engineers tend to abandon these processes. Main reason – these processes are not reflecting the reality. I wanted to come with some ideas how to fix that. I came up with the three definitions – tasks, engagement and information context. Take a look on the picture below.

The overall engineering process is described as list of tasks (above). This is the simplest way to present what needs to be done. It easy to digest and follow up. At the same time, the activity around this task list is not linear. In order to accomplish the task, an engineer needs to engage with additional people. This a typical situation when a person who leads the process needs to communicate with other people and comes with the result. Often, it is ad-hoc communication that cannot be formalized resides in people’s mind. Another situation happens when an engineer needs to bring an additional set of information to accomplish the task or make a decision. To combine these activities together is not a simple thing. Workflow is a wrong tool to solve this problem. To support a simplified task management tools with the ability to manage external engagement and connect to information context can be a potential solution to the problem.

What is my conclusion? The simplification is a key word to summarize my thoughts. In many situations, engineers will prefer a simple task list to get things done. However, tools need to provide a collaborative capabilities to connect the engineer’s activity to other people and additional sources of information. Just my thoughts. I’m interesting to learn how you manage engineering tasks in your organizations.

Best, Oleg

[categories Daily PLM Think Tank]


Kenesto vs PLM 360: Apples to Apples?

June 9, 2012

Earlier this week, Kenesto – new outfit of Mike Payne announced about general availability of their cloud based business process automation services. If you missed the announcement, navigate your browser to the following link. I blogged about Kenesto before – PLM, Kenesto and Process experience. Released version brings some additional features such as a cloud viewer from TechSoft3D, enhanced reporting and few more. According to Mike Payne:

We have built a product which works the way people want it to without forcing them to change how they work and which delivers technology in precisely the way people want to access it. With Kenesto 2012 we have reached an objective no PLM system has achieved before: practically zero implementation costs for deployment or training.

Autodesk PLM360 vs. Kenesto. Data management is a difference.

Randal Newton of GraphicSpeak coined an interesting term – unPLM. Navigate to the article to read more. Randal is driving some parallels between Autodesk PLM 360 and Kenesto. He is speaking about the amount of processes / solutions as one of the differences, but not only. Here is an interesting passage from the article:

The first product that comes to mind when looking at Kenesto is Autodesk 360 PLM, the cloud-based product lifecycle management system introduced earlier this year. Look past the cloud deployment, the openness about pricing, and the browser-based work environment and there are many differences. Autodesk 360 is aimed at the traditional PLM market, engineering departments; Kenesto is looking at wider deployment in the enterprise.

The comparison between "traditional PLM market, engineering department" and "wider enterprise deployment" is something that caught my attention. I navigated to the previous GraphicSpeak article – Autodesk launches cloud-based PLM. Here is a quote with examples of PLM 360 apps:

Autodesk says 360 is made up of more than 140 apps so far, which can either be used as-is or modified by users. The apps so far fall into ten categories: Quality, Supplier Management, Engineering, Program Management, Service and Support, Operations, Sales and Marketing, Manufacturing, Executives, IT professionals.

It looks like PLM 360 is clearly focused on how to cover all organizational activity and not stopping on the level of PLM for engineering department. When Kenesto is focusing on business automation, PLM 360 provides much more by allowing to manage data and processes beyond engineering. In my view, flexible and adaptable process managament is probably a differentitation. Kenesto can provide it on top of Autodesk PM 360 in order to serve broader set of end users in organization focusing on processes rather than on data management. For the moment, PLM 360 cannot support such a level of flexibility, and it creates an opportunity Kenesto can use. The right question to ask – for how long?

What is my conclusion? Process automation is an important function of many systems and applications. It can be part of PLM, CRM, ERP and other solutions. From that standpoint, Kenesto can potentially serve a much broader audience. However, PLM 360 is managing data. Kenesto is not doing so (at least, for the moment). So, Kenesto can come to the play when data-management problems already solved (or less important). Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM, Kenesto and Process Experience

February 17, 2012

Kenesto just did the first appearance at SolidWorks World 2012 in San Diego. It was a good opportunity, to see Kenesto product in public. So, I did. I’ve been posting about Kenesto before. Navigate to the following link to read my previous post – PLM and Process Tools: Opportunity or Complication? So, I sat down with Kenesto team for the demonstration (disclosure – I’m serving as an adviser to Kenesto).

The big idea – flexible processes

The idea of Kensto is to move away from rigidity of process management and workflows – it called routes. You can push process flow to any person you want. It is fundamentally different from many BPM and PLM process tools that require you to define process flowchart before actually you are going to use it. From that standpoint, Kenesto just helping you "to document processes". This is about flexibility and ease of use. Here is the process that was built during the presentation:

Kenesto and Cloud

Cloud is another differentiation of Kensto. You don’t need to have to installed and configure the system. The only thing you need is to access it via browser. Kenesto runs on AWS. You can see the following picture of Kenesto architecture (taken from Kenesto whitepaper)

What is interesting to notice is the diagram on the bottom – three information objects (processes, documents, structures). I can see them as potential data models for PDM or PLM system. However, nothing was mentioned about these plans.

Kenesto Challenges

The idea of Kenesto is simple and I like it. I can see some challenges related to the way Kenesto communicates with ‘on-premises’ solutions. What I’ve seen during the demo, was only related to uploading of files. However, I’d be interested to see how customers will use Kenesto in a real life. Currently, in a beta version, Kenesto definitely is going to learn more about it.

Kenesto People

To make the story social, here are few pictures of people behind the Kenesto team. Sorry for not capturing all of you, guys – will do it next time.

What is my conclusion? All components of Kenesto are not unique. But here is the deal. Similar to iPod assembled by Apple from components available to everybody, Kenesto uniqueness is in experience it provides to a user. This is in my view, a secret sauce behind what company is doing. Experience is important. Bernard Charles, CEO of Dassault Systems was talking about "3D experience" during SWW 2012. Will Kenesto invent new "process experience"? Time will show. It has a potential. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Disclosure: I’m serving as an external adviser to Kenesto.


PLM and Process Tools: Opportunity or Complication?

January 18, 2012

I’d like to talk about BPM again. I was writing about BPM in the past. Navigate to this link to take a look on few pasts topics related to Business Process Management. Almost four years ago, I asked a question – Should PLM develop its own process tools? I think, the question is still not answered. Here is a quote from my historical article about what is the place PLM can take in the BPM game:

So where does PLM play into this game? I see two possible options: (1) PLM providers will focus on the development of process management tools; (2) PLM providers will allow the integration of PLM information and IP (Intellectual Property) into existing process tools provided by platforms. I believe that option (1) will be very helpful in integrating PLM systems into the enterprise software already available within the vast zoo of software within the organization, option (2) can simplify deployment and and keep the implementation of PLM simple.

I was reading Beth Stackpole Design News article PLM startup targets efficiency. It is a short article. Have a read and make your opinion. Don’t miss also comments to the article too. Based on what Kenesto is saying, manufacturing companies are still looking for good process management solutions. I found the following passage interesting:

…PLM’s tight ties to CAD still limit its use beyond engineering — a fact Kenesto is hoping to avoid with its process-automation-for-anyone approach…. traditional PLM is basically a process automation tool that is too complex to use effectively, prompting many users to circumvent it, using spreadsheets or email to share critical product data….Kenesto isn’t a replacement for PLM systems, but rather a different approach for solving the process automation piece of facilitating engineering workflows. Kenesto, which is cloud-based software, employs conventions that most users understand, like sending and receiving attachments, so it feels in many ways like a familiar email system…

The idea seems to me simple and interesting. Kenesto will be on the cloud, disconnected from CAD, providing graphical DIY tools to engineers to route documents and messages.

BPM and PLM: Integration Complexity

One of the biggest problems of BPM in the past was a problem of integration. Tools like SharePoint, WebSphere, and many others provided quite powerful solution to support processes in your organization. However, when companies tried to implement it, organization faced significant complexity to integrate existing “content oriented” systems (i.e. ERP, CRM, PLM) with process management tools (BPM). Most of BPM tools ended up acquired by large platform tools, and you can find them as part of larger platforms.

What is my conclusion? It seems to me “cloud” is a game changer in Kenesto play. By introducing solution in the cloud, Kenesto will try to simplify the process of integration with existing CAD, PLM and other enterprise tools. DIY approach can simplify IT life in organizing engineering processes. At the same time, it can introduce a challenge for IT trying to rule application and business processes and not interested to give it up to end users. The simplicity claimed by Kenesto can be another game changer. Kenesto is searching for beta customers. You can read more here. You can watch Kenesto in action to prove it right. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Disclosure: I’m serving as an external advisor to Kenesto


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