Social PLM: How to pull a trigger?

November 19, 2014

plm-social-trigger

In my yesterday blog, I shared some of my thoughts about “Facebook at Work” and potential impact on engineering and manufacturing software. It made me think again about all discussions and stories related to social software trend and social PLM.

Social was trending topic 3-4 years ago. Many new companies were founded back those days to realize the idea of “social enterprise”. No doubt it was heavily influenced by the large popularity of social networks and web. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and many other companies supported that trend. In enterprise domains, companies like Yammer and few others made a successful swing by introducing their products in business domain.

CAD vendors reacted on social trend by introducing “social platforms” or “social products”. It was mix of new development (Dassault 3DSwYm) , partnerships with other vendors (Microsoft SharePoint – PTC Windchill Social Link) or technology acquisitions (Autodesk – Qontext). In my view, none of these products and technologies changed a way people used to work in organization. Vendors blamed engineers for anti-social behavior. Customers blamed vendors for non-intuitive user behavior, missed features and bad integration with engineering content.

I put some of my notes about why I think social PLM trend lost the opportunity: Why Engineers Don’t Like Company Private Social Networks? and Why Social PLM 1.0 failed? I guess,despite all attempts, email remains one of the most visible collaboration tool for most of engineering and manufacturing companies.

At the same time, I believe, it is a time to rethink ideas of how to bring social into business eco-system. This is not an easy task. Some of key elements can be – structured enterprise communication, integration with existing messaging and communication system and thinking about social in connection to task management.

I had a short tweeterstorm with Jim Brown yesterday, following my blog about “Facebook At Work”. Jim kind of dismissed my points about usefulness of Facebook as a business social tool. Jim stands behind his old article – What I Learned: We are not Going to Design an Airplane on Facebook!

@olegshilovitsky: Maybe @jim_techclarity will rethink his 5 years old statement about airplanes design on Facebook

@jim_techclarity: @olegshilovitsky No, not rethinking it. Re read the post and you will see my predictions are pretty spot on. This time, at least

@jim_techclarity: @olegshilovitsky There is a lot more low hanging fruit elsewhere. Easier to add social to PLM than PLM to social. Talk to you in 2019 ;-)

jimbrown-olegshilovitsky-tweetstorm-social-software

Most of the time, I’m in agreement with Jim. However, I disagree on his view on social software add-on role. We should not view “social” software as an addition to something else. This is a mistake that many enterprise software vendors did in the past few years. Social is a reflection of people behavior. I believe, this is a fundamental thing in what Facebook did – to emphasize the importance of “real person” identification in social network. All social networks before dismissed the importance of identification. Facebook made it as a core function and won. Of course, it doesn’t mean the same thing will work for social enterprise or PLM.

Facebook at Work is coming to capture attention of people during work time. Today, many places are banning Facebook as a destruction. I guess, Facebook wants to figure out how to offer social value for people during their work time. To me it means to crack “social behavior at work”.

What is my conclusion? The main point of “social” is not to become a nice addition to enterprise software to improve collaboration. Unfortunately, this is how most of enterprise software vendors (PLM included) understood it. Collaboration is important and existing PLM products need to focus how to improve user experience. But, social is not about that. Social is about “behavior” of people at work. Today, it is mostly around email and important business systems. Not much social. We don’t know how to pull the trigger of social software in a company. In order to do that, we need to think about “behavior”. We need to think how to make people addicted to business social function through the value it brings on everyday basis. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

photo credit: Ian Ruotsala via photopin cc


PLM Vendors and Tunnel Vision

November 11, 2014

plm-tunnel-vision

I’ve been following Dassault Systems 3DXforum this morning. Thanks for technology improvements these days you can be almost present at the events by combination of live streaming and social media communication. The first presentation by Bill Taylor, Fast Company editor struck me by mentioning of the idea of Tunnel Vision. I took a trip to Fast Company website. Navigate to the following link to read Six Ways to Prevent Corporate Tunnel Vision. In a nutshell, I can see tunnel vision as a sort of decease that keeps company in the eco-system of existing business boundaries. At the same time, business is getting so disruptive these days that focusing on a known boundaries, suppliers, partners and business models will crash you eventually. Here is my favorite passage:

Such upheaval is evident everywhere in the business world today. Did you know that big-box retailer Walmart now competes with Comcast, and Netflix for movie streaming on TVs? Or that a business-to-business network equipment giant Cisco now competes with Kodak and Sony for consumer camcorders? Most market incumbents stick with their current products, business models and industry for their entire existance, such that they don’t see opportunities to move—or the risk of new entrants. Such tunnel vision presents a tremendous opportunity for savvy executives looking outside their current base to grow revenue or maintain leadership.

It made me think about PLM vendors attempts to think out of the box by pushing boundaries and challenging current paradigms. If you had a chance to read my yesterday blog, you can see how Siemens PLM is pushing PLM-ERP boundary with the strategic objective to develop fully digital manufacturing and take over mBOM. The comparison of engineering and manufacturing performance with Google self-driving cars was pretty bold. At the same time, you see how Dassault System is innovating into multiple domains by pushing CAD file paradigms introducing “Zero file” strategy and, as I just learned this morning, very much focusing on experience. PTC is looking how to expand their horizons with IoT strategy and services. The last, but not least – Autodesk is focusing on cloud as a strategic differentiation in PLM.

PLM vendors are clearly coming to push existing PLM boundaries. I’ve been trying to map PLM vendors’ strategy to six ways to prevent tunnel vision – business models, encroachment, simplification, total customer, next wave, distribution. I think there are bits of these ways in everything PLM vendors are doing. However, I want to come back to the one of the slides I captured – Apple Lazarus Strategy.

apple-lazarus-strategy

Apple repeatedly outsmarted competitors by introducing revolutionary products in the domains of other companies by providing new experience, combining services and new design. PLM companies all have their strengths these days. However, in many situations, PLM implementations are all look very similar if go down to nuts and bolts of business.

What is my conclusion? PLM companies are innovating to change traditional boundaries of what we know about PLM. My hunch, we are still in a very beginning of PLM disruption. I want to bring Marc Andreessen’s talk about competition and market -“The common theory is that you want to be first to market, but actually you want to be last to market and close the door [on that industry] so no one can come after you“. So, from that standpoint, it is interesting to see who will become last to PLM market. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

picture credit


Competitive edges of SharePoint and PLM collaboration

November 5, 2014

microsoft-sharepoint

SharePoint is an interesting product and technology. I’m following it already few years. I can see some kind of love and hate relationships between PLM vendors and Microsoft SharePoint business. You can catch up on some of my thoughts about SharePoint in my previous posts – SharePoint PLM Paradox; Why PLM should care of SharePoint?; PLM SharePoint thoughts. SharePoint technology was successfully used by some PLM products (eg. SolidEdge SP) and discontinued by others (eg. PTC ProductPoint). With these two extreme examples, I guess most of CAD/PDM/PLM vendors are keeping neutral position with regards to SharePoint. Most of them are supporting some sort of integrations typically done by partners and service providers.

One of the issues that makes many customers and vendors confused is a comparison and sometimes even competitive positions of SharePoint. With increased demand for enterprise collaboration and information sharing, many customers are concerned about how both technologies can interplay in the organization. I put some of my thoughts about that in my post last year – How to stop comparing PLM and SharePoint?

Real story group blog SharePoint is no longer a swiss army knife caught my attention and made me think about SharePoint and PLM again. Also, chart shows SharePoint usage by different type of application. It also made a highlighting of new, mature and light usages.

sharepoint-usage-survey

The following two categories – project oriented collaboration, document management and simple file sharing shows probably a dominant place of SharePoint mature usage. From my experience, these categories demonstrates why many companies are confused about PLM and SharePoint. For many of them, the initial phase of PLM – project collaboration and CAD file management can create a feeling of functional overlap.

The situation is getting even more interesting with new wave of cloud products developed by CAD/PLM companies and new startups. The focus of some of them is clearly to solve a problem of document management for engineers, file sharing and project collaboration. It is not obvious that these companies are going after the same market niche as Microsoft. At the same time, I can smell some levels of competitiveness there.

What is my conclusion? SharePoint is mature and successful technology. Microsoft has strong enterprise positions and with new Microsoft strategy for enterprise cloud can become even more dominant player. My hunch, PLM companies should make another round of thinking how to live together or compete with Microsoft SharePoint and connected social collaboration products. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Picture credit Microsoft SharePoint and RealStoryGroup


How PLM will catch the wave of analytics

October 31, 2014

plm-analytic-salesforce-wave

Data has tremendous value for any manufacturing organization. Nobody can dispute that. One of value propositions of PLM is to have an access about product data and process information in a meaningful form. You can find lot of information about it online. Here is just one example. Navigate to Tech Clarity report – Business Intelligence extending PLM value by Jim Brown. I liked the following passage from the blog post introducing the report:

The perfect storm of application and implementation maturity has set the table for significant value to be unleashed from PLM. The data currently buried in PLM systems is an untapped source of value for manufacturers. Now, companies are turning to Business Intelligence (BI) in order to tap into the wealth of product knowledge generated and available in PLM repositories. And like ERP, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and other enterprise applications have proven in the past, there is strategic and tactical business value waiting to be delivered.

However, not much was done to bring it into reality. Most of reporting functionality of PLM products is clunky. Significant effort needed to bring right data in the right form. In many situations, customers are using services to generate and run reports. I touched the topic of PLM analytics a year ago – What is the future of PLM data analytics? My main point back one year ago was about speed of report generating and analytic processing. I can see some changes in the recent time. PLM vendors are starting to focus on how to improve data access user experience and speed of reporting.

PLM vendors are not alone in the hunt for data analytics these days. Few weeks ago, Salesforce.com announced about their plans to democratize analytics and bring it to every user in a simple way. Navigate your browser to the following link to learn more about Salesforce Analytics Cloud powered by Wave technologies.

The following screenshot captured from Salesforce Analytics cloud website made me think Salesforce is not limiting analytics to CRM data. The vision of Salesforce Wave is much beyond – the plan is to reach out to data located on the desktop, public internet, social networks and enterprise applications. It includes partnership with other vendors too. Sort of grand vision…

sf-wave-cloud

It made me think about the role PLM vendors and PLM products will play in new analytics wave plans. My attention caught by PTC announcement – PTC Joins New Salesforce Analytics Cloud Ecosystem to Extend Internet of Things Technology.

PTC will use its PTC ThingWorx and PTC Axeda Machine Cloud® technology to extend Wave by providing access to streaming Internet of Things (IoT) data from smart, connected products. Specifically, the integration will empower PTC and Salesforce customers to view data generated in a unified experience. The insights gained from the data will allow business units across an organization to more easily develop data analytic strategies that deliver stronger business value to their customers.

CIMdata provided an additional insight on PTC and Salesforce partnership here. To me, the key thing is related to unified experience. That was the key missing part in business intelligence, reporting and other data extraction technologies developed in the past.

What is my conclusion? Salesforce made a huge platform step by introducing Salesforce Wave. However, the future success of Wave is dependent on data availability. How fast Salesforce will be able to provide access to data locked in other enterprise platforms? The value of mixing CRM and PLM data can be significant and it can help PLM vendors to bring customers to their platforms. However, to catch the wave can be a tricky part for PLM platforms. It will require significant shift in openness and state of mind. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM, demolishing silos and closed BOM loop

June 24, 2014

bom-closed-loop

Product development and manufacturing is getting more complex every day. The complexity comes from both direction – product definition complexity and globalization in manufacturing, supply and customer experience. As we move towards future cloud software, the importance of data platforms is growing even more. For the last 15-20 years, we are living in a realm of siloed and fragmented parts of business applications. Integration and connectivity heavily relies on integration services and expensive integration toolkits.

PLM vendors understand the importance of broader integration beyond engineering department. We can see it in the strategies and acquisition patterns. The following two examples can show you what I mean. Navigate to the following article by Engineering.com – "Demolish the silos in PLM": Why Dassault’s Bernard Charles believes in the 3D Experience is explaining the vision and strategy of Dassault. The following passage is my favorite:

The zero error BOM (Bill of Materials) demands a zero file solution. 3DEXPERIENCE brings the zero file world into the engineering environment; what we do is to connect directly to product data, not to files”. Every company has a promise to their customers and that promise is eventually realized through a value creation process that touches many different points within an organization. Now, to ensure that a brand promise is consistently and sustainably delivered it has to be managed across the entire enterprise, and we have assembled the necessary IT tools.” He adds that so far PLM has just been about helping companies to develop their products, ”But the world has moved beyond the product; the end-customers are demanding experiences around the product” and the secret of market success is to be able to innovate not only on the product, but also on the experience.

Another example came recently from PTC Live 2014 forum in Boston. The following blog post by Monica Schnitger gives you a very good outline and links to keynotes video recording. However, my attention was caught by another blog by Joe Barkai – Closed Loop PLM. Joe outlines PTC vision to connect important lifecycle tools in a single product lifecycle workflow. Here is the passage explaining that:

While the vision – and company executives acknowledged it’s still a vision rather than a product roadmap – is correct, the tools and “solutions” in PTC’s portfolio are separated by a noncontiguous business strategy (SLM and ThingWorx operate as separate business units), and by the lack of a digital backbone, shared data models, common taxonomies and unified workflows. It will be interesting to see how PTC is going to move from a strategically rich but fragmented portfolio to realizing a connected PLM architecture.

Sooner than later, PLM vendors will come with platform strategies and implementation that connecting complicated product lifecycle. Meantime, engineering, manufacturing, supply and consumer spaces are disconnected and can create some real problems. Few days ago, I stumbled on a very interesting article – Keep a sharp eye on SSD bill of materials by DIGISTOR. The article takes you to the reality of disconnected Bill of Materials between OEM manufacturers, suppliers and consumers. Read the article and draw your opinion. Here is my favorite passage

It appears that manufacturer PNY Technologies has committed the same sin, releasing SSDs with varying BoMs. A TweakTown reader contacted Ramseyer and described how the SSD that the individual purchased did not feature a BoM that matched up with one previously reviewed on the website. According to Ramseyer, that reader bought the PNY product because of his glowing assessment of its performance. Because of the shifting BoM, however, that individual’s SSD did not hit the same benchmarks. A representative from PNY admitted that the company had shipped out SSDs with disparate BoMs, qualifying the move by noting that all of its products fall within "minimum advertised performance levels." When manufacturers neglect to lock down the components within their BoMs, consumers and business users may wind up with a product that doesn’t meet their expectations.

What is my conclusion? To close product lifecycle loop from product requirements to actually physical devices with specific supplied components is a big challenge. It requires significant coordination and integration between applications and data sources. I can see the intent of PLM vendors to come with platforms and solutions. Cloud technologies will play a significant role in the way companies will try to demolish silos and synchronize data across multiple application boundaries. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Top PLM Vendors. Let’s face it – every vendor has its strength…

May 20, 2014

PLM-vendors-SWAT

One size doesn’t fit all. This is especially true in enterprise software. It also applies to engineering organization and manufacturing companies. Every organization is trying to come with a strategy how to organize engineering, product development, manufacturing, maintenance and other related functions. So, the same applies to PLM vendors. It is hard to make “apples to apples” comparison of PLM vendors and products. Details are important and without knowing small parts, it is hard to recommend as well as publish something that can be re-used in a general way. However, what to do if you need to choose or at least make some comparison of PLM vendors and their products? I’m sure you are familiar with SWOT analysis. It made me think about PLM vendors SWOT…

My first reaction was – no… this is probably mission impossible. In the past Gartner made Magic Quadrants. It provided a reliable source of information to compare software products and vendors. The last PLM Magic Quadrant (PLM MQ) I remember was done in 2007. I think Gartner stopped to produce them. I reproduced last PLM MQ in my blog – PLM Perfect Storm 2012. I hope you will agree with me – it is very hard to made any decision based on that chart.

PLM analyst Jim Brown from Tech Clarity produced a very interesting set of publications recently – Strategic visions of major PLM players. In addition to that, Jim also published separate articles describing PLM vision for Autodesk, Dassault Systems, PTC and Siemens PLM. It is a very good read – I certainly recommend you to spend few days analyzing what is strategic mind of key PLM vendors.

Honestly, I cannot see how possible to create a generic PLM vendors SWOT. Kill me if you want. A specific comparison can be done for one customer case or industry. Nevertheless, I didn’t want to give up and wanted to finish this post. It made me think about what is single top strength of every PLM vendor. Well, this is probably doable… Because, each of these top 4 vendors is doing many different things, I need to scope what I mean by PLM here. The agreement about “what is PLM?” is another interesting discussion topic. I won’t go there today. In current post, I limit PLM to what called cPDM (according to segmentation proposed by another analytic company – CIMdata).

So, too many disclaimers… This is a time to show things off. Here is the list of top 4 PLM vendors with single, most significant strength. I listed vendors alphabetically, to prevent any speculation about order or priorities.

1- Autodesk PLM

Autodesk is a new player in PLM market. Back in 2012, Autodesk introduced cloud PLM offering – PLM360. A combination of this story together with Autodesk broad reach in all industries and markets is clear advantage. So, here is Autodesk PLM strength: Autodesk PLM360 cloud story, channel and partnership opportunity.

2- Dassault Systems

The history of Dassault PLM is going back to first large PLM implementations Dassault made in aerospace and defense industry. In my view, Dassault focus was to create an ultimate integration story between CATIA products and related parts of data management and collaboration of ENOVIA. Thus, I can see CATIA-ENOVIA vertical integration as the major Dassault Systems’ PLM strength.

3- PTC

Originally started from Pro-E (now Creo) product line, PTC developed and acquired several PDM/PLM products. These days, PTC PLM offering relies on Windchill platform. Windchill is a very mature product that keeps the original pure web architecture. Windchill scalable product and architecture is clearly strongest part of PLM from PTC.

4- Siemens PLM

Siemens PLM has probably the largest PLM (cPDM) marketshare covered by multiple TeamCenter products developed in the past. These days, TeamCenter is Siemens PLM flagship platform absorbing all existing and new developed PLM products and customers. Therefore, I consider TeamCenter product line maturity and install base as the biggest strength of Siemens PLM.

What is my conclusion? What do you think? Do you agree with my analysis? PLM products are multifunctional. PLM industry is complex. I wanted to mention “single the most significant strength” that applies to both – company and product. Every specific case can bring additional aspects that can highlight variety of characteristics and product parameters. If you are selecting PLM now, I can recommend to read my old post – How to choose PLM? , which is a bit outdated (from 2010) and check another one – 7 rules for selecting PLM in 2014. Again, as usual, nothing scientific. These are only my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Update (22-May-2014)

As I expected, this post raised lots of comments. I appreciate all my readers that came back with comments and questions for the last 2 days since I published this post. The largest amount of comments addressed the absence of two products/vendors from the list – Oracle/Agile and SAP PLM.

5- Oracle / Agile PLM 

Historically, Oracle acquired Agile PLM, which was one of the biggest neutral (not involved into CAD-related business) PLM vendors. For the moment, the core strength of Agile PLM is Oracle market share and family of product as well as out of the box functionality related to BOM management.

6- SAP / PLM

The core strength of SAP PLM is the fact it comes from SAP. The usage of SAP in a company as a platform is long term strategic decision. As soon as company decides for SAP, the strength of PLM addition from SAP will allow to cover all aspects of product development processes that not involving design and engineering.

What is my conclusion (22-May-2014)? To create good comparison is an interesting work. Few months ago, I’ve been posted about Crowdsourcing and PLM consultants’ future. For the moment, I feel like this post is making real field test. Again, appreciate all comments that help to make this article better.

Another minor update for blog title. Number “4” is not relevant, so let’s get rid of it.

End of Update (22-May-2014)

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Disclaimer: I’m Autodesk employee now. In case you want to see it, here is my LinkedIn profile. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are my own only and in no way represent the views, positions or opinions – expressed or implied – of my employer (present and past).


Why and when to re-think PDM?

March 10, 2014

re-think-pdm

PDM (Product Data Management) isn’t a new discipline. Nevertheless, I think, PDM is going through the time of disruption and renaissance. Cloud, social and mobile technologies are changing the way we’ve been working in the past. From that side, I can see companies that trying to re-invent PDM with a new meaning and technologies. I’ve been discussing it few weeks ago in my post -Do we need a new TLA for PDM? On the other side, analysts and established CAD and PLM vendors are trying to restate the values of PDM solutions.

One of PDM value proposition "restates" just came across my reading list over the weekend. PTC Creo article PDM Capabilities: The Right Fit for Small Organizations written by Chad Jackson of Lifecycle Insight. Chad separates PDM into 3 distinct sets of data management capabilities: CAD Data Management, Engineering Data Management and Enterprise Data Management. I captured the following passage about CAD data management.

If a team is working simultaneously on a single design, CAD data management provides a means to control the chaos. Oftentimes, one design is dependent on another design, which can fall under the responsibility of two different designers or engineers. Without some means of tracking and controlling that change, individuals can quickly lose track of what their peers are doing.

However, I specially liked the recap:

CAD data management is a no-brainer for organizations of any size. Engineering data management is a natural fit for small organization as a means to organize the chaos of engineering. Enterprise data management, while beneficial to some organizations, is not worth the effort for smaller companies. The cost is not worth the return.

The article made me think again about current state of PDM. The challenging part of PDM for the last 20 years was to justify the cost of implementation and use of PDM combined with complex engineering workflow. Engineers don’t like data management. I was talking about it many times. For most of engineers, PDM is a software that slow their work and make their life complicated. Think about an engineer waiting until updated files is synchronized from the server in the morning or release of new 3D models is taking next 15-20 minutes. To put it gently, these examples are not very rare in CAD data management eco-system. Nevertheless, I’ve seen several PDM systems in the past 15 years that succeeded to find a decent balance of value vs. disturbance to engineers. Another aspect of PDM implementation is cost. For many (especially small) organizations, the cost of most existing PDM implementation is too high. Therefore, we still can see lots of organizations managing CAD files using shared network folders and excel spreadsheets.

I want to come to questions from the title of this post – why and when companies may decide to re-think their existing PDM strategies? I’d like to separate all options in the three groups: 1-we don’t need PDM; 2-we need PDM, but it is too costly; 3-PDM is part of larger PLM/Data management strategy.

1- We don’t need PDM.

This is a typical situation in very small engineering firms or micro-engineering departments in large companies. The status quo is okay for them. They are busy with everyday tasks and don’t want to look on new tech. What can make them to re-think PDM? In my view, it will come with the influence of external factors. Web, globalization, speed of changes and other factors can turn these companies to think about PDM values.

2- We need PDM, but it is too costly.

I can see many medium-size companies in this category. Usually, they outgrew their network/file sharing capabilities and have a pressure to make some order in data management. However, for some reasons budget restrictions and value/cost justification make them feel wrong about current PDM solutions. One possible solution for these companies is to buy PDM systems bundled with CAD system they use. It will be probably the most cost effective. For many of these companies CAD-PDM bundle will be a decent solution to solve their problems. However, another option is "to re-think" and bring new PDM solution with lower TCO and improved workflow for engineers.

3- PDM is part of larger PLM/Data management strategy.

Mostly large companies are coming into this category. For them, PDM is a part in the overall solution puzzle. These companies are looking about overall business processes, connectivity, multiple systems and global IT cost. These companies can be good partners to work for the future. Some of them can be good thinker how to re-invent PDM. However, don’t expect fast decisions here. To establish right strategy for them is an ultimate priority.

What is my conclusion? In my view, PDM is going to change. However, the speed of changes in engineering and manufacturing industry is very slow. Therefore, don’t expect everything to change tomorrow. Existing systems will keep serving us for coming years. At the same, time new systems potentially can make engineers’ life easier. The focus on improvements of engineering workflow and longevity of solutions is something you should consider when analyzing opportunity to bring new or change your existing PDMs. Just my thoughts..

Best, Oleg


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