Growth hacking PLM sales

July 1, 2015

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Enterprise sales is one of the most conservative things in sales eco-system. Despite many changes that happened in our life for the last 10-15 years, this particular experience doesn’t change much. You probably heard best recommendation about how to stop “PLM sales” calling you – buy something from these guys. To sell multimillion dollar PLM deal to large manufacturing OEM is an art performance by a group of people mostly combined from a diversely skilled sales people with heavy support of management, development and… marketing. Let speak about last one – marketing. Do we really need one

Engineering.com article – The role of marketing in complex solution sales brings a perspective on how modern digital marketing can help to sell complex PLM solutions. In a nutshell, I can summarize it as a creation of a credible story that can help sales people to make a sale. Few passages below can give you a feeling about what is that.

Some prospects that the sales team has not reached may identify themselves by reading thought leadership stories and realizing a PLM system may be what they needMarketing creates awareness among the decision makers who may not have heard of your solution. Marketing creates the content that helps prospects understand the value of a new solution. Thought leadership is a big part of the marketing mix for many engineering solution vendors. They routinely send speakers to conferences, for example, to demonstrate their command of technical challenges. These presentations translate very well to digital marketing, either as sponsored posts in trusted publications or as webinar presentations.

Nothing bad with creating of credible story. For a long time marketing was about how to amplify messages from vendor to customer. So, you may think about new digital technologies as a set of new tools that came to help traditional marketing to amplify their voices.

Here is thing – this wrong and old approach. To use modern content marketing with a traditional sales approach is like to put a lipstick on a pig. Guess what… it is still a pig. Few years ago, Andrew Chen wrote in his blog back 2012 – Growth Hacker is a new VP Marketing. If you never heard about growth hacking, navigate here to read more. The following passage can give you some perspective:

This isn’t just a single role – the entire marketing team is being disrupted. Rather than a VP of Marketing with a bunch of non-technical marketers reporting to them, instead growth hackers are engineers leading teams of engineers. The process of integrating and optimizing your product to a big platform requires a blurring of lines between marketing, product, and engineering, so that they work together to make the product market itself. Projects like email deliverability, page-load times, and Facebook sign-in are no longer technical or design decisions – instead they are offensive weapons to win in the market.

It made me think that new marketing approach can disrupt existing PLM paradigm of selling and implementing PLM products. Most of PLM products today are first sold and then implemented by customers. This process requires a lot of effort from customers to grasp around the PLM idea and thinking how to apply it in an organization. Growth hacking can change it. Few years ago, I posted – How to ditch old PLM marketing and friend engineers. It could be part of growth hacking for PLM sales.

What is my conclusion? Growth hacking can be an important moment for PLM software. By disrupting a traditional marketing and sales roles, growth hacking can change the core paradigm of PLM products – to change the way companies are doing business. Instead of that, the culture of growth hacking will introduce a practice of learning from customers and discovering opportunities to sell products solving customer problems. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of sattva at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 



PLM vendors are in risk to follow ERP dinosaurs

June 22, 2015

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When it comes to PLM and ERP, you may always get some feeling of rivalry at the air. PLM and ERP domains are not competing. However, ERP and PLM vendors are clearly competing for customers strategic mindset. After all, it always comes to the competition for strategic budget allocation.

For many years ERP vendors came first to the corner office of CIO. These days some ERP dinosaurs are fighting for surviving in a new era of cloud computing and SaaS software. Toolbox.com article – 6 Reasons Why The Dinosaurs of ERP Are About To Go Extinct provides an interesting perspective on what happens in ERP software domain and industries today. 6 reasons in the article is the answer why traditional on-prem software solutions provided by companies like PeopleSoft are eaten by rivalry of cloud newcomers.

The article made me think about trajectory of some implementations and vendors in PLM domain. I can clearly see some similarities. Do you think some 20-30 years old PLM vendors will follow the path of the dinosaurs of ERP? Here are some of my thoughts about PLM domain and on-prem / cloud trends.

1- Old platforms need to retire

For the last 15-20 years, manufacturing companies adopted 2-3 generations of PLM software. For some of them (especially very large companies), the process of adoption was long and expensive. It took time to align processes and systems together. At the same time, technology is moving forward. To move forward, many customers need to drop old products and move to support new operational systems, hardware, devices, internet browsers, etc. It is obviously raises a question of how to retire old platforms. But this is a very painful question for many companies.

2- IT managers and upgrades

Upgrades are painful and IT is the department that traditionally spending a lot of resources and cost to upgrade all systems for a company. Cloud systems are going to change it. Since data centers and cloud infrastructure are owned by software vendors, they are also taking responsibilities for the upgrade. Some innovative PLM vendors such as Aras is including upgrades into their subscription also on on-prem installations.

3- Mobile and site independence

Our working environment is changing. 10-15 years ago, out work was mostly on site. These days the workforce is distributed. People don’t need to be at their desk to do a job. Multiple locations is a reality even for small companies. Mobile devices are in everyone pocket. To have a system that capable to work in such environment is an imperative for every company.

4- How to get small customers on board

PLM vendors made multiple attempt to provide a solution for smaller companies. It never worked. I can list number of products that were announced, retired and discontinued. However, the importance of smaller companies will only increase. New technologies and online market communities are making smaller manufacturing more competitive. It will bring an additional need for cloud PLM systems.

What is my conclusion? Manufacturing companies are slow in their adoption of new technologies. PLM never been a first place to innovate for cloud companies. But the reality of the outside world and online business are bringing manufacturing companies to the point that they will need to have a competitive software for product development and manufacturing. Old systems won’t survive and will have to retire. It is a time for PLM vendors to think about innovation and new platforms. Otherwise, it might to be too late to build and too expensive to buy. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM without buzzwords

May 17, 2015

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I’m in Dallas, TX for the next few days to attend Siemens PLM Connection 2015 conference. Teamcenter is one of the oldest brands in PLM software and I’m looking forward to learn more about that. One of the things that concerning me in PLM industry is a lack of differentiations. If you remember, my post few weeks ago – PLM and VC firms are facing the same problems – lack of differentiation. On my way to Dallas, I downloaded Siemens PLM Connection agenda here. What surprised me is that it wasn’t overloaded with modern buzzwords. Maybe it is just old fashion. Who knows… I’m still not sure if I like it or not. But sometimes, too many buzzwords are creating bad feeling before the event. You probably remember my blog post following CIMdata forum in Ann Arbor – Cloud is not the way to re-think PLM. Then what?

In my view, we are paying to much attention to trends and the opportunities behind applying buzzwords to describe what we do. Earlier today, I was listening to This week in Startups video with Peter Thiel. The video is a bit long and probably not relevant in all parts for PLM community. However, one part, which is related to “trends and buzzwords” is must see to every person involved in PLM development.

The passage that caught my attention was about buzzwords and trends. Here are notes from the video- you can see them here.

Peter is always skeptical of sectors and trends.People always ask him what trends he sees for the future, and he never likes the question because he is not a prophet and doesn’t think the future is fixed in that sort of way. All trends are overrated. For example – healthcare, IT, location software, etc – these are all somewhat overrated.SaaS is pretty badly overrated. And if you hear the words big data and cloud computing you need to run away as fast as you possibly can. Conversely, the things that are underrated are the things that have no buzzwords and don’t fit in to any pre-existing categories. Here is the statement where proliferation of buzzwords is going to extreme – “I’m building a mobile platform for SaaS enterprises to do big data in the cloud.

What is my conclusion? We need to remove buzzwords from the lexicon of PLM applications. Many of the things PLM industry does is badly and deeply engaged with TLAs and buzzwords. I can see in the future engineering and manufacturing software without buzzword thinking about differentiations. Companies that will be able to runaway from buzzwords, will be winning future PLM competition game. It will probably include removing of “PLM” buzzword too. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 


PLM has a weak point in cloud-based supply chain

March 24, 2015

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My attention was caught by Manufacturing Trends to watch in 2015 article written by Jeff Moad at Manufacturing Leadership Community. I missed that writing few months ago when it was published. I found one of them very interesting – The Rise of Cloud-based Supply Chain. Here is a passage from the article:

The Rise of Cloud-based Supply Chains. As the manufacturing landscape becomes more interconnected and interdependent, requiring close cooperative links with multiple supply chain partners in multiple locations for materials, parts production and the support of new multi-channel services, companies will increasingly adopt cloud and more predictive web-based supply chain software to help manage and swiftly reconfigure their networks to gain real-time visibility, cut time-to-market, and respond faster to customer changes and potentially disruptive political and natural risks.

It made me think again about new enterprise software reality for PLM vendors and changes in manufacturing eco-system. The interconnected manufacturing landscape is a key. It gives an interesting opportunity for software vendors thinking about cloud software as a platform, rather than a bunch of servers hosted elsewhere. At the same time, it raises many questions about how new generation of enterprise software will handle modern people and organization paradigm. One of the challenges for many PLM products and platforms is related to their ability to manage multiple organizations in distributed networks. Which can be a weak point for many of them to capture cloud-based supply chain opportunity.

What is my conclusion? Modern PLM software can embrace new paradigm of interconnected and interdependent manufacturing environment. This is quite different from traditional environments of OEMs and suppliers. The ability to manage distributed processes will become critical and can be one of the future differentiators for some PLM vendors. It looks like born in the cloud PLM technologies can gain some advantages here. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of cooldesign at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


PLM and changes in manufacturing eco-system

February 23, 2015

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In my previous post, I summarized changes in enterprise software that are going to influence a future of PLM. But enterprise software is not only thing that impacting PLM. A lot of new things are happening in manufacturing itself. You probably heard about “new industrial revolution”, “Manufacturing 4.0″, “makers movement”, etc. It is hard to put right tags on every new thing and classify them. I also think it is too early. However, there is one thing clear to me – changes are coming. These changes will impact the overall manufacturing eco-system and status-quo. What will be a manufacturing environment of the future and how it will impact product lifecycle management?

I’ve been trying to capture 3 most important trends I’m observing related to fundamental changes in manufacturing:

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1- Global. Manufacturing business is going global in many ways. It is impossible to imagine manufacturing company these days that is completely disconnected from rest of the world. Small manufacturing firms are multi-located, using rich supply network and manufacturing facilities. Even more interesting, the smaller size you go, the dependencies is getting more interesting. Individual makers, mini-factories are getting even more power and distribution efficiency.

2- Agile network. In many places, hierarchical structures are displaced with the power of network. It is a very interesting, since size won’t matter in the future. Network is more powerful compared to single hierarchical manufacturing structure. The power of communities for manufacturing is yet to be discovered.

3- IP paradigm changes. Manufacturing is going to challenge one of the most fundamental thing – IP ownership. Traditionally companies are owners of IP on manufactured things. Patents, trade secrets, design and manufacturing techniques protection. These are things we are familiar with. What is coming? Manufacturing companies such as Tesla are opening patent portfolios. Open Source Hardware is new trend that you can find similar to Open Source Software. The last one changed the landscape of software as we knew before. How OSHW will change manufacturing?

What is my conclusion? The new manufacturing eco-system is building up in front of us. It comes in many ways as combination of new possibilities of digital manufacturing, 3D printing, scaling, etc. It brings fundamental changes in the process of manufacturing, product development and innovation. Small is a new big. Digital technologies are going to amplify manufacturing potential similar how back 18th century first industrial revolution replaced human power with machine power. The new manufacturing will be built on top of new principles of globalization, networks and open IP. The shift towards networks from centralized databases, open communities with open source hardware and others can influence existing PLM paradigms. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Idea go at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


[Live] Irregular thoughts about PLM when skiing at high altitudes

February 17, 2015

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[Updated 18-Feb-2015]

I’ve been thinking about my blogging pattern this week. Taking time off, it is hard to keep up with a regular daily post schedule. However, it is hard to disconnect from PLM ideas completely. So, I decided to do something new.  I’m coming with one “live blog” with some irregular thoughts about PLM. I will keep it run for the whole week while I’m on vacation.

High altitude skiing

After very-very long break I came to the challenge of high-altitude ski experience. If you’re interested in more details, take a look here. I found an interesting comparison of highest ski resorts. China, Bolivia and India were not an option :). So, here are few last pictures from Zermatt:

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Coming back to my beyond PLM thoughts…

What changed in enterprise software

Let me step back and talk about enterprise software before discussing PLM this week. Enterprise software is going through a number of significant changes. I remember one of slides from my presentation three years ago from PLM Innovation 2012. Enterprise IT will be on fire – revolution is coming. I think, it became obvious these days. We see it everywhere.

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So, here is my summary of what changes I’m observing in enterprise software these days.

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1- Distributed. Nothing happens these days in a single place. Regardless on what type of company and industry sector are you working, you have to deal with the situation when you customers, partners, suppliers, engineers, manufacturing facilities are located everywhere. This is a new reality and it is getting reflected into enterprise software.

2- Connected. Another thing. People need answer now, at the right moment. People are expecting a different speed from business and enterprise software must provide an answer. Social networks and web disrupted the way enterprises are operating nowadays. Everyone is staying connected.

3- Cloud. Enterprise moved from discussion about cloud into practical implementation of cloud software. It is not about why to implement cloud. It is about how to do it right. Enterprise software vendors and their customers are looking how to find a right solution for today and tomorrow.

Enterprise software is not only thing that changing these days. What happens with manufacturing is even more interesting. It looks like we are going to observe a significant shift in manufacturing. Are we going to see a different manufacturing environment soon? Moving from mass production to mass-customization?

What is changing in manufacturing

A lot of new things are happening these days in manufacturing. You can hear about “new industrial revolution”, “Manufacturing 4.0″, “makers movement”, etc. It is hard to put right tags on every new thing and classify them. I also think it is too early. However, there is one thing clear to me – changes are coming. I’ve been trying to capture 3 most important things (trends) that I see around:

what-changing-in-mfg-1

1- Global. Manufacturing business is going global in many ways. It is impossible to imagine manufacturing company these days that is completely disconnected from rest of the world. Small manufacturing firms are multi-located, using rich supply network and manufacturing facilities. Even more interesting, the smaller size you go, the dependencies is getting more interesting. Individual makers, mini-factories are getting even more power and distribution efficiency.

2- Agile network. In many places, hierarchical structures are displaced with  the power of network. It is a very interesting, since size won’t matter in the future. Network is more powerful compared to single hierarchical manufacturing structure. The power of communities for manufacturing is yet to be discovered.

3- IP paradigm changes. Manufacturing is going to challenge one of the most fundamental thing – IP ownership. Traditionally companies are owners of IP on manufactured things. Patents, trade secrets, design and manufacturing techniques protection. These are things we are familiar with. What is coming? Manufacturing companies such as Tesla are opening patent portfolios. Open Source Hardware is new trend that you can find similar to Open Source Software. The last one changed the landscape of software as we knew before. How OSHW will change manufacturing?

Technology and next PLM platforms 

Another topic to discuss is technology. Even, technology is less considered as a problem in most of PLM implementation, my hunch it is probably not true and requires some redefinition and clarification. All existing PLM products are developed on top of existing database technological stacks. Nothing wrong with that, but here is a problem – the scale. The amount of data PLM systems have to handle is growing in scale and reach too. The second is an interesting, in my view. Manufacturing companies are dependent on significant amount of information originated and maintained outside of organization – product catalogs, supplier and other reference information. In addition to that, in many situations, the data is owned by multiple companies – not a single OEM. How traditional PLM platforms will handle that?

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Devops will change PLM paradigm

Have you heard about DevOps? If not, I recommend you to put aside whatever you do and close this educational gap. It is well known in software development and it is essentially a combination of two terms – “development” and “operations”. It became popular and it is a result of massive introduction of new software development practices combined with cloud operations. Few months ago, I mentioned devops in my post – Why to ask your cloud PLM vendor about devops and kubernetes?

I’ve been thinking more about Devops earlier today on slopes. Business insider article Today’s IT department is in fight for its life helped me to bring my thoughts to clarity. Here is my favorite passage.

Devops is all about how do things faster,” Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst tells Business Insider. It’s the IT department’s version of Facebook’s famous mantra “go fast and break stuff.”  IT departments say they had better figure out how to be faster, cheaper, and better. If they don’t, the company’s employees will no longer depend on them. They bring their own PCs, tablets and phones to work and they buy whatever cloud services they want to do their jobs. And the CIO will find his budget increasingly shifted to other manager’s pockets.

“Like the manufacturers were in the 1970s and 1980s were fighting for their lives, today’s IT departments are going to fight for their survival,” Whitehurst says. Traditional IT departments are slow and methodical. Rule no. 1 was to never bring the systems down. They would take months, even years, to roll out new new software, testing everything carefully, often spending millions in the process. Devops eliminates that. Instead, IT departments tear their projects apart into teeny components that can be implemented in tiny changes every day.

The last phrase is a key one. How to tear projects apart into teeny components to be implemented in tiny changes. It made me think about existing PLM implementation paradigm.  It heavily relies on long planning cycle and business department alignment. Once this planning made, implementation takes long time and put ROI in absolutely wrong place from what organizations are demanding it to be.

So, how PLM can adopt new way to do things? It requires 3 main changes – 1/ To change state of mind. Don’t think “one big implementation”. Opposite to that, think about small steps that will make business better, faster, efficient. 2/ To bring new PLM biz development tools that can help organizations to plan into small steps. 3/ To make PLM platform capable to function in Devops mode. It  requires new type of data modeling, deployment and monitoring tools.

More to come, but I think, Devops ideas can inspire and educate PLM developers to think differently. How to develop PLM practices in a different way. How to bring a new feature in a day and how to test changes for the next hour. These are questions PLM business consulting, developers and business consulting should ask about.

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To be continued during the week.

No conclusion yet. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Wirearchy picture credit.

 


What will influence PLM in 2015?

November 21, 2014

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2015 is just around the corner. Typically, it is a good time to come with some ideas about what are those trends that will become visible and important for the industry. Today, I want to look in my crystal ball and think what are trends that will influence product lifecycle management strategies, products, vendors and customers in 2015. I want to come with my top 3 – user experience, mobile and big data/analytics.

1. User friendly interfaces, better user experience and ease of implementation

User experience and new UI design becomes a norm. Ugly enterprise software is a thing in the past. Vendors are face-lifting existing products and setting really high bar for new software. Personalization, screen simplification, on-boarding scenarios and overall user friendliness are coming into play. Nevertheless, I don’t expect PLM products to change fundamentally in 2015. Behind the scene, PLM products still remain ugly and complex. However, outside facade is clearly improving, which is really good sign for customers. Another aspect of user-friendliness is related to industry vertical and tailoring. To come with predefined user scenarios, data models and implementation practices will become a norm. Nobody wants to start to implement from scratch.

2. Mobile access to information

Total acceptance of mobile devices is not leaving any space to vendors to ignore and avoid it. There is no time to think how to deliver mobile experience. Customers are expecting mobile access for anything. It is a challenge for many vendors. At the same time, mobile development today is not magic rocket science. So, I’m expecting to see growing number of mobile solutions coming from PLM vendors. Another part of mobile solution is related to ability of vendors to come with a specific mobile experience. It will become less about "just mobile app doing the same our product does", but about apps that supports new way of work – mobile.

3. Big data & analytics

Big data is a huge trend- lot of buzz and hype is going around that. Until now, most of PLM customers were not much involved into big data activities. However, turns out, big data trend is reshaping into very useful data analysis projects. And from that standpoint, many PLM customers are getting very much interested in results. To get insight on quality of processes, product usage, customer services – this is only a very short list of topics where analytics and big data can help. I’m expecting appearance of many "smart data analytic" products that can bring value on top of what PLM products are doing today.

What is my conclusion? I guess we are going to see many other smaller trends in 2015. Some technologies are getting matured, company will come with new set of products and technologies. Also, I can see some bigger scale development and trend that will become a cross multi-year initiatives. However, these 3 things- user experience, mobile and big data are things that will influence on how PLM products will be shaped in 2015. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

photo credit: april-mo via photopin cc


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