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


How to rethink PLM workflows?

October 20, 2014

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Workflows and processes. This is an important part of any company. Like blood goes through your body, workflows are going through a company and beyond. Couple of months before, I posted by ultimate PLM workflow dream. It came as a part of my thinking about "un-bundling services". My idea was to publish list of features workflow (process management) that can be used as an independent service.

Many businesses were created with the vision to improve processes and to support business workflow. However, email is still one of the key elements of every workflow and business process management system implementation. How to move from emails and messages to collaboration – in my view, this is one of the most critical elements that can help to streamline PLM workflows. Because of ubiquity, email remains one of the most widely used engines behind companies’ workflow. One of the ideas I discussed earlier was to connect emails and workflow – how to turn email into actionable workflows.

Over the weekend, I was skimming through the article – 10 Trends Transforming Enterprise IT by TechCrunch. The trend that caught my attention was #6 – Reimagining enterprise workflows. Read the following passage:

Widespread adoption of mobile devices has led to more efficient enterprise workflows. Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff recently said he runs his whole business from his phone. This gets easier every day. Whether it is quickly turning around business documents via the e-signature application DocuSign or fine-tuning scheduling and route optimization for people in the field via ServiceMax, mobile applications are reinventing and automating processes across the enterprise, enabling work to get done faster and smarter.

Here is the article referencing Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff statement earlier this year.

"I run my business entirely on my phone," CEO Marc Benioff said. "I believe this is the future." As companies store less and less data on site, more will no longer need desktops, he said.

It made me think about changing roles between email and mobile. One of the biggest early successes of mobile computing was to turn business email into mobile service. I’ve been using one with my old Blackberry and it was very reliable. Here is the thing. Mobile devices are more ubiquitous today than email. Mobile applications can be easier and more intuitive compared to the list of emails in my inbox. Mobile can be a service that can help to rethink PLM workflows bypassing email and existing complex business suites.

What is my conclusion? We need to learn how to break things that preventing us from moving forward. Email is one of them. In the past, we asked to connect every PLM workflow to the email. That was our desire to have a single point of communication. Today, our mobile phone is our single point of communication and it is more powerful than our desktop computer 10 years ago. People don’t have to be connected to their desks. Therefore, to disrupt PLM workflows by making them completely mobile can be an interesting option. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


The Role of PLM in Hollow Corporations

February 5, 2014

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Do you know what means "hollow corporation"? My readers from UK and Europe should be familiar with the term. This is a model for a company that outsource majority of their production activity. A compatible U.S. buzzword is "virtual business". There are few references defining what is "hollow corporation". Business glossary here defines it as a business in which "important elements are outsourced to subcontractors". Ten years old article brings the main two drivers behind the Hollow Corporations trend – globalization and technology. Here is the passage I liked:

Component tasks can be performed anywhere in the world. People in diverse parts of the globe working on common technology platforms provided by Microsoft and Google can now share work product seamlessly. They can communicate easily and cheaply across long distances due to undersea fiber optic cables. Through technology, distance between workers is no longer the limitation it was once.

However, I can see virtual corporation trend goes much beyond tech companies such as Google and Microsoft. Wikipedia link to "virtual business" brings another set of definitions I found useful. Among few of them "virtual enterprise" is the most interesting:

A virtual enterprise is a network of independent companies—suppliers, customers, competitors, linked by information technology to share skills, costs, and access to one another’s markets. Such organizations are usually formed on the basis of a cooperative agreement with little or no hierarchy or vertical integration. This flexible structure minimizes the impact of the agreement on the participants’ individual organizations and facilitates adding new participants with new skills and resources. Such arrangements are usually temporary and dissolve once a common goal is achieved. A virtual enterprise is rarely associated with an independent legal corporation or brick and mortar identity of its own.

The pioneers of virtual business came from internet space. You may think about Amazon and other virtual booksellers as an example of very successful virtual businesses connecting buyers and sellers only by using technologies and internet. However, I can see manufacturing companies are actively embracing virtual corporation space too. In my view, expression "hollow corporation" is getting new meaning these days in manufacturing world. Company like Nike took a new type of relationships with suppliers and created a new type of business. Many other manufacturers across the globe took the concept of delivering new innovative products combined with high efficiency of supply chain networks.

The last fact made me think about future role of PLM in such type of corporations. Typical vertically integrated manufacturing company is centralized around manufacturing planning control (MPC) system. This is a central place and main system in manufacturing universe. These days MPC functions are typically implemented as part of commercial ERP systems. The main purpose of vertical integration is to put manufactured products out of production lines. With new concept of virtual corporations, the manufacturing center of gravity is moving towards suppliers and outsource manufacturers. It puts product development in focus and makes a lot of sense to bring PLM system to manage design, product portfolios, configurations and coordinate it with customer demand and customer focus.

What is my conclusion? Industry landscape is changing these days and it brings new requirements for computer systems in engineering and manufacturing. Vertically integrated manufacturing model is changing towards more flexible networks that can react fast on customer demands. I can see a clear trend towards optimizing supply chain networks and outsource manufacturing facilities. Customers want more specialized products, lower cost and fast delivery. It brings new challenges for manufacturing and opportunities for PLM systems to establish new type of product development. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM and development of industrial internet

January 10, 2014

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Management of product data was always a first and most important imperative for PLM solutions. Depends on vendor strategy and various historical reasons, vendors are focusing on different dimensions of data – CAD design, bill of materials, manufacturing data, supply chain, etc. Regardless on the priority and marketing differentiation, any PLM solution today is trying to cover all data dimensions I mentioned above.

The ease and flexibility of data management is what makes some PLM solutions shine better than others. At the end of the day, customers are expecting PLM solution to provide out-of-the-box yet flexible data model to support CAD, Bill of Material, Part, ECO, Simulation and sometimes other data as well. The last one (Simulation) was actually very challenging piece for PLM vendors. To manage significant amount of simulation data together with CAD and BOM data is not a simple tasks. Some vendors built simulation process management solutions for that purpose.

However, PLM vendors might be caught by something unknown and unexpected. New tsunami of data is expected in manufacturing world. Yesterday, I was talking about IoT trend here. Earlier this morning I was drinking my coffee and skimming Manufacturing Trends to Watch in 2014 article. One of them, caught my attention – The ‘Industrial Internet’ Will Flourish. Here is the passage I specially liked:

If you think the data generated by today’s back office, MES, control, supply chain, and warehouse management systems is overwhelming, just wait. Increasingly, manufactured products from cars to airplane engines to medical devices are being outfitted with sensors and Internet connectivity that allow them to broadcast back to manufacturers information on things like how they’re being used and why they broke, and when they need to be serviced. In fact, it’s estimated that, by 2020, 40% of all data generated will come from such sensors. GE calls this trend the Industrial Internet and estimates that it will add between $10 trillion and $15 trillion to global GDP in coming years.

It made me think, PLM data architecture can be challenged by the wave of data that can be compared to Google and Facebook scale. To process, store, access and analyze this data will take time and resources. Traditional SQL databases will be probably not an ideal solution, which brings me back to my writeup about PLM and Data Management in 21st century.

What is my conclusion? The amount of data is growing exponentially. Soon we will be coming to Yottabytes of data. Industrial internet alert should be a wake-up call for many PLM vendors to think about future data architectures. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

* image credit to trainordaviesdesign.com


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