What will influence PLM in 2015?

November 21, 2014

plm-2015-influencers

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

plm-mobile-workflow

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

plm-global-business-trend

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

industrial-internet-plm

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


PLM and Unknown Unknowns Use Cases

April 30, 2013

Recent tragic event in Boston, raised again the question about critical role of real time information integration. You may think, it is not something that related to engineering and manufacturing software. Until recent time, I’ve seen it exactly in the same way. However, with the latest trends in the developing of data and information systems, I can see how big data, data analytic and analyzes can be used by business enterprise software too. Getting back to events of 9/11, Donald Rumsfeld, US Secretary of State for Defence, stated at a briefing: ‘There are known knowns. There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don’t know.’ Originally “unknown unknowns” statement was considered as a nonsense. However, if we think twice, the concept of unknown unknowns might be relevant to many companies in manufacturing.

One of the key roles of PLM these days is to help companies to innovate. There are some many definitions of “innovation”. You can think about innovating organization, innovative processes. Here is the thing. Most of companies these days are afraid about how not to get “surprised” by innovation coming from unknown innovators, competitors and other factors – new economic condition, financial impacts, new product segments, cross domain innovation, etc.

In my view, the key element of preventing “unknown unknowns” impact is to get better analyzes of the data in your company and outside. Companies owns a lot of data business data, stored in databases and mainframes behind the firewall. This is “known knowns” because in this area business decisions are generally made based on historical data. This is where PLM/PDM operates today. There are lots of data that mostly unstructured and resides in emails, blogs, internet, websites, etc. This is a place of “known unknowns”. Companies dealing with big data and some others are trying to solve today. The biggest danger is coming from unknown unknowns. We need a solution to fix it.

What is my conclusion? There are many things that can influence manufacturing organizations. We live in a very dynamic world. Market conditions are changing, new competitors are entering market in a very disruptive way, financial market influence, employees turnover. These are “unknown unknowns” of PLM and future innovative solutions software vendors can come with to market. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM priorities and Gartner IT’s Top 10 Tech Trends for 2013

November 2, 2012

As we move towards the end of the year, we will see more posts with trends’ reviews for 2013. While it is really hard to predict “next big things”, these posts usually provide a good perspective on what is going on. Earlier this week, my attention caught by Gartner’s Top 10 strategic tech for 2013 publication. Navigate to the following link in PC Magazine Forward Thinking publication to review details. You can see the picture with top 10 techs below.

It made me think about some interesting intersections of these trends with the priorities of engineering applications and specifically PLM technologies and systems.

Mobile Technologies and HTML5

The question about what will become a preferable technology for mobile and web browsers will continue to be dominant in PLM development eco-system. The complexity of the systems is high. Therefore, vendors will be slow to adopt every change. I believe vendors will try first to concentrate on the supported versions of browsers. Old browsers are easier to reject. Native mobile apps is something more complicated. Most of consumers prefer native mobile apps and not browsers. Therefore, the improvement of HTML5 technologies can be an advantage for PLM vendors considering mobile options.

Enterprise App Stores

Introducing of cloud and mobile apps is raising a question about the future of application distribution. IT will need a tool(s) to distribute new type of application in organizations. App store is a fascinating idea and the majority of people these days actually “got this”. In my view, the challenge will be to balance between chaotic nature of consumer app stores (Apple, Google) and more structured way enterprise IT wants to distribute application to customers. PLM vendors traditionally survive from a problem how to expand usage of PLM tools in organizations. So, App store can be a good idea to fix it.

Internet of Things

This is very fascinating topic. You might be interested to read one of my earlier blog posts. We have more products (things) that connected to the network and starting to communicate online. How it can be connected to PLM? In my opinion, the connection is in a ‘lifecycle’. Today PLM is heavily involved into design and engineering. Less in manufacturing. However, what about the lifecycle of the products after they’re built in a factory and sold, delivered to actual customers. This is a space we are going to discover in a near future. iPhone controlled bulbs is just a beginning.

Hybrid IT and Cloud computing

Traditionally, companies are working with IT departments to get things done. PLM is not different in that sense. Servers need to be configured, routers connected, software installed and updated. This is how a traditional eco-system looks like. At the same time, cloud is coming, which means no servers, no software, no updates. Even if cloud software will become widely adopted, companies will be running a lot of applications and software on premise for a very long period of time. So, how IT will be re-organized around this environment? How we will consume our “granular PLM apps”?

Strategic Big Data

There are lot of confusion around Big Data topic. Here is the big data definition from Gartner’s report – Cearley continued to define big data as dealing not just with volume, but also with variety, velocity, and the complexity of data an organization is dealing with. He talked about managing both internal and external data, and talked about how technologies such as Hadoop may be a big part, but only a part, of it. Big Data certainly open horizons to get more information about product and improve quality of the products from the standpoint that cannot be achieved now.

What is my conclusion? In my view, enterprise software technologies are going through a significant change now. Many software systems in engineering and manufacturing sector are approaching end of their lifecycle. It is a time for vendors to provide new cost-effective solutions targeting new user experience and different IT eco-system. Cost and user experience is one segment where lots of improvements can be made. Another one is data – customers will be actively looking for additional information about products and customers. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM, Cupcakes and Blind Spotting

June 19, 2012

Let me ask you this… Is there a connection between PLM and Cupcakes? I hope I’ve got your attention for a minute :). One of the questions PLM industry is struggling for a long period of time is awareness. PLM long time industry opponents ERPs are well positioned to get attention of CIOs and other executives in the companies. At the same time, speak to any PLM-related person about PLM awareness, and you will be immediately attacked by a long list of facts that supposed to convince you PLM is the first thing you need to implement in order to improve your business. Getting back to the original question about PLM and Cupcakes, one of my best blogging and twitting buddies, Jim McKenney posted in his PLM on my brainfew months ago an interesting blog post called – Who needs Product Lifecycle Management? The following passage is my favorite:

People seemingly cannot agree on who really needs Product Lifecycle Management, or PLM.  What is my response? EVERY business needs PLM! Why, you ask, well, let me tell you. Every business has a large pile of information that supports their products. It may be in the form of paper, but thankfully today, most businesses have a large amount of digital information that supports their business. Managing that virtual information is what allows the company to continue delivering products and support to their customers. PLM is all about managing virtual information to support physical products.

Later in his post, Jim is coming to the “cupcakes story” explaining why every company needs PLM. You can replace “cupcakes” with anything else – cars, airplanes, computers, food, etc. and it won’t change a story. The fact how people convinced themselves about the need of PLM is interesting to observe. As a result of this, PLM solutions’ appetites are growing, and many additional solutions become part of PLM portfolios.

Another thing that very often came in conversations about PLM is “change”. The company must change their processes, behaviors, organization, systems, etc. to successfully implement PLM systems. Another PLM blogger I admire – Jos Voskuil often writes about people’s aspect of PLM. In one of the last posts in his virtualdutchman blog – The State of PLM after 4 years blogging Jos is saying: I believe PLM requires a change in an organization not only from the IT perspective but more important from the way people will work in an organization and the new processes they require.

The aspect of change and the question about PLM awareness made me think about “blind spotting”. Everybody knows what is blind spot when you drive your car. However, this is not exactly what I want to talk about. I’ve got my exposure to the topic of blind spotting two years ago during COFES 2010 when I attended a lecture of Peter Marks about the same topic. I put a video record of this session. It is longer than a usual video I put in my posts. Keep it for coming 4th of July week and watch it. I’m sure you will learn a lot as I did.

Peter Marks lecture about Blind Spotting at COFES 2010

Just to capture an idea of what Peter Marks is talking about I want to refer you to the article where Peter is answering 3 questions about blind spotting. Navigate here and have a read. Here is the question that caught my special attention. Peter is talking about what blind spot will make a biggest difference to us:

It’s probably the extension of our innate territoriality to territories of belief. This often leads to irrational escalation of conflict. As with many other animals, we’re wired to defend our territories.  Home territories are where we find sustenance and protect our kin.   Over the millennia, we’ve evolved many biases to give us a “home field advantage.” Today, the notion of defending a physical territory has extended to “territories” of belief and culture.  The functional silos in most medium size and larger organizations are a mild form of this territoriality.

I found it resonating to the topic of PLM territory :). I hope you’ve got my point. It is about how to organize the territory of automotive manufacturing company, high-tech company and… finally, cupcake company with the way PLM is pretending to make their business. This is where a second blind spot mentioned by Peter caught my special attention -

Q: What is the biggest blind spot you overcome yourself? One thing I’ve become more aware of is how the “confirmation bias”  affects me.  Most of us, myself included, are confident in our own beliefs.   When challenged, we start looking (only) for evidence that supports our opinion.  Early in school and in my career, my knee-jerk reaction was to bury contrary opinions in an avalanche of facts.

What is my conclusion? I found “blind spotting” as an interesting association to look on what is happening around PLM these days. We’ve been very long-time believers of “know how” to make companies to use PLM software. I have to say, we’ve got certain achievements in how we did it. However, PLM software didn’t make it to the mainstream adoption similar to accounting, CRM and some of ERP functions. The market situation these days is very disruptive- cloud, social, different so-called “2.0 trends”. It is important to overcome traditional PLM blind spot in order to see what the shift PLM industry needs to take to go beyond its current potential. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 264 other followers