CAD, PLM and Top 500 cloud app vendors list

September 5, 2014

top-cloud-apps-cad-plm-500

The cloud is growing. Few years ago, some of us had a concern if cloud is fad and it will over fast. Since that time, we can see many new companies in cloud space as well as many companies turned their development efforts completely towards the cloud eco-system.

If you like research, ranks and comparison of vendors, you may find the following list of vendors interesting. Apps Run The Cloud web site published the list of Cloud Top 500 Applications Vendors. You can see list of companies and detailed information about top 50 vendors for free. More detailed information requires subscription.

I’ve been trying to see what companies from CAD/PLM space made it to the list. Here is the list of companies with rank (assigned by Apps Run The Cloud) and domain (CAD or PLM):

120 – Autodesk (CAD)

158 – Altair Engineering, Inc. (CAD)

291 – Dassault Systems (PLM)

377 – Arena Solutions (PLM)

407 – Siemens PLM software (PLM)

What is my conclusion? Cloud is here to stay. The question is not "why the cloud?", but "how and what cloud vendor to choose?". I’ve been blogged about it before – PDM/PLM: Why the cloud? Wrong question… The growth of cloud software is fascinating. The fact 3 top CAD providers are in the list confirms the commitment of companies to cloud strategies and development. I didn’t find few names from CAD/PLM domain that I expected to see. I hope we will see more analysis and comparison of cloud strategies and cloud platforms in CAD/PLM space.

Best, Oleg


PLM upgrades, release cycles and legacy software

August 20, 2014

legacy-software

Do you know what is legacy software? Earlier today, Marc Lind of Aras Corp. challenged me by his twitter status about companies complaining about legacy PLM systems and upgrading. Here is the original passage from twitter here and here.

"a lot of people complains about legacy PLM and a lot of companies that have legacy PLM are throwing in the towel and switching these days".

marc-lind-legacy-plm-tweet

The part of statement about "legacy software" is really interesting. Last week, I wasn’t able to update a game on my son’s iPad. After few minutes, I discovered that Apple is not supporting the original iPad hardware manufactured 4 years ago. Does it mean iOS software run on that iPad is a legacy? Good question. At the same time, what about properly functioning ERP software that company runs already for the last 10 years without any plans to upgrade? Is that a legacy software?

Wikipedia gives me the following definition of legacy system:

In computing a legacy system is an old method, technology, computer system, or application program,"of, relating to, or being a previous or outdated computer system."[1] A more recent definition says that "a legacy system is any corporate computer system that isn’t Internet-dependent."[2]… The first use of the term legacy to describe computer systems probably occurred in the 1970s. By the 1980s it was commonly used to refer to existing computer systems to distinguish them from the design and implementation of new systems. Legacy was often heard during a conversion process, for example, when moving data from the legacy system to a new database.

Software upgrades is an important topic in engineering and manufacturing. Very often, systems can be in use very long time because of product lifecycle and the need to maintain existing data. It happens a lot in defense, aero and some other "regulated" industries. Also, because of significant investment, the ROI from upgrade can be questionable, which leads companies to keep existing outdated systems in operation. I’ve been posted about problems of PLM customization and upgrades before – How to eliminate PLM customization problems and Cloud PLM and future of upgrades.

PLM vendors are aware about the issue of upgrades and difficulties of software migrations . For long time, industry recognized it as something unavoidable. However, in today’s dynamic business environment, the issue of software upgrades cannot be ignored. Customers demanding flexible and agile software that can be deployed and updated fast. At the same time, changes of business models towards services and subscriptions pushed the problem of upgrades back to vendors.

Earlier this year, my attention was caught by CIMdata publication – Aras Innovator: Redefining Customization & Upgrades. Aras enterprise open source model is predominantly subscription oriented. Which provides lots of incentives for Aras engineers to solve the issue of upgrades and new versions deployment. Here is the passage from the article confirming that:

For several years, the Aras Corporation (Aras) has included no-cost version-to-version upgrades in their enterprise subscriptions, independent of how the solution has been customized and implemented. This is a rather bold guarantee given the historic challenges the industry has experienced with upgrading highly customized PLM deployments. With more than 300 upgrades behind it, CIMdata felt it appropriate to find out how Aras’ guarantee was playing out, and discovered that there was much more to the story than just a contractual guarantee. Fundamentally, Aras Innovator is engineered to be highly configurable—even customizable—without resulting in expensive and complex version-to-version upgrades and re-implementations.

One of PLM software leaders, Siemens PLM is also thinking about What is the best release cycle. The article speaks about SolidEdge release cycle.

A few years ago we moved from an irregular release cycle for Solid Edge, maybe 9 months in one cycle to 15 months in the next, to a regular cycle of annual releases (of course there are also maintenance packs delivered in the interim). I believe our customers much prefer this, they can plan ahead knowing that there will be a significant Solid Edge release available to them in August each year.

At the same time, the article confirms that CAD/PLM vendors are looking how to solve the problem of upgrades. As I mentioned earlier, cloud software model is one of the most promising technical ways to solve the issue of upgrades. It is true, but can be tricky in case both desktop and cloud software are involved. Here is the passage from the same Siemens PLM blog:

Working in the PLM area we try really hard to provide our customers with a good upgrade experience. PLM software is itself dependent on both the operating system and database software, and it has to work with specific releases of CAD software (sometimes with more than one CAD solution for our multi-CAD customers) and with office software as well! Moving PLM software to the cloud could potentially take some of the upgrade issues away from the end user, but PLM software does not work in isolation from your data files, or your other software and systems so I believe there is much work still to be done before the cloud really impacts the upgrade situation for real-world customers.

What is my conclusion? From customer perspective, the best option is to make release cycle completely transparent. In my view, this is really high bar for PLM vendors. Customer data migration, customization and sometimes absence of backward compatibility make release transparency questionable. However, since industry moves towards cloud software and service business model the demand for agile release management and absence of upgrades will be growing. So, my hunch, in the future we will not see "legacy software" anymore. New type of enterprise software will manage upgrades and migrations without customers paying attention. Sound like a dream? I don’t think so. For most of web and consumer software it is a reality already today. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM One Big Silo

June 9, 2014

plm-one-big-silo

Silos is an interesting topic in enterprise software. And it is a very important topic for product lifecycle management. Why so? Because, PLM is heavily relies on the ability to work and communicated across the organization and extended value chain. Accessing information in multiple departments, functional domains and application is part of this story. Silos is clearly one of the biggest PLM challenges. At the same time, silos can be also a good thing. They are reflection of org structure and sort of order we can use to navigate inside of organization.

Engineering.com posted PLM/ERP article – “Demolish the silos in PLM”: Why Dassault’s Bernard Charles believes in the 3D Experience. Read the article and draw your opinion. My understanding – Dassault System is combine multiple technologies and product belonging to different organizational domains to improve communication and information access across silos in organization.

Dassault System is not alone in the try to crush silos. Article is referencing other PLM companies’ effort to interconnect people and products. I liked the following passage:

The main idea behind DS’ 3DExperience is to provide the IT tools needed to break down the silos and connect the development work not only to software, electronics and manufacturing, but also to the end-customers. No doubt there are similarities and touch points between what this solution aims to do and Siemens PLM’s Industry 4.0 concept as well as PTC’s broader ALM, MES and SLM/IoT scope. The difference is that Siemens PLM places a higher priority on the engineering side of product realization, whereas PTC presently zooms in on the aftermarket and product-as-a-service concept.

Interesting enough, web is also got infected with the problem of silos. Large web 2.0 platforms are very similar to enterprise software silos, which put a lot of questions about availability of information across the web. There are quite lot of debates these days around the topic of web openness and information access. I’ve been reading Aral Balkan’s article – How Web 2.0 killed the Internet. The article contains a lot of controversial opinions about development of Web 2.0 and the way Open API used to support the development of huge centralized systems such as Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and some others.

The thing that made me think the most was the question about Openness and Open APIs. Here is the passage from the article.

An Open API is simply a limited, revokable license to access and consume a certain subset of data and/or functionality that belongs to a closed silo. It is a visitor’s pass. The terms of the pass grant you limited access for a specific time. The terms can be altered — and routinely are altered — at the whim of the API owner. This is a painful lesson that many developers learned, for example, while working to add value to the Twitter platform by building Twitter clients. They were unceremoniously dumped after expending their energies to help Twitter build up its closed silo.

These two articles made me think about demolishing organizational silos, enterprise software, and future trajectories of PLM development. The term silos is misleading. There are organizational silos and application silos. The first (organizational silos) is something that needs to be demolished to improve communication and process transparency. However, the second one (applications) is something that will be built-up to connect people, applications and data. So, there is a high probability to have PLM One Big Silo built to solve the problem of communication and streamlining of product development.

The thing that raises my concern are related to open API. Enterprise software companies might have different reasons to product data compared to Google, Facebook and Twitter. However, fundamentally these APIs are controllable by vendors that can turn them off and on depends on the strategy, competition and many other reasons.

What is my conclusion? To build an open system is a very complicated task. I can see a shift towards creating of huge monolithic vertical silos. So, PLM One Big Silo is a very possible future for customers looking for smoothly integrated systems and aligned experience. However, my belief is that future will belong to open systems, which will bring an additional level of innovation and flexibility. Long term commitment of vendors for Open API is an important indication of software trajectory. 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).


How PLM can stop living in the future?

April 30, 2014

time-paradox-past-future-present

One of my favorite keynotes last week at COFES 2014 took me to the definition of time paradox and how different time orientation can reflect personal happiness. People are usually in one of the three time phases orientation – past, present or future. It appears that such presence phases have influence on lots of aspects of people’s behavior. If you never heard about this (like me until last week), the following video by Philip Zimbardo – The psychology of time is a very good starting point to learn about it. I’m looking forward to read Time Paradox book coming weekend.

COFES keynote time paradox made talks me think that time phase orientation can be applied organizational behavior as well as vendor-customer relationships. The realization that PLM vendor and PLM customer may be seeing the world very differently is important. Evermore, it can lead to understanding of how to improve that behavior and “customer happiness”.

In my view most of PLM vendors as well as technological providers are future phase, which makes a lot of sense. From that standpoint, I can see PLM is standing out, especially when it comes to SME organization. For many of them, technologies are mostly meaningless. To think about process improvement? Meh… What is important is to get job done and deliver orders. Which made me think about customers are in present phase. It come with risk management, cost optimization, interest to protect current job and current business status, etc.

It is very hard (almost impossible) to change people. It will take long time to make customer re-think how to perceive future tech investment. At the same time, vendors need to learn how to become more present oriented and turn PLM solutions that can bring short term practical benefits without significant investment from their side.

What is my conclusion? Customers are demonstrating high level of resilience against technological changes. For most cases, they see it as a disturbance. Vendors need to find a way to show more customer-orientation – it will help to bridge between future and present time orientation and move implementation focus into present time. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM Sales Cheat Sheet

January 20, 2014

plm-sales-cheat-sheet

I have to admit – I don’t have formal sales education. My childhood was mostly influenced by math and tech. Technology has a smell of precision and knowledge. At the same time, sales appears to be manipulative. I can try to blame Soviet Union regime, but it doesn’t matter now. I was wrong.

The understanding of how I was wrong came later in my life. I learned to sell my software projects, application and services. I still cannot say I’m good in sales. I must thank few people in my carrier that helped me a lot to understand the nature of sales. I’m still learning.

None of recommendations I put below came from formal books. Actually, I never had a chance to read formal sales books. Probably I should. List below comes from my experience and involvement in PLM projects in variety of roles – technical, implementation, advisory, strategy, competitive analysis and more. Following these rules helped me to achieve goals.

1- Make "enterprise executives" friends and friends across other divisions in a company you are selling to. Don’t be engineering/tech buddy only. The championship in engineering system department is important, but you need to get the whole picture of product problems and profit in a company.

2- Learn to say "No" to engineers and R&D managers. Very often, PLM has engineering roots in the organization. You can easy get spoiled by engineering ideas. With all respect to engineers, these ideas are not always on the top priority list for CIO and can be far from business goals.

3- Prepare to come at least 7 times to meet your prospect customer. Sometimes you will feel repeating yourself, but in PLM implementation, it is often part of learning and convincing themselves about their decision. Also, be ready to answer on the question "what is PLM and why is it needed if company already spent million dollars to implement ERP". You need to have a good answer…

4- You need to become a source of knowledge about other PLM implementations, best practices, failures and successes etc. Make yourself a bit "techie" – it will help you to build your credit. Very often your prospect customer doesn’t know what to do and would love to learn from what you did for other companies.

5- Learn how to shutdown implementations if things are going wrong. This one is tough. Sh’t happens. You need to learn how to fire customer, even if you made a sale. Not everything depends on you. PLM touches different departments and often requires a company to change the way they do business. People are trying to manipulate and it resulted in politics influence, conflicts between management groups, implementation strategies, competitors, etc. If you see that you cannot make a visible success in 3-4 months, push the stop button and ask to "rethink what needs to be done".

6- Learn few key typical PLM implementations failures – team disagreement about product development process and data ownership, CAD integration failure, PLM/ERP integration failure. In my view, these three are responsible for more than 50% of PLM implementation failures. You need to learn how to smell it and go to option #5 with request to rebuild the process.

7- Deliver one feature from engineers dream list. Take one that will help engineers to be proud of what PLM does. Something that not on the top priority list. You will become "engineering hero".

8- You biggest win will come 3 years later from a customer you failed to sale to. Enterprise sales is a lengthy process. Companies need time to understand how they do work and how they need to manage a change. Management changes. Corporate conflicts get resolved. Remember #4 and be consistent in PLM vision you sale. Prospects will come back.

What is my conclusion? Enterprise sales is a special discipline. These days is probably one of the most interesting things in the overall process of technological disruption. Major disruption happened because of internet, cloud, mobile and other technologies. The wave seems to be going to enterprise continent. However, enterprise is first about people and second about technologies. Technologies make sense only after people can understand and use them. Just my thoughts and good luck!

Best, Oleg


Why PLM selection is about data access problem first?

October 29, 2013

plm-selection-process

How to select PLM? Manufacturing companies, industry pundits and vendors are trying to simplify this process. Nevertheless, after almost three decades, the problem is still on the table. PLM sales is value based and unfortunately requires to juggle too many people and events together. I see this process as a combination of technological choices, company practices and vendor selection.

I recently came to few notable PLM blog articles focusing on different aspects of PLM selection. My long time industry colleague and blog buddy Jos Voskuil put an article PLM Selection – Additional thoughts. Take a time and read Jos’ article – it contains many good recommendations and options to check when you trying to select PLM system such as – organizational requirements, implementation specifics, cost and even vendors FUD. The last one was interesting and I specially liked this passage:

My recommendation to a company that gets involved in FUD during a PLM selection process, they should be worried about the company spreading the FUD. Apparently they have no stronger arguments to explain to you why they are the perfect solution; instead they tell you indirectly we are the less worst.

Another article I came across is a publication in CL2M portal. A short writeup by Scott Cleveland is interesting – Why PLM? Scott is also mentioning multiple reasons to get involved into PLM. One of them is about "looking for information" effort was caught my special attention. It comes as a first problem one of his client was trying to solve by implementing of PLM. Here is how Scott explains that:

Looking for Information: He told me about the time his engineers spend looking for ‘stuff’ [like drawings and files]. I said this is a problem everywhere. I told him there have been many studies performed analyzing the time it takes engineers to find ‘stuff’, and all of them say that, without document management software, engineers can spend as much as 25% of their time looking for ‘stuff’.

He said he couldn’t put a figure on it, but believes that could be true at his company. He also mentioned that at some point the engineer will stop looking and just recreate the missing information. He said this is a killer. First it wastes project time and second, it leads to duplicate part numbers and possible errors caused by the duplicate drawings.

All together, it made me think about how to get information access into the central place of PLM selection process. Getting access to the information from multiple devices, organization locations and at any time becomes an absolutely must requirement any vendor should answer before getting into future PLM evaluation. Otherwise, you will be sinking into people inefficiency every day.

What is my conclusion? We live in the era when access to information becomes mission critical. Your design can lead to much more expensive options. You can potentially select wrong supplier. You can miss delivery dates. However, the most important is to note time aspect. Engineers are spending lots of time looking for "stuff". This is the problem nobody can tolerate any more. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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