How To Clean PLM From Complexity Disease?

How To Clean PLM From Complexity Disease?

This short prompt today was driven by presentation on SolidWorks World 2010. What is the evolution path of PLM? For the last time, we heard lots of statements that PLM came to the maturity point. Now customers can understand and see PLM value for businesses and for industry. However, as we can see from this chart, the next thing after PLM is “Lifelike Experience”.

Is it something that will take towards the COOL trend? On the other side, may be this will be the way to take off PLM buzzword and release the PLM business from the complexity disease?

Just my thoughts… What is your opinion?

Best, Oleg



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  • Cam Bickel

    In my view PLM is not complex enough. By that I am not asking for a more complex UI or user experience, but for a more sophisticated data model to handle real world challenges such as configured product, alternate parts and substitutes, phase in/phase out issues, etc.

  • Cam, I see your point. However, this complexity needs to be hidden from users. Thanks for comment and idea! Best, Oleg

  • Hi oleg,
    I just got back from a PLM conference in France which was not organized by any editor. And the strange thing which might explain the complexity is the contradiction of two statements:
    1- we (PLM consultant) tell companies, that PLM is not a software but a strategy. So companies go through workshops in order to redefine their process. Then at the end of this stage they should be able to have the complete data-model of all their work to build their finish good for example, which is their added-value
    2- when they integrate a solution, they should be able to compare the initial data-model of the editors solution and the data-model they designed (fit-gap analisys).But guess what!! the data-model is not given by the editors. So the integrators try to make it work as defined by the customer and if it doesn’t they complexify the system.
    So my answer to have a not complex system, make sure your data model made from the study of the customer’s process is not complex and then make it the same way in your IT tool. Its sounds very optimistic, but actually that’s what we do with Aras Innovator (ok easy to say because i deploy Aras Innovator, but that’s actually true!).
    Best Regards,
    Yoann Maingon

  • Yoann, Thanks for your comment! Here is my point… Do you believe you can create a single data model that fits needs of all customers? How do you see? Is it about total flexibility or need to make everybody working with the “same system/model”? Best, Oleg

  • Hi Oleg,

    I tend to agree with all comments togehter. Today we know more about what PLM is realy about (horizontal knowlegde), and more know how of the different industries (vertical knowledge).

    So now a re-thinking of the data model is in place – We should be able to provide a much friendlier GUI interface (specifically in web based clients) on one hand, while keeping the complex links between entities in the PLM in-tact, and showing them on a “need-to-know” basis…

    The answer might be that PLM vendors provide many small PLM components (such as Product Engineering, Project Management or Configured products / instances support) and let the consulting companies figure out which components to use based on the needs of each customer.

  • @Oleg: i don’t think you can do one for all industries. It’s not like ERP, where companies could win efficieny by copying the best-practices of non-added value task from the already deployed companies. The PLM targets some proprietary business models has it is directly linked to the way companies make their product. But i think for SMBs, you can have one Data-model, still flexible, but able to give the SMBs the ability to quickly use a PLM system. So i think it is about flexibility and the ability to handle this flexibility without becoming complex for its intégration, maintenance & support.
    One thing that make us confident with the Aras Solution, is that we can play has much has we want on the data-model to implement without worrying on the future Updates Aras will make because the updated layer is separated from the Data-Model Layer. After yesterday talk i had with SMB i’m really confident about this solution. Now in france i guess the choice they’ll have will be Aras Innovator or “On Demand” Windchill.

    @Sagi: i don’t know for the other products, but if you check aras community’s project, you’ll see that contributors develop modules. So for the consultant he can use these just like you say, picking up the functionnalities he needs.

    Best Regards

  • Sagi, Thanks for comments! Agree, PLM overcomplicated and love to expose all data modeling goodies. Since PLM put a lot of emphasizing on “technical ability” and “engineering”, it became arrogant of the ability to manage complex data models. This need to be removed in order to make PLM simple. Best, Oleg

  • Yoann, Few interesting points based on your comments, thank you! However, it is hard to believe that different organizational business processes won’t allow to have a simple solution. In my view, this is the top -sick point of PDM/PLM. I’d call it- strong believe that comprehensive solution to answer a complex business problem, automatically need to be complex. Let see history of CAD. It was very complex in the past. But, thanks for many people in this industry, these days, CAD becomes simpler. On the second point re upgrades, I agree completely. I’m not familiar with Aras upgrade module, but if this is how it works and it upgrades automatically, this is a very good point. However, I might have some technical questions how it can be done anyway… Thanks for comments. Best, Oleg

  • Hey Oleg,
    just to let you know, i added a WordPress translator module to our blog ( so people other than french readers can understand and comment our posts.
    Best Regards,

  • Yoann, Cool stuff. So far, I tried English, Hebrew and Russian. The English translation was the best, Looks like Google still need to learn Russian :)… Thanks! Oleg

  • Marcio Braga

    Products are getting more complex, so PLM must follow then. Even simple products are evolving to be systems now, with lots of interconnections and embedded software. Think about the RFID-network that is coming behind the products (we can think as a web for the things). Most systems needs to deal with complex 3D but not just the 3D part model, but it’s functional behavior driven by their embedded software. Add real end-to-end (lifecycle traceable) Requirements Engineering, (lifecycle) Portfolio Management, (lifecycle) Software Development, Systems Architecture, SOA, middleware, BPM … and the PLM complex party is ready to begin. No vendor can carry all this sand alone.

  • Marcio, Thank you about your view! However, I see a definite tendency of systems to become “simple for people”. How do you see it can co-exist? Thanks, Oleg

  • Marcio Braga

    I understand they are 2 different things. The HMI (Human-Machine interface) for systems tend to become “simple for people” as you mention, but under the hood things became nasty. I think the discussion here is more regard this 2nd part. We can not avoid face the complexity (under the hood) in the years to come. And those that can deliver complex systems with a “simple for people” HMI will lead on the next generation of products. And for that we need a new generation (5th?) of PLM systems – the remain strategy is same. By the way, the lack of these PLMs systems are already blocking innovation and customers ( not vendors ) are trying to find a solution.

  • Marcio Braga

    (complement) the complexity that are upon us now is a direct consequence of the huge amount of innovation provided by great PLMs in the past ( something like misery as sub-product from capitalism ). The pandora box was opened. Now we need to run. Regards, Marcio

  • Marcio, Thanks for your insight. I wonder, what do you see as 5th gen of PLM? What are characteristics? What should become more complex in PLM? Database, Data mode, CAD modelers? I think, the biggest problem today is that PLM abuses #1 from your comment (HMI). In other words, if I will take you allegory with cars, PLM is driving with “open hood”… so, who want to drive this car? Only geeks… Best, Oleg

  • Marcio Braga

    Not sure how to classify the generations, but allow me this try:

    1. CAD-centric ( ex. 2d/3d CADAM, CATIA v3 early days)
    2. CIM-centric ( ex. CATIA v3 )
    3. PDM-centric ( ex. CATIA v4/v5 + VPM )
    4. PLM-centric ( ex. CATIA v6 )

    Characteristic could be the technical capability from one side and process coverage in another.

    For example, can we model/build/operate a product based on 10000 of 3D-models/parts ? Do we have such technology ? Do we have a process ? PLM-centric crossed that bridge, then the next generation:
    Can we model/build/operate a product based on 10000 models of 3D models, UML models, SysML models, Information-models, BPMN-models ? Do we have such technology ? Do we have a process ? We still need to cross this bridge.
    Most complex in PLM today I think is still integration (including web services).
    I agree with you about not expose the “under the hood” complexity. But how ? For example, processing speed is not more measured by GHz. We found the limit around 5 GHz. So now, processing speed is function of number of threads. But make an application that handle hundreds of threads is almost unthinkable. The machines are here, but what about the software ? That means far more complexity ahead. But we need much more processing speed to introduce massive AI.

  • Marcio, Thank you for your view. I liked your classification. And I agree, integration is the most complicated portion of PLM today. As much we are going forward, we create more models, BOMs, products etc. So, this is your perceived view on the complexity. However, I insist, we need to keep it under the hood from HMI (user experience) standpoint. Good discussion! Thanks! Oleg