Here is my personal story about blogging. I started to blog more than six years ago. The idea of blogging came to me from intensive meetings with customers that I had as Dassault SmarTeam CTO. I spent time discussing implementations and problems customers are experiencing with PLM solutions. These discussions inspired me to spend more time online. One thing I discovered immediately about PLM industry back in 2007 – the amount of online information about PLM implementations, products and technologies was very limited. Customers and vendors didn’t share much online. At the same time, outside of PLM domain, blogosphere was booming by large number of blogs sharing information about programming, web technologies and other topics.
My recent Cadalyst interview made me think again about the time I started to blog. Honestly, I almost shutdown the blog after I left Dassault in 2009. However, after speaking with some of my readers, I came to conclusion that I cannot stop it. I discovered and connected with many readers. I found how my readers are learning from my blog and I learned how to learn from them. The blog outgrew the original plan to share “one PLM topic to discuss” as Daily PLM Think Tank. I registered new domain beyondplm, which was a better reflection of what I’m writing about.
I’ve written about 1815 posts, which is probably equal to 10-15 full length books. During that time I learned a great deal about blogging and people (this is probably a topic for another blog post). What was amazing is how blogging helped me better understand customers, manufacturing and PLM business.
So, here are seven important things I learned about PLM after writing probably more than 1’000’000 words about PLM.
1. PLM is extremely conservative domain. You think engineers love new products and tech. Yes, engineers are loving to develop new products and technologies. But, it is a bit different when you speak to them about new product development tools. When it comes to adopting of new PLM tools, as a solution provider, you compete mostly with status quo – existing working processes, outdated implementations, legacy systems, Excel spreadsheets.
2. The adoption lifecycle of PLM products, ideas and technologies is much longer than you can imagine. Think about years or even decades. There are some great examples in the industry that can prove it. PLM industry first movers are competing with evolution of existing products.
3. The biggest PLM implementation challenge is customer learning process. Customer is discovering bad things about the way company is running business and managing product development processes. It is not easy for people to manage their own guilt. Somebody is actually responsible for the mess. From that point, all you need to do is to help company to understand their business and find ways PLM technologies and products can improve it.
4. Tables with data are boring. Visualization is absolutely important. Customers are asking about variety of data and processes management issues, but nothing can excite them more than 3D visualization of their own products – cars, airplane interior, engine, fashion collection, etc.
5. Cost is important. Everything customers will tell you about the fact price is not important and manufacturing companies have money to pay is a biggest illusion. Typically, you are talking to engineering IT and these people are interested how PLM technology and products can solve their problems. But, it will come down to price and must be prepared for tough cost related discussions. I think, one of the biggest reasons of PLM low adoption is high solution cost.
6- Data import and integration with other systems are two key technological challenges you need to solve to successfully accomplish PLM implementation. Customers rarely have an opportunity to start “from scratch”. Also, don’t think about import/export of Excel spreadsheets as you mainstream integration strategy. Most of PLM implementations are ending up with integration service providers hardwiring data exchange between applications.
7- You should think about ROI and how to connect to CIO. However, don’t forget to deliver one “extra feature” that will help engineers to feel proud of your PLM solution. You will become “engineering hero” and engineers will sell your PLM systems to rest of the company.
What is my conclusion? One of the best parts of blogging is that you can learn a lot. In many cases, I came back to topics I already discussed and shared what I learned to spark a conversation. Sharing knowledge is an amazing experience. PLM industry changed for the last 6 years. Companies are sharing more and it is easier to get information online. All together we can do industry better. Just my thoughts…