What I learned about PLM from six years of daily blogging

What I learned about PLM from six years of daily blogging

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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to adopting of new PLM tools, as a solution provider, you compete mostly with status quo – existing working processes, outdated implementations, legacy systems, Excel spreadsheets.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…

Best, Oleg

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  • Jeroen Buring

    Hi Oleg, your Blogging is one of the few inspiring Blogs around. Even though you are no longer with DS, the Blog still has a very Neutral Touch to it which I like. Keep the Blogs coming, I adds to PLM understanding and gives new ideas to many… And keep it vendor Neutral to the biggest part 🙂

  • I’m in the CAD, PLM and ERP since 20 years for a car maker and in Formula 1.
    There is a natural movement and a relation between the industries and PLM editors. Initially CAD editors are focused on the management of files (PDM) and then quickly on the ability to manage a complete product structure (digital mock-up but not the BoM). And at the same time the industries seeks to optimize the design phase (project management) and the integration with eBoM in ERP (for example).
    Quickly the design office outsource what is not core business and the exchanges and sharing with subcontractors problems appears (CAD files, CAD sub-assembly, eBoM sub-assembly, …)
    Integration with the ERP come when manufacturers want to simulate manufacturing (digital factory and mBoM). In this area also manufacturers have outsourced what is not core business and supplier portals have become a priority (PLM-ERP-Portal Suppliers) to support the efficiency of the value chain (look BootsAero for example).
    In fact what is missing to PLM editors (and it is normal) is an ability to understand and support business process in perpetual evolution.
    many thanks for your blog and keep pushing !

  • Oleg congratulations with your impressive amount of posts. As we started both almost at the same time, you outnumbered me a factor with your posts. Still impressive if you look back these six – seven years.
    I agree with your findings and must say that the first three bullets are a given for me. The human side of PLM makes it hard to be fast and I became every year more and more aware of that.
    The challenge remains still what makes a person excited about PLM ? I think you must like the beauty of the management of the process, which is not an engineering favorite word. Still there is enough to improve in this domain and disruption will come.
    So keep on blogging – the biggest benefit is you can see the evolution in thinking about PLM by comparing your own posts from the past.

  • beyondplm

    Jeroen, thanks for your words and support! Appreciate that.

  • beyondplm

    Jos, thank you! Agree completely about looking back on old posts. This is one of the most fascinating things. Especially, after you forgot the topic you blogged about 4-5 years ago. Thanks Google, I can actually find it :). The excitement about PLM is a tricky thing. I don’t think a new gen of people will care of TLAs. The chances are it will be reimagined using new paradigms and tech. So, good luck to PLM industry in this challenging transition.

  • beyondplm

    I agree, PLM-ERP integration remains one of the most challenging topic to manage business and product dev processes across the organization. Will keep blogging. Thank you for your support!

  • Murli Ram

    Hi Oleg,
    I second what Jeroen said. I have been reading your blog since your DS days to the Autodesk days. I enjoy reading your blog and appreciate your neutral writing.
    Thanks Oleg and keep it going ☺

  • beyondplm

    Murli, thanks!

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