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facebook-at-work-for-engineers

Social software was hot topic in engineering software ecosystem for the last few years. The results are somewhat mixed. Start-up companies and well established CAD/PLM vendors learned by mistakes, some of them failed and some of them is still in process of developing new type of collaborative engineering software. I captured some of my thoughts about that here – Why Social 1.0 failed

One of the most famous messages of social software was to create “Facebook for XYZ”. Many companies tried to deliver this message in variety of forms in engineering software. The most impressive one was GrabCAD, which created a community of about 1.5M engineers sharing 3D CAD files. Even so, GrabCAD put their focus on development of cloud PDM software – to find a way to monetize. Some of my comments on what GrabCAD did are here – GrabCAD – from Facebook for engineers to PLM. GrabCAD is probably a company that unofficially can own the tag of “Facebook for engineer”. Google search is a good confirmation for that.

A very interesting news came from “original” Facebook. Earlier this week, Facebook leaked the information about Facebook’s intent to create so called “Facebook at Work”. Forbes article gives you some details about Upcoming Facebook at Work service will rival LinkedIn and Slack.

Facebook is preparing Facebook at Work, a service aimed at enterprise customers that will allow them to chat with colleagues and “collaborate over documents,” according to a new report in the Financial Times which cites anonymous sources.

Social business wasn’t an easy job for many companies. For the last few days, I see many speculations and reports about how easy  (or not, actually) Facebook can capture a new business niche. Here is the article from ReadWrite – Why Facebook For Work Will Be A Hard Sell To Employers. This is my favorite passage:

Users will be able to chat with coworkers, collaborate on projects, and build catalogues of colleague’s contacts, with each of these services directly competing with Microsoft’s Yammer, Google’s Drive, and LinkedIn. All the services Facebook at Work will offer already exist. Slack, Google Drive, and LinkedIn already do these features well, and have the market for these respective services cornered. If Facebook at Work is going to have a chance of competing, it’ll need to extremely improve on its competitors’ services. And from the little we’ve seen of the service (with Facebook declining to comment), it’s hard to tell if Facebook for Work even has a chance.

“Facebook at Work” news made me think about what it means for engineering software ecosystem? First of all, it reminded me how is dangerous profession of industry analyst. It is still unclear how successful Facebook at Work is going to be, but Jim Brown of Tech-Clarity should be probably concerned about his 5 years old statement – We are not Going to Design an Airplane on Facebook!

All engineering vendors (CAD and PLM companies) just got a new mindshare competitor in everything that can be considered as social and collaboration. In my view it will be hard for Facebook to focus on “project collaboration” for design and engineering teams. The space is too narrow. At the same time, “social collaboration pond” is not as safe as it was before such a big fish as Facebook jumped into it.

My special attention caught by feature related to document sharing and collaboration. In my article – The path towards ubiquitous CAD cloud drive, I mentioned few examples of companies working on how to leverage cloud for CAD files storage and collaboration. Cloud file storage is an interesting place and I expect to see many changes in this domain in coming years. Every engineering company will have to think about pros and cons to have a special CAD files sharing tool. Facebook is just another behemoth convincing companies to store files on their servers and developing slick user experience to collaborate and share project information.

What is my conclusion? Facebook just captured a piece of attention for social project collaboration from everyone. “Facebook at Work” won’t compete directly with engineering software businesses. However, most probably, CAD and PLM vendors have to review their sales and marketing presentations. How to differentiate engineering collaboration software from Facebook? I will put security and CAD viewers on the top of my list of differentiators. Facebook won’t be able to change security perception overnight. Also, it will be challenging to develop 3D viewing solutions. Some specialized vendors can decide to jump and partner with Facebook about 3D CAD viewers.  At the same time, there is one thing, which will challenge CAD and PLM vendors already tomorrow. Together with Google, LinkedIn and other web giants, Facebook will challenge engineering teams by setting even higher bar for project collaboration user experience. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

photo credit: aldoaldoz via photopin cc

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decision-making

Ask people about PLM selection process. You can get an impression it is not a simple process. The same can be said about any decision related to enterprise software – it is complex. Today, I want to take a look on that from a bit different perspective.

I know few manufacturing companies that literally spending years to make a decision. In PLM domain, it is quite regular to invest few months in investigation about what is the right PLM system for your organization. You can find many articles and presentations from vendors, service providers and industry analysts about PLM selection process. Here are just few of them (priority order by Google search) – Gartner PLM selection criteria; The art and science of selecting the right PLM for your organization; PLM selection – do this.

Jos Voskuil (you might know him as Virtual Dutchman) just posted another story that caught my attention during this weekend – PLM selection proof of concept observation. Have a read – this is very thoughtful article. I found it as a very good advise how to manage complex enterprise software selection process. For good and for bad, it can be applied to any piece of software, hardware and probably even to situations beyond that like decision about business partnership, etc. I replaced word “PLM” in the article by “ERP” and found it as a very good piece of advise too. I tried to applied it by “mobile solution” or “home theater system” – hold your breath… with some stretch, I think you can use it as well. Because.. the process of decision making is very similar.

It made me think about lifecycle of things and solutions around us. So, I want to come with two examples – ERP system and smartphone. Navigate your browser to the following article by fairphone – Next step in lifecycle assessment. Article speaks about average lifecycle of smartphone is about 2-3 years these days.

average-lifespan-of-phone

The following article - Why your new smartphone is already obsolete by MyPhoneMd brings you an interesting breakdown of smartphone lifecycle by country. From absolutely extreme case of 21 months in U.S. it goes to some more conservative numbers in Europe, which is about 40-50 weeks.

Another example – ERP system (I wanted to come with PLM and CRM, but didn’t find any meaningful data). Bluelinkerp blog - When should you replace your ERP software brings an interesting diagram - the majority of ERP implementations is up to 7 years old. The chart based on data provided by Aberdeen study - Aging ERP – When your ERP is too old.

erp-system-age

Now, I want to take it to extreme. Lets speak about marriage. For most of us, this is a fundamental decision we supposed to take for a very long time (I hope most of my readers would agree). However, modern statistic provide a bit different data points. Navigate to the article – 32 shocking divorce statistics article and you learn that average marriage lifespan is 8 years (almost like ERP system in my example above). My hunch, we can improve this situation by applying of some recommendation and observations from Jos’ article about PLM proof of concept, but this is already different story for another blog post. 

What is my conclusion? The lifespan of things in our life is getting shorter. While it is sad in some situations like family, it is probably good for most of other examples I mentioned. In my view, this is a reflection of speed of changes in technology and industry. What it means for your PLM selection process? Do it faster and think what pains you can kill and what processes you can improve in your organizations in a short period of time. Modern trends in software development – cloud and SaaS will make software lifecycle easier and replacement less painful. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

photo credit: toprankonlinemarketing via photopin cc

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DIY Cloud PLM using Aras Innovator

by Oleg on November 14, 2014 · 2 comments

diy-cloud-plm

I’m continue to explore the topic of cloud PLM options. My last blog post about it covered delivery options for cloud PLM. It raised few interesting discussions showing that vendors are closely following up any opportunity to leverage a combination of existing PLM platforms and cloud infrastructure. IaaS is a technical buzzword behind this option. It researched by many PLM vendors. I discussed one of them in my Azure Cloud Box blog post.

Today, I want to speak about another option. My attention caught Minerva blog post - Tutorial : How to start an Amazon EC2 cloud server all prepared to install Aras Innovator! It provides step by step instruction how to make your first step in cloud PLM strategy. As I mentioned many times, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is remaining one of the most widely used option to deliver IaaS strategy. If your cloud PLM vision is mostly focused on how to reduce a burden of IT and infrastructure, you may consider “Do It Yourself” cloud option by deploying your existing PLM system to Amazon based servers. The following passage below says it is sometimes tricky to install Aras, but if you will follow steps explained in this blog, in 1 hour you will have Aras running from AWS cloud.

The Aras Innovator install is still extremely simple. Of course I say that because I already tried to install other solutions and I went in some training for other solutions and it has always been a disaster to uninstall these. The first day, you spend it installing the solution, the day after you copy the virtual machine of another trainee as it failed… This doesn’t happen in an Aras training. But Aras Install can fail sometimes, it always rely on your windows server and IIS configuration. But as long as you follow the tutorial you should be just fine. In less than 1 hour you should have Aras Innovator Up&Running starting from scratch!

The idea of Aras on AWS made me think again about IaaS approach in cloud PLM. The biggest advantage – you can get rid of infrastructure and IT by moving to Amazon. Aras Innovator is an interesting option. If you opt out Aras subscription and limit yourself to Aras enterprise open source, the cost of solution will be equal to your Amazon bill. Of course, I’m not counting implementation cost and cost to handle Amazon servers. It can give you some idea about fundamentals of cloud PLM economic related to potential of infrastructure sharing and servers utilization.

What is my conclusion? In the past, I’ve been discussing “DIY PLM option” by combining Excel spreadsheets, email and multiplying it by some database development skills. That was DIY PLM circa 1995. These days, cloud PLM also has its DIY option – to reuse existing PLM software from IaaS based cloud servers. This is a very real option you can explore to learn about benefits and pitfalls of cloud PLM. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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How PLM can leverage Azure analytics?

November 13, 2014

Analytics is a hot word these days. You can hear it everywhere. It sounds and feels sweet and smart. You can think about crunching data and getting results. It sounds very Googley? Indeed, Google is spending lot of money making Google cloud platform more affordable. Google provides some interesting online services that can be used […]

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PLM Vendors and Tunnel Vision

November 11, 2014

I’ve been following Dassault Systems 3DXforum this morning. Thanks for technology improvements these days you can be almost present at the events by combination of live streaming and social media communication. The first presentation by Bill Taylor, Fast Company editor struck me by mentioning of the idea of Tunnel Vision. I took a trip to […]

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The definition of cloud PLM

November 7, 2014

PLM industry is moving towards broader adoption of cloud solutions. More people these days are asking how to implement cloud. It becomes more and more clear that devil is in details and cloud environment can be very different. It comes in variety of aspects related to infrastructure, support of browsers, the need to have elements […]

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Cloud PDM hack with Google Drive and other tools

November 6, 2014

Earlier this week I talked about future of ubiquitous CAD cloud drives. My hunch CAD and other engineering software companies will be trying to use new cloud technologies to improve the way people collaborate on design. The question what tool to use for CAD file collaboration is not simple. I discussed it last year – […]

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Competitive edges of SharePoint and PLM collaboration

November 5, 2014

SharePoint is an interesting product and technology. I’m following it already few years. I can see some kind of love and hate relationships between PLM vendors and Microsoft SharePoint business. You can catch up on some of my thoughts about SharePoint in my previous posts – SharePoint PLM Paradox; Why PLM should care of SharePoint?; PLM […]

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The path towards ubiquitous CAD cloud drive

November 4, 2014

I’ve been talking about future of cloud file system and CAD data trajectories the other day on my blog. It goes back and connected to multiple discussions about future of file system. What will be future of file systems and file paradigm. Can we announce the death of file system? So, file system is dead, […]

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PLM collaboration – your inbox is a to-do list

November 3, 2014

Collaboration is fascinating place. So many things were done to improve collaboration for the last decade, but it still remains a place many people are trying to improve. Technology around us is one of the reason companies are keeping to focus on collaboration. What was efficient and new 10 years ago, is completely obsolete now. […]

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