From the category archives:

Daily PLM Think Tank

box-streem-pdm

The race toward efficient cloud sharing of files and other information is heating up. While typical photo sharing application is mostly relies on the ability of smartphone and photo app to capture and share photo, the story is completely different for CAD and engineering data. There are pros and cons to have special CAD file sharing tool. I covered it here last year.

The simplicity and cost of generic cloud services is competing with the ability to be integrated with CAD systems and provide CAD independent viewing services. However, here is a challenge both generic and special file sharing services are facing – how to connect to the massive amount of data located on desktop computers and enterprise network drives. To crunch  CAD data, bring it up to the cloud and keep updated in sync with local storage is not simple task.

I’ve been reading about Box acquisition of Streem few days ago. Navigate to BOX blog to read more – Box Acquiring Streem: Bringing the Cloud to your Desktop. Box is an interesting outfit. The main difference from services like Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive is a complete focus on enterprise. And it explains their focus on desktop and other local data. Pay attention to the following passage:

Streem has developed amazing technology that allows you to mount a cloud drive onto your computer — making documents, presentations, videos and files available to you without the limitations of your local hard-disk, effectively turning the cloud into an “unlimited” drive. Rather than files living directly on your computer’s disk, they are instead securely “streamed” to you on demand when you need to interact with them. And to further optimize the experience and support low-bandwidth environments, Streem has developed enhanced video and media streaming technology to ensure content is accessible from the cloud as fast as it is locally.

Manufacturing (and not only) companies are clearly on the path of Box and Streem.

For customers across data-intensive industries like Media & Entertainment, Oil & Gas, Healthcare, and Manufacturing, this means instant access to far larger volumes of data than what your local drives can support. For enterprises in regulated industries like Life Sciences and Financial Services, it means better protection and control of information and where it lives.

BOX-Streem made me think again about PDM cloud competition. The ability to cope with massive amount of data can provide an easy path to sync all CAD (and related data) to the cloud using future BOX generic service. What called StreemFS (cloud file system) can generically support not only CAD files, which will simplify the work for IT-related people. The challenge for BOX will be to integrate viewer and other specific CAD related features allowing to manage CAD data in more granular way.

What is my conclusion? Cloud companies will keep challenging Cloud PDM services. Scale, simplicity and cost are clearly advantages on the side of companies like Google, Microsoft, Dropbox and Box. It will be very easy for cloud PDM vendors to bring more specific CAD -related functions. It was done in the past when CAD/PDM vendors competed with SharePoint and other content / document management systems. The result was bad – extra complexity and lower adoption rate. We are going to see future trajectories of specialized vendors to balance between features and complexity. Interesting balance to keep. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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search-top-secret

Search and information discovery is a big deal these days. Inspired by Google and other web search giants, we want information at our fingertips at the right time. I’ve been following topic of search long time. You can jump on few of my previous articles about search – Oslo & Grap – new trajectories in discovery and search; Why engineers need exploratory search? and Pintrest will teach CAD companies to search.

You may think cost and complexity are top problems of search technologies. Crunching lots of data and connecting relevant information requires application of right resources and skills. You will be surprised, but there is one more element that drives low adoption of search in manufacturing companies – security.

Information age articles Enterprise search adoption remains low – survey speaks about survey done among 300 Enterprise IT professionals conducted by Varonis Systems. According to this survey – enterprises are afraid good search solution will allow to people o find information with no permission. Here is the passage which explains that:

The respondents were surveyed at two major security-themed industry events, the RSA Conference in February and Infosecurity Europe in April. When asked to choose the biggest obstacle to enterprise search adoption, 68% cited the risk of employees locating and accessing files they should not have permission to view. Further, even if an enterprise search solution perfectly filters out results based on established permissions, the majority of respondents indicated they are not confident that their organisation’s existing permissions are accurate. Additional obstacles to enterprise search adoption most commonly cited were accuracy of the results (36%), end user adoption (29%) and the ability of solutions to scale enough to index all the data (24%).

It made me think about complexity of manufacturing companies and enterprise organization in general. Established permissions are part of the story. The search results permissions are as good as data that enterprise systems are supplying to search software. GIGO (Grabage in, Garbage out). For many IT organization, management of security and permissions is a big deal. Think about typical manufacturing company. Tomorrow, search system can find all CAD files that were occasionally copy/pasted in different locations and shared between organizations outside of existing PDM/PLM tools. What else, multiple “publishing solutions” created variety of published copies in different formats. Add SharePoint and similar technologies sometimes adopted by divisions against approvals of central IT. Good search solution can be a litmus test to many IT organizations.

What is my conclusion? Manufacturing enterprises are complex. As I described, it driven by strategic, political and cultural lines. Search is disruptive technology that has a possibility to cross these lines and expose many elements of corporate IT problems. So, once more, we learn that only mix of technological and people skills can solve the problem. Strategists and technologist of search vendors should take a note.  Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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bom-closed-loop

Product development and manufacturing is getting more complex every day. The complexity comes from both direction – product definition complexity and globalization in manufacturing, supply and customer experience. As we move towards future cloud software, the importance of data platforms is growing even more. For the last 15-20 years, we are living in a realm of siloed and fragmented parts of business applications. Integration and connectivity heavily relies on integration services and expensive integration toolkits.

PLM vendors understand the importance of broader integration beyond engineering department. We can see it in the strategies and acquisition patterns. The following two examples can show you what I mean. Navigate to the following article by Engineering.com – “Demolish the silos in PLM”: Why Dassault’s Bernard Charles believes in the 3D Experience is explaining the vision and strategy of Dassault. The following passage is my favorite:

The zero error BOM (Bill of Materials) demands a zero file solution. 3DEXPERIENCE brings the zero file world into the engineering environment; what we do is to connect directly to product data, not to files”. Every company has a promise to their customers and that promise is eventually realized through a value creation process that touches many different points within an organization. Now, to ensure that a brand promise is consistently and sustainably delivered it has to be managed across the entire enterprise, and we have assembled the necessary IT tools.” He adds that so far PLM has just been about helping companies to develop their products, ”But the world has moved beyond the product; the end-customers are demanding experiences around the product” and the secret of market success is to be able to innovate not only on the product, but also on the experience.

Another example came recently from PTC Live 2014 forum in Boston. The following blog post by Monica Schnitger gives you a very good outline and links to keynotes video recording. However, my attention was caught by another blog by Joe Barkai – Closed Loop PLM. Joe outlines PTC vision to connect important lifecycle tools in a single product lifecycle workflow. Here is the passage explaining that:

While the vision – and company executives acknowledged it’s still a vision rather than a product roadmap – is correct, the tools and “solutions” in PTC’s portfolio are separated by a noncontiguous business strategy (SLM and ThingWorx operate as separate business units), and by the lack of a digital backbone, shared data models, common taxonomies and unified workflows. It will be interesting to see how PTC is going to move from a strategically rich but fragmented portfolio to realizing a connected PLM architecture.

Sooner than later, PLM vendors will come with platform strategies and implementation that connecting complicated product lifecycle. Meantime, engineering, manufacturing, supply and consumer spaces are disconnected and can create some real problems. Few days ago, I stumbled on a very interesting article – Keep a sharp eye on SSD bill of materials by DIGISTOR. The article takes you to the reality of disconnected Bill of Materials between OEM manufacturers, suppliers and consumers. Read the article and draw your opinion. Here is my favorite passage

It appears that manufacturer PNY Technologies has committed the same sin, releasing SSDs with varying BoMs. A TweakTown reader contacted Ramseyer and described how the SSD that the individual purchased did not feature a BoM that matched up with one previously reviewed on the website. According to Ramseyer, that reader bought the PNY product because of his glowing assessment of its performance. Because of the shifting BoM, however, that individual’s SSD did not hit the same benchmarks. A representative from PNY admitted that the company had shipped out SSDs with disparate BoMs, qualifying the move by noting that all of its products fall within “minimum advertised performance levels.” When manufacturers neglect to lock down the components within their BoMs, consumers and business users may wind up with a product that doesn’t meet their expectations.

What is my conclusion? To close product lifecycle loop from product requirements to actually physical devices with specific supplied components is a big challenge. It requires significant coordination and integration between applications and data sources. I can see the intent of PLM vendors to come with platforms and solutions. Cloud technologies will play a significant role in the way companies will try to demolish silos and synchronize data across multiple application boundaries. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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You need PLM project to fail… to start lifecycle

June 23, 2014

One day you discover that your PLM implementation project is not doing so well. It happens and it called failure. Scott Cleveland’s blog took me back to the topic of PLM implementation failures. Unfortunately, I didn’t find the link on CIMdata research to read the paper mentioned by Scott. According to the post, wrong scoping and […]

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What PLM vendors can learn from manufacturing startups?

June 13, 2014

About half year ago, I was looking for bluetooth location trackers. The solution that caught my attention was Tile. I liked the slick video and interesting design. At that time I learned that Tile grabbed $2.6M via crowdfunding – very remarkable result. However, I noticed that solution is not available. I followed Tile since than […]

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OpenStack for Private Cloud PLM?

June 12, 2014

The debates about cloud and PLM are in full swing. In my view, Why Cloud? is a wrong question these days. I think, the question “How to cloud…?” comes to the first place. One of the most prominent discussion is about private vs. public cloud. The concern about potential leak of corporate knowledge is a […]

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Traditional PLM have reached their limits

June 11, 2014

To sell PLM to small and medium enterprise (SME) companies is a challenging tasks. I guess many of my readers will agree with me. I expressed some of my thoughts here – Why PLM stuck to provide solutions for SME? Opposite to that, large manufacturing companies, especially in aerospace, automotive and defense industries, were always a […]

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Can PLM turn notifications into a process and vice versa?

June 10, 2014

Notifications are fascinating. We are all love to get notified. Alarms, emails, meetings… Later came social notifications such as likes, discussion comments and others. Enterprise systems are sending notifications about process states and many others. Recent Apple WWDC presentation provided a snapshot about next evolution point of OS/X notifications. When iOS 8 hits, the notification […]

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PLM One Big Silo

June 9, 2014

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 […]

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PDM/PLM. Why The Cloud? Wrong question…

June 5, 2014

You may think engineers like everything new. You may think it is so obvious. Engineers are developing all new technologies, gadgets and machines. All this new stuff… Literally everything… was actually developed by engineers. Engineers are in love from everything new they develop. But, here is the problem. When it comes to the point of […]

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