From the category archives:


Why PLM should leave a comfort zone?

by Oleg on February 27, 2015 · 2 comments

Thoughts after PI Congress in Dusseldorf…


Earlier this week, I attended PI Congress in Dusseldorf. For me, it was an interesting experience. I had no chance to attend PLM events for almost two years. PI Congress is an event I know from a very first time it was introduced in London back in 2011. The event became bigger and now have much richer content. Take a look on a 2015 program here. You can check back on twitter and take a look on a stream of updates and slides. I had great time discussing variety of PLM related topics with people I know many years. I met bunch of new people and got introduced to new ideas. I will share some of them later over the weekend and next week.

The topic I want to discuss today is a bit controversial… But let’s call the elephant in the room. PLM industry is stuck in a comfort zone. We know that. We know problems of PLM industry. We know problems of PLM systems and vendors. But we live with the status quo. Why? The simple answer is because it is a well-known comfort zone. We know how to live here. We know how to struggle with complex PLM projects. We know how to get executives on board of PLM projects and sell them the value propositions of PLM implementations. We know to run PLM implementations, import data and bring service organizations to complete PLM projects. We know how to upgrade PLM systems and get support from PLM vendors to do so. We know all that…

I’m coming today with three main reasons why I think PLM industry must leave a comfort zone.

1- Existing paradigms have slow ROI

Each large manufacturing firm is completed 2-3 cycles of PLM implementation for the last 15-20 years. Some of them did it with a single vendor. Some of them jumped a ship and moved between vendors. Technologies changed, version changed, user interface changed. However, the fundamental ideas of PLM remained the same. PLM systems are creating data model to manage information about product and related product development processes. This “implementation” process is tedious and complex. It is about existing manufacturing environment, ways people organize their work and people ego. Most of companies are doing so because they don’t know how to do things differently.

2- New generation of people

New generation of people grew up for the last decade. Those people are using cloud applications and mobile devices naturally. They are sending less emails and using chats. They are using Google Docs instead of Microsoft Office files. They are less thinking about processes and more thinking about design excellence. These people are getting access to modern manufacturing tools and environments and they are creating amazing products.  We see them around every day.

3- Connected life 

Our life is getting more connected every day. Think Network with capital “N”. It means nothing is located in a single place. Even more. It is less important where things are located and where people are working. What is important is to get an access to the network. As soon as you connected, you can do the job. People, devices, processes – all connected in a single live environment. Opposite to that, our PLM systems are about how to put data in a single database. How individual company databases can be connected in a Network? There is a gap here we need to close.

What is my conclusion? One of the sessions at PI Congress was not PLM related. It was a presentation done by Alisee de Tonnac, co-founder of Seedstars World. Check her profile on twitter.  I want to bring  only one statement from that presentation - “You’re so far behind, you think you’re first”. Think about it… Change is our biggest fear. In everything… We are afraid of change, so we keep existing systems, existing paradigms and do very little to introduce something new. However, the time is running out. Fast ROI, global, connected and mobile business environment – this is only a short list of what industry is demanding from PLM environment. Young generation of people is less interested in old acronyms, but more focused on how to get a job done efficiently. They are running bunch of cloud tools that have nothing to do with PLM paradigms. Some of them are politely asking “what is PLM”, but trying to bring systems they understand to design, engineer and manufacturing products differently. So, kick ourselves of out of comfort zone is hard. But we need to do that. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg



What will change existing PLM paradigms?

by Oleg on February 26, 2015 · 0 comments

It is not uncommon to hear about “changing paradigms” in different domains these days. We are watching Netflix and disconnecting cable TVs, using Uber instead of driving our own cars. Yesterday at PI Congress, I saw the following slide demonstrating examples of digital disruption in different industry domains.


Which obviously made me think about disruption in PLM. This domain has some characteristics that make it hard to disrupt. 1 / It is dominated by a small number of very well established vendors. 2/ The barrier to entry the space is high in terms of expertise and completeness of the solution. 3/ Decision lifecycle for customers to buy a software is long and the usage lifecycle is even longer. Companies can use software for 10-15 years because of product lifecycle (eg. aero-planes). As a result of that, one of the main drivers to change PLM system is in fact because existing PLM software will no longer developed or supported by PLM vendor.

For the last decade, we’ve seen very few example of starting a fresh new paradigm in PLM system. Aras Corp came with enterprise open source Aras Innovator. It was a cool idea – think about “Linux of PLM”. It would be interesting to see how much focus Aras will put in their open source in the future.

Another fresh start was Autodesk PLM360, which introduced “cloud PLM alternative”. Even ideas of “cloud” or “hosting” aren’t new and some vendors in PLM space did it before, entrance of such a big vendor like Autodesk in this domain made a change in the industry. 3 years later, we can see all PLM vendors have “cloud” in their portfolios.

There is one thing that didn’t change in PLM and this is very painful thing. You cannot just install and start using PLM like email. In the world of PLM it called “implementation”. You need to figure out how PLM products will help to organization to use it for their product development processes. And this is all about people. Technologies are easy, but people are really hard. Therefore, in my view, PLM got stuck with people. The current paradigm assumes PLM implementation as a core fundamental part of everything. It slows down adoption and requires extensive resources and effort from organization. How to change that?

Have you heard about DevOps? If not, I recommend you to put aside whatever you do and close this educational gap. It is well known in software development and it is essentially a combination of two terms – “development” and “operations”. It became popular and it is a result of massive introduction of new software development practices combined with cloud operations. Few months ago, I mentioned devops in my post – Why to ask your cloud PLM vendor about devops and kubernetes? Business insider article Today’s IT department is in fight for its life helped me to bring my thoughts to clarity. Here is my favorite passage.

Devops is all about how do things faster,” Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst tells Business Insider. It’s the IT department’s version of Facebook’s famous mantra “go fast and break stuff.”  IT departments say they had better figure out how to be faster, cheaper, and better. If they don’t, the company’s employees will no longer depend on them. They bring their own PCs, tablets and phones to work and they buy whatever cloud services they want to do their jobs. And the CIO will find his budget increasingly shifted to other manager’s pockets.

“Like the manufacturers were in the 1970s and 1980s were fighting for their lives, today’s IT departments are going to fight for their survival,” Whitehurst says. Traditional IT departments are slow and methodical. Rule no. 1 was to never bring the systems down. They would take months, even years, to roll out new new software, testing everything carefully, often spending millions in the process. Devops eliminates that. Instead, IT departments tear their projects apart into teeny components that can be implemented in tiny changes every day.

The last phrase is a key one. How to tear projects apart into teeny components to be implemented in tiny changes. It made me think about existing PLM implementation paradigm.  It heavily relies on long planning cycle and business department alignment. Once this planning made, implementation takes long time and put ROI in absolutely wrong place from what organizations are demanding it to be.

So, how PLM can adopt new way to do things? It requires 3 main changes – 1/ To change state of mind. Don’t think “one big implementation”. Opposite to that, think about small steps that will make business better, faster, efficient. 2/ To bring new PLM biz development tools that can help organizations to plan into small steps. 3/ To make PLM platform capable to function in Devops mode. It  requires new type of data modeling, deployment and monitoring tools.

More to come, but I think, Devops ideas can inspire and educate PLM developers to think differently. How to develop PLM practices in a different way. How to bring a new feature in a day and how to test changes for the next hour. These are questions PLM business consulting, developers and business consulting should ask about.


What is my conclusion? Changing paradigms is hard. For many years, PLM industry fundamental paradigm was to relies on implementation as adoption process of PLM technologies. It started from selling PLM toolkits that required long implementation. PLM vendors tried (still do) out of the box approach, which mostly ended up as a good marketing to demonstrated capabilities of PLM technologies, but required implementation anyway. Cloud approach cut the need for expensive IT involvement, but still requires implementation process. PLM industry needs to find a way to make PLM implementation simpler and easier, so people will stop thinking about PLM implementations as a mess. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg




In my previous post, I summarized changes in enterprise software that are going to influence a future of PLM. But enterprise software is not only thing that impacting PLM. A lot of new things are happening in manufacturing itself. You probably heard about “new industrial revolution”, “Manufacturing 4.0″, “makers movement”, etc. It is hard to put right tags on every new thing and classify them. I also think it is too early. However, there is one thing clear to me – changes are coming. These changes will impact the overall manufacturing eco-system and status-quo. What will be a manufacturing environment of the future and how it will impact product lifecycle management?

I’ve been trying to capture 3 most important trends I’m observing related to fundamental changes in manufacturing:


1- Global. Manufacturing business is going global in many ways. It is impossible to imagine manufacturing company these days that is completely disconnected from rest of the world. Small manufacturing firms are multi-located, using rich supply network and manufacturing facilities. Even more interesting, the smaller size you go, the dependencies is getting more interesting. Individual makers, mini-factories are getting even more power and distribution efficiency.

2- Agile network. In many places, hierarchical structures are displaced with  the power of network. It is a very interesting, since size won’t matter in the future. Network is more powerful compared to single hierarchical manufacturing structure. The power of communities for manufacturing is yet to be discovered.

3- IP paradigm changes. Manufacturing is going to challenge one of the most fundamental thing – IP ownership. Traditionally companies are owners of IP on manufactured things. Patents, trade secrets, design and manufacturing techniques protection. These are things we are familiar with. What is coming? Manufacturing companies such as Tesla are opening patent portfolios. Open Source Hardware is new trend that you can find similar to Open Source Software. The last one changed the landscape of software as we knew before. How OSHW will change manufacturing?

What is my conclusion? The new manufacturing eco-system is building up in front of us. It comes in many ways as combination of new possibilities of digital manufacturing, 3D printing, scaling, etc.  It brings fundamental changes in the process of manufacturing, product development and innovation. Small is a new big. Digital technologies are going to amplify manufacturing potential similar how back 18th century first industrial revolution replaced human power with machine power. The new manufacturing will be built on top of new principles of globalization, networks and open IP. The shift towards networks from centralized databases, open communities with open source hardware and others can influence existing PLM paradigms. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Idea go at

Wirearchy picture credit.




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