From the category archives:

Vendors

cad-ambush-pdm

Here is the passage I captured during my weekend reading – We only sleep at night because Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Elon Musk don’t want our businesses. Yet. It came from the Warren Ellis’ article The New Tech Disruption: Murdering Businesses and Haunting Their Corpses. The article is a very nice summary of examples demonstrating the dynamics of businesses these days and aggressiveness towards earlier partners and future competitors. It is must read for everyone who is building business these days. Here is one example:

If you build your business on top of someone else’s system, eventually they’re going to notice. Just last week, the livestreaming app Meerkat, which uses Twitter to transmit, felt a cold breeze pass through the room when Twitter bought the competing system Periscope, which will doubtless be baked into Twitter as soon as possible. Digital businesses can murder and haunt their own parasites.

The article made me think more about what happens in product data management (PDM) businesses. Let me go back in time into 1990s or maybe even earlier. Do you remember the beginning of PDM (product data management)  or how it was called TDM (technical data management)? PDM was born to manage CAD files. The fundamental idea was to solve a problem created by CAD system. CAD systems used files to store data. But, as you know, most of CAD systems are not creating single file, but use MANY files to store data. These files are interconnected for different purposes – parts are used by assemblies, drawings are created out of parts. If you are user of AutoCAD, you must be familiar with the mess that can be created by usage of XREFs. Trying to re-use and share design was painful. You can hear customers screaming for decades about how to find a last revision of a document.

So, the problem was clear identified. The pain was here and PDM vendors came up with a value to help customers – data management system that can keep record of all these files and provides a set of functions to search, share, change, etc. More than 2 decades later, there are no so many PDM companies left. Most of them (successful) were acquired by CAD vendors, many of less successful disappeared. However, what I found mostly interesting is that pain is still here. Users are struggling to manage CAD files, revisions, re-use, search and share files.

During last few years, we had a renaissance of PDM driven mostly by cloud technology. Cloud is an ideal paradigm to share data. So, the idea to develop cloud products to share and view CAD data was appealing to many companies. Some of them developed very good products customers really like, but I can carefully state that none of them turned into sustainable businesses.

So, what happened? Here is my guess – all PDM businesses were murdered… by CAD vendors. Think about acquisition as a kind of murder too. Each CAD vendor acquired (or developed)  PDM product, which was  ”the best for a specific CAD”, but never provided an equally good solution for multiple CAD systems. Most of “other CAD integrations” are developed by partners because of limitations of licensing and partnership agreements. Independent PDM vendors put their focus on developing of multi-CAD strategies and struggled to keep up with CAD features development and API support.

The things are getting more interesting these days. The new era of cloud CAD systems is coming. The most interesting part of cloud CAD systems is that in order to make them successful, CAD vendors will have to solve fundamental PDM problem – to store design data, manage revisions, search and re-use existing designs. You can read more about this in my earlier post – Cloud CAD will have to solve PDM problem at first place.

Last week I attended Onshape webinar where Jon Hirschtick explained why Onshape decided to develop new generation of CAD systems using cloud platform and new browser based technologies. You can see recording here. The following slide caught my attention. You can clearly see – Onshape is going to provide PDM functionality with no additional license cost to all Onshape users.

onshape-data-management

Autodesk, which is strategically focusing on development of cloud technologies and applications for the last five years, is coming with the similar functionality in their Fusion360 product. I captured the following table at Autodesk Fusion360 website. As you can see core PDM functionality is included into Fusion360 subscriptions.

autodesk-fusion360-pdm-functions

The following video is a good demo of Fusion360 data management.

What is my conclusion? PDM business is built on top of CAD systems. In the past, CAD vendors had “love-hate” relationships with PDM businesses. Depends on the time and specific situation, PDM was out of CAD priorities. In some periods PDM businesses helped CAD vendors to collaborate and compete. Things are changing today. Data management is very critical for CAD business. CAD vendors cannot avoid it and let other companies to manage their data. Data management (PDM) is an essential part of cloud CAD success, since it is a part of their “platform” and data management strategies. I can see some interesting competition in front of us about how to get data management done right from cost and user experience standpoints. If your technology knows how to manage CAD data in the cloud, you can be a valuable asset for CAD vendor. If you are building PDM business, you probably will be a target for a future murder. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of nonicknamephoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Share

2 comments

onshape-fusion-apples-to-apples

For the last few years cloud became such a fuzzy buzzword, that to say about some software “cloud application” is basically means nothing. All companies are shifting towards cloud. So, to understand “how” actual product is leveraging cloud technology is absolutely important to make a comparison. I’ve been discussing the topic of “how to” with regards to different cloud approaches – PDM/PLM. Why cloud? Wrong question… I think, recent appearance of Onshape generated a large amount of industry discussion about how “cloud CAD” tools can be using different cloud technologies.

SolidSmack came with a great idea of simultaneous interview featuring parallel Q&A with Carl Bass and Jon Hirschtick. 6 questions, 100 words to answer. Short and sweet. Navigate you browsers to the link – Carl Bass + Jon Hirschtick = CAD in The Cloud Interview of the Year and enjoy the read.

I’ve been reading Q&A and was trying to find a key difference between Onshape and Autodesk Fusion 360 approaches. You probably had a chance to read my previous article – Carl Bass and Jon Hirschtick are in agreement about future of cloud CAD. The last Q&A didn’t change my opinion about that. I still believe both Autodesk and Onshape are recognizing cloud as a biggest trend and opportunity to improve design, engineering and manufacturing tools. At the same time, SolidSmack’s Q&A helped me to find a two important differentiations between Autodesk Fusion 360 and Onshape.

Full CAD in a browser

You can clearly read Jon’s statements about “full cloud”, which goes across all his answers. Technologically, it translated in the tech approach to provide full Onshape 3D design capabilities completely in a “browser”. Here is the passage, which explains that in the best way:

Jon: We at Onshape have a very clear and unique strategy: full-cloud 3D CAD. Our full 3D CAD system runs in browsers — no downloads or installs — and on phones and tablets. Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebook, Android, iPhone, iPad — full 3D CAD on any of these.

You still need to install Onshape app to run on mobile devices (I use Onshape iOS app on my iPhone and iPad). So, pure browser solution is applicable approach for running Onshape on Mac, Windows and Chromebook. Yesterday, I had to re-install a very early Onshape app on my iOS because it was crashing to run with upgraded version of Onshape (this is just my guess). Which is again a confirmation that any installation is potentially creating an additional barrier of complexity.

An integrated cloud-based experience

Autodesk Fusion 360 is focusing on how to provide a complete workflow for users going from the early design stage to manufacturing and fabrication. Here is the passage from Q&A:

Carl: We wanted to solve many of the problems that people experience today in terms of the workflows necessary to accomplish their overall jobs—so we used the best of cloud and mobile technology to build a comprehensive CAD system that goes all the way from ideation to fabrication.

Experience is a popular word in a lexicon of modern software. And this is absolutely important for users these days. The traditional experience is to run dozens of tools on a desktop and use files for interoperability between them. This file-based approach has many flaws and, I think, time finally came to change that. Autodesk’s focus to use cloud technologies to connect workflows and integrate between different stages of design is absolutely important.

Next week, I will have an opportunity to attend Develop3D Live where both Jon Hirschtick and Carl Bass are going to speak about cloud CAD. Agenda is here. Develop3D will live stream the event – registration link is here.

What is my conclusion? Autodesk has more mature product, which leverage almost 5 years of Autodesk development and experiments with different cloud tools and customers. Integrated cloud product experience on top of Autodesk A360 platform can be an advantage for many users. Coming later in the game, Onshape is more focusing on developing of unique “pure browser” technologies that can provide differentiation to users – ease of access and simplicity of data collaboration. I don’t see two approaches as mutually exclusive. Onshape apps on mobile devices is a confirmation that Onshape tech can be used with installed software too. At the same time, Autodesk focus on integrated workflows can become more important for Onshape later in the game. At the same time, Autodesk can innovate future with the ways applications are installing and used.  Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Jomphong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Share

5 comments

plm-watch-app

It looks like CAD industry was too busy with Onshape for the last two days and forgot about Apple Watch event that actually happened almost at the same day and time. It took me some time to get up to speed with all publications about Apple Watch. Full disclosure – I didn’t buy Apple Watch yet. However, I’m using Android Watch for the last six months, which gave me some additional sense about wearable device use cases .

There are so many publications about Apple watch these days, so it is hard to pickup one. However, the following TechCrunch article caught my special attention – Salesforce First Enterprise App To Jump On Apple Watch Bandwagon. Salesforce is enterprise application and platform. It has some connection to the same eco-system of customers CAD/PLM companies are focusing on. Here is an interesting passage:

Salesforce wanted to be a part of the wearables revolution and even launched a Wearables SDK last June. Today they released three products designed specifically to work on the Watch. First of all, there is the previously mentioned Salesforce Wave for Apple Watch. This provides an at-a-glance view of important information you want to be notified about. He acknowledges that this is not about detailed analysis, but getting key data when it matters. If you want more, you are going to go to your phone or tablet on the road (or your computer in the office). The second piece is Salesforce1 for Apple Watch which provides quick access to the entire range of Salesforce information including sales, service, marketing and employee community. For instance, a sales manager might get an alert when a discount is required on deal and a marketer might get an alert when a campaign reaches its pipeline goal.

The second group of application made me think about some use cases for product lifecycle management applications, which is consistent with what I experienced with my Android watch for the last six months. I call it “short session”. It is an interaction with the device which long usually very short time. Let’s call it less than 2 minutes. How I came to that 2 min threshold? Actually, this is an outcome of my experience with GTD two minutes rule. If you have a task which takes less than 2 minutes to accomplish, you better do it now. Taking action to accomplish this task later will be not cost effective and will take more time.

Here is the thing. I can see some PLM related tasks that really have a very short time span. Few examples – ECO alert, document approval, task notification. To have quick action delivered to your watch can be an interesting opportunity PLM developers can discuss with their customers.

What is my conclusion? I think we are getting into uncharted territory again. Almost 5 years ago, I asked the question – Who can generate 3D/PLM content for Apple iPad? It raised many debates back in 2010… Fast forward into 2015. Nobody is asking questions about usefulness of mobile devices and tablets. It seems to me your wrist  is a new place to innovate for PLM and we need to watch that :) . Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image credit – Salesforce and TechCrunch

Share

0 comments

Offline cloud and why CAD / PLM industry discussion is important

March 10, 2015

Yesterday was a very busy day for online community of people involved in engineering and manufacturing software. Onshape, the new cloud CAD ventured founded by Jon Hirschtick and the team announced about availability of public beta. It was hard to miss that announcement in the spike of publications about Onshape. Tons of opinions, initial experience, […]

Share
Read the full article →

PLM Thoughts After Onshape Public Beta

March 9, 2015

This morning Onshape went from stealth mode into public beta release. I’ve been using Onshape for the last few weeks. Today, I finally have an opportunity to share some of my thoughts about how I think Onshape and other cloud design systems will influence PLM implementations. The scope of PLM I’m thinking about is related to […]

Share
Read the full article →

Is public cloud reshaping PLM landscape? Time to re-check…

March 6, 2015

The question how to implement PLM cloud is one of the most confusing when it comes to the decision about choosing one of available PLM solutions on the market today. The time when PLM vendors used “cloud” as a differentiation is over. Most of PLM vendors are comfortable with “cloud” word and the number of companies […]

Share
Read the full article →

Rethinking PLM ROI in cloud era

March 5, 2015

To measure ROI is important part of PLM implementation decision. These days companies are less interested in 3-5 years implementation roadmaps. Therefore, discussion about PLM ROI can be very painful. It is better to get prepared upfront. PLM ROI is not a simplest thing to get into.  I put some of my thoughts why hard […]

Share
Read the full article →

The future of free PDM

February 11, 2015

Free is an interesting trend. As we always said, there is no free lunch. But, last decade introduced us to a new way of thinking about FREE. I recommend you to read a book – Free: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson. Free trend is interesting and has many opportunities. It is, of […]

Share
Read the full article →

Cloud CAD will have to solve PDM problems at first place

February 9, 2015

The race towards CAD in the cloud is getting more interesting every day. I’ve been watching SOLIDWORKS World 2015 live streaming this morning. Overall SOLIDWORKS show was very impressive, as usual. I look forward to keep watching it following days. However, what caught my special attention today is a presentation of a new cloud product – […]

Share
Read the full article →

Carl Bass and Jon Hirschtick are in agreement about future of CAD

February 6, 2015

Cloud computing is changing a world around us. CAD and engineering applications are not exception. It has been already five years since SolidWorks team at SolidWorks World 2010 announced about developing of CAD and mobile applications. I found Cadalyst articles – SolidWorks World 2010: Clouds, Macs, Movie Making, and More which speaks about capability of cloud […]

Share
Read the full article →