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PLM-vendors-SWAT

One size doesn’t fit all. This is especially true in enterprise software. It also applies to engineering organization and manufacturing companies. Every organization is trying to come with a strategy how to organize engineering, product development, manufacturing, maintenance and other related functions. So, the same applies to PLM vendors. It is hard to make “apples to apples” comparison of PLM vendors and products. Details are important and without knowing small parts, it is hard to recommend as well as publish something that can be re-used in a general way. However, what to do if you need to choose or at least make some comparison of PLM vendors and their products? I’m sure you are familiar with SWOT analysis. It made me think about PLM vendors SWOT…

My first reaction was – no… this is probably mission impossible. In the past Gartner made Magic Quadrants. It provided a reliable source of information to compare software products and vendors. The last PLM Magic Quadrant (PLM MQ) I remember was done in 2007. I think Gartner stopped to produce them. I reproduced last PLM MQ in my blog – PLM Perfect Storm 2012. I hope you will agree with me –  it is very hard to made any decision based on that chart.

PLM analyst Jim Brown from Tech Clarity produced a very interesting set of publications recently – Strategic visions of major PLM players. In addition to that, Jim also published separate articles describing PLM vision for Autodesk, Dassault Systems, PTC and Siemens PLM. It is a very good read – I certainly recommend you to spend few days analyzing what is strategic mind of key PLM vendors.

Honestly, I cannot see how possible to create a generic PLM vendors SWOT. Kill me if you want. A specific comparison can be done for one customer case or industry. Nevertheless, I didn’t want to give up and wanted to finish this post. It made me think about what is single top strength of every PLM vendor. Well, this is probably doable… Because, each of these top 4 vendors is doing many different things, I need to scope what I mean by PLM here. The agreement about “what is PLM?” is another interesting discussion topic. I won’t go there today. In current post, I limit PLM to what called cPDM (according to segmentation proposed by another analytic company – CIMdata).

So, too many disclaimers… This is a time to show things off. Here is the list of top 4 PLM vendors with single, most significant strength. I listed vendors alphabetically, to prevent any speculation about order or priorities.

1- Autodesk PLM

Autodesk is a new player in PLM market. Back in 2012, Autodesk introduced cloud PLM offering – PLM360. A combination of this story together with Autodesk broad reach in all industries and markets is clear advantage. So, here is Autodesk PLM strength: Autodesk PLM360 cloud story, channel and partnership opportunity.

2- Dassault Systems

The history of Dassault PLM is going back to first large PLM implementations Dassault made in aerospace and defense industry. In my view, Dassault focus was to create an ultimate integration story between CATIA products and related parts of data management and collaboration of ENOVIA. Thus, I can see CATIA-ENOVIA vertical integration as the major Dassault Systems’ PLM strength.

3- PTC

Originally started from Pro-E (now Creo) product line, PTC developed and acquired several PDM/PLM products. These days, PTC PLM offering relies on Windchill platform. Windchill is a very mature product that keeps the original pure web architecture. Windchill scalable product and architecture is clearly strongest part of PLM from PTC.

4- Siemens PLM

Siemens PLM has probably the largest PLM (cPDM) marketshare covered by multiple TeamCenter products developed in the past. These days, TeamCenter is Siemens PLM flagship platform absorbing all existing and new developed PLM products and customers. Therefore, I consider  TeamCenter product line maturity and install base as the biggest strength of Siemens PLM.

What is my conclusion? What do you think? Do you agree with my analysis? PLM products are multifunctional. PLM industry is complex. I wanted to mention “single the most significant strength” that applies to both – company and product. Every specific case can bring additional aspects that can highlight variety of characteristics and product parameters. If you are selecting PLM now, I can recommend to read my old post – How to choose PLM? , which is a bit outdated (from 2010) and check another one – 7 rules for selecting PLM in 2014. Again, as usual, nothing scientific. These are only my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Update (22-May-2014)

As I expected, this post raised lots of comments. I appreciate all my readers that came back with comments and questions for the last 2 days since I published this post. The largest amount of comments addressed the absence of two products/vendors from the list – Oracle/Agile and SAP PLM.

5- Oracle / Agile PLM 

Historically, Oracle acquired Agile PLM, which was one of the biggest neutral (not involved into CAD-related business) PLM vendors. For the moment, the core strength of Agile PLM is Oracle market share and family of product as well as out of the box functionality related to BOM management.

6- SAP / PLM

The core strength of SAP PLM is the fact it comes from SAP. The usage of SAP in a company as a platform is long term strategic decision. As soon as company decides for SAP, the strength of PLM addition from SAP will allow to cover all aspects of product development processes that not involving design and engineering.

What is my conclusion (22-May-2014)? To create good comparison is an interesting work. Few months ago, I’ve been posted about Crowdsourcing and PLM consultants’ future. For the moment, I feel like this post is making real field test. Again, appreciate all comments that help to make this article better.

Another minor update for article title. Number “4″ is not relevant, so let’s get rid of it.

End of Update (22-May-2014)

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Disclaimer: I’m Autodesk employee now. In case you want to see it, here is my LinkedIn profile. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are my own only and in no way represent the views, positions or opinions – expressed or implied – of my employer (present and past).

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email-message-collaboration

We are really bad about managing ourselves. The natural people behavior is to create mess. Life is getting more dynamic these days. We are swamped into the ocean of information, data streams, social networks, emails, calls, etc. If you want me to do something, send me an email. I’m pretty sure you are familiar with such type of behavior? I’m sure you do. This is our way to get our of mess, so we can track everything. It is true for both private and business life. One of the most requested feature in all PLM workflow systems I developed was to send notifications via email. HRB article Stop using your inbox as to-do list speaks about why we should stop this bad behavior. I liked the following passage:

The reason so many of us fall into the trap of conflating email and task management is that email is inextricable from much of what we do in work and in life: many of our tasks arrive in the form of email messages, and many other tasks require reading or sending emails as part of getting that work done.

While there are those who solve this problem by simply tracking their to-dos using the task manager within Outlook (or another email platform), that approach comes at too steep a cost. Keeping your tasks in your email program means you can’t close that program (and its attendant distractions) when you want to plow through your task list. Having both activities as part of one application also means that you’ll still have to flip from one view to the other; even if you open a separate window for your task list, you risk losing sight of it in a sea of open emails. Most crucially, defaulting to the task manager that is built into your email client means you don’t get to choose the particular task manager that works best for your particular kind of work, or work style.

Email became the pile of all activities I need to do. It is a mix of emails, tasks, alerts and everything else that eventually comes to my inbox to distract me. I want to resolve this mess. At the same time we all panic when messages are starting to come into multiple channels, since we are afraid to miss them. So want both – to keep all messaging activities together and focus on what is important and what needs to be done. It is a time to come with David Allen’s Getting Things Done method. Such method and systems can work for individuals, but what happens in groups, especially when these groups are sharing common tasks? This is where we get social these days.

Social became such a buzzword for the last few years. How many times you’ve heard “Facebook for xyz” or “Twitter for abc”. I guess a lot… One of the companies that comes to my mind in that context is Yammer. The idea of Yammer was simple – go viral by combining people messages in activity streams. Microsoft snapped Yammer for $1.2B few years ago. Now Microsoft is converging Yammer with SharePoint – an attempt to create social collaboration system. Mobile has very strong impact on our life these days. Does mobile+social is a future big deal? For some of people it is really big deal – especially when we speak about Whatsapp acquisition by Facebook. Companies are recognizing the importance of messaging platforms. Example in engineering and CAD space – Autodesk (disclose – my current employer) just released mobile group messaging application Autodesk Instant.

So, social chat, social messaging, social networking are good. However, where is the line that turns emails and messaging into collaboration? The difference is big. What can differentiate between social email  facilitating communication and system that allows people to collaborate (work together)? I posted Will Microsoft-Yammer kill social PLM? Not yet… The topic differentiating messaging and collaboration is context (piece of data). This data is presented in a contextual form allowing people to make operations and activities together. The simplest “collaboration” is commenting on Facebook photo. In the context of engineering activity, it can be more complex. What about drawing or 3D model? This is a good context for common work. So, collaborative nature of the system is first of all to allow access and common activity on the contextual data. Technically it can be done by sending email with link to the file on FTP site. But it is so 95…

What is my conclusion? I don’t think there is a clear boarder between email,messaging and collaboration. It is blurred. However, access to contextual information and data representations such as photo, spreadsheet, drawing or 3D model is the most important thing that differentiate between any type of fancy email / messaging and collaboration. By accessing these pieces of information together people can work together and get job done in an organized form. Engineers are surrounded by huge amount of complex information. So, collaboration is clearly way to go. However, don’t underestimate simple messaging, especially for some downstream tasks. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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cad-collab-cloud

Collaboration was always in the focus of engineering software. Started earlier with CAD and product data management, software vendors tried to create an environment where engineers can easy collaborate and share information about design. The boundary of collaboration never been limited to engineering department. You might remember “extended enterprise collaboration” stories back in 2000s. That was probably first attempt to provide an easy way to share information among engineering and other teams. In my view, early collaboration software provided by CAD and PLM vendors had two main diseases – complexity of user interface (or how we call it these days – user experience) and complexity of computer infrastructure needed to be installed and maintained by IT departments.

The situation is going to change these days. User interface is clearly getting in focus of development teams. Most of CAD and PLM companies are recognizing the importance of smooth user experience.  The demand of users set by public web giants such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and not by old-school enterprise software vendors. Cloud technologies are going to simplify IT jobs and provide new generation of IT infrastructure.

So, design collaboration space is getting hot. Established CAD vendors and newcomer start-up companies are trying to innovate by providing new environments and collaboration philosophies. I picked up 3 companies that in my view can provide a good example of the future CAD cloud design collaborative environment – Autodesk, GrabCAD and Solidworks.

Autodesk 360

Autodesk introduced Tech preview of new Autodesk 360 product. Core77 blog article Autodesk 360 Tech preview: it’s like Facebook for designers provides a very good coverage and screen shots. Here is the passage summarized what Autodesk 360 does:

autodesk360

The company has created a Facebook-like interface for projects and design teams; collaborators log on to a cleanly-designed dashboard page containing “all of the data, projects, people, tasks, discussions, activities, issues and alerts that are associated with design or architecture projects that they are working on.” Clicking on a project, for instance, is like clicking on someone’s Facebook wall; you get a linear view of all developments concerning that project, with your fellow collaborators’ updates taking the place of comments. People can upload relevant files as updates, and anyone with access can view any file, regardless of whether it’s an Autodesk format or not. (This includes non-design data, like spreadsheets and such.) And yes, Autodesk 360 can also be used from your phone or tablet, just as with Facebook.

GrabCAD Workbench (Partners Space)

GrabCAD is a newcomer in CAD collaboration space. Started as a space for engineers to collaborate few years ago (funny enough, it was mentioned many times as a “Facebook for engineers”), these days GrabCAD is moving fast to become CAD collaboration solution provider with their GrabCAD Workbench product. GrabCAD blog – Why GrabCAD created a next-generation release process? can give you some insight on GrabCAD strategy and philosophy. Here is what I captured:

gc-collaboration-cad

GrabCAD started as a way for engineers to collaborate on engineering projects. Over time, we engineered the secure system GrabCAD Workbench first for external collaboration, then, with CPD, for PDM-style internal collaboration. Unlike PLM systems, which mostly started as CAD-centric data management tools, we have approached the problem by first understanding the social and business problems our customers need to solve. This unique perspective caused us to partition the private engineering workspace from special “Partner Spaces” that make sharing such data secure and foolproof. While the engineering team is working away, each partner has access to the version released to them. The Partner Space also contains a limited and more appropriate set of tools for external collaboration, so the partner sees only what they need to.

SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual (Dashboard)

Last week at SolidWorks World 2014 in San Diego, Dassault SolidWorks made an announcement about new product SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual (SWMC). The product was long awaited and raised lots of discussion and controversy in blogosphere and CAD press. My single best link to follow different opinions about SWMC is SolidSmack’s article – What we found out about SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual and Future of SolidWorks. Another good reference is Graphic Speak article – The business case for SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual. What captured my attention in SWMC announcement is introduction of so called – 3DEXPERIENCE 3D Space. Here is how it was explained by Graphic Speak:

3dexperience-3dspace

Mechanical Conceptual introduces a new way of sharing data that’s integral to the 3D Experience Platform. Called the 3D Dashboard, it functions like the Windows Explorer for SolidWorks or any other desktop application. All models are saved to the dashboard in a so-called workspace that can be shared with co-workers or customers. The dashboard is accessible by a Web browser. Clients who don’t have Mechanical Conceptual can simply log in to view models

What is my conclusion? Customers have huge demand to improve collaboration. People are expecting collaboration should be as easy as sharing your photos on Facebook. However, complexity of design environment is much higher than sharing photos. This is a clear challenge for all vendors regardless on their status and experience. The simplicity is the hardest thing to deliver. However, it is not all about future of collaboration. In my view, cost will become the next important challenge. Who will be able to provide the best combination of features, user experience and cost will probably lead future CAD collaboration space in the cloud. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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The future of PLM vendors differentiation?

January 26, 2014

Differentiation. Competitive advantage. Value sales. I’m sure you’ve heard these buzzwords many times. Competition is part of everyday business life. Usually, I don’t speak about competition. I searched across my blog and founded only one reference to competition related writing – PLM Competition Toolbox. But I want to look in my crystal ball today. Here […]

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7 rules for selecting PLM software in 2014

January 17, 2014

Enterprise software choice is a complex decision process. The time when you was able to buy a software from trusted XYZ vendor and sleep safe is over. These days IT and other software decision makers are facing challenges related to technological and business options related to new business models, cloud technologies, specific vendors, user experience […]

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The challenging face of dual PLM clouds

December 28, 2013

Cloud PLM is a not a new word any more. Established vendors and newcomers in PLM world are developing strategies and implementations how to embrace PLM cloud. In my article few months ago, I’ve talking about multiple faces of the cloud – public, private, hybrid, collocation. Jim Brown, well-known PLM analyst and my long time blogging […]

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Unthink and rethink 3D search?

December 6, 2013

I just came back from Autodesk University 2013 that took place earlier this week in freezing  Las Vegas. One of the memos that I brought back was about unthinking and rethinking everything we do today. The thing that struck me the most was the passage from Jeff Kowalski keynote- Jeff Kowalski, CTO: We need to […]

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Autodesk University 2013 Keynote: Outside PLM

December 3, 2013

I’m attending Autodesk University (AU 2013) these days in  busy Las Vegas, NV. If you had a chance to attend AU in the past, probably familiar with craziness of conference halls, busy session schedule, smell of Vegas hotels and… if you got lucky, nice view from your room.   The main event this morning was […]

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The future battle for PLM upfront cost

November 4, 2013

Transformation of business models is one of the most important trends that happens today in the industry. Take a deep breath… it doesn’t mean companies don’t want to be compensated for the work they do. These days it is just about how to define the right business model that reflecting the relationships between all participants […]

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Why engineering technology has 10 years adoption cycle?

August 11, 2013

I’m relaxing in sunny Tel-Aviv, removing jet lag and preparing for coming working week here. For those of you not aware, Sunday is actually working day in Israel opposite to Friday, so it is a bit confusing shift after U.S. During my travel time from Boston, I had an opportunity to catch up on my […]

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