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Engineering

cloud-engineering-collaboration-user-adoption

Few weeks ago I attended Boston Tech Jam and learn new buzzword – YAPSA. Which stands for Yet Another Photo Sharing Application. The amount of cloud files and data sharing applications is skyrocketing these days. It inspired many developers to re-think how to share and collaborate with engineering data.  Cloud technologies made people to bring back lots of web-collaboration initiatives from earlier 2000s. Web collaboration was hard 10 years ago.  IaaS  initial cost and availability made deployment and hosting of collaboration tools simple. 10 years of web 2.0  and photo sharing application experience provided good foundation of open source technologies to implement basic set of features. The straightforward set of every engineering collaboration is down to 5 basic functions: upload CAD files, web/mobile viewing, versions, project organization, comments and reviews.

So, you can ask me – what is wrong here? The challenge of all cloud based tools is user adoption. The obvious dream of every vendor in this space is to make tools to scale within organizations.  Here are few widely used associations and buzzwords – Dropbox for CAD, Facebook for engineers, Google Drive for collaboration. However, to make engineering organization to use these tools is not a simple task. I want to bring 3 main roadblocks. In my view, most of cloud collaboration tools ignored them in their initial and sometimes even second incarnation.

1- The ease of data upload.

What is good for photo, doesn’t work well for engineers and CAD tools. Photo is all about how to upload a single file or a folder with bunch of photos from your last vacation. CAD design contains multiple files often located in several folders with references on standard parts, etc. File/Upload function doesn’t fit here.

2- Organizational security and data access.

Every organization, even small engineering firm is taking care about file access. Integration with directory service such as LDAP is probably “must have”. However, very often, access rules can go even future and integrate with security access of existing applications – PDM/PLM, ERP, CRM, etc.

3- Integration with desktop tools.

Integration inside CAD (and other desktop tools) can help people to start sharing data easier. As soon as you come close to basic PDM function of revision management, integration with desktop tool is must. To integrated with desktop tool is not simple. Many cloud collaboration tools are ignoring it from the beginning.

What is my conclusion?  Cloud collaboration tools are going through the difficult time of maturity. The time when website allowed to everyone to upload CAD file(s) for free and watch it on iPad is over. To remove organizational roadblocks preventing engineers to use tool broadly in an organization as well as to provide interesting capabilities to collaborate efficiently is more important. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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PLM and 25 years of Internet

by Oleg on March 13, 2014 · 2 comments

plm-www-25-years

It has been 25 years of Internet anniversary yesterday. Lots of article covering this event were flown around earlier this week. The Independent article – 25 years of the World Wide Web: Tim Berners-Lee explains how it all began covers the story together with world wide web inventor Tim Berners-Lee. Even we all know about how Internet influence data sharing and communication, I found the following passage absolutely important:

The decades since have seen dotcom fortunes made and lost, and the rise of social media sites. There are now more than 600 million websites worldwide, and the web has changed things forever for people who are able to access information and share things in a way not possible to a previous generation. It has provided a new dimension through which to communicate. The scale is vast, with billions online, and hundreds of millions of messages and 20 million pictures exchanged every single minute – not to mention billions spent.

Watch the following video with Sir. Berners-Lee to get more inspiration:

Another interesting piece of information you might explore is actually a proposal article from Cern institute where the Tim Berners-Lee created the idea of internet. Navigate here to explore that. The original proposal link is here. I’m sure you had a chance to see the following diagram before. But if not, take another look.

www-proposal-tim-berners-lee

It made me think again about the power of internet and future development of enterprise collaboration systems. The fundamental concept of interlinked distributed information system is so powerful. After 25 years, we have an absolute confirmation of how powerful this idea. The similarity with business organizations today amazed when I had a second look on the picture.

Most of today’s PDM and PLM systems were created 10-15 years ago. Back that time, the ideas of enterprise system  organization were  first about how to centralize and control data. Second was how to share information and collaborate. However,  the second one was screwed many times. Engineering and manufacturing companies are getting more and more global these days. These days, we need to find new concepts how to create and maintain a scalable global collaboration system to support global manufacturing.

What is my conclusion? Internet made a huge dent in the way to share information and collaborate globally. We see what happened for the last 25 years. We need to protect internet ideas and develop future enterprise systems with vision of openness and collaboration. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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PLM, Social and Fake Incentives

by Oleg on September 14, 2013 · 6 comments

Social hype is over. Period. I hope, I’ve got a social attention now :) . Despite that conclusion, social topic keeps me busy on the blog. A year ago I posted How to prevent social PLM from marketing fluff. My observation in that post came from watching multiple “Facebook clones” everywhere.  Few weeks ago I posted some of my thoughts in another post – PLM and Common Social Platform Behavior. Despite initial energy around social tools, the overall social discussion in enterprise PLM is going down. The adoption of enterprise social platform in engineering is low. Systems like 3dSwYm, Windchill Social Link, Vuuch, SAP Social and others raised lots of hype, but went down in most of  places. The core problem is content. CAD, PLM, ERP and other enterprise companies mimicked Facebook, but forgot about simple fact – content is a king. Without getting an access to the right content, social streams dried down.

One of my blogging buddies, Ed Lopategui put a very interesting write up on his engineering [engineering] blog called Antisocial Enterprise. Here are few interesting passages from the article:

The so-called enterprise social networking revolution, determined to transform business collaboration, is in a bind these days.  Social continues to manifest itself as cloned Facebook functionality grafted on every enterprise tool from SAP to Windchill.

In the mad rush to bring the tenants of social networking into the day-to-day business, there’s been little time to understand true value.  So it’s not all that surprising that true adoption has been lethargic, and that value has been fleeting.

An interesting scenario I recently heard: employees mandated to use Yammer at their company, simply have setup spam filters to keep all the Yammer traffic from bothering them.  Yammer Spammer?  That has a nice ring to it, actually.

Despite all these varied attempts, all these tools have remained so deeply buried into the Facebook model, that failure is definitely an option.  Key example:  most of the social enterprise demos have an interesting point of commonality – it’s not 3 minutes into any of the presentations, that someone points out where the like button is at.

Earlier this week, I was watching TechCrunch disrupt interviews. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer discusses her observations about Google CEO Larry Page and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2013 event. Here is what Marissa Mayer said about Zuck -

I have not interacted much with Mark Zuckerberg, but when I have met him I have been blown away by his insight into people. Not surprising to me he has created an amazing social tool, because i think he is insightful into people and their psychology and what drives them.

Last statement made me think again about the value of social systems for enterprise and engineering / PLM specifically. The creators of enterprise social networks missed the insight on what drives enterprise people. This is where I see the main cause of failure. I call it “fake social incentives”. Most of engineers and other people in a company are asking a question – why should I put myself on inter-company social network? Does it help me to solve a problem and get my job done faster? Overall hype around social networks made many people in companies joining enterprise social systems. It was popular and, in many situations, driven by management and top execs. However, within time, the last one gone. Social interest of engineers and other people has been fleeting.

What is my conclusion? Value is a most important incentive to use tools. Your incentive to be on inter company social network can be driven only by value it brings. To create a Facebook clone with “like behavior” is not enough. Fake incentives have short lifetime span. Content and open data sharing can solve the problem. Engineering social tools should provide an easy way to publish and provide a context for communication. This is absolute prerequisites to make ‘social technology’ successful. Just my thoughts..

Best, Oleg

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GrabCAD and Open Engineering Source: Dream or Reality?

September 8, 2013

Everybody knows about open source software (OSS). The model of OSS skyrocketed for the last decade and made lots projects on the web very successful. The evolution of open source wasn’t simple. It evolved from just making software source code available to quite complicated system of open software licensing. Open source inspired lots of new initiatives. One […]

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PDM 101: Engineering Document Management Fallacy

August 30, 2013

We love new technologies and trends. However, from time to time, I want to get back to basic topics of engineering and manufacturing software. The topic I’d like to discuss today is Engineering Document Management (EDM). This post was triggered by DM vs. EDM article by Scott Cleveland on 2PLM letter. Here is the passage Scott […]

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BOM 101: How to optimize Bill of Materials

January 14, 2013

Last week, I started the conversation about Bill of Materials and modern challenges. BOM is a heavy topic. Previous blog made me think about few additional things related to BOM management and I decided to share it with you too. One of the concepts I see as important in modern PLM and other enterprise systems […]

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PLM Cloud Concerns and Dropbox Reality for Engineers

December 4, 2012

Last week at AU, I attended Innovation Forum – The Reality of the cloud. The presentation made by Theresa Payton of Fortalice LLC caught my special attention. It was about security. Check later here. Security is loaded and complicated topic. Physical security is one of the top 5 concerns of customers related to the decision […]

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Should We Stop ‘Engineering PLM’?

September 29, 2012

Even if PLM (as a buzzword, business strategy and software) has a relatively short history, we can talk about some historical roots. There are two main roots or directions in the historical development of PLM. One takes us to design companies, CAD, Engineering Data Management (EDM) and Product data management (PDM). Another one takes us […]

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Should we “pack” PLM data into 3D PDF?

May 3, 2011

The ability to use PLM in downstream applications was always a challenge. There are multiple reasons for that – complexity of products, expensive licenses, long implementation cycle. At the same time, the value of downstream application is huge. The amount of data that organization can proliferate downstream is growing – it is 3D/2D CAD models […]

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How To Stop Searching for PLM Killer App?

March 11, 2011

Are you familiar with the “Killer App” syndrome? In my view, conversations about a “Killer App” are very popular when some technological device or broad technological innovation needs to be proven. Killer App becomes so popular that return on the technology becomes obvious. I can bring some examples of Killer Apps in the past: VisiCalc […]

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