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PLM

How to sell PLM to enterprise IT

by Oleg on October 30, 2014 · 0 comments

Enterprise IT adoption cycle diagram made by Simon Wardley made me feel sad and funny at the same time. I found it one of the best visualizations of many situations I’ve been in the past when working on PLM sales and implementation situations. This is a brilliant reflection of technology adoption route for IT department – ignore, prevent, tolerate, allow, integrate (credit Joe Drumgoole tweet).

enterprise-IT-adoption-cycle

It made me think about how to prevent a conflict with enterprise IT earlier in the PLM sales process. Today, I want to share some of my recommendations. These steps helped me in many situations. This is not a silver bullet, but I found them useful. PLM system and implementation cannot live in isolation. It has to be integrated with many other systems and processes in organization. Therefore, to learn them early during the sales process can be very beneficial.

1- Learn about enterprise IT 

You need to make yourself familiar with basics of enterprise IT. You can bring engineering people to help you at this stage, but you need to get basic information about company enterprise infrastructure, data centers, data management. You need to learn how IT is managed. Is it local team? Does company use outsource IT consultant and service company, etc.

2- Get information about related enterprise software

PLM system cannot live in isolation. So, it will use databases, connect and use variety of application services, integrated with ERP and CRM systems. It will help you a lot to gather information about enterprise software. More specifically, you need to learn about fundamentals of how company is doing item master management, material planning and manufacturing BOM.

3- Find matched solutions 

Do some homework and research to find similar solutions and/or references to products already used by a company. It will help you to find precedents and patterns you can refer during the review with IT organization.

4- Ask for meeting with enterprise IT to discuss PLM values and architecture

Don’t wait until late stage to discuss architecture and specific deployment aspects with IT organization. Do it earlier in the process to identify potential conflicts of infrastructure and process implementation – security, data ownership, workflows related to manufacturing planning  and supply chain. During the meeting, try to show how IT organization will benefit from adopting PLM solution. It can come in many places – better data management, process optimization, collaboration with suppliers, data integration. Very often, IT organization suffers from complexity of processes IT people need to support. Explain to IT how PLM solution can help if you will have one more vote inside of organization.

5- Make reference call with IT people 

Find existing customers that you can reference with similar enterprise infrastructure and solution landscape. Nothing can be more convincing IT people, than speaking to people having same roles in another company. In many situations it can help to solve problems much faster.

What is my conclusion? Enterprise sales requires communication with IT people in organization. One of the mistakes is to think that you need first to convince business and engineering people about PLM solutions. In my view, this is wrong approach. You need to work proactively with IT, otherwise IT can destroy the deal at very last moment. To get references from existing well-known customers is one of the best ways to pass IT. To have certification and/or partnerships with vendors, which products already used and can be referenced is another complementary approach. If you see a major conflict in architecture, system approach or IT strategy, you better get an alert about that early in the process. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Diagram by Simon Wardley’s  blog - Bits or Pieces?  (CC BY SA 3.0)

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Tesla-model-s-infotainment-beyondplm

The complexity of manufacturing is skyrocketing these days. It sounds reasonable for many of us when it comes to spaceships, jetliners and defense systems. You can think about car as something much simpler. Navigate to Ford Heritage website article – Ford Celebrates 100 Years of the Moving Assembly Line. The complexity of Ford Model T just about 100 years ago was few thousands parts:

One hundred years ago today, Henry Ford and his team at Highland Park assembly plant launched the world’s greatest contribution to manufacturing – the first moving assembly line. It simplified assembly of the Ford Model T’s 3,000 parts by breaking it into 84 distinct steps performed by groups of workers as a rope pulled the vehicle chassis down the line.

ford-t-manufacturing

The situation is completely different these days and it raises concerns of cars reliability because of design complexity. My attention was caught Business Insider article – Consumer Reports Says Infotainment Systems Are Ruining Car Reliability. Picture in the article shows central computing unit of Tesla Model S. I’m not sure the concern of authors was specifically about Tesla, but I noticed the following passage:

“Of the 17 problem areas CR asks about in its survey, the category including in-car electronics generated more complaints from owners of 2014 models than for any other category.” Automakers have invested heavily in infotainment systems since consumers began demanding them in a wide variety of vehicles. Furthermore, the entire auto industry is looking forward to a future in which in-car electronics, displays, related infotainment systems, and advanced self-driving features will be increasingly prevalent, if not dominant. It can be difficult enough to engineer a highly reliable car from a strictly mechanical standpoint. There are quite literally a lot of moving parts. Bringing a whole new cluster of technologies into the picture has created additional pressures — and to a certain extent given Consumer Reports’ testers more to find wrong.

This article reminded me few topics I touched before on my blog. One of them is related to some of my speculation about future plans of Tesla to build their own PLM system. Another one is related to future need to combine engineering and software BOMs. I think, these are very critical elements of modern PLM system to serve the needs of many manufacturing companies. Tesla is probably an extreme case. But the question is for how long.

Here are some interesting examples about Tesla electronic and software. Navigate to Autoconnectcar article – Telsa S super connected car is a giant iPad on wheels? The article speaks about some interesting tear-down project made by IHS, which is known for tearing down smartphones and tables. IHS recently tore apart 2013 Tesla Model S. Read the article and watch few videos. The following passage gives you an impression of Tesla media control unit (the hub of infotainment and everything else in Tesla)

The Premium Media Control Unit is gigantic as compared to other cars with a 17″ diagonal display that controls the whole car with a NVIDA Tegra 3 1.4-gigahertz quad-core processor. It’s large, with ten printed circuit boards with wireless communications (Sierra Wireless 3G HSPA+ cellular module), GPS, Bluetooth/Wi-Fi (Parrot), a visual computing modual, DRAM, supporting components, touchscreen controller,  display controller and motherboard. The instrument cluster is NVIDIA Tegra 2 based

The complexity of bill of material just for this unit goes beyond average smart TV set. Which can give you an impression of overall complexity. The article briefly mentioned future connected telematics with internet access. Which connects to even more complex topic of IoT complexity and scale I posted before – IoT data will blow up traditional PLM databases.

What is my conclusion? The challenges and complexity of product development and manufacturing are real. The wide spread of electronic and software in modern manufacturing products and the overall complexity level is growing up. While all eyes are now following Tesla, my hunch other cars are not much different and modern product development trends will not make car simpler. It raises many questions about requirements to PLM software capable to manage such level of complexity. PLM vendors and engineering IT architects can take a note and do some homework. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Pictures credit Business Insider article and Ford Heritage website.

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ibm-apple-mobile-first

 

Few months ago, I posted about potential for Apple and IBM to open a door for mobile PLM future. Blog raised lot of questions, but I haven’t seen any groundbreaking announcements from CAD and PLM vendors since that time. Maybe I missed some press releases or maybe companies are shy to announce and work in a stealth mode.

One more news about the same topic caught my attention again few days ago. Business insider article Apple And IBM Hope To Change The Way People Work, Starting Next Month. I noticed few snippets of information indicating interest and stating that some development work is under go. Here are few passages:

“Hundreds” of corporations worldwide have “expressed interest” in MobileFirst to Apple, which is “actively working with over 50 of them to become foundational clients for MobileFirst solutions in their industries,” Maestri said. The apps mostly focus on analyzing business data. IBM’s Schroeter says the first dozen applications will launch this quarter. Some apps will be out next month, Maestri told Reuters.

IBM gets paid to write the apps and then host them on its cloud, and it also has the chance to sell other things, like security software, and so on. “We also know that the deeper the apps go in the enterprise, the more it opens up avenues in enterprise,” Cook said. “And that’s a key part of the IBM partnership and what I think customers will get out of that, which is more important than us selling, is changing the way people work.”

IBM Mobile First website is up and running. You can browse to get more information. I found few interesting use cases under build category.

Navigate to this link to Rohde & Schwarz cuts mobile development costs by 60 percent. This use case speaks about cross platform mobile application development. More specifically it was about creating mobile enterprise infrastructure to generate applications. To integrate with existing enterprise backend infrastructure was one of the challenges PLM vendors and manufacturing companies are experiencing today. Here is an interesting passage I captured from case study:

Rohde & Schwarz wanted to create a mobile enterprise infrastructure that enabled it to support multiple devices and generate required applications. Specifically, the company sought to build, run and manage a range of applications for customers, partners and employees within an aggressive timeframe. However, the organization had certain challenges, including a need for cross-platform development as well as integration with back-end systems such as SAP and an existing mobile device management infrastructure.

It made me think about potential of specific PLM mobile application development. One of my earlier posts -Mobile PLM gold rush: did vendors miss the point? I’ve been talking about the fact, successful “mobile” strategy requires development of application to support specific use cases and scenarios. I continue to discuss the same idea here – How PLM vendors can find mobile moments . Here is a passage from my older post, which I believe is still very relevant:

Consumers are moving to mobile and requesting more and more interaction with businesses via mobile devices. To make “all tablet” won’t work for product development software. To stop and think about a specific productivity apps that can solve a particular problem is the right way to go.

What is my conclusion? I didn’t find any trace of CAD/PLM companies working with IBM/Apple on mobile apps. However, I still believe, mobile experience is completely different from what customers in B2B spaces are experience with desktop or even web applications. To success in mobile, PLM companies need to find customer “mobile moments” that focus on a specific use cases where mobile device will provide a complete advantage. To replicate existing product into mobile devices won’t be a right path to go. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of IBM case study.

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5 reasons why is hard to replace Excel with PLM?

October 26, 2014

One of the most prominent marketing slogans in PLM and enterprise software is related to “replacement of Excel”. I have my own love and hate relationships with Excel. Despite all progress in user experience and other aspects of PLM software, Excel is still king of the enterprise and “export to Excel” is one of the […]

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PLM cloud options and 2014 SaaS survey

October 24, 2014

The number of SaaS businesses is growing these days. You probably had a chance to read my CAD, PLM and Top 500 cloud app vendors list few months ago. However, one size doesn’t fit all. This is certainly true about engineering software and PLM. As PLM companies are moving to the cloud, we want to learn […]

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Why to ask cloud PLM vendor about Devops and Kubernetes

October 23, 2014

I want to continue the theme of how do we move to the cloud. While Amazon remains one of the major providers of elastic computing services, other options are emerging too. If you consider to move your PLM initiatives to the cloud, you might do some analysis about how actually cloud PLM can be made. […]

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PLM and Microsoft Azure Cloud In A Box

October 22, 2014

How do you move to the cloud? This is one of topics I’m discussing on my blog for the last year. The last time, I took a swing towards public cloud. Navigate to my PLM vendors, large manufacturers and public cloud article for more information. However, not everybody will move to public cloud. At least not […]

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PLM Files Detox

October 21, 2014

The digital life around us is changing. It was a time when everything we did was running around desktop computer. You do your job, Save As… and, yes(!) put it in a file that can give you control over the result of your job. That’s the reason why engineers are in love with CAD files […]

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How to rethink PLM workflows?

October 20, 2014

Workflows and processes. This is an important part of any company. Like blood goes through your body, workflows are going through a company and beyond. Couple of months before, I posted by ultimate PLM workflow dream. It came as a part of my thinking about “un-bundling services“. My idea was to publish list of features workflow (process […]

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PLM: from sync to link

October 17, 2014

Data has an important place in our life. Shopping lists, calendars, emails, websites, family photos, trip videos, documents, etc. We want our data to be well organized and easy to find. Marketing folks like to use the term – data at your fingertips. However, the reality is just opposite. Data is messy. We store it in […]

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