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PLM

What cloud PLM cannot do for you?

by Oleg on September 19, 2014 · 2 comments

no-cloud-magic-plm

It has been already few years since I started to discuss cloud PLM opportunities on my blog. I found one of my early blogs about PLM and cloud – PLM and cloud: hold the promise?

So, what changed since then? Actually, quite a lot… We’ve seen massive adoption of cloud and mobile by businesses in many domains. PLM cloud adoption is growing too. Cloud is on the roadmap of all PLM vendors. It is really a question of “how to implement cloud?” rather than a question of “do we need to support cloud”?  We also seen few very interesting examples of cloud applications in CAD/PLM space. I want just to mention few of them – Autodesk design tool Autodesk Fusion360, Dassault SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual, Autodesk PLM360. Siemens PLM made their TeamCenter PLM available from IaaS infrastructure. Aras announced cloud strategy and introduced cloud product available via partnership with Infor ERP – Infor PLM Innovator. Cloud PLM pioneers, Arena Solutions, introduced several new cloud tools (BOM control and Quality management). Last but not least, GrabCAD, an open community of mechanical engineers released cloud PDM tool – GrabCAD Workbench. Earlier this week, GrabCAD was acquired by 3D printing company Stratasys. According to TechCrunch, article the deal was around $100M. I’m sure missed few products and companies…

Here are things that I discussed back in 2010 - cost of the solution, delivery model, global access, faster implementation, scaling. We learned a lot of about PLM and cloud for the last four years. Today, I want to make a reality check for list of things I discussed before in lights of what cloud PLM can or cannot do.

1- Cost

Cloud PLM made a mental switch in everything we knew about PLM before. According to Engineering.com article, cloud affected negatively on-premise PLM market. Cloud PLM created expectations for alternative pricing models and pushed all vendors to think how to turn PLM into service offering. Today, you can buy cloud PLM subscription with no upfront cost and hardware investment, which is a very good thing. However, I don’t think, total cost of ownership is different if you will calculate it on the period of 5 years. I’d love to see and learn more about that and love if you can share your comments.

2- Deployment, scale and IT

One of the best thing delivered by cloud PLM is related to deployment and IT cost. You can buy and deploy it instantly – almost similar to how you can open a new Gmail account. As a customer, you don’t need to worry about servers, setup cost, ordering hardware. You don’t need to negotiate with IT installation time. However, you cannot eliminate IT completely, especially if you are large company. For most of situations, you will have to discuss and make an alignment with IT about issues related to security and information access.

3- Faster Implementation

So, you can buy cloud PLM without upfront cost, you can deploy it overnight. What about PLM implementation? Implementation is an interesting thing. I’d like to speak about two aspects of implementations – 1/Configuration and customization; 2/ Implementations of business processes.

Four years ago, many companies were concerned about capability of web/cloud applications to deliver the level of flexibility, customization and configurations similar to on-premise PLM deployments. It is true, for most of situations, you cannot hack your cloud PLM with simple SQL script. However, I think, the flexibility of cloud PLM tools today is similar to on-premise PLM systems. However, flexibility of cloud PLM tools cannot provide real advantages compared to on-premise tools. Thanks for virtualization and modern collaboration technologies you can run your implementation remotely also for on-premise PLM systems.

Implementation of business processes is an interesting aspect of PLM implementation. In practice it means to define data structures and business processes. Cloud PLM won’t provide any advantages here. It is all about people, processes and organizational changes. So, the ugly truth is that cloud PLM won’t reduce your need of implementation services. In case of on-premise PLM, implementation will be done on site and collaborate with IT – installing, configuring and debugging customized software. In case of cloud PLM, you will need to work with cloud PLM vendor or hosting provider.

What is my conclusion? Cloud computing changed a lot in our life. PLM on the cloud can do many things differently. With much lower upfront cost and simple deployment, it opens PLM doors for many companies that never thought can buy and implement PLM systems before. However, when it comes to implementation and services, cloud PLM won’t do much different from on-premise PLM systems. You still need to implement it. It will require business process planning and implementation cost. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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plm-erp-competition

The information about Aras PLM OEM deal with Infor caught my attention yesterday evening. It looks like a big deal for Aras Corp. Aras PLM is well known by their innovative Enterprise Open Source model. If you are not familiar with Aras, check their website and blog. For the last few years Aras demonstrated solid capabilities to deliver full scale PLM solution. You probably remember my old blog – Aras lines up against Windchill, ENOVIA and TeamCenter 3 years ago. I think Infor-Aras partnership is a step in the same direction. More information about Infor-Aras partnership is here. Product offering will be re-branded as Infor PLM Innovator. The following passage explains how does it fit Infor PLM strategy:

Infor PLM Innovator – powered by aras – provides a full-featured, highly scalable, flexible and secure PLM solution built on industry best practices that easily adapts to your company’s changing business practices. Seamlessly integrated with Infor ERP, Infor PLM Innovator goes beyond the capabilities of standalone PLM products, to unite your entire product lifecycle for a single view of the truth, which provides actionable information from design and manufacturing to purchasing, quality, the supply chain and beyond.

What is specially interesting, Infor is going to offer Aras PLM as a cloud-service. Consilia Vector research put an interesting perspective on an opportunity related to Aras-Infor deal.

Word of mouth and an open source sales program has taken Aras quite far; this deal with Infor will be like moving from cars to airplanes. It also gives Infor what it craves, a customer checklist that more completely matches item for item with Oracle and SAP. Oracle bought Agile PLM several years ago, and SAP has assembled a PLM system from a variety of small purchases and in-house projects.

I found comments about SAP and Oracle quite remarkable. It looks like all three top ERP vendors recognized the value and importance of Product Lifecycle Management. I guess, manufacturing and enterprise companies are challenged how to support innovation with constraints of global product development and manufacturing. Therefore, adding PLM functionality to their product suites is an important imperative for all of them.

The notion of cloud in Aras-Infor deal is interesting. It is going to challenge cloud ERP providers too. If you noticed, leading cloud ERP provider Netsuite made a strategic partnership alliance with Autodesk about integration between Netsuite ERP and Autodesk PLM 360.

So, what about top three CAD-PLM providers – Dassault, Siemens and PTC? I think, strategic focus on these vendors is outside of ERP-PLM bundles. Dassault is focusing on 3DExperience. PTC is developing strategy for IoT. Siemens is broadening their TeamCenter PLM platform and applications.  All these vendors have some sort of partnership agreements with ERP vendors as well as love-hate relationships of selling PLM solutions to same manufacturing companies.

What is my conclusion? All ERP vendors are well armed with PLM weapon to provide a comprehensive product development and manufacturing solutions. It confirms growing adoption and interest of manufacturing companies of all sizes in PLM. It is time to grab some popcorn and get ready for PLM-ERP competitive performance. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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plm-epr-integration-analytics

The aim of PLM is to improve product development processes and lifecycle. One of the biggest challenges to make it happen is to deal with disparate enterprise applications and tools. The cost of system integration is high and many companies are not ready to make an investment in integration projects that will have a questionable ROI.

PLM-ERP integration is probably one of the best examples of integration projects with complex software, technologies, business dependencies and corporate politics. PLM and ERP vendors are often locking customer data and control access. It prevents customers to make a right decision to integration PLM and ERP. Few years ago, I covered it in my blog – The ugly truth about PLM-ERP monkey volleyball. I don’t think the situation is better since I posted it back in 2010. PLM-ERP integration projects are messy combination of requirements, technologies, tools and specific customer-oriented services. It usually ends up with a number of Excel and XML files flying around between PLM, ERP and other systems (including email). No surprise, companies are not read to move fast and engage into PLM-ERP integration projects.

I’ve been thinking how to change a trend of complex PLM-ERP implementation with slow ROI. Maybe to focus on transferring data between systems is not a first priority (even if it looks like the obvious one)? What can be done these days differently, so it will allow to come with a new definition of PLM-ERP integration value and maybe faster ROI from these projects? Here is the idea I wanted to share – analytics.

I have to admit, talks about data analytics are everywhere these days. It is hard to undervalue the importance and opportunity of big data. However,  I want to take it beyond traditional technological level.  Think about PLM and ERP applications. With significant functional overlap, companies are often see a high level of competitiveness between them. What if we can bring new capability of capturing data and making analytics into two sources of information – product lifecycle data and ERP. Can we change a trend of data competitiveness into trend of value of analytics?

Here are couple of scenarios that in my view can produce some useful analytic use cases by mixing data coming from PLM and ERP. Let me call it – lifecycle analytics. Think about NPD (new product development), but it can apply to existing products as well. Forecasting is an important step in every project, especially when it comes to a new product design and development. I can see multiple aspects of forecasting. What if I can create a forecast for entire lifecycle cost of the product. Another emerging need today is compliance forecasting. With growing number of regulation requirements to forecast compliance cost for a new product can be a challenging task. Related to that comes the need for recycle cost.

My hunch data for analytics and forecasting is available in both PLM and ERP system. It is on the crossroad between, sales, manufacturing and product engineering. To get data out of these systems and create an appropriate analytics can be an interesting, but challenging process. I think, the number of companies doing it as mainstream activity is very low, but demand should be huge.

What is my conclusion? To switch from data ownership debates into data analytics can be a way for both PLM and ERP vendors to come out of clash and competition. Enterprise databases (PLM and ERP are good examples to that) are holding a very valuable data that can be used to support decision making and provide a way to optimize product development processes. The potential for lifecycle analytics using data from both PLM and ERP systems can be significant. The development of specific analytical application can be an interesting task for existing vendors and new companies. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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3 security related questions to ask your PLM cloud provider

September 12, 2014

Cloud is getting wider adoption these days. An interesting trend I observe for the last year – customer are asking less questions about security. It was different 3-5 years ago. Everyone got concerned about cloud solutions security. Specifically for PLM domain, customers got concerned about company IP (drawings and other engineering-related materials that can be […]

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Part management is stuck between PLM and ERP

September 11, 2014

Few days ago, the discussion about PLM revenue model took me into part management route. This is not entirely related to revenue and business models, but my readers mentioned part cost reduction as one of the most visible ways to present PLM ROI. I have to agree, to manage parts is a critical element of […]

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PLM and Zero BOM errors: the devil is in details

September 10, 2014

To manage Bill of Materials (BOM) is not a simple job. Often you can hear a simple definition of bill of material as a “list of component needed to build a product”. However, in reality, BOM is much more complex and contains information about product structure, the ways product is manufactured, maintained and even disposed. […]

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Will future PLM order parts for makers?

September 9, 2014

Have you heard about “makers”? If you are in manufacturing business, you probably should pay attention to that. You may hear about “makers movement” these days as a new industrial revolution changing the way people are making stuff. I can recommend you Chris Anderson’s book to read more about that. New digital technologies are going to change […]

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The end of debates about out-of-the-box PLM?

September 8, 2014

PLM implementation discussions are usually brings lots of controversy. Vendors, analysts, advisers, service companies, customers are all involved into implementations. It brings different and, sometimes, conflicting interests. In my view, one of the most debated topic in PLM implementations is related to so called ability to implement “PLM Out-of-the-box”. I’m not sure who first used […]

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CAD, PLM and Top 500 cloud app vendors list

September 5, 2014

The cloud is growing. Few years ago, some of us had a concern if cloud is fad and it will over fast. Since that time, we can see many new companies in cloud space as well as many companies turned their development efforts completely towards the cloud eco-system. If you like research, ranks and comparison […]

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PLM Chat and Twitter Product Checklist

September 4, 2014

Collaboration is critical functions in PLM applications. To unlock the potential of social collaboration for engineers is a dream of PLM vendors for the last few years. At the time people may see Social PLM DOA, I don’t see the opportunity to improve communication and collaboration as a lost one. We certainly passed what I […]

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