PLM – Small Things that Matter

Hello New Week! After having a long ‘cloudy’ conversation last week, I feel like descending from the cloud back down to earth and discuss a few small things in PLM software. After scratching my head for some time, I  actually reached the conclusion that productivity in our  life is the most important characteristic of software. This is something that can make the life of people working on software both excellent and crazy at the same time.

 In this post, I want to expand on a topic in my previous blog post about second movers innovation. Some of you commented that this is an exact Apple business model. So, I started to analyze PLM software and think about what areas need to be improved in PLM in order to find an iPhone recipe for PLM. So, following is my conclusion – we need to invest in two areas to give an “iPhone in our hands” feeling to our users.

 1.    Fast data availability.

The main idea is that data needs to be easily available for customers. Think about people looking for a specific part, Bill of Materials, or Design. They need to have a straightforward way to get to this data without being involved in complex operations or application experiences. Without mentioning any specific PLM software, I think we have been doing pretty much the same thing for the past  for 10-15 years. And this is generally the same for all enterprise software.

In my view, Dassault Systèmes 3DLive user experience is a remarkable application, but still not applicable for general purposes.

2.    Mouse click user experience

This is a killer enhancement, if somebody would be able to improve it. In general, the User Interface complication needs to be resolved. Today it is too complex in features and too heavy in mouse clicks. It brings me back to my UNIX and MS DOS (yes!) experience. Command lines in the user interface was very efficient in being able to get work done fast. I remember a similar experience when I worked with the AutoCAD command line. The operation was smooth and efficient, from what I can remember. So I want it back…

So, I’m sure these two areas do not cover all possibilities and options regarding how to improve small things that can create the next state-of–the art PLM application. But getting back to the history of CAD and PDM, I think there are a few examples that show that small things can really make a big difference. One of the examples is the creation of SolidWorks by John Hirschtick and his team. You can find this story in curriculums of MBA courses. By moving the established model of Solid Modeling to a cheap and available Windows platform, adopting the Windows user experience with SolidWorks made a revolutionary change for many designers. Looking forward, I think, touch-based interfaces will improve user experience.

I’m looking forward to continuing this conversation with your feedback. 


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