Will Mashups Grow Up In PLM?

Short prompt to think about before Holiday break. Mashups. First coming to us with the world of Web 2.0 and dynamic web site content, mashup becomes an interesting function in many web applications. I think mashups are still very tiny business industry, but this technology was very successful in my view for some of applications like Google Map and not only.

Here is Wikipedia definition of Mashup:
In web development, a mashup is a web page or application that combines data or functionality from two or more external sources to create a new service. The term mashup implies easy, fast integration, frequently using open APIs and data sources to produce results that were not the original reason for producing the raw source data. An example of a mashup is the use of cartographic data to add location information to real estate data, thereby creating a new and distinct web API that was not originally provided by either source.

You can find some interesting ideas related to Enterprise Mashups and development around that in the recently created Open Mashup Alliance. Take a look on the following white paper:

So, my question today is as following. How do you see Mashup advantages in building of product data services and improvement of PLM applications? In my view, the technological foundation of mashups can be an interesting choice when moving PLM application to become more open and available in the way of online services.

Just my thoughts.


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  • Hiya,

    Mash-ups can (could?) bring a lot of value to PLM by creating a platform for a shared understanding between the various stakeholders (including the client/customer).

    There’s a slide show I’v done for a few finance companies which captures a lot of the how and why of this.


    And I’ve done the white paper thing if you want a more indepth look at some of the ideas in here.




  • Yup, thats the future I am really happy you wrote this blog.PLM needs a json based data exchange format combined with RESTFul service APIs. 🙂
    Peter, very good stuff you have there. I am subscribing your blog.

  • Hi Oleg, I think your post about mashups is quite recognizable. The way we think about PLM changes/has to change. For different roles in the organization you should be able to create different mashups/UI’s/services. I think there is a lot of advantage in areas like: ERP and CRM integration, Office integration, management dashboards, collaborating with subcontractors, etc.

    This actually the reason why we developed the straitPortal platform on top of SmarTeam: expose SmarTeam to the rest of the world with online services and mashups. Or in other words: make PLM more open.

    This might be interesting:

  • Peter, Thanks for your comments and links. It is interesting. Meta models are important and can help to organize information, create more meaningful mashups apps. However, the main problem I can see today is that meta-model apps are quite separate and disconnected from the rest of enterprise apps. Because of that their value is limited. You are mentioning SOA – this is one possible option to connect meta-data to existing apps. Best, Oleg

  • Prashant, You are right. RESTFul API can help significantly. In my view, the nature of many of today’s PLM apps preventing easy mashup creation. Take a look on this – Is PLM too complex to Mashup? (http://plmtwine.com/2009/02/23/is-plm-too-complex-to-mashup/)
    Best, Oleg

  • Hello Tom, Thank you for your comment. I think, the notion of openness and mashups are not exactly the same. The key point of mashups is in the information mixing. To support this ability (and not just expose data) is what the most beneficial in mashups… Does it make sense to you? Best, Oleg

  • AndyF

    What we find when working within a company that has a lot of legacy data is that a wide scale PLM implementation just isn’t possible. Most PLM systems are “closed” systems and they will only operate if all of the legacy data is moved into the PLM application. What works a lot better is a process of “connecting” or “linking” legacy data together into useful chuncks that the users need. Mashups are one way to do that but really any kind of linking or connecting of data can also be useful. PLM vendors are still stuck on the idea that they need to control all of the data which is why their systems are so expensive and so difficult to install.

  • Andy, Thanks for your comment! PLM systems are building what called “Federated” approaches. This is similar to what you called “linked data”. However, details of implementation might be different. Indeed agree, there is no good solution for legacy data in the organization. The mainstream proposal of most of the vendors today is exporting/importing to PLM systems. Best, Oleg

  • Oleg, thanks for your response. Sure that mashups and services around PLM is something different. But you cannot talk about mashups without having an open PLM system. If your PLM system doesn’t support open types of services: doesn’t expose data, where do you start then?
    I see value in mashups, but also in a lot of other scenario’s. For example integrating/linking PLM with other systems: SharePoint, Microsoft Office, ERP, …
    Our straitPortal vision helps to make PLM more successful in companies because every user gets/works with the amount of PLM information suitable for her/him. I think this is also what Andy is commenting.

  • Tom, I see two values of PLM-related integration – enable cross functional processes and improve information delivery. Mashups are all about information delivery. So, when you integrated with SharePoint you can probably improve way to deliver information to users. What is interesting, in my view, is mixing data for more value. Unfortunately, most of SharePoint-related integration simply focuses on licenses-price point. This is a very narrow angle to see mashups. About the openness. I think, in the business world, openness is a business requirement. I think, PLM vendor cannot see business value behind “openness”, for the moment, and the result is what we have today. Best, Oleg

  • AndyF

    Tom brings up an excellent point. Many PLM sales people tell you that their system is “open” but they fail to say what that really means. When you actually try to connect to the data you’ll often find out that it isn’t open at all. Rather the data model and the data are all tucked away behind a layer of code and you can’t really get to it in a meaningful way. The 1-800 number takes you to a guy in India who can’t help you expose the data either so forget about that!

  • Andy, Thanks for pointing out “openness” again. My take on this in today’s post – My New Year Wishes to PLM Industry in 2010. I wish “Openness” will be taken as a business approach and not as a “requirement” from customer. I will give you an extreme example. Imagine tomorrow, you will make you web site as not available to be indexed by Google? It sounds bad… But this is what happens in enterprise software, in my view. Thanks! Oleg

  • Hiya,

    Glad you like my stuff Prashant!

    Oleg, I agree that most PLM solutions tend to be an isolated island in the enterprise. I’m not a big fan of model (PLM, BPM or otherwise) which don’t execute or integrate with the broader enterprise. They’re an interesting documentation exercise, but rarely provide enough value to justify the effort required to maintain them.

    My approach in the past has been to use something like a meta-model to co-ordinate and integrate the various solutions and stakeholders involved in the end-to-end PLM process. This provides a number of distinct benefits (see the references above), but it does require a different approach to how you manage enterprise data.





  • Peter, Thanks for commenting! I see “meta-model” as something allows to navigate between solutions in the enterprise. The elegance of mashups in their ability to distinguish between “functional apps” – focused on the specific needs or functional domain, and overall meta-level. I haven’t had chance to see it successfully implemented. Most of enterprises have a tendency to implement one system as a “major” function (ERP and PLM are examples of these systems). Nowadays, I see SharePoint (or similar Oracle or IBM implementations) are starting to play a role meta-system in the enterprise. Best, Oleg

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