Ozone and Big Unsolved Problems in PLM

I had chance to read Solidsmack’s post about PTC new vision coming to us very soon- PTC Project Lightning. PTC Strikes a Plan for the Future of MCAD. We don’t know yet what is PTC Project Lightning. This is what Josh wrote – “We’re out at PTC/USER 2010 in Orlando, Florida and we’ve found out as much as possible about the gameplan PTC has for product development. Could it be a new product? A new platform? Or perhaps their position on that Cloud mess and how to deliver apps to the user? Hmmm. Here’s what we know and what we think it might be.”. I recommend you to take a look on Josh’s blog to get some additional information related to PTC Project Lightning presentation and slides.

I think, PTC is taking a very interesting time to go with new vision, platform, technology, products… For the last five years, we had chance to see major transformations in enterprises and PLM platforms. Just to mention the most important such as Oracle Fusion, TeamCenter Unified, ENOVIA V6. PTC will have a chance to come last to the game, but to learn from mistakes that were done by all predecessors.

PTC slides posted by Josh made me think about big unsolved problems that manufacturing organizations are experiencing these days. In my view, there are three major domains where PLM software is troubled today- Data, Openness, Heterogeneous Environment and Change Management. I will to put some thoughts and analyze it.

The majority of PLM software these days is focusing on accumulating of data. Data produced by MCAD, ECAD and various data management and collaboration applications. The absolute amount of data is growing in all manufacturing organizations and resulted in very complex data and content processing challenges. Modern product development and manufacturing put a high demand on how data need to be processed and transferred between people, departments and organizations. This is my view on what I call – data problem. Two major PLM vendors (Siemens PLM and Dassault Systems introduced new strategies focused on how to manage product IP. When I see PTC’s slide presenting multiple apps fitting different stages of the product lifecycle, my first question is how application will transfer data between them. It seems to me, PTC’s is going to rely on Microsoft SharePoint platform capabilities.

When I think about data, the next question that comes to my mind is what application is producing this data. Manufacturing today are using a large amount of disparate software coming from different PLM vendors. In many situations, a decision about usage of a particular tool dependent on how these tools can exchange data. The situation is this space is far away from ideal. Openness is a complicated and unsolved problem for customers.

Heterogeneous Environment
Manufacturing companies are accumulated a large stack of software – legacy systems, database, design system, engineering software for different needs. Multiple attempts were made by vendors to migrate to organize legacy – trying to integrate, to federate and, in the end, to replace all legacy systems with migration of existing data to a new system. I don’t think we found a silver bullet. My take is that we need to take “heterogeneous” as a problem and something given at the same time.

Change Management
This is the last, but not least problem. Change Management represents a significant problem for organizational lifecycle. Change in the software and implementations is hard and very expensive. Solving such problems can provide a significant pain relief for IT organization.

What is my conclusion today? It is definitely time to produce some ozone in PLM atmosphere. Manufacturers are going to operate in the new reality. It will be very hard to come into this reality with the existing unsolved problems in the PLM software space. I don’t think problems are purely technological. I see them as a blend of problems coming from business models of PLM vendors, application delivery mechanisms and technology. Some of them cannot be resolved by a single vendor and dependent on PLM industry health and the ability to communicate. However, to understand problems and to have an industry agreement is a first step towards the better future. These are just my thoughts…  I’m very interesting to hear your opinion and thoughts on that as well as to have an option to discuss.

Best, Oleg


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