Irregular thoughts about PLM when skiing at high altitudes

Irregular thoughts about PLM when skiing at high altitudes


[Updated 19-Feb-2015]

I’ve been thinking about my blogging pattern this week. Taking time off, it is hard to keep up with a regular daily post schedule. However, it is hard to disconnect from PLM ideas completely. So, I decided to do something new.  I’m coming with one “live blog” with some irregular thoughts about PLM. I will keep it run for the whole week while I’m on vacation.

High altitude skiing

After very-very long break I came to the challenge of high-altitude ski experience. If you’re interested in more details, take a look here. I found an interesting comparison of highest ski resorts. China, Bolivia and India were not an option :). So, here are few last pictures from Zermatt:









Coming back to my beyond PLM thoughts…

What changed in enterprise software

Let me step back and talk about enterprise software before discussing PLM this week. Enterprise software is going through a number of significant changes. I remember one of slides from my presentation three years ago from PLM Innovation 2012. Enterprise IT will be on fire – revolution is coming. I think, it became obvious these days. We see it everywhere.


So, here is my summary of what changes I’m observing in enterprise software these days.


1- Distributed. Nothing happens these days in a single place. Regardless on what type of company and industry sector are you working, you have to deal with the situation when you customers, partners, suppliers, engineers, manufacturing facilities are located everywhere. This is a new reality and it is getting reflected into enterprise software.

2- Connected. Another thing. People need answer now, at the right moment. People are expecting a different speed from business and enterprise software must provide an answer. Social networks and web disrupted the way enterprises are operating nowadays. Everyone is staying connected.

3- Cloud. Enterprise moved from discussion about cloud into practical implementation of cloud software. It is not about why to implement cloud. It is about how to do it right. Enterprise software vendors and their customers are looking how to find a right solution for today and tomorrow.

Enterprise software is not only thing that changing these days. What happens with manufacturing is even more interesting. It looks like we are going to observe a significant shift in manufacturing. Are we going to see a different manufacturing environment soon? Moving from mass production to mass-customization?

What is changing in manufacturing

A lot of new things are happening these days in manufacturing. You can hear about “new industrial revolution”, “Manufacturing 4.0”, “makers movement”, etc. It is hard to put right tags on every new thing and classify them. I also think it is too early. However, there is one thing clear to me – changes are coming. I’ve been trying to capture 3 most important things (trends) that I see around:


1- Global. Manufacturing business is going global in many ways. It is impossible to imagine manufacturing company these days that is completely disconnected from rest of the world. Small manufacturing firms are multi-located, using rich supply network and manufacturing facilities. Even more interesting, the smaller size you go, the dependencies is getting more interesting. Individual makers, mini-factories are getting even more power and distribution efficiency.

2- Agile network. In many places, hierarchical structures are displaced with  the power of network. It is a very interesting, since size won’t matter in the future. Network is more powerful compared to single hierarchical manufacturing structure. The power of communities for manufacturing is yet to be discovered.

3- IP paradigm changes. Manufacturing is going to challenge one of the most fundamental thing – IP ownership. Traditionally companies are owners of IP on manufactured things. Patents, trade secrets, design and manufacturing techniques protection. These are things we are familiar with. What is coming? Manufacturing companies such as Tesla are opening patent portfolios. Open Source Hardware is new trend that you can find similar to Open Source Software. The last one changed the landscape of software as we knew before. How OSHW will change manufacturing?

Technology and next PLM platforms 

Another topic to discuss is technology. Even, technology is less considered as a problem in most of PLM implementation, my hunch it is probably not true and requires some redefinition and clarification. All existing PLM products are developed on top of existing database technological stacks. Nothing wrong with that, but here is a problem – the scale. The amount of data PLM systems have to handle is growing in scale and reach too. The second is an interesting, in my view. Manufacturing companies are dependent on significant amount of information originated and maintained outside of organization – product catalogs, supplier and other reference information. In addition to that, in many situations, the data is owned by multiple companies – not a single OEM. How traditional PLM platforms will handle that?


Devops will change PLM paradigm

Have you heard about DevOps? If not, I recommend you to put aside whatever you do and close this educational gap. It is well known in software development and it is essentially a combination of two terms – “development” and “operations”. It became popular and it is a result of massive introduction of new software development practices combined with cloud operations. Few months ago, I mentioned devops in my post – Why to ask your cloud PLM vendor about devops and kubernetes?

I’ve been thinking more about Devops earlier today on slopes. Business insider article Today’s IT department is in fight for its life helped me to bring my thoughts to clarity. Here is my favorite passage.

Devops is all about how do things faster,” Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst tells Business Insider. It’s the IT department’s version of Facebook’s famous mantra “go fast and break stuff.”  IT departments say they had better figure out how to be faster, cheaper, and better. If they don’t, the company’s employees will no longer depend on them. They bring their own PCs, tablets and phones to work and they buy whatever cloud services they want to do their jobs. And the CIO will find his budget increasingly shifted to other manager’s pockets.

“Like the manufacturers were in the 1970s and 1980s were fighting for their lives, today’s IT departments are going to fight for their survival,” Whitehurst says. Traditional IT departments are slow and methodical. Rule no. 1 was to never bring the systems down. They would take months, even years, to roll out new new software, testing everything carefully, often spending millions in the process. Devops eliminates that. Instead, IT departments tear their projects apart into teeny components that can be implemented in tiny changes every day.

The last phrase is a key one. How to tear projects apart into teeny components to be implemented in tiny changes. It made me think about existing PLM implementation paradigm.  It heavily relies on long planning cycle and business department alignment. Once this planning made, implementation takes long time and put ROI in absolutely wrong place from what organizations are demanding it to be.

So, how PLM can adopt new way to do things? It requires 3 main changes – 1/ To change state of mind. Don’t think “one big implementation”. Opposite to that, think about small steps that will make business better, faster, efficient. 2/ To bring new PLM biz development tools that can help organizations to plan into small steps. 3/ To make PLM platform capable to function in Devops mode. It  requires new type of data modeling, deployment and monitoring tools.

More to come, but I think, Devops ideas can inspire and educate PLM developers to think differently. How to develop PLM practices in a different way. How to bring a new feature in a day and how to test changes for the next hour. These are questions PLM business consulting, developers and business consulting should ask about.


No conclusion yet. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Wirearchy picture credit.



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