Business of Engineering – buzzword or new domain?

Business of Engineering – buzzword or new domain?


PLM products are insanely similar. Two decades of competitions between small number of vendors and multiple acquisitions made PLM landscape looks like what we have today. PLM sales presentations are often look similar. Value proposition is simple. Case studies are often using very similar words about why a particular customer decided to use a specific PLM system.

You might remember my article – PLM and VC firms are cracking the same problem – differentiation. Here is the passage from my old article. After all innovations and technologies that happened with PLM industry, there are lot of similarities in all PLM products these days. Dig inside of every PLM implementation. You can find it surprisingly similar. It comes down to five main components – (1) Design CAD data management; (2) BOM and change management; (3) Projects; (4) Portfolio and configurations; (5) Quality.

I can hear voices of PLM vendors saying that their platforms are different. Yes, they are. Different technologies were created in a different time. New user interface is nicer than one that was created 15 years ago. New administration tools are simpler. Cloud was a differentiation factor for some PLM vendors over the past few years, but these days cloud is everywhere. PLM companies are innovating in open source, business models and marketing. But, at the end of the day, five domains I mentioned above are representing problems customers are looking how to solve. And most of solutions related to these specific problems are very similar.

Here is the thing… sometimes you don’t need to be really different – you just need to say something loud and clear. You can read about such technique in my early article – PLM vendors and differentiation: Square the circle.  The best example is Mad Men episode “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”. Don Draper explains to execs at Lucky Strike how to re-position their products in lights of new regulation. He said Lucky Strike will become the only manufacturer whose product is “toasted”. All other cigarets will be poisoning.

You can create a differentiation story by claiming what you do differently, by focusing on your competitors’ weakness or by just saying in loud something that will stand your brand out of crowd. Depends on your technology, product and resource availability, you can choose what path to go.

The last technique sometimes end up with creation of buzzwords. We have so many buzzword associated with enterprise software. PLM industry is not an exception… Back in 2009, I created a list of most of most confusing PLM buzzwords.

Time is changing and new buzzwords are coming. I covered it in my recent article – Don’t use these buzzwords in your PLM presentations.

My attention was caught by 2 min talk made by Aras Corp CEO Peter Schroer. Navigate to the following link to listen to A Brief Discussion on: The Business of Engineering (2 Minutes). The latest article by Aras Corp can give you an idea about what is that – The Business of Engineering Explained. Here is the passage which explains that.

For today’s manufacturing enterprise, the primary job of engineering is business – to create the products that can be sold profitably. This has many implications such as to meet customer requirements, to minimize liability, to deliver on the most sustainable, lowest development costs and the lowest manufacturing costs and other key business considerations.

Too many of our competitors and the market analysts love to hype the value of Innovation.  But the job of engineering is not to design cool products. It is to create profitable products — i.e. business.    A focus on “The Business of Engineering” is understanding the whole lifecycle of the product, and managing all the impact (manufacturing costs, liability, risk, etc.) This used to be called “Design For X” where X = manufacturability, testability, supportability.

According to Aras, 3D CAD, simulation and DMU disciplines are belonging to so called “Science of engineering”. So, what disciplines are solved by the business of engineering? Here is the list.

A focus on “The Business of Engineering” is understanding the whole lifecycle of the product, and managing all the impact (manufacturing costs, liability, risk, etc.)     This used to be called “Design For X” where X = manufacturability, testability, supportability.

I’ve been trying to search for  “business of engineering” and “science of engineering”  terms online. I found few interesting results that I want to share with you.

Both science and business of engineering terminology are heavily used in education. Most of search results came from educational sources. Science of engineering applies typically to material design. Here is an example Science of Engineering course from one of the colleges – Science of Engineering materials.

It was interesting to explore links associated with the “Business of Engineering” term. Most of them are referencing this discipline as something that can engineers to deal with project management technologies. Here one of the examples I found:

…help to prepare students in the business of engineering technology through the understanding of economic and business principles and effective project management techniques.

Another link is presenting business of engineering as an immersion of engineering project intertwined with business practice.

The program involves an immersion of engineering projects intertwined with business practice.  The program aims to stimulate interest in engineering and business by (1) demonstrating the interdependence of engineering and business in making real world choices, (2) introducing engineering methodology as a means of problem solving, (3) exposing students to the entertaining, yet challenging world of engineering, (4) introducing students to cutting edge, computer-aided design software used to solve day-to-day problems.

I didn’t find any software vendor in engineering and manufacturing software using “The Business of Engineering” or “Science of Engineering”. If you are aware about that, please share links and let me know.

What is my conclusion? There is one question every PLM vendors should try to answer about its software – what does it do? In my view, this is a right path to explain value proposition to a customer. To create new business domain is hard. It requires a lot of marketing and sales resources. There is a very fine line between explaining value proposition and creating a new buzzword. It is very important for every PLM vendor not to cross this line for marketing purposes. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


Share This Post