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Sorry for the delay between this post and the previous post. A break with a lot of PLM work on my side and no adverts on your side: win-win. But now I have time to continue the serial around PLM 2.0. We are in the middle.

A small recap on the agenda:clip_image002

First post : What is PLM 2.0? – published Aug 24th
Second post : Challenges in current PLM – published Sept 4th
This post : Change in business – published Oct 3rd
Final post : Why PLM 2.0 – conclusions


In the first post I described the changes in PLM messaging from vendors – PLM 2.0 or similar terms. In the second post I described the current challenges of PLM, which are well known – if you have access to in LinkedIn to the PLM related groups you will find discussions around the challenges of current PLM. And they set the spirit – good or bad.

Now in this post I will bring up some trends, which to my opinion, unmistakably must lead to a new way of PLM in order to adapt to the future.

Generation Y – a new generation of workers

clip_image004Generation Y: It is interesting to learn that everywhere companies are complaining or warning that their existing workforce is going to retire with all their knowledge without decent follow-up. In parallel they state it is difficult to find new employees with similar skills that will guarantee the future of the company. The new generation of workers, often identified as Generation Y, has different skills and different motivations.

Some interesting generalizations (note I am not a social anthropologist).

clip_image006The older generations were raised with the concept: Knowledge is Power – You as an individual needed to have in-depth skills to be the right person for a job – a job is your life and for life. As a negative result of this approach, you see that exactly this older generation sometimes ‘sits’ on their knowledge as a kind of job guarantee – they do not like sharing information – “Come to me and I will help you” is their motto till they retire.

Generation Y does not have this job for life attitude – they look more for short term success and fulfillment and therefore they do not fit so well in the way traditional companies work. They are not the type of knowledge workers previous generations had, but they are, thanks to their skills with modern digital media, capable of finding information and combining information into knowledge. They work different.

The interesting observation from my side is that Generation Y is exactly the type of people PLM requires, as it is all about sharing and combining data. What is blocking their acceptance for current PLM is that the implementation is not architected to their work motivation. Look at:

  • The way information is stored (too structured),
  • The way information is presented (too structured, boring screens).
  • The way information has to be entered in the system (too unfriendly – overkill)

clip_image008For them PLM needs to move more to an intuitive way of presenting information, capturing data as-if it is something like serious gaming. And the new PLM needs to have a way to manage structured and unstructured data combined.

For companies that complain, they are losing skilled workers in the future, they should not complain but adapt. They should look forward and solve the problems for the future, which means a different way of doing business and implementing PLM. Do not choose what the dinosaurs did.

New styles of business management

clip_image010Here I want to come back to my first post – I was intrigued by reading Steve Denning’s posts and its relation to PLM. Through the post Why Amazon can’t Make a Kindle in the USA, I found the post The Death and Reinvention of Management the best fitting with my PLM drive.
Steve describes five fundamental shifts in management that make companies ready for the 21st century.

Take time to read the post (and go more in-depth if you get as enthusiastic as me) – but come back to read the rest of this post

I summarize/quote the five shifts from Steve here (as I am sure not everyone has done the reading):

1. The company’s goal has to shift to one of delighting clients i.e. a shift from inside-out (“You take what we make”) to outside-in (“We seek to understand your problems and will surprise you by solving them”)

2. The role of the manager has to shift from being a controller to an enabler, so as to liberate the energies and talents of those doing the work and remove impediments that are getting in the way of work.

3. The mode of coordination shifts from hierarchical bureaucracy to dynamic linking, i.e. to a way of dynamically linking self-driven knowledge work to the shifting requirements of delighting clients.

4. There is a shift from value to values; i.e. a shift from a single-minded focus on economic value and maximizing efficiency to instilling the values that will create innovation and growth for the organization over the long term.

5. Communications shift from command to conversation: i.e. a shift from top-down communications comprising predominantly hierarchical directives to communications made up largely of adult-to-adult conversations that solve problems and generate new insights.

Here we see the typical PLM 2.0 targets. I will translate them into our PLM terminology.

Shift # 1 – The shift to delight clients – from which PLM vendor do we hear this statement? Which PLM vendor puts the customer in focus, instead of their “superior” technology?

Shift #2, #3 and #5 are typical PLM 2.0 capabilities which I described in my first post. See below the PLM 2.0 differentiators:

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And where do we find shift #4? How do PLM vendors address this change beyond marketing?

My conclusion on this point: Both PLM and management require a change to be ready for the 21st century – It is exactly what generation Y is looking for, it is exactly what future consumers are looking for. However currently classical PLM and classical Management are dominating the thought process – and they do not like change so much as it would put past investments and achievements at risk.

The Importance of Social Media

clip_image014Already described in the two previous trends, social media concepts fit exactly in the shift that we see towards the future. It impacts the way companies change their marketing and address their customer base. In parallel it affects the ways teams collaborate in the product development space, innovation teams are global product development teams.

My thoughts: Social media might look like a hype, but the basic concepts of social media will be required for future PLM

Globalization for SMB

clip_image016The major trend from the past decade is that SMB’s (Small and Medium Businesses) do not longer serve and fight for a regional existence. Competition and customers come from everywhere and production is more and more outsourced. The traditional company that is #1 in their region does not longer exist. Even SMBs have to consider ways to collaborate globally – again another driver for PLM 2.0

My thought: Traditional SMBs are never the leading companies in new trends, they hang on their core knowledge and have probably a longer way to go to really adapt to the future. Startup SMBs with no historical hindrance are likely to outperform them.

Innovation, Intellectual Property & War on Patents

clip_image018In a global market, innovation is the key driver to be successful combined with the point above: delight the customer. In order to delight the customer you need to innovate as delightment does not come from commodities.

And with innovation I am not only addressing the consumer market, innovation is required in all areas: green products, green production as world climate and its population forces us to change.

The successful products for the future will be those that are bringing innovation and when your company owns this Intellectual Property, your near future is going to be profitable,

Therefore the “War for Patents” will be everywhere. We currently see in the news the tablet and Smartphone patents wars, but it pops up everywhere, some more visible than others.

A “War for Patents” costs a lot of money (mainly spent to lawyers). Therefore the balance should be found between protecting your IP and to innovate faster. In this way your patents become less relevant because newer exist. To my opinion the new PLM should be the engine for innovation first and secondly the system to protect your IP

Conclusion:

clip_image020Again too many words for a blog post, but the topic is huge and I hope you see the need for a different PLM (PLM 2.0): A PLM that is targeted to the change in business all around the world. The monetary crisis which is another symptom of the old business gives us a chance to change. We need to change organizations and collaboration to remain profitable in the future – don’t be an ostrich

My thoughts –looking forward to your feedback

Last week I started a small series of posts related to the topic PLM 2.0. I was hoping for more comments and discussion about the term PLM 2.0, although I must say I was glad Oleg picked it up in his posts: PLM 2.0 born to die? and Will JT-open enable future of PLM 2.0?

Oleg, as a full-time blogger, of course had the time to draw the conclusions, which will take me another two weeks, hoping meanwhile the discussion evolves. Where Oleg’s focus is on technology and openness (which are important points), I will also explain that PLM 2.0 is a change in doing business, but this will be in next week’s post.

This week I will focus on the current challenges and pitfalls in PLM. And we all know that when somebody talks about challenges, there might be problems.

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Last week : What is PLM 2.0?
This week: : Challenges in current PLM
Next : Change in business
Final post : Why PLM 2.0 – conclusions

The Challenges in current PLM

First I want to state that there are several types of definition in the world for PLM, coming from different type of organizations – I listed here two vendor independent definitions:

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The Wiki definition:

In industry, product lifecycle management (PLM) is the process of managing the entire lifecycle of a product from its conception, through design and manufacture, to service and disposal. PLM integrates people, data, processes and business systems and provides a product information backbone for companies and their extended enterprise.


clip_image005The 2PLM definition:

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is the business activity of managing a company’s products all the way across the lifecycle in the most effective way. The objective of PLM is to improve company revenues and income by maximizing the value of the product portfolio

And there are more definitions. Just recently, I noticed on the PlanetPTC blog from Aibhe Coughlan a post where she promoted a definition of PLM published in the Concurrent Engineering blog. Here I got immediate a little irritated reading the first words: “PLM is software designed to enhance process efficiencies ……… and more …”

clip_image007I do not believe PLM is software. Yes there is software used to automate or implement PLM practices, but this definition starts to neglect the culture and process sides of PLM. And as Oleg was faster – read his more extended comment here

(I am not paid by Oleg to promote his blog, but we seem to have similar interests)

Back to the classical definitions

The Wiki definition gives the impression that you need to have an infrastructure to manage (store) all product data in order to serve as an information backbone for the extended enterprise. It becomes more an IT-project, often sponsored by the IT-department, with the main goal to provide information services to the company in a standardized manner.

This type of PLM implementations tends to be the same type of implementation as an ERP system or other major IT-system. In this type of top-down implementations, the classical best practices for project management should be followed. This means:

  • A clear vision
  • Management sponsorship
  • A steering committee
  • A skilled project leader and team
  • Committed resources
  • Power user involvement
  • Communication
  • …… and more …

project_structure

These PLM projects are promoted by PLM vendors and consultants as the best way to implement PLM. And there are a lot of positive things to say about this approach. For many big companies implementing cPDM or PLM was a major step forward. Most of the ROI stories are based on this type of implementations and have been the showcases on PLM events. It is true that data quality increases, therefore efficiency and product quality. Without PLM they would not reach the same competiveness as they have now.

But sometimes these projects go into extreme when satisfying users or IT-guidelines

To avoid the implementation of a ‘new IT-system’, companies often have the strategy that if we already have an ERP-system , let’s customize or extend it, so we can store the additional data and perform workflow processes based on this system.

In a recent webinar, I heard a speaker saying that in their company they had the following automation strategy defined together with IT is:

  • First they will see if the needed PLM functionality exists in their ERP system or is part of the portfolio of their ERP provider. If the functionality is there (this means the ERP vendor has the capability to store metadata and a factsheet mentioning the right name), there is no looking outside.
  • If the functionality is not there, there will be a discussion with the ERP vendor or implementer to build it on top of their ERP system.

clip_image011I have seen implementations where the company has developed complete custom user interfaces in order to get user acceptance (the users would not accept the standard graphical interface). At that time, no one raised the flag about future maintenance and evolution of these custom environments. The mood was: we kept it simple – one single system.

I believe this closes the door for real PLM, as storing data in a system does not mean you will use it in an efficient and optimized manner. How will you anticipate on changes in business if it is just doing more with the same system?

And mid-market companies ?

The top-down approach described before is the fear of many mid-market companies, as they remember how painful their first ERP implementation was. And now with PLM it is even more unclear. PLM aims to involve the engineering department, which so far has not worked in a very procedural manner. Informal and ad-hoc communication combined with personal skills within this department was often the key for success.

clip_image013And now an unfriendly system is brought in, with low or little usability, pushing these creative people to enter data without seeing any benefits. The organization downstream benefits but this will be only noticed later in time. And for the engineering department it will take more effort to change their work methodology focused on innovation. However, in general in the mid-market, the target of a PLM project is to have a Return on Investment (ROI) in a very short timeframe ( 1-2 years). Investing in usability should be even more important for this type of companies as there is less top-down pressure to accept this new PLM system.

And flexibility ?

clip_image015In the past years we have seen that business is changing – there is a shift in global collaboration and manufacturing and from the recent history we can learn that those big enterprise projects from the past became a threat. Instead of being able to implement new concepts or new technology, the implementation became more and more vendor monolithic as other capabilities and applications do not fit anymore. This is against the concept of openness and being flexible for the future. I believe if PLM becomes as rigid as ERP, it blocks companies to innovate – the challenge for big companies is to find the balance between stability and flexibility (This was the title from Sony Ericsson’s presentation at the PLM forum in Sweden this year)

And again for mid-market companies who do not have the budget or resources to invest in similar projects. They have less a drive to optimize themselves in the same manner as big companies do as flexibility is often their trade mark (and capability to innovate) . So PLM for the mid-market will not work in the classical way.

This is one of the reasons why a mid-market PLM standard has not yet been found (yet ?). From the other hand many mid-market companies are dealing with PLM practices although often it is more close to PDM and CAD data management. And mid-market companies do not change their organization easily – there is more a departmental approach avoiding therefore a change in business.

To summarize the biggest challenges in current PLM described in this post:

  • PLM is considered complex to implement
  • PLM is a huge IT-project
  • PLM requires change and structuring – but what about flexibility
  • Where is the PLM value and ROI – user acceptance
  • PLM for the mid-market – does it exist ?

Conclusion: I have been writing about the PLM challenges in the past, see the links below if you are interested in more details on a specific topic.

In 2008,I thought that Out-of-the-Box PLM systems and standard functionalities could bring a solution for the mid-market, perhaps future solutions based on the cloud. However I learned that if you want to do real PLM in a modern manner, you need to change the way you do your business – and this I will explain in my upcoming post.

Related links:

kindle_usa Recently I have been reading various interesting articles, it started with Why Amazon can’t Make a Kindle in the USA from Steve Denning and from here I followed several interesting links.

Most of the articles were business driven and not with a focus on technology. However what caught my attention was the similarity of issues that were raised in these articles as-if it was about PLM.

At the end it is a plea/cry for change to be more competitive in the future. With the current economical stand still, I believe there is a need and an opportunity for this change also in PLM. I am not pointing to regime changes all around the world, but somehow they are all connected to this new wave of globalization and openness to information.

And as my domain is PLM, I took PLM 2.0 as the vehicle to describe the change currently in the PLM world. Although PLM 2.0 is a term invented by Dassault Systems, I will use it as the placeholder to describe the changes in PLM.

In four posts I will guide you in the upcoming weeks through the thought process:calendar

This week : What is PLM 2.0 ?
Next : Challenges in current PLM
Next : Change in business
Final post : Why PLM 2.0 – conclusions

I hope you will stay with me when going through these four steps and look forward to your immediate feedback.

What is PLM 2.0 ?

In 2006 Dassault Systems announced PLM 2.0 as the new generation of PLM implemented on their V6 platform. If you go to the 3DS website you see the following definition of PLM 2.0
Look for the header PLM 2.0: PLM Online for All

In the DS definition you will find several keywords that will help us further to understand the PLM 2.0 capabilities:

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a typical Dassault Systems viewpoint, as they are coming from the world or 3D CAD and virtualization and the company’s vision is around lifelike – and life is mostly in 3D.
3D as interface towards all product related information is a paradigm shift for companies that were used to display only metadata on boring tabular screens where you navigate on numbers and text. The other major CAD-related PLM vendors of course could follow this paradigm too, as 3D visualization of information is known to them. However when coming from an ERP-based PLM system you will see 3D is something far out of reach for these vendors (at this moment).

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This is what I believe is a crucial keyword for all PLM future implementations it builds upon the Business Information concepts that became in fashion 8 years ago. Online means direct access to the actual data. No information conversion, no need for import or export, but sharing and filtering. What you are allowed to see is actual data and an actual status. Imagine what kind of impact working on-line would have on your organization. Evaluation of trends, Key Performance Indicators directly available – still of course the interpretation to be done by experts.

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Intellectual Property – a topic that should be on every company’s agenda. The reason a company currently exists and will exist in the future is based on how they manage their unique knowledge. This knowledge can be based on how certain processes are done, which components are chosen, which quality steps are critical and more. Working in a global collaboration environment challenges the company to keep their IP hidden for others, for sure when you talk about online data. Losing your IP means for a company to be vulnerable for the future – read in the referenced blog post from Steve Jennings about DELL.

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This is currently the platform for change as technologies are now enabling people and companies to implement applications in a different manner. Not only on premises, but it could be online, Software As A Service, Cloud based solutions and through standardized programming interfaces, companies could implement end-to-end business process without a huge, monolithic impact. Also Web 2.0 provides the platform for communities.

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The concept of communities opens new perspectives for collaboration. In general people in a community, have a common interest or task, and they share thoughts, deliverables back to the community across all company borders. This is the power of the community and the collective intelligence built inside such a community. Without company borders it should give the people a better perspective on their market on their business due to the global participation

The vision is there – now ….

All the above keywords are capabilities for the future and in the world of PLM you see that every PLM vendor / implementer is struggling with them. How to implement them consistently across their offering is the major challenge for the upcoming years, assuming PLM 2.0 is considered as the next step.

If you look at the PLM vendors beside Dassault Systems, you see that Siemens and PTC are closest to following the PLM 2.0 approach, without mentioning the term PLM 2.0. Other vendors even refuse to talk about PLM, but they share already similar components, for example Autodesk.

Interesting to see that the ERP-based PLM vendors do not follow this trend in their communication, they are still working on consolidating and completing their ‘classical’ PLM components

But the classical PLM vendors struggle with the change in paradigm too.

  • What to do with current, huge and structured implementations ?
  • Is PLM 2.0 having the same demands or can it be different ?

Here you see opportunities for new comers in this market as you can implement online collaboration, intellectual property creation/handling and communities in different manners with different types of implementation demands.

So far my introduction in PLM 2.0. Browsing on the web, I did not find too much other viewpoints on this specific terminology, so I am curious about your thoughts or and complementary comments on this topic.

In my next post I will zoom in into the challenges of PLM and relate them to the PLM 2.0 vision

My take on PLM (classical) and PLM 2.0

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Referenced in this context – not directly mentioned:

dummies_logo In many PLM communities, you see discussions and statements, that there will be a significant impact on the way we perform product lifecycle management using social media capabilities. In this post I will give my thoughts without going in-depth into certain products. At the bottom of this post you will find some links to posts which contributed to my opinion (the usual suspects).

PLM

Let’s first establish a baseline, why we want  Product Lifecycle Management. In a general  PLM is a vision, to bring products to the market faster, with better quality, being innovative and more customer focused.

plmbookThis vision can be implemented by best practices, like a standardized global staged New Product Introduction process, an enterprise wide Engineering Change Process, integration between different disciplines to work globally on a single repository for product definition and many more depending on your industry..

Two words pop up here: a single repository  for product definition and global. This is where the technology comes in. Due to an improved world-wide (internet / WAN) connectivity,  the capabilities are there to communicate efficient around a single repository for product definition and reliable, around the globe .  The world became a global workplace and we are all connected.  The improved connectivity enables PLM vendors (and others) to promote the “single version of the truth” concept.

Single Version of the truth

The idea behind it is that,  if you store everything in a single database, you will always find the right information. This idea was developed at the time the world was not yet global and people were thinking more local.

swiss Some of the major ERP vendors also push for this concept. If you store all your data in their single platform, you are sure there is no redundancy of data, so you are always confident about the content is the message.  This concept is often embraced by IT-departments, as the message having one single platform or one single system for all enterprise data sound like efficient.  (I call it Swiss Knife thinking – it does everything – but would you use it for professional work ?)

As long as we are talking about explicit data and local activities, this concept seems to prove itself. However, a lot of informal activities exist around the product development process, and these activities are not managed.

In 2009, I participated in a COE Automotive panel, where one of the attendees in the audience stood up accused the PLM vendors of making their life so complex. He said:

“If we have an issue on the shop floor with production, we just gather the right people and solve the issue – no need to fill in screens of data that PLM or ERP systems require. And if there was a customer with a problem, we send a service engineer and the problem is fixed”

Of course if his company was a global company, it would be impossible to gather all around the shop floor, or to visit the customer site and solve it in a reasonable time.

save To avoid missing information,  PLM and ERP systems try to collect as much as possible information in their systems, to have the best possible single version of the truth. Through immersive integrations and clever business logic, the user has to enter the minimum of information only once. However for the user still too much and way to complex they complain (and still not enough information is captured).

My conclusion so far: Single version of the truth is a concept to collect a majority of product related data, however missing all the informal communication, which is exchanged during talking (and later emailing and modern means of communication).

Extending the single version of the truth 

The single version of the truth is an important implementation concept for PLM and it requires already a major challenge for companies. Imagine all information that you produce will be stored in such a manner that everyone authorized can see it and it is stored in such a manner that someone else also can understand the information (and not only you) . This is such an important change process often overlooked by IT-driven PLM implementations.

knowledge

PLM Vendors focus on the tools to provide a platform to capture and share product data all around the product lifecycle. Not easy either as development is often based on generic functionality not optimized for a certain user role.

To understand the context of the shared data, you would like to hear or rewind the discussions people had at that time – as from these discussion a lot of implicit information can be retrieved. But no one wants to enter implicit information in a PLM system.

And then going global

Continuing with product development towards a global operation and addressing the communication around the product development is the next logic step. As it is much more difficult to communicate directly with everyone around the world, it is obvious that here social media come in the picture. 

email_lock Initial people were using email to exchange ideas with other people around the world.  This created new problems – sometimes huge attachments of unmanaged data, sometimes important information in mail boxes of only a few people, relevant for many.  Email is against the concept of a single version of the truth as people were creating there own non-pubic archives of product discussions. Before the WEB 2.0 revolution, PLM vendors provided email integrations or embedded email functionality in their PLM system. Still there a millions of email databases (Lotus Notes / Exchange) with product data, development data and more not visible for many.

The 2.0 change

A trend we see in social media is that your ‘old’ email system becomes more a notification system, that you got a direct message through one of your social platforms (RSS feeds, LinkedIn, Facebook, Blog, etc). Of course, if you are connected to all these platforms on-line all the time, you do not need a notification system anymore and you are connected to whom you want and when you want – a little bit back to the old days. If you enter a social environment, you are a participant of the communication going on – you can look around or participate.

social The benefit from social collaboration is that is does not push you into a structure of managed data. And it provides you with on-line communication with everyone who is in your selected community. The downside with the known social media is that it is not clear and secure, what happens with this information shared in social platforms. Will it be sold to special interest groups ? Can you find it through a search engine ?

For product related social collaboration, we need obviously  more secure communities to collaborate. And as for this collaboration you do not know who is in your trusted company network,  it is clear that cloud based solutions come in as a logical technical infrastructure. Of course these communities must be as easy accessible as popular social media and well integrated in the user’s environment.

 

Global single version of the truth ?

Combining the single version of the truth concept and the loose communication and content of social media brings us to the challenge of current PLM consultants, vendors and implementers.  All the information collected in current social platforms is hard to find or interpret. If you use the embedded search functions in these communities, they are not designed for clever searches – you need to know the context?  And then the question pops up if it is all information that existed ? You do not know as you do not see the full picture.

An old-fashioned managing all this data in our PLM system won’t work either. The capturing and classification and linking of data would be too much overhead for the reluctant user. We do not want to manage and justify each action that we do. (although this were knowledge management concepts in the 90’s)

Extended search

And this is where extended search comes in for PLM. The extended search is the glue between the single version of the truth and all the unmanaged data around the product in communities. Integrating this in a single environment is the challenge for PLM vendors (and less important for ERP vendors).

image Why mainly for PLM vendors  ? The main reason is that  in product development a lot of iterations, knowledge building, searching and capturing of date takes place. The more you know and understand, the better you are capable to make adequate decisions, understanding the right context during your development process. And for that you need the formal and informal information, global available across disciplines, companies and countries.

I see two major requirements for these extended search capabilities. 

  1. First of all the search engine should understand your context and skip irrelevant discussions and posts from your social media. I have seen how this could be done. In 2007,  Yedda,  an Israeli startup bought by AOL, came with an intelligent question and answer engine. The concept behind the engine was that it mapped the context of the question to your profile, to the community you belonged and compared it to other profiles of people in the community.  The more you asked and the more your answered the clearer your context became. In additions your answers were rewarded by others, and the more thumbs up you got, the more value you provided to the community – saving your boss to do appraisals.
  2. Search engines should provide you with a facetted search to drill down on the search results. As you do not know exactly what you are looking for, some keywords should do and then as a next step based on your context and the search context you should be able to drill down to the information you are looking for. This information should now give you a better understanding of the context of your product – if it is versioned ? if it is the latest ? Leave this to PLM.

 

My conclusion:

Classic PLM (single version of the truth) and social media capabilities (easy collaboration in communities)  combined with an extended search engine are the mandatory capabilities for a modern global PLM implementation where both formal and informal data are managed in the context of a product

Links for reference:

Tech-clarity white paper

Social Product Innovation

A hyper social organization for plm dummies

Atos Origin abandoning email

observation I am not sure if it depending on the holiday season but apparently from my side at this moment things have gone quiet. Customers are either on holiday or delaying their PLM processes due to holidays or economical downturn. For that reason some unstructured thoughts

How PLM is Nokia ?

nav Two weeks ago I wrote a post about the problems found with the introduction of the new N97 phone from Nokia – see How PLM is NOKIA. As a victim of their NPI process I am still trying to understand their business reasons to be quiet in their responses. From the NOKIA forum, at this moment already 14 pages of discussion, there is no response from NOKIA, see GPS is cutting out on my N97. It is clear that NOKIA is following the discussion as the moderator has removed some posts, but no positive response from NOKIA’s side. Personally I believe a missed opportunity.

Interesting to see that NOKIA avoids to communicate around this problem. I can imagine keeping the problem silent at least does not alert people not using the GPS, from the other side, in times of crisis customer loyalty is probably something that assists a company in hard times.

PLM lesson learned: the costs of fixing problems once your product is in the field is dramatically higher as compared to the cost made during engineering. Did they do virtual testing ? Did they have a prototype phase ? Or was the product dumped into the market to compete with the iPhone ?

An interesting case to follow – anyone from NOKIA to comment ?

PLM Market Forecast Revised Downward.
V or a W-shape?

Another surprise was the report coming out from CIMdata where they mention that the initial growth expectation for PLM needs to be adjusted – see PLM Market Forecast Revised Downward.

In March, the research house had predicted 3.8% year-over-year growth in 2009 and 6.3% compound annual growth over the next five years — which would have pushed the market to $36 billion in revenue in 2013. Stating in a mid-year report released this week that “the global economic situation has been even more severe than anticipated,” the PLM consulting and research firm said it circled back to include data from the first half of 2009 in its figuring.

CIMdata revised its forecast for the PLM software market in 2009 and beyond, saying it now expects a decline of 2.1% in 2009 from 2008 revenue levels and a 3.5% compound annual growth rate from 2009 to 2013, to just under $31 billion in 2013. The company estimated the 2009 market at $25 billion.

The article contains some more interesting details, as it is also mentions virtual manufacturing, which I believe is one of the key benefits of PLM. I see it as one of the competitive advantages many companies should pursue to cut costs even though it requires an investment and change of work ( real PLM implementation)

wshapeThis brought me to the good (or relative good) news. According to the first optimistic signs we have had our worst point of the recession and things can only go better – this are the V-shape believers. After the downturn we will continue as before.

The more pessimistic analysts say we are in a W-shaped recession. Although things are getting better, we will fall back again and recover later, perhaps in 2010.

Both might be right, but what I see is that either end of 2009 or end of 2010 the estimates are that PLM is back in focus. Will this be business as usual or did companies take the opportunity to modernize themselves towards PLM ? The CIMdata reports suggest the opposite, in my post Economical Crisis and PLM – YES WE CAN I tried to explain that investing now in PLM brings an advantage for the future. Companies that now do not look or investigate in PLM might come in a more difficult situation when the economical growth starts again. As the focus will be than on the old business, the chance for management attention and focus on PLM might become too low. Companies that currently invest in PLM take obviously more risk at this time, but will already reap the benefits faster

PLM, PLM 2.0 or a new PLM ?

coop Another interesting and ongoing discussion is the discussion where PLM is heading. Where in mid-market companies the discussion often is around the need for PLM beyond CAD data management and ERP, others are already visionary talking about the new PLM, which is based on people, social networking and communities.  Look at Vuuch and discussions on PLMTwine and Tech-Clarity. Main question here how will people change, will it be the new workforce that naturally replaces the old workforce and while replacing introduces new ways of PLM or will it be a concept driven from the big enterprises as a new wave of PLM  ? I believe this will become more clear when the economy picks up again and companies might have the bandwidth again for some experiments in this area.

Meanwhile I stay on my island

observation Last week was a week of transition. As I wrote in my previous post, I finalized a traditional PLM 1.0 project ( I will come back on this term ‘traditional’ PLM 1.0) and now probably because of the sunny days and some interesting articles I read (each word goes to a different article), I am reflecting what it means to think about the new trends:  WEB 2.0 or even PLM 2.0

In this post I will try to explain the developments I have seen so far in the mid-market and from there project what might happen.

In the 80’s there was no PDM or PLM in the mid-market. This was the time most companies were moving away from the drawing board towards CAD. Most of the CAD was 2D and at that time in the mid-market AutoCAD was the dominant CAD software.

CAD At that time I was working for the biggest AutoCAD distributor in the Netherlands (picture on the left). This was the golden age for hardware and software resellers – margins were high and there was little or none IT-knowledge inside mid-market companies. In order to keep the high margin we provided a free helpdesk for our customers to differentiate from others. It was an interesting time. Prospects came to our demo room to plot a drawing of A0 format and to discuss the quality of the lines and the hatching as compared to handmade drawings. There was always the discussion if CAD was more productive and must of us agreed that benefits only came when rework or changes were needed. In parallel we offered a training course for the heads of a design department how they learned to  understand if their designers were productive. They were used to observe the behavior of the draftsman and the minor bar on the drawing board and from there they understood if someone was productive. We were talking about the new digital generation that would replace the people at the drawing board.

Are there still drawing boards ? Is there still free support as the margins are high ? This was 20 years ago.

Then slowly 3D CAD was introduced for the mid-market, initially only on Unix boxes, but with the introduction of Microsoft Windows it became achievable – SolidWorks for sure was leading in this area. Hardware became already more a commodity so the customer relation changed from free support to paid support, which required quality and knowledge. At that time in my company, we also saw the first demands for what customers called an “engineering database”.  In the 2D world it was all about drawing management, now with 3D the focus was on managing the whole product. Initially called EDM (Engineering Data Management), later evolving in Product Data Management. The term PDM was not known at that time and I remember one of our customers visiting us with a sample of 13 reports – drawing list, spare part list, manufacturing BOM, etc. He told us:  “I need a system that can generate these reports for me at anytime”.  The solution: we implemented a PDM system for this customer. At the end of the nineties 3D was introduced in the mid-market combined with PDM. We were talking about the new generation of people that thinks in 3D which would replace the people who still worked in 2D

Are we still working with 2D ? Do we still look for support on hard- and software ? This was 10 years ago.

express Then came the era of connectivity, initially  through the first internet wave, leading to terms as cPDM and ultimately PLM.  Instead of focusing on productivity in a single department, the intention was to focus on collaboration between departments, development teams and to address the whole product lifecycle. Specially Dassault Systems extended this concept by focusing on the process and virtualization: test and build your product virtually before you spend any money on prototypes. Autodesk does the same in different words, they call it Digital Prototyping and they try to avoid talking about the processes as here we touch the most sensitive point in mid-market companies: touching or changing processes – ‘classical PLM 1.0. And this is also what I read between the lines of Jim Brown’s post Is innovation or product pipeline killing profitability ? As long as we do not change our product development process but focus still on doing the same with better tools, the real innovation will not come. We are now talking about the global collaboration generation that has to learn to work together and replaces the people who are not changing their processes.

Are we still solving our departmental problems only ? Can we survive keep on doing the same ? This is now !

And meanwhile mid-market companies are learning to understand and digest the above, we already see the new wave coming. WEB 2.0 – social networking – social collaboration – PLM 2.0 – communities and more. Instead of companies working on their own data, the future is to work in communities, live data, cross-company with employees, who are focused as a team to bring a result, we do not send so much emails anymore, we chat, we twitter, we …….. and more. In addition as we will see the trend that teams have members from all around the world, the question comes up: What is the standard communication language ? German (past) , English (present), Chinese  (future) ?  Here I am a big fan and believer of the Dassault vision that 3D becomes the global language for communication as the people participating do not come from the same educational background anymore – so it easier to see what you mean. Meanwhile the futurists are all the time talking about the aging workforce (a lot of people plan to retire), but if you read back, you will notice every ten years we are talking about an aging workforce. Every time there was a new generation picking up the new capabilities and challenging the next generation.

Are we in 2020 a global, 3D twittering world ? What is each individual’s added value ? What are companies doing to anticipate to the above trends ? It looks like it is going to happen and the current economical downturn allows us to anticipate even earlier till the next pit stop.

A thought I take with me on the summer holidays.

(Yes, in Europe we still have holidays that are so long you have time to think about work –
you can find me on the island below in August)

anafi

This post is a reply on a post from YML, with whom I have been working in the past. At that time we had interesting discussions on various topics around PLM and I am happy to continue this discussion in blog space. Please read his post in order to understand the full reasoning below.

myplmFirst I want to make a statement to avoid misconception. I am a PLM evangelist and perhaps my definition of PLM is wider than what PLM vendors currently offer. For me PLM focuses not only on storing and managing the product data (PDM), but also on the whole process of how new products or improved products are created, designed, produced and supported.
From the Dassault Systemes and Autodesk (read Jim Brown’s comments on them) perspective, there is a lot of focus on the collaboration around the virtual product, however for me personally, when working with mid-market customers, I am mainly focusing on capturing design knowledge and IP plus creating visibility of knowledge inside a company, without being dependent on knowledge stored in people brains.

Interesting development in that area I am observing recently is in www.vuuch.com. An initiative to empower design discussions.

Now back to the reply on YML’s post:

So when Yann writes:

However I disagree with the statement that you use as foundation : Software vendor are proposing excellent product with a good ROI and SMB customer don’t understand it because they do not have a vision.

I must say: read my statement above – there is still work to be done. When I am talking about the lack of vision in the mid-market companies, I will provide an update based on some experiences I had the past few weeks, where lack of vision is blocking process improvements.

Next Yann is mentioning all the propriety formats of all vendors, PLM vendors, vendors of authoring tools (CAD, Content,…) and even limited version support. Yann makes a point for open-source solutions, which are part of the WEB 2.0 evolution. Interesting to see that at the same time Kurt Chen writes an interesting post on What Can PLM Offer for SMBs? in the same context.

My main comment on this topic is that I understand the beauty of open source, however I also believe that if you want to work with open source solutions, you need to have a 100 % clear concept of what the product should do (that is why Linux is successful – I believe PLM is not there yet) or you need companies that have strong IT-knowledge/support to adapt the software to their needs.However, this contradicts the fact that mid-market companies usually do not have these resources to invest in this kind of activity. So what would they do ? Hire consultancy firms or software companies (sometimes the original developer of the open source software) to adapt the software to their needs. This creates almost the same dependency as what customers would have with traditional PLM vendors – they rely on their software provider as the resource to drive PLM.

Then the question comes up:

Who would I trust to assist my mid-market company to evolve towards PLM ?

A company developing software or a company that has experience in my industry and perhaps does not deliver the best in class product (yet).I have met a company that decided to discontinue PLM software as the provider only brought programmers into the game, they tried to solve requests from the users and at the end – after 1.5 year of programming the system became so complex but crucial details were missing. An industry knowledgeable person with PLM knowledge would approach it different – first focusing on the process and then analyze where automation would bring benefits.Also Yann mentions:

It is interesting to note that nobody is blaming Ford, GM, … of not being able to see that they have good chance to go bankrupt in some month from now. It is interesting that many people blame now these companies of not being able re-invent/adapt their products to their market. when all of them where using PLM systems and had huge PLM projects on going

and additional:

In order to develop this agility SMB need to put very high in the list of capabilities for their information system the following features : Agility, re-configuration, continuous evolution / transformation, openness, ease of integration with unknown system, overall strategy of the PLM vendor

Here I disagree with the first quote. Ford and GM have no PLM implementations, they built a dinosaur type of implementation with focus on product development – yes provided by PLM vendors, but so rigid implemented that they lost the capabilities to be connected to the market.And I fully agree with the second quote – nothing to add. PLM should be implemented in such a way that it does not restrict a company in its flexibility – as innovation does not come from doing a process more efficient – it comes from doing things different 

So to conclude for today:

  • Yes, current PLM vendors are not perfect and there is a challenge to reach the mid-market
  • Open Source solutions make only sense if combined with industry knowledge
  • Agility, re-configuration, continuous evolution / transformation, openness, ease of integration with unknown systems should be the overall strategy of the PLM vendor (not only mid-market)

Thanks Yann, and enjoy your fishing, take notice of what could happen:

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