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I am just back from the annual PDT conference (12th edition), this year hosted in Paris from 9 to 10 November, co-located with CIMdata’s PLM Road Map 2016 for Aerospace & Defense. The PDT conference, organized by EuroStep and CIMdata, is a relatively small conference with a little over a hundred attendees. The attractiveness of this conference is that the group of dedicated participants is very interactive with each other sharing honest opinions and situations, sometimes going very deep into the details, needed to get the full picture. The theme of the conference was: “Investing for the future while managing product data legacy and obsolescence.” Here are some of the impressions from these days, giving you food for thought to join next year.
Setting the scene
Almost traditionally Peter Bilello (CIMdata) started the conference followed by Marc Halpern (Gartner). Their two presentations had an excellent storyline together.
Pieter Bilello started and discussed Issues and Remedies for PLM Obsolescence. Peter did not address PLM obsolescence for the first time. It is a topic many early PLM adaptors are facing and in a way the imminent obsolescence of their current environments block them of taking advantage of new technologies and capabilities current PLM vendors offer. Having learned from the past CIMdata provides a PLM Obsolescence Management model, which should be on every companies agenda, in the same way as data quality (which I will address later). Being proactive in obsolescence can save critical situations and high costs. From the obsolescence theme, Peter looked forward to the future and the value product innovation platforms can offer, given the requirements that data should be able to flow through the organization, connecting to other platforms and applications, increasing the demand to adhere and push for standards.
Marc Halpern followed with his presentation, titled: More custom products demand new IT strategies and new PLM application where he focused on the new processes and methodology needed for future businesses with a high-focus on customer-specific deliveries, speed, and automation. Automation is always crucial to reducing production costs. In this delivery process 3D printing could bring benefits and Mark shared the plusses and minuses of 3D printing. Finally, when automation of a customer specific order would be possible, it requires a different IT-architecture, depicted by Mark. After proposing a roadmap for customizable products, Mark shared some examples of ROI benefits reported by successful transformation projects. Impressive !!
My summary of these two sessions is that both CIMdata and Gartner confirm the challenges companies have to change their old legacy processes and PLM environments which support the past, meanwhile moving to more, customer-driven processes and, modern data-driven PLM functionality. This process is not just an IT or Business change, it will also be a cultural change.
JT / STEP AP242 / PLCS
Next, we had three sessions related to standards, where Alfred Katzenbach told the success story of JT, the investment done to get this standard approved and performing based on an active community to get the most out of JT, beyond its initial purpose of viewing and exchanging data in a neutral format. Jean-Yves Delanaunay explained in Airbus Operation the STEP AP242 definition is used as the core standard for 3D Model Based Definition (MB) exchange, part of the STEP standards suite and as the cornerstone for Long Term Archiving and Retrieval of Aerospace & Defense 3D MBD.
There seems to be some rivalry between JT and STEP242 viewing capabilities, which go beyond my understanding as I am not an expert from the field here. Nigel Shaw ended the morning session positioning PLCS as a standard for interoperability of information along the whole lifecycle of a product. Having a standardized data model as Nigel showed would be a common good approach for PLM vendors to converge to a more interoperable standard.
My summary of standards is that there is a lot of thinking, evaluation, and testing done by an extensive community of committed people. It will be hard for a company to define a better foundation for a standard in their business domain. Vendors are focusing on performance inside their technology offering and therefore will never push for standards (unless you use their products as a standard). A force for adhering to standards should come from the user community.
After lunch we had three end-users stories from:
- Eric Delaporte (Renault Group) talked about their NewPDM project and the usage of standards mainly for exchanges. Two interesting observations: Eric talks about New PDM – the usage of the words New (when does New become regular?) and PDM (not talking about PLM ?) and secondly as a user of standards he does not care about the JT/AP242 debate and uses both standards where applicable and performing.
- Sebastien Olivier (France Ministry of Defense) gave a bi-annual update of their PCLS-journey used in two projects, Pencil (Standardized Exchange platform and centralized source of logistical information) and MAPS (Managing procurement contracts for buying In-Service Support services) and the status of their S3000L implementation (International procedure for Logistic Support Analysis). A presentation for the real in-crowd of this domain.
- Juha Rautjarvi discussion how efficient use of knowledge for safety and security could be maintained and enhanced through collaboration. Here Juha talks about the Body of Knowledge which should be available for all stakeholders in the context of security and safety. And like a physical product this Body of Knowledge goes through a lifecycle, continuous adapting to what potentially arises from the outside world
My conclusion on this part was that if you are not really in these standards on a day-to-day base (and I am not), it is hard to pick the details. Still, the higher level thought processes behind these standard approaches allow you to see the benefits and impact of using standards, which is not the same as selecting a tool. It is a strategic choice.
Modular / Bimodular / not sexy ?
Jakob Asell from Modular Management gave an overview how modularity can connect the worlds of sales, engineering, and manufacturing by adding a modular structure as a governing structure to the various structures used by each discipline. This product architecture can be used for product planning and provides and end-to-end connectivity of information. Modular Management is assisting companies in moving towards this approach.
Next my presentation title: The importance of accurate data. Act now! addressed the topic of the switch from classical, linear, document-driven PLM towards a modern, more incremental and data-driven PLM approach. Here I explained the disadvantage of the old evolutionary approach (impossible – too slow/too costly) and an alternative method, inspired by Gartner’s bimodular IT-approach (read my blog post: Best Practices or Next Practices). No matter which option you are looking for correct and quality data is the oil for the future, so companies should consider allowing the flow of data as a health issue for the future.
The day was closed with a large panel, where the panelist first jumped on the topic bimodal (bipolar ?? / multimodal ??) talking about mode 1 (the strategic approach) and mode 2 (the tactical and fast approach based on Gartner’s definition). It was clear that the majority of the panel was in Mode 1 mode. Which fluently lead to the discussion of usage of standards (and PLM) as not being attractive for the young generations (not sexy). Besides the conclusion that it takes time to understand the whole picture and see the valuable befits a standard can bring and join this enthusiasm
I realize myself that this post is already too long according blogging guidelines. Therefore I will tell more about day 2 of the conference next week with Airbus going bimodal and more.
Stay tuned for next week !
The past half-year I have been intensively discussing potential PLM roadmaps with companies of different sizes and different maturity in PLM. Some companies are starting their PLM journey after many years of discussion and trying to identify the need and scope, others have an old PLM implementation (actually most of the time it is cPDM) where they discover that business paradigms from the previous century are no longer sufficient for the future.
The main changing paradigms are:
- From a linear product-driven delivery process towards an individual customer focused offering based on products and effective services, quickly -adapting to the market needs.
- From a document-driven, electronic files exchange based processes and systems towards data-driven platforms supporting information to flow in almost real-time through the whole enterprise.
Both changes are related and a result of digitization. New practices are under development as organizations are learning how to prepare and aim for the future. These new practices are currently dominating the agenda from all strategic consultancy firms as you cannot neglect the trend towards a digital enterprise. And these companies need next practices.
And what about my company?
It is interesting to see that most of the PLM implementers and vendors are promoting best practices, based on their many years of experience working having customers contributing to functionality in their portfolio.
And it is very tempting to make your customer feel comfortable by stating:
“We will implement our (industry) best practices and avoid customization – we have done that before!”
I am sure you have heard this statement before. But what about these best practices as they address the old paradigms from the past?
Do you want to implement the past to support the future?
Starting with PLM ? Use Best Practices !
If the company is implementing PLM for the first time and the implementation is bottom-up you should apply the old PLM approach. My main argument: This company is probably not capable/ready to work in an integrated way. It is not in the company´s DNA yet. Sharing data and working in a controlled environment is a big step to take. Often PLM implementations failed at this point as the cultural resistance was too big.
When starting with classical PLM, avoid customization and keep the scope limited. Horizontal implementations (processes across all departments) have more success than starting at engineering and trying to expand from there. An important decision to make at this stage is 2D leading (old) or the 3D Model leading (modern). Some future thoughts: How Model-based definition can fix your CAD models. By keeping the scope limited, you can always evolve to the next practices in 5 -10 years (if your company is still in business).
Note 1: remark between parenthesis is a little cynical and perhaps for the timeframe incorrect. Still, a company working bottom-up has challenges to stay in a modern competitive global environment.
Note 2: When writing this post I got notified about an eBook available with the tittle Putting PLM within reach written by Jim Brown. The focus is on cloud-based PLM solution that require less effort/investments on the IT-side and as side effect it discourages customization (my opinion) – therefore a good start.
Evolving in PLM – Next Practices
Enterprises that have already a PDM/PLM system in place for several years should not implement the best practices. They have reached the level that the inhibitors off a monolithic, document based environment are becoming clear.
They (must) have discovered that changing their product offering or their innovation strategy now with partners is adding complexity that cannot be supported easily. The good news, when you change your business model and product offering, there is C-level attention. This kind of changes do not happen bottom-up.
Unfortunate business changes are often discussed at the execution level of the organization without the understanding that the source of all products or offering data needs to be reorganized too. PLM should be a part of that strategic plan and do not confuse the old PLM with the PLM for the future.
The PLM for the future has to be built upon next practices. These next practices do not exists out of the box. They have to be matured and experienced by leading companies. The price you pay when being a leader Still being a leader bring market share and profit your company cannot meet when being a follower.
The Bi-modal approach
As management of a company, you do not want a disruption to switch from one existing environment to a new environment. Too much risk and too disruptive – people will resist – stress and bad performance everywhere. As the new data-driven approach is under development (we are learning), the end target is still moving.
Evolving using the old PLM system towards the new PLM approach is not recommended. This would be too expensive, slow and cumbersome. PLM would get a bad reputation as all the complexity of the past and the future are here. It is better to start the new PLM with a new business platform and customer-oriented processes for a limited offering and connect it to your legacy PLM.
Over the years the new PLM will become more clear and grow where the old PLM will become less and less relevant. Depending on the dynamics of your industry this might take a few years till decades.
It must and will be a business-driven learning path for new best practices
Best Practices and Next Practices are needed in parallel. Depending on the maturity and lack of sharing information in your company, you can choose. Consider the bi-modal approach to choose a realistic time path.
What do you think? Could this simplified way of thinking help your company?
The past weeks I have discussed at various events two topics that appeared to be different:
- The change from an analogue, document-driven enterprise towards a digital, data-driven enterprise with all its effects. E.g. see From a linear world to fast and circular?
- The change in generations upcoming. The behavior and the attitude of the analogue generation(s) and the difference in behavior from the digital generation(s).
During PDT2015 (a review of the conference here), we discussed all the visible trends that business in exponential changing in some industries due to digitalization and every cheaper technology. The question not answered during that conference was: How are we going to make this happen in your company?
Last week I spoke at a PLM forum in Athens and shared with the audience the opportunities for Greece to catch-up and become a digital service economy like Singapore. Here I pictured an idealistic path how this could happen (based on an ideal world where people think long-term).
A mission impossible, perhaps.
The primary challenge to move from analogue towards digital is to my opinion the difference in behavior of the analogue and digital generations (and I am generalizing of course)
The analogue generation has been educated that knowledge is power. Store all you know in your head or keep it in books close to you. Your job was depending on people needing you. Those who migrated to the digital world most of the time continued the same behavior. Keep information on your hard disk or mailbox. A job was designed for life and do not plan to share as your job might come at risk. Continuous education was not part of their work pattern. And it is this generation that is in power in most of the traditional businesses.
The digital generation has been educated (I hope so – not sure for every country) to gather information, digest and process it and come with a result. There is no need to store information in your head as there is already an information overflow. Store in your head methodology and practices to find and interpret data. The digital generation for sure wants a stable work environment but they already grew up with the mindset that there is no job for life, having seen several crises. It is all about being flexible and keep your skills up-to-date.
So we have the dilemma here that business is moving from analogue towards digital, where the analogue business represents the linear processes that the old generation was used to. Digital business is much more an iterative approach, acting and adapting on what happens around you. A perfect match for the digital generations.
A dilemma ?
Currently the old generation is leading and they will not easy step aside due to their classical education and behavior. We cannot expect behavior to change, just because it is logically explained. In that case, everyone would stop smoking or adopt other healthy standards.
The dilemma reminded me of the Innovators Dilemma, a famous theory from Clayton Christensen, which also could apply to analogue and digital businesses. Read more about the Innovators Dilemma here in one of my older blog posts: The Innovator´s dilemma and PLM. You can replace the incumbent with the old analogue generation and the disruptive innovation comes from using digital platforms and information understood by the digital generation. If you follow this theory, it would mean old businesses would disappear and new businesses would pop-up and overtake the old companies. Interesting conclusion, however, will there be disruption everywhere?
Recently I saw Peter Sondergaard from Gartner presenting at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2015 in Orlando. In his keynote speech, he talked about the value of algorithms introducing first how companies should move from their traditional analogue business towards digital business in a bimodal approach. Have a read of the press release here.
If you have the chance to view his slick and impressive keynote video (approx. 30 minutes) you will understand it better. Great presentation. In the beginning Peter talks about the bimodal approach sustaining old, slowly dying analogue businesses and meanwhile building teams developing a digital business approach. The graph below says it all.
Interesting from this approach is that a company can evolve without being disrupted. Still my main question remains: Who will lead this change from the old analogue business towards modern digital business approach. Will it be the old generation coaching the new generation or will there be a natural evolution at the board level required before this process starts?
I have no conclusion this time as I am curious to your opinion. A shift in business is imminent, but HOW will companies / countries pick-up this shift?
Your thoughts or experiences ?