Monday, August 8, 2011

PLM Openness and Vendor Risk Management

Have you been following the discussion around PLM Openness? If not, please refer to the article Open words – ProSTEP-iViP Symposium in the BMW Welt, Munich as a starter.

The work on this topic focuses on two action fields:
-         Technical (API granularity and lifecycle, standard support, documentation…)
-         Business & Legal (partnership model, roadmap commitments, cost for toolkits etc.)

I found this second field to be especially interesting, probably because two vendors such as Dassault and Siemens PLM are perceived very differently in terms on PLM openness, although there are a lot of similarities on the technical level.

Enter VRM
IT Vendor Risk Management is an element of enterprise and IT risk management. The purpose is to assess and manage risks related to IT suppliers. Such risk monitoring is mandatory in some industries, e.g. when dealing with personal data (BDSG in Germany), payment card or healthcare information.

A comprehensive VRM approach is based on a rating framework with criteria such as financial performance, staff turnover, customer turnover, product failures, strategy changes or market entry of new competitors. A good question to ask: Would my bank extend credit or invest in the vendor?

Such an approach can be supported with a VRM solution. These applications come as part of a larger enterprise risk management suite or as stand-alone solutions, typically SaaS.

Bringing it together
As technology risk management consultant Joel Lanz points out: „a good contract is the foundation to successfully managing IT vendor risk“. This contract should document all expectations. An extract in plain English should be provided to the team so that everyone knows the rules. A clause defining the “right to audit” supports the monitoring of important contract elements.

What is your experience with VRM for PLM vendors?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The power of open PLM platforms

While researching on PLM openness, I came across the ebook The Power of Open. It is basically a marketing brochure for the creative commons licensing models, and it contains a lot of case studies where these models were successfully applied, e.g. Wikipedia and TED talks. The term open in this case refers to sharing content through CC-licenses. At first glance, this didn't seem to be useful for my work on PLM openness. After all, we want to protect IP, right?

The case of creative commons was nicely stated on the homepage:
Creative Commons began providing licenses for the open sharing of content only a decade ago. Now more than 400 million CC-licensed works are available on the Internet, from music and photos, to research findings and entire college courses. Creative Commons created the legal and technical infrastructure that allows effective sharing of knowledge, art and data by individuals, organizations and governments. More importantly, millions of creators took advantage of that infrastructure to share work that enriches the global commons for all humanity.

PLM platforms as infrastructure
Open PLM platforms should also provide an infrastructure for effective data sharing. In the best case, this PLM infrastructure can be enriched by 3rd parties, e.g. by adding functionality. This suggests that PLM openness can be applied on data and on functionality - each with an company-internal view and with an external view:

- Complete access to company data
- Open data model
- Support of data format standards, esp. STEP
- API's and documentation for sustainable customization, i.e. supported over multiple versions
- Ability to integrate with other applications
- API's and documentation for 3rd party add-on development including a business model to support this
- Support of service standards, esp. PLM services

Especially the aspect of 3rd party add-ons points back to the Power of Open: the current practices of most PLM vendors seem to focus on developing all functionality themselves. Partners are only used if needed, e.g. when specific know-how for the integration of other applications is needed. The success of App Stores with ten thousands of developers offering add-ons for a basic platform such as the iPad indicates the unused potential of PLM vendors. More openness could help using this potential - what an incentive.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The tipping point: corporate PLM vs. local autonomy

 With all the globalization and mergers & acquisitions going on, PLM architects are increasingly facing one critical question: where to enforce a single corporate PLM standard - and where to allow for local autonomy. When researching this topic, I came across a thesis from Nils Johansson On the Lifecycle Management of Standards.

 (Calculation of interface-connections for local and global standards (BSharah, 2003))

He makes the case for global standards based on financial justification: the more participants use the global standard, the more positive the business case becomes. But everyone who has ever been involved in this kind of decision knows that the political dimension can quickly overshadow the rational, financial dimension. Here is my quick analysis of the

Pro's and Con's of a corporate standard PLM 

Business scale effects, e.g. reuse of parts and processesHuge standardization effort in terms of cost and time
ICT scale effects, e.g. cost for operations, maintenance, software licensesHigh dependency on one system and potentially one vendor
Enables global cooperation, because all users are trained on the same processes and systemsChange management challenge: a political minefield and a lot of resistance to overcome
A common platform allows for immediate global deployment of best practicesTechnical challenge of global multi-site deployments (complexity, performance, stability, security...)
Single source of truth for product data for all downstream processesPotential loss of flexibility and ability to react on local requirements / serve local customers

Well, you could argue that today´s extended enterprise business models require loose coupling between PLM, anyway. But I think that the advantages of a corporate PLM solution - especially when operating distributed development centres - can outweigh the disadvantages. In this case, it is about finding the parts in PLM that still need local autonomy and those that should be harmonized globally. Here are some

Ideas how a PLM implementation could balance these factors
    • Hierarchical data model with inheritance, so that common standards are enforced on a higher level and local details can be varied on a lower level
    • Global standard workflows branch into local specific workflows
    • Abstract interfaces to components that are typically different in each site such as ERP integration and customer-driven reports
    • Find a “killer application” that creates demand for the corporate PLM. The Volkswagen Group reported on the 2011 ProSTEP-iViP Symposium in Munich that they provide access to their strategic MQB platform through the corporate Teamcenter PLM. This access is business-critical for the VW brands such as Audi and Skoda, i.e. acceptance of the PLM solution is greatly increased.
    • Process harmonization is a prerequisite before deploying harmonized IT solutions

So, what are your experiences on corporate PLM vs. local autonomy?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

iReq - personal requirements engineering

Still waiting for delivery of my iPad 2... Not sure if I really wanted the email on May 12, confirming delivery for May 24. I guess the logistics people at Apple just like torturing their customers.

Solution seeking problem
While waiting for the delivery, I thought about potential use cases. As I didn't find too many, I decided to search the web. I came across a posting from a similar minded person called The iPad: An Elegant Solution in Search of a Problem. My favorite part was his reply to a comment praising the rather balanced posting: “Honestly, it was really hard to write this. I love everything about Apple. And the iPad is gorgeous. I just can't find a real use for it.” That was when I noticed the banner ad at the bottom of the screen. Now that fits.

It seems as if the iPad somehow changes the bottom-up approach of identifying the requirements first and then developing a solution. This is a case where a neat piece of IT inspires new solutions. More specifically: an IT platform that allows seamless integration of new solutions. One of the reasons for me buying an iPad was curiosity about these solutions - and being able to closely follow the evolving state of the art.

Business drives IT, right?
I felt reminded of some PLM discussions that go like this:
Q: What is the best PLM system?
A: That depends on your requirements.
Q: What can it do for me?
A: Everything you want it to do.
Q: What do I want?
A: Right.

Given the scope of today's PLM suites, it's hard to get a complete and consistent set of requirements including prioritization. Vendors keep adding innovative functionality such as compliance management and social product development, while the business is still digesting basic PDM and CAD data management. This is looking more like IT drives Business.

PLM at the crossroads
In this situation, I see two options: you can either continue with the slow but proven bottom-up process of analyzing the processes, specifying requirements, selecting a system, customizing it etc. - business drives IT. Or you could adopt a process of providing OOTB solutions from your PLM vendor of choice and finding a way to apply them in your business. This second option can only work, if the solutions are good - and if you have an IT platform that allows seamless integration of new solutions (hence the iPad). The major PLM suites might provide good solutions for all kinds of problems, but they struggle with the integration into an existing system. Each new module brings along a list of prerequisites and dependencies that still requires major efforts to implement that module.

A PLM platform that wants to support OOTB implementations needs sophisticated mechanisms to separate the customer-specific configuration and customizing from the underlying platform. This would not only ease the integration of new modules, but also the maintenance of the overall system through the release cycle.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Push or Pull: Change Management for Social Product Development

A colleague pointed me to the article „How to Encourage Staff Interaction Through Social Media“ in Daniel Gasparro, Executive Director and CIO, Howrey says „Encouraging collaboration, especially through social media, should be viewed as a change-management effort focused on the culture of your organization.”

I tended to think of the social computing as a nobrainer - with an almost iPad-like pull effect. In the context of change management, it is rather on the solution side of things than on the problem side. But the article certainly has a point: if the hierarchy isn't engaging in social computing and leading by example, the staff won't engage either - bad for collaboration...

On the other hand, I still believe in the pull-effect of social computing: people like to work with other people (rather than with “the computer”), i.e. the social component satisfies some basic needs. Being able to contribute to a community, to be recognized by your peers and to get your problems solved with the help of others is motivation enough.

Apply basic change management principles when introducing social product development methods. Management must engage and lead by example, early adopters should be rewarded and successes should be communicated broadly.

What are your experiences regarding push or pull when introducing social product development?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The engineering workplace 2020 at BMW

I found the presentation from BMW’s CIO Erich Probst at the ProSTEP-iViP Symposium 2011 quite interesting. In his keynote, he presented the following slide (I took the freedom to translate it to English) on the engineering workplace 2020:

Engineering Workplace 2020 (Source: Erich Probst, CIO BMW)

His thoughts are mapping very well to my earlier posting on The future workplace in engineering. Regarding the attractiveness for digital natives, he adds the aspect of gaming to the use of social computing. He also addresses the potentially stressful flexibility of working in an “always on” mode.

Semantic Consolidation – Bits of Wisdom
The future workplace must support the engineer in dealing with multiple channels, e.g. by the use of Web 2.0 patterns such as aggregation, syndication and mashups. I don’t want the same bit of wisdom on Twitter, recommended by 5 friends, through an email notification and finally discussed at the good old coffee machine. This requires more than portal-like integration on the GUI level. It would require integration on a semantic level in order to identify that bit of wisdom. It’s then up to the user to determine the best channel to access this information. And it’s up to the systems to ensure that this information is not delivered redundantly to the same user.

Dr. Matthias Zagel from Consentor presented on a related topic at the same symposium with his speech about Networked Product Development. Their approach is to identify parameters that are relevant for coordination in a team. All discussions and decisions are organized around these parameters. They become a new PLM structure – next to product structures, functional & requirements structures, WBS etc. – to organize collaboration, decision making and knowledge management. On the one hand, I realize that it is already challenging to master the classical PLM structures. But on the other hand, I feel that Consentor’s approach of self-organizing collaborative processes supported by social computing is an innovative approach that points into the right direction. What do you think?

P.S.: the presentations are available at for registered members of the ProSTEP-iViP association.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Open words – ProSTEP-iViP Symposium in the BMW Welt, Munich

Munich is the PLM capitol this week: the ProSTEP-iViP Symposium as the annual meeting of the PLM community took place on April 5-6, 2011 in the BMW Welt. Working for the PLM unit at Cirquent in Munich, I couldn’t miss this home match. We made a tag cloud poster to display our topics at the booth and were fortunate enough to have many interesting conversations with the 420 participants.
Cirquent PLM tag cloud

The vibes were all good – automotive and aerospace are doing much better than last year. A lot of PLM projects are to be launched now that were on hold in 2009 / 2010. The bottleneck seem to be the human resources for the project teams – the business experts at the companies are as busy as the consultants at the service providers.

BMW AIDA – PDM backbone for E/E
BMW not only sponsored the nice location, they also contributed some presentations to the conference. I was especially impressed with the AIDA presentation: the BMW project manager presented the vision for an integrated electrical / electronical development process. In the second part of the presentation, Dassault Systèmes made a live demo of CATIA Systems and Enovia V6 to show what is possible today. We from Cirquent are commited to the success of AIDA as an innovative and challenging project with about 30 consultants.

PLM Openness Initiative
The announcement of the ProSTEP-iViP association to launch a PLM Openness initiative in 2011 made my day. This is supposed to develop a codex for open standards and interfaces that can be supported by PLM vendors via a voluntary commitment. Not all vendors like to be open, especially when they consider proprietary technology as a competitive advantage. In my view, this initiative meets a critical customer demand, the control over product data as the main asset of a company. Please also refer to the discussion in End-to-end OOTB vs. open, standards-based PLM and in Open Standards and Data Sharing . I will follow this and support the initiative.
Looking forward to the next symposium at Airbus in Hamburg...
(Translated from my original German posting on Cirquent Blog)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Open Web 2.0 vs. Apps

Check out the great post from John Battelle called A Report Card on Web 2 and the App Economy .
He brought two topics together that I’ve been thinking about:
-          Web 2.0 principles – I was using them on Social Product Development defined
-          Apps – I was wondering about their relevance for PLM in No PLM apps at M-Days2011 - why not?
John Battelle analyzed how apps compare to today’s web in terms of the Web 2.0 principles originally established by Tim O’Reilly. He summarized his findings in this image and then discussed each in a bit more detail.
web 2 report card.png
(Picture copyright by John Battelle,
As you can see, apps don’t stand a chance against today’s Web (2.0) when measured in terms of Web 2.0 principles :-) .

So, what does this mean for PLM apps?
First of all, the PLM apps that currently exist represent a client for the corporate PLM platform, i.e. some of the principles just don’t apply.
But I think we can still transfer some of his thinking to PLM: 
  • the control of data ownership is an essential topic, as discussed in End-to-end OOTB vs. open, standards-based PLM . By using apps as an online PLM client, we don’t create new issues in this field. But offline usage with the related data synchronization issues or even peer-to-peer networking of multiple mobile PLM devices would create new issues.
  • We haven’t reached the End of the Software Release Cycle in PLM. On the contrary – release updates are still major projects with significant cost and risk. I like John’s comment that “the Web has totally checked this box - when was the last you checked what version of Google you were using?” With PLM apps, we just have to take care that we don’t pile up new release update issues.
  • The rich user experience is where apps potentially beat native Web 2.0 applications – although you could argue that there are a lot of nice Web 2.0 site  and a lot of bad apps. But John’s point was that the user experience of apps could be so compelling that you just throw-away all the other principles of Web 2.0.
So where are the compelling PLM apps?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The future workplace in engineering

Does your company have an IT policy? If yes, chances are that it talks about the Internet to be used only for work-related purposes etc.. Newer versions of these policies even deal with social media, probably by banning the use of Facebook, Twitter and even blogs during work.

I always wondered how people can even get their work done in such companies, not to speak of outperforming the competition. Being able to listen and potentially communicate with your customers, your competition and your potential future workforce is a competitive necessity.

Marianne Levinsen, Futurist and Chief of Research at the Danish centre for future studies, describes the digital natives as a pretty challenging future workforce. The border between private and work life just disappears when you are connected to your colleagues in a social network and when you are “always on” with your mobile phone. OTOH, she also points out the gap between the different generations and the resulting challenges in motivating them. I just ordered "The 2020 Workplace" in order to dig into this topic.

The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow's Employees Today
(Amazon affiliate link)

Luckily, engineers tend to embrace the new stuff a bit faster than others. Social Product Development gives us a glimpse at the future workplace in engineering. And for the others, it might be a good start to loosen up the IT policies and start using social media for business benefits. What do you think?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

End-to-end OOTB vs. open, standards-based PLM

As commented several times, I agree that product data is the main asset of a company as PLM applications come and go over time. But I would like dig into another trade-off that PLM customers are facing when trying to act on this: the choice between cost-efficient, end-to-end solutions deployed “out of the box” (OOTB) from one vendor versus a multi-vendor PLM architecture based on open standards.

Product data is the main asset
Protecting this asset e.g. by knowing your logical and physical data model and by constantly monitoring the data quality is essential. An open, standards-based solution in this field basically means STEP for most of the meta-data model, potentially complemented by JT for geometry and newer incarnations of STEP such as PLM Services. Most PLM platform vendors have not adopted STEP as a major component of their product architecture – for reasons such as maturity of the standard and the need to differentiate the offering from the competition. You might find STEP interfaces for import and export, but as long as the internal core data (and services) models of the PLM applications are not STEP-based, the interfaces are rather weak links and create a lot of overhead for data mapping and data exchange. Integrating complex PLM architectures with hundreds of applications on this basis is still a bold venture that not many companies go into.

End-to-end PLM solutions OOTB
Sounds too good to be true, right? And I think it is. Even if one vendor had a good offering, the risk of committing your product data into a black box governed by one vendor is not very promising. In the current case of Dassault V6, I would distinguish two cases:
  • MCAD-PDM: CATIA V6 with integrated Enovia team data manager
  • Full PLM: the complete Dassault V6 vision of mechatronics PLM (RFLP)

I tend to think that the benefits of an end-to-end CAD-PDM solution could outweigh the risk (if you can still control your product data...), but I would think twice for my full PLM architecture.

What do you think?

Note: this view is driven by working with rather large, OEM-type companies in automotive and aerospace. Small and medium businesses might have different priorities.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

iEverywhere – or challenges in open innovation

Just when I was working on two big i’s in open innovation – incentives and intellectual property - BMW launched it’s new sub-brand BMW i . 

I specifically noticed the founding of BMW i Ventures, a venture capital company in New York City. The objective is to substantially increase the offering of mobility services for BMW. They are looking for “promising services that fit to the BMW i brand and improve personal mobility in urban areas and deliver extra comfort or smart advantages (intermodal travel, smart parking, recommendations, communication etc).” You are asked to upload a business plan (management summary – up to 20 MB :-))  BMW will then review this plan and might eventually invest – the VC is backed by $100 million.
Incentives – money or fame
Now that is one sort of incentive, and there are other innovation challenges that offer monetary rewards in the range from a few $ up to millions. I recently blogged on the Airbus Fly Your Ideas challenge, awarding 30.000 EUR to the winning team.
Another motivation might come from the desire to get a specific product, service or feature. Or just to get a bug fixed in a piece of software. But even here – people begin asking for money before submitting a bug with a detailed documentation for reproduction and potentially some analysis.
It seems as if the classic, altruistic reasons for participating in open innovation such as fun, recognition or curiosity gradually fade away.

Intellectual property
When it comes to copyright, patents and trademarks, the open innovation model faces another challenge. One problem with IP is that it can only be asserted in court – and the jurisdiction differs from country to country. This certainly doesn’t help when you want to collaborate with a global community of unknown people.
So it’s important to establish clear rules regarding IP at the beginning of an open innovation project. There are many different IP models, e.g. the negotiation of IP rights between solvers and seekers as in InnoCentive, open source based on copyright such as in Eclipse or the transfer of all rights such as in Airbus FYI.
What do you think about incentives and IP as challenges for open innovation?

Oh, and by the way: Apple does not have a copyright, a patent or a trademark on the letter i – although they have a pretty impressive list of trademarks.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Social Product Development: Hype or Chance?

I would like to thank my fellow PLM Consultant Christian Neumann for the contribution of the following guest post:
With the definition of social product development and first business examples of already realized concepts with innovative web 2.0 based software, one question is yet not answered. By using social product development tools and methods, why should this concept speed up your product development and in which stage of your product development process is this concept actually helpful or needed? Is there a conceptual focus on consumer products only, or is it even possible to have  customers develop vehicles?
Idea generation:
Sharing of ideas by company-organized web communities is a very popular application using web 2.0 technologies. Some examples of companies, especially for consumer products, using web based generation methods (e.g. BMW: Customer Innovation Lab) are well known. The obvious motivation for this is to think of the company as innovative (as a marketing effect) instead of getting radically new ideas.
Idea evaluation:
To evaluate already created ideas according to strategic and business ambitions (e.g. strategic product platforms, strategic patents) is a tough task for companies. Quirky is using the web community to evaluate ideas as a first step according to customer benefits and acceptance. As a result of early stage evaluation by customers, the business economic value of these ideas will be more visible. This approach by Quirky reduces investments and effort in proof of concept or the creation of product prototypes.
Pilot application, prototype development and testing:
Investments in prototypes are mostly necessary to check or pilot the application before the production process can start. Windchill SocialLink by PTC already uses functionality of social product development to communicate via web in real-time, sharing of development related informations or chat via instant messaging with worldwide distributed internal development departments. The connection of external development service companies or customers with development skills (using CAD software as freeware) in the prototype development process can be the next evolution to speed up the development process.
In summary, as a very short analysis, social product development as a PLM method has found a way into departments of product development. Social product development is a method to detect market trends, business opportunities and customer needs in the early stages of the product development process. The customer is reflecting his personal needs himself and is proud to have created and developed his own product.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Fly your ideas – Open innovation the Airbus way

In my search for real-world manufacturing companies using social product development concepts, I found the Airbus Fly Your Ideas challenge. Let's analyze how this works:

Basic Approach
“Airbus Fly Your Ideas is a contest that challenges students worldwide to develop new ideas to deliver a greener aviation industry.” Students from around the world are asked to form teams and submit ideas on a pre-defined theme. In 2011, this theme is the “Environmental Life Cycle Approach”, i.e. an environment management system from design until end-of-life. The ideas are evaluated and filtered over 3 rounds before a final presentation at the Le Bourget Air Show in Paris in June 2011. This video introduces FYI 2001.

Social Product Development methods employed
Although the FYI challenge is accompanied by a Facebook page, this seems to be a rather traditional approach to open innovation. The ideas are submitted as a project proposal via an online form in round 1. A video about the team and the submission is to be uploaded in round 2. But the evaluation of the ideas is done by Airbus mentors and a jury, i.e. there is no open rating / ranking. This is probably due to the fact that the terms & conditions clearly state that Airbus owns the intellectual property on all ideas submitted.

Incentives for participants
The 5 finalist teams will be brought to the Le Bourget Air Show with a chance to win 30.000 EUR, 15.000 EUR for the runners up team. The FAQ lists the following additional incentives for the participants:
  • Interaction with and coaching from Airbus employees
  • The chance to develop their teamwork skills
  • The opportunity to enhance creativity and innovation skills
  • The chance to improve their project development & presentation skills
  • Working with other nationalities
  • Learning more about Airbus and the aviation industry
  • Feedback on their ideas from industry experts

Benefits for the company
For FYI 2011, over 2.600 students from 75 countries have registered, i.e. over 300 teams completed round 1. The FYI 2009 resulted into similar impressive numbers.
  • Innovation: Airbus owns the intellectual property and is actively seeking for diverse teams with technical and business backgrounds.
  • Positioning: by providing a theme, Airbus focuses the results around topics such as environment, eco-efficiency and sustainability – and positions itself in the center of these topics.
  • Recruiting: the FYI challenge is open to students – and only to students. Despite the FAQ saying “it is not part of the company’s recruitment process or a vehicle to recruitment”, Rachel Schroeder as the head of Airbus employment marketing sees it as an opportunity to connect with students and to get them involved.
To me, this looks like a very successful example of open innovation – with more focus on innovation then on open. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Social product development. real world examples

In the last post Social Product Development defined, I planned to focus on real world examples of companies using social product development.Well, I just happened to read an excellent article from Jim Brown from Tech-Clarity pointing to the SPIKE awards.This award has been initiated in 2010 by Kalypso, pdma, Tech-Clarity and Lifecycle Insights. It recognizes the best use of social computing to improve product innovation.

Winners of the SPIKE award 2010 were chosen from the categories life sciences, consumer products, manufacturing and technology. My focus being PLM in the manufacturing industry, I was eager to find out about the manufacturing winner Quirky.This is certainly a nice example for open innovation and a creative business model. The actual manufacturing of physical products is just a small part of the overall solution that Quirky sells.

So; I'm continuing to watch out for the application of social product development in more traditional manufacturing companies.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Social Product Development defined

Over the next couple of blog posts, I would like to explore the field of Social Product Development. So let's start with a definition:

Coming from the PLM perspective, I won't spend much time on defining PLM – I will just go with the CIMdata definition of PLM as:
A strategic business approach that applies a consistent set of business solutions that support the collaborative creation, management, dissemination, and use of product definition information
Supporting the extended enterprise (customers, design and supply partners, etc.)
Spanning from concept to end of life of a product or plant
Integrating people, processes, business systems, and information

The issues in defining the dynamic topic of social computing or Web 2.0 are well described in
Web 2.0 Architectures: What Entrepreneurs and Information Architects Need to Know
(Amazon affiliate link)

As a starting point, the book cites the famous „What is Web 2.0“ article by Tim O'Reilly and the table comparing old Web with Web 2.0:

Web 1.0

Web 2.0
-->Google AdSense
Britannica Online
personal websites
--> and EVDB
domain name speculation
-->search engine optimization
page views
-->cost per click
screen scraping
-->web services
content management systems
directories (taxonomy)
-->tagging ("folksonomy")

More basic, let's consider the following technologies Web 2.0:
  • Blogs, wikis and other community spaces for collaboration
  • Real-time communication and sharing including status updates and presence detection
  • Profile pages of experts – making their specific skills searchable
  • Social search mechanisms including rating and tagging
The book goes beyond such a list of basic technologies and extracts some patterns that characterize successful Web 2.0 companies:
  • Participation – Collaboration among self-organizing communities
  • Mashup for content aggregation
  • Collaborative tagging or folksonomy
  • Rich user experience or rich internet application (RIA)
  • ...

With this, lets define Social Product Development as the use of Web 2.0 technologies and patterns for PLM.

This picture is catchy, but I think it also is misleading: the intersection is just too small. I would consider social computing more as an infrastructure upgrade for PLM – especially for the collaborative pieces of PLM.

In the next posts, I would like to focus on
  • real world examples of companies using social product development
  • best practices for the implementation of social product development
Please share your descriptions and links in the comments section of this post.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

No PLM apps at M-Days2011 - why not?

A colleague of mine asked earlier this week on the Cirquent Blog "Are apps a hype?"
Almost instinctively, I commented "of course not" and cited some examples for apps in the PLM space:

Teamcenter on iPad
BCT offers a Teamcenter client that runs on the iPad. You can search and navigate product data and visualize some document fomats (MS Office, TIFF).


3DVIA on iPhone
Dassault Systemes offers an iPhone app that can visualize 3D models from the online community. You can pan, rotate, zoom - and you can insert the 3D models into a photo taken with the iPhone (-> augmented reality for beginners)


Aras PLM mobile client from Porchys
This is available (?) for Android and the iPhone and can also be used to creating and editing product data.

And I can imagine some nice use cases for PLM apps:
  • Simple workflow tasks (inbox check, signoffs)
  • Project management tasks such as work package editing
  • Document reviews (at least with the larger screenspace of an iPad)
  • Dashboards and reports

Looking at the agenda of the M-Days (Frankfurt, Germany, January 27-28, 2011), I had to realize that none of these or any other apps from the PLM space are present at this conference. Most of the business applications seem to come from the sales and service processes. Why is that?

Barriers for PLM apps
  • Product data can become quite large. Restricting the apps to meta-data and ultra-lightweight 3D data helps, but limits the potential use cases
  • Smaller market for app vendors - compared to the large number of users in sales & service
  • Security for sensitive product data - from data transmission to the loss of mobile devices

What do you think - will we see more PLM apps in 2011?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Why not?

A colleague of mine @Cirquent reacted nicely to this blog with the following tweet:
Why blog with 44? fragt sich unser Kollege Jens Krüger. Well, why not?! :)

Well, never ask an engineer in the "why don't we" format (

So here are my top 3 reasons for not blogging:

Time consuming
I found that the most time consuming thing about blogging is not the actual writing of new posts, but the constant reading of a variety of related blogs. After the initial detection of some relevant blogs for me, I spent a few days just reading through their archives, following their links etc.
But: that was just the initial setup, the daily or weekly following of the most important blogs should only take a few minutes per day. I guess I will have to find a way to filter and prioritize posts in my Google Reader, which has still more than 300 open posts to read. In terms of content, I found the blogs to be much more interesting than some of the official communication published on traditional websites.

In this blog, there is admittedly some ambiguity between business contents and more personal thoughts. And there is also always the legal risk of missing some terms of use or copyright restrictions.
But: that's the point in using a blog: the ability to publish and discuss your thoughts. My brain has no exclusive business and private modes.

Everyone can read this - customers, colleagues, competition, friends etc. It will probably be impossible to delete all traces on the internet created just from this blog and comments in other blogs.
So what: also in blogging, you are responsible for your statements. The transparency is required for the social part in social media. And our Cirquent Social Media Guideline promotes this transparency.

Any comments?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Getting content - which blogs to follow?

Now that I've figured out the tool question (Google Reader), the next question is about content - which blogs to follow? I structured this into the following fields:
  • Blogs related to my profession, i.e. consulting in the PLM (product lifecycle management) domain
  • Blogs related to the market, i.e. customers, competition and industries
  • Blogs related to relevant technology and media
For identifying relevant blogs in these fields, I took the following approach:
  •  In Technorati, make sure you search for „Blogs“, not for „Posts“
  • In addition to Technorati, search with Google Blogsearch
  • Look at the blogroll of your favourity blogs
  • If you are interested in a specific company such as BMW, look at their homepage
  • If there is no blog on your topic, create a Google Alert (or create your blog on this topic). You simply enter some keywords as search criteria and have Google deliver the results via RSS (or email)
With this introduction, here are the blogs that I will try to follow:

Blogs related to my profession, i.e. consulting in the PLM (product lifecycle management) domain:

Beyond PLM

Information about engineering and manufacturing software by
Oleg Shilovitsky. Includes the „Daily PLM think tank“.
In his blogroll, you can find more PLM-related blogs.


PLM industry analyst (Twitter feed)

Jo Voskuil

Global mid-market observations of the world now called PLM by
Jos Voskuil


Engineering strategies, talent management and software by Chad
Jackson from Lifecycle Insights


Business Technology Consulting incl. PLM

Dassault 3D Perspectives

PLM vendor Dassault Systemes (Enovia)

Social Product Development

PLM vendor PTC (Windchill;blog focus on social product


PLM vendor Siemens PLM (Teamcenter)

Aras Open Source


PLM vendor Aras

CAD software industry comments from Deelip


IT consulting – my employer
Blogs related to the market, i.e. customers, competition and industries:


Aviation blog by John Ostrower - #1 aviation blog in Technorati

Automotive Blog

T-Systems blog on the automotive industry


Daimler corporate blog (why does BMW not have a blog?)


Airbus as a company doesn't seem to have a blog or RSS feed, so
I created my personal RSS feed using Google Alert. This is not the same as a blog, but keeps me updated.
Blogs related to relevant technology and media:

Chris Brogan

Blog on new media (focus on marketing)

IT /

Gapgemini technology blog


Blog by Jeff Jarvis („What would Google do?“)


Everything about BlackBerry

P.s.: sorry about the strange formatting of the table - copy&paste from Open Office into the Blogger-editor didn't work and I'm not too good at HTML...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Getting started: blogging tools

This post describes my way into blogging. Obviously, I managed to setup a blog on Blogger - but I had little clue of what I was doing. I wasn't even following other blogs until recently.

First of all, I tried to get an overview on the topic and some context.
I found the "Introduction to social media" from Nicholas Lamphere to be very helpful - and nicely done using Prezi.

From this introduction, I took away the following attributes of a blog:
  • Everyone can become a publisher of a blog
  • Creating posts including multimedia content is easy. Frequent updates are possible and expected
  • A good blog should have a clear topical focus
  • Blogs can be commented, which makes them a more interactive medium
  • It's about networking - with readers and other bloggers
I also ordered an O'Reilly book in order to get a solid background on the overall topic:
Web 2.0 Architectures: What Entrepreneurs and Information Architects Need to Know

Blog authoring / publishing
I started my blog using Blogger - which belongs to Google - without doing an extensive search for alternatives, mainly because I already have an Google account and the tool seemed to be powerful and easy to use. WordPress seems to be the biggest competitor to Blogger. So far, I'm very happy with this decision - here are the things I like:
  • Setting up a blog is very easy, yet a lot of options including the design can be configured
  • Blogger provides optional gadgets to add more functionality to the blog, e.g. a blogroll or RSS feed
  • The integrated editor for posts is intuitive to use - just like Word
  • Reporting on the use of the blog (stats)
  • Integration to Amazon via the partner program makes linking to products incl. images easy
  • Ability to create posts via email

Blog reading
I used to read blogs with a Firefox plug-in (which was discontinued) and with Outlook (which I only use for company email). So it was time for find a pervasive online solution. Again, I ended up with Google and their Reader. Again, here are the things I like:
  • Available only - from every computer or mobile browser
  • Ability to tag the posts, e.g. for further reading or for organizing them
  • Integration with Blogger ("Blogs I follow" are automatically added to Reader)
  • Scary Google intelligence in recommending blogs
  • Social networking features such as digging posts and recommending posts
You can find a selection of the blogs that I follow at the bottom of my blog page.

Blog searching
For searching blogs, I use Technorati in addition to Googles Blogsearch. I even created an Technorati account in order to announce my blog to them. This "claim" involved categorizing the blog and creating tags. This makes browsing blogs in Technorati easier than in Google Blogsearch where you just have the familiar search box - a bit like the old Yahoo yellow pages.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Password safe for PC and BlackBerry

Are you also drowning in 50+ passwords, PINs, accounts etc. that need to be remembered somehow? More and more websites and applications need to know with whom they are dealing, i.e. require you to login with a safe and unique user/password combinatino. I used to have them in Outlook notes, in encrypted Excel tables, on paper notes and other strange locations. During the 2010 christmas vacation, I decided to clean-up the mess and started using a password safe.

My requirements:
  • Safe
  • Open source (not necessarily free - but that came along with open source)
  • Ability to use on multiple PCs and the BlackBerry (synchronization)
  • Ability to import and export the password database using a variety of formats

Solution: Keepass and Keepass BB
I'm pretty happy with the solution I found, so here is the step-by-step instruction for setting up a password safe incl. BB synchronization:

1. Install keepass V2 on your PC :

2. Install keepass BB V2 on your Blackberry (I choose the "over the air" OTA install): . Leave the configuration settings at the default values, i.e. do not use "external file mode" for the databse.

3. Create a new password database on your PC. Select a path to store the resulting .kdbx file. Assign a master password for this database. Create a few entries.

4. Install the keepass V2 add-in for the BlackBerry Desktop Manager in order to automate the synchronization: . I followed the installation instructions and installed the add-in by downloading and double-clicking the .msi-file. As part of the installation process, the application needs to be configured as a synchronization plugin for the BB Desktop Manager (BBDM).

5. Now you are ready for the synchronization of your password database from the PC to the BlackBerry: in the BBDM-Synchronize menu, check the option to "Run add-in actions". I left the other checkboxes empty since my email etc. is not synchronized via BBDM. Then click on the Synchronize button next to the checkboxes. The add-in will ask for your keepass master password so that it can access the password database. It will then transfer the entries from your PC to your BB.

BBDM synchronization settings