1’000’000 words about PLM
This is my personal story about blogging. I started to blog back in 2008. The idea of blogging came to me from intensive meetings with customers that I had as Dassault SmarTeam CTO. I spent time discussing implementations and problems customers are experiencing with PLM solutions. These discussions inspired me to spend more time online. One thing I discovered immediately about PLM industry back in 2007 – the amount of online information about PLM implementations, products and technologies was very limited. Customers and vendors didn’t share much online.
At the same time, outside of PDM & PLM domains, blogosphere was booming by large number of blogs sharing information about programming, web technologies and other topics. CAD blogging was another place to find inspiration. I found many CAD bloggers back in 2007-08, especially associated with Solidworks. I’ve learned bunch of things from Josh Mings of Solidsmack. It was great to have his support in my early blogging steps – 10 CAD related blogs to gnaw in 2009.
It took me some time to find topics, blogging language, to learn more about my readers and their preferences. I experimented with article size and frequency of publishing. I also learned few things about privacy. This is my blogging policy foe many years – I only blog about topics and information you can find online. Blogging is taking time. So, patience is something that absolutely needed as you discover and connect with your readers. Blogging also helped me to improve my English (Although, I’m still far from being perfect with my English).
I almost shut down my blog after I left Dassault in 2009. I was starting a new business and the time was critical element for me. However, after speaking with my readers, I came to conclusion that I cannot stop blogging. I discovered and connected with many people. I found how my readers are learning from my blog and I learned how to learn from them. The blog outgrew the original plan to share “one PLM topic to discuss daily” as Daily PLM Think Tank. I registered new domain beyondplm.com, which in my view was a better reflection of what I’m writing about.
I’ve written more than 2,000 posts. It is probably equal to 10-15 full length books. I learned a great deal about blogging and people (this is probably a topic for another blog post). What was amazing is how blogging helped me better understand customers, manufacturing and product lifecycle management (PLM) business.
7 IMPORTANT THINGS ABOUT PLM:
So, here are seven important things I learned about PLM after writing probably more than 1’000’000 words about PLM.
1- PLM is extremely conservative domain
You think engineers love new products and tech. Yes, engineers love to develop new products and technologies. But, when you speak about tools – CAD, PDM, PLM… it is a bit different story. Engineers are conservative in their selection of new product development tools. When it comes to adopting of new PLM tools, as a solution provider, you compete mostly with status quo – existing working processes, outdated implementations, legacy systems, Excel spreadsheets. One of the rules – “if it works, don’t try to break it” is actually very much popular among engineers. Also, engineers hate data management. They would better blame IT on their mistakes.
2- Adoption cycle is very long
The adoption lifecycle of PLM products, ideas and technologies is much longer than you can imagine. Think about years or even decades. There are some great examples in the industry that can prove it. PLM industry first movers are competing with evolution of existing products.
3- Implementation is the biggest challenge
The biggest PLM implementation challenge is customer learning process. Customer is discovering bad things about the way company is running business and managing product development processes. It is not an easy thing for people. It is often personal and can make them feel guilty. It also can expose mistakes. Somebody is actually responsible for the mess. From that point, all you need to do is to help company to understand their business and find ways PLM technologies and products can improve it.
4- Tables with data are boring
Visualization is absolutely important. Customers are asking about variety of data and processes management issues, but nothing can excite them more than 3D visualization of their own products – cars, airplane interior, engine, fashion collection, etc. So, you should learn how to bring any possible visualization into PLM products.
5- Cost is decision breaking factor
Everything customers will tell you about the fact price is not important and manufacturing companies have money to pay is a biggest illusion. Typically, you are talking to engineering IT and these people are interested how PLM technology and products can solve their problems. But, it will come down to price and must be prepared for tough cost related discussions. I think, one of the biggest reasons of PLM low adoption is high solution cost.
6- Data Import Stops Companies from Adopting PLM
Data import and integration with other systems are two key technological challenges you need to solve to successfully accomplish PLM implementation. Customers rarely have an opportunity to start “from scratch”. Also, don’t think about import/export of Excel spreadsheets as you mainstream integration strategy. Most of PLM implementations are ending up with integration service providers hardwiring data exchange between applications.
7- Extra feature is must to get engineers’ love
You should think about ROI and how to connect to CIO. However, don’t forget to deliver one “extra feature” that will help engineers to feel proud of your PLM solution. You will become “engineering hero” and engineers will sell your PLM systems to rest of the company.
CONCLUSION: STAY CALM and KEEP BLOGGING
If you think about blogging and can devote some of your time on regular basis, I’d encourage you to do so.
One of the best parts of blogging is that you can learn a lot. In many cases, I came back to topics I already discussed and shared what I learned to spark a conversation. Sharing knowledge is an amazing experience. PLM industry changed since I started blogging. for the last 6 years. Companies are sharing more and it is easier to get information online. All together we can do industry better.