Monthly Archives: June 2013

Why Build One When you Can Build Two at Twice the Price?

HaddenLet’s see if this situation sounds familiar.  Your company is adopting a new-fangled enterprise software platform – announcements have gone out, the implementation team has been identified, had their proper kickoff, and some serious changes are in the works.  Sure, the software is pricey, but just look at all those features!  If even half of them work as well as the salesman said it would, it will be revolutionary.

But there’s a significant obstacle to overcome; there’s a legacy system to replace.   Maybe it’s an ancient version of the new product, maybe it’s a perplexing labyrinth of home grown point solutions overgrowing the back forty, maybe it’s a little hamster running on a wheel duct taped to a file server.   So yes, it’s occasionally slow, the one guy who knows how it all works is about to retire, and it blows up every second Tuesday.  But apart from those minor inconveniences, the thing works.  Not to mention people are really, really used to the old system because it’s been there forever.  Forever.

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Rightsizing: You’re Doing It Wrong

doing-it-wrongFor some time, small-to-medium business (SMB)* has been largely underserved by solutions in the  Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) space among other enterprise applications.  Small business needs are increasingly compact and agile, aspects for which enterprise software continues to struggle mightily.  Mobile technology is on fire, and some small business are pushing as much of their business into the mobile space where compactness and agility is in laser focus.  While one can correctly argue that many of these mobile apps will run into some serious trouble as the business scales in size, the truth is businesses are not looking for the right solutions necessarily, but what works right now.  This is not carelessness, but attribution to the fact that small business must live and die in the moment; survival to fight another day is paramount.

Meanwhile, in the land where time stood still (PLM), the establishment can’t be faulted for trying to shrink the impossibly large and complex into something more palatable to convince the holdouts.  But the task is a gargantuan one, justification of PLM tools even for a medium business is often an uphill ROI battle (often more like a steel catch match).  The dilemma is akin to a teenager shopping for a scooter, but instead being offered a collection of rather attractive semi trucks.  “Well, we could bolt a scooter on the truck,” the salesman quips, “And think how easy it will be to transition once you need more cargo capacity!”    Thanks, but no.

Here’s a newsflash: they’re doing it wrong.

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Streaming Design Context

CloudsAs the utility of cloud technology accelerates, new avenues of possibility are starting to emerge for concepts that seemed rather absurd even just a few years back.   One such avenue is the use of streaming to bring graphically rich remote environments to local desktops in a seamless fashion.  And that technology has new and interesting consequences for CAD environments.

Streaming technology is exploding in the gaming industry, with technologies such as cloud-based gaming service Gaikai, which actually began by streaming top-tier graphically intensive PC games directly through Facebook.  They are now part of Sony’s streaming strategy for the PS4.  NVIDIA’s new SHIELD portable game console will have the capability to stream an environment rendered on a local Geforce GTX-equipped PC and beam it over a home network.  While these technologies promise low latency experiences, the lag is noticeable on all but the fattest and most reliable of internet pipes.

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Enterprise UI: $#*! Users Say

punchyThe bitter truth has been repeatedly blogged, tweeted, scrawled on walls,  and -especially- shouted from the tops of nearby trees: Enterprise software UI just plain sucks.  Not a casually annoying, I-wish-that-was-more-convenient letdown,  but rather a sustained soul-stealing, product-of-your-worst-nightmares catastrophe.  You’ll find quite a bit of intelligent conversation around the blogosphere on this topic including Oleg Shilovitsky, Justin Thiele, and Paniedo Business Engineering.

Particularly poor interfaces have become obstacles in of themselves, where adoption and project success are adversely affected by products that cannot be easily understood and operated by human beings.  It certainly sounds like a ridiculous exaggeration – but I’ve quite literally witnessed an otherwise intelligent and emotionally balanced engineer cry real tears over software.  Chained expletives, however, tend to be more common.  That just ain’t right.

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The Third Age of PLM (With apologies to Tolkien and JMS)

OneDoesNotSimplyIt is the dawn of the Third Age of PLM.    PLM is at a crossroads, and perhaps more alarmingly a precipice.  Long enough have we stood upon the accomplishments of the First and Second Ages – if nothing new is to come, then PLM stands to be forgotten in the land of IT, where the shadows lie.

The First Age of PLM began with its very creation, or perhaps more correctly with the creation of PDM (Product Data Management).  With the birth of PLM/PDM, forged in the very fires of Mount Doom, came the important understanding that  keeping files in directories just wasn’t going to cut it anymore.  Document and part model changes needed robust revision control to make sense of the chaos inherent with the development of any product.  The concept of product structure, which related constituent elements of a complex product to each other, was a key innovation among many others.

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…And so it begins


Welcome, wayward traveler, to E(E).  We start a journey today.  Have a look around, kick the tires, throw your opinion into a particular topic.  Got a question, comment, or sarcastic remark?  Challenge accepted.  Let’s have at it.