The Cloud – The dilemma of long term strategy vs. a rapidly evolving ecosystem?

The word ‘Cloud’ to me denotes a vision on the evolution of user-centric computing. To some, including a senior party to HP’s strategy (who shall remain nameless for obvious reasons), the expression seems to be abused and over-hyped. Let’s face it; it’s a term that most of us can assimilate. Most of the people I speak with seem to understand its general vision and pretty much its implementation; but let’s not haggle over semantics shall we? What’s important is that it’s a valuable proposition to businesses and users alike.

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The evolving PLM landscape – Major seismic event or minor volcanic rumblings?

Now that the Dassault Systèmes assimilation of IBM PLM is complete we’ll have the opportunity to track the momentum of the new operation; announced last year, the realignment of sales strategy offers new opportunity, and of course, new challenges. As mentioned in a previous article, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. Talking (or writing ) of the changing nature of major PLM vendors, Siemens (PLM Software) recently announced their unified sales strategy, consolidating Product Lifecycle, Manufacturing Execution and Plant Lifecycle sales operations into a single entity, Siemens Industry Software. In the same release, Siemens announced an emerging sales relationship with HP. For those following major players in the PLM market this is indeed interesting news, especially in light of the major changes to Dassault Systèmes sales network.

(Not to be left out of recent news), Autodesk’s recent new product announcements seemed to catch the imagination of many, delivering more integrated workflows for styling, design and engineering disciplines and one can imagine treading on the larger foot(print) of the integrated solution vendors. In fact, with an intensifying focus on major accounts and increasing direct sales presence competition in the larger accounts is certain to hot up. PTC, albeit somewhat more restrained in product announcement, merger and acquisition fronts is making sure we don’t forget them by delivering sound growth in a number of key business areas, specifically in product sales for Windchill with noted increase in larger deal PLM activities. Recent moves to re-energise their channel offer an opportunity to reclaim some lost ground to companies such as SolidWorks, (if image, product and channel perform), but they too have made moves to capitalise on the growing opportunity in major accounts with an intent to increase direct sales headcount by over 10%.

Having had time to ponder over the new situations during an unexpected sojourn in ash-free US, what’s clear is that there’s a significant, and I believe, positive change happening in the evolution of the major players in the engineering solutions space. Most notably in creating, and demonstrating clearly differentiating positioning– more than just ‘words’ and ‘marketing hype’ and something that is of greater intrinsic value to the customer.

We’d heard (from Siemens) many years ago that project ‘Archimedes’ would result in closer links between design, engineering (and PLM) and the shop floor. Indeed with the Siemens acquisition of Innotec (the COMOS product suite) I imagined that the values brought to bear from the new entity would result in increased focus and PLM extension into the process and plant realm. But until recently, there’ve been few visible signs of integration, not just in product but also in the presentation of the new Siemens value set to the open market. No doubt this is in part due to complexities of technology integration but perhaps too the relationships between somewhat disparate internal PLM, MES and Plant (COMOS) interest groups. I would argue that with Siemens’ recent announcements all of that has changed. Not only have they been able to demonstrate integrated elements of their solution set covering a broad range of business disciplines, as demonstrated at the Hannover fair, probably more telling is their announcement of a single integrated sales strategy to deliver this to market.

The new Siemens sales model will undoubtedly resonate with many, specifically mid to large manufacturers, but the often unique requirements of different industries coupled with the complexities of global (sales, manufacturing and supply)  networks, and let’s not forget the differing needs of small vs. larger companies, requires multiple views and different entry points. One size doesn’t necessarily fit all. To that end, product mix, relationships with a broader set of channels, collaborations with point solution providers and relationships with global players such as KPMG, Accenture, Microsoft, HP and IBM et. al. are all vital to the mix. Arguably the scale and influence of the greater Siemens make them well positioned to pull this off.

It’s somehow reassuring to note that that technology dynamics in areas such as collaboration, social computing (and networking) and cloud based infrastructures means that more change is likely. Not just in product, but also in areas such including channel and customer value engineering. I for one believe that change is good – for customers and suppliers alike….and let’s not forget that challenges from the left field will undoubtedly continue to surprise us. Who’d have thought that a volcano in Iceland could cause such a ruckus?

Any and all thoughts welcome….

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