Industry Siemens PLM Software Analyst meeting 2011 Notes

Acting more like the tortoise than the hare in the fable; Siemens PLM Software (SPLMS) has plodded and plotted its way to the leadership position in the PLM software industry. Sticking with its “never let a customer fail” strategy as well as other newly elucidated goals has enabled the company to maintain a steady pace in gaining customers and revenue over the years.

At the Industry SPLMS Analyst meeting held on the 7th and 8th of September in Boston, Tony Affuso, CEO and Chairman, revealed substantial growth for the company. SPLMS experienced strong double-digit license revenue growth, following five previous quarters of steady growth and exceeded profitability and cash flow targets. SPLMS does not reveal its precise numerical performance. Acknowledging that most of the growth was organic (not from acquisitions) and since their growth considerably exceeded that of the market, the difference had to come from gaining market share growing their business within existing customers, from new markets, and by winning business from their competitors. Affuso discussed recent competitive wins against Dassault Systemes (DS) and PTC. His conclusion and that of the speakers that followed credited their strategies of openness and never outmoding customer data, quite different than PTC and DS. DS, in particular forced customers to endure substantial conversions in going from V4 to V5 and now to V6. At PTC, Creo appears to require a massive data migration as well. Instead, SPLMS has deployed SOA and XML to maintain a pipeline between new and existing applications. Using such “data pipelines” allows connections between disparate applications, the drawback being a modest degradation in performance for the additional work required by each application. This has been made relatively unimportant by the tremendous growth in hardware that has continued unabated all these years.

In speaking with one SPLMS executive, being a part of Siemens has allowed a stability and financial base that allows continued heavy investment in R&D, even in difficult economic times. Both Affuso and President Chuck Grindstaff cited Siemens devotion to innovation and not retreating on R&D expenditures during difficult times.

Announced last year, HD PLM seems to be making real headway. Designed as a graphic way to present Teamcenter data visually, we may at last be beginning to see the demise of the numbingly tedious display of tables of data – instead to be replaced with graphic views of the product. For instance, why look at a table of components that are over cost targets? Instead show the out-of-whack components using a color scheme on the assembly view of the product. Grindstaff described this as a way of showing the “semantics” of the product data, or relating data relationships. While I am sworn to secrecy, I can tell you that Siemens is exploring methods for the average user to generate his own views of data he might be interested in. More on this later this year.

More to come in Part 2.


How Local Motors won the DARPA contest

A few weeks ago I published an article entitled “DS clarifies DARPA crowdsource win.” A few things, in my mind needed clarification. Dassault Systemes PR rep, Jessica Harrison from fama PR, arranged for me to speak with Alex Fiechter, Local Motors Engineer. I was curious, among other things, about how crowd-sourcing was used for the design and whether it was useful. I also wondered how they handled input from 12,000 community users and what was the process they used. Finally I wanted to find our more about Local Motors.

Here is how the process worked. Local Motors (LM) massaged the DARPA specs for the contest into a “brief,” a mission statement of what they desired, and posted it onto their website, asking their community members if they were interested in responding. Most of the community members are interested in industrial design and some helped LM design their Rally Fighter. Along the way, LM developed their concept for Local Forge, an open source web-based co-creation platform. Apparently, car lovers worldwide love to design shapes for cars of their dreams. Local Forge is a way for them to share their designs via images, with all other community members.

A key aspect of the mission statement was to use the existing Rally Fighter chassis as a base upon which to build the body. With the mission statement , eventually 150 to 180 proposal were submitted, from which the final design was chosen. The proposals could be in any electronic form, such as images or even CAD files. They had to show the 3 required views at a minimum. The community then voted on the submissions. Only the winning submitter gets paid. LM used SolidWorks for the mechanical design and Catia for the body design.

What next? Will it be produced? DARPA owns the design now that the contract is complete. A research arm of the DoD, the DoD may or may not choose to produce the design.

Has Local Motors discovered a new way of doing business that involves minimal plant investment, a way to solicit valuable (and mostly free) input from leading designers, and deliver an exciting new product? You be the judge. Visit some of the links from my previous article quoted above and provide some feedback via comments on this blog.