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Monday, February 21, 2011

Welcome to “The PLM Economy”

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Analysts are often known for creating new words or concepts to describe the world. When it first came out that I was returning to an analyst role at CIMdata, I coined a word that I put on my Twitter feed:

Oblogation -noun 1. a blog that a person is bound or obliged to create when they become an “analyst.”

It took a while to get this blog started, but here goes.

The creativity of analysts extends to creating models. (In a future post, I will include my obligatory 2×2 matrix.) Any analyst worth his or her salt will have a model or two in their pocket. Maybe that is one reason I enjoy this profession, as I firmly believe in using models. No, not that type of model (at least not in this space). Models in the sense of what does not appear until the tenth definition of the word “model” at dictionary.com:

10. a simplified representation of a system or phenomenon, as in the sciences or economics, with any hypotheses required to describe the system or explain the phenomenon, often mathematically.

Perhaps this comes from my background as a lapsed mathematician. But this interest in applying models to help explain concepts was heightened by my time at the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) at Carnegie Mellon University. (Just for giggles, type “Stan Przybylinski software technology transfer” into Google and you can see illustrations of my sordid conceptual past.)

The “model of the day” comes from my time at the SEI, and has its roots in communication theory. The model helps illustrate how technologies move from one organization to another, and provides a framework for studying how they mature as a result of multitudes of these “transactions”. (Our goal was to determine how to best speed the maturation of SEI-developed and promoted technologies to improve software development and its application. Today, the best known SEI “technology” is the CMMi and its offshoots, which should be familiar to many in the software development community.) Here we are using the model for a different purpose: to represent the relationship between solution suppliers and end user organizations, in this case in the PLM space.

Companies of any type (the large bubbles) develop products for sale to their customers. In the case of PLM, Solution Suppliers develop offerings of different types to help End User companies reach their PLM objectives. The smaller bubble on the left represents the outward reaching functions of Solution Suppliers, like sales and marketing. They are the “boundary spanners” described in the innovation literature.

On the other side, End Users often have subgroups, task forces, ad-hoc committees and the like reaching in the opposite direction. Sometimes they too are boundary spanners (but often they are people with the time to be in the group). These are the parties to this transaction in the PLM Economy.

Analysts and consultants are, of course, other actors in the PLM Economy that try to play that boundary spanner role. CIMdata is one of them. But one of the things that fascinated me about CIMdata when I joined the first time in 2000 was that CIMdata sat right smack in the middle of the equation.

Groups like The Knowledge Capital Group, an analyst about analysts (say that five times fast), categorize analysts as sell side (Solution Suppliers) and buy side (End Users) on their own magic four-sector-box-with-dots thing. In their scheme, CIMdata would sit on the mid-line, which is not common. Of course, the other analyst firms do work across the line, either by special project, cross-cutting business unit or some other means.

One of the reasons to bring up this particular model is that it represents my philosophy and plans for this blog. My topics will range across this gap, with some focusing on Solution Suppliers and others on End Users, but always with a view across that span. Beyond that, I am always open to ideas for topics. I also hope to have some fun, and good conversations along the way. Speaking of conversations, my plan is to leave comments on this group un-moderated. Whether it stays that way is up to all of you.

Let the fun begin!

Follow Stan on Twitter @smprezbo.

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Stan Przybylinski

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