Just came back from an epic trip to 5 countries where I had 7 client visits. As usual, I learned a lot on this trip and it will take me some time to process it all. However, one thing that was definitely clear is that companies are no longer just looking at ShipConstructor as an “Engineering Tool”. They see ShipConstructor for what it truly is: one of the vital products required to communicate with other vital products to make a larger whole.
Almost every conversation I had on this trip involved how to connect the rich information in ShipConstructor with other systems in an organization’s environment. This means connecting to typical enterprise tools such as ERP, PLM and PDM but also includes providing required documentation to clients, subcontractors as well as other departments and stakeholders.
Interconnection is such an important theme that one client organized a full day meeting about this topic and invited all their technology partners. Besides SSI, the meeting included all companies involved with CAD, PLM, ERP and even their wireless mobility provider.
The day started by the client explaining their vision of their company and what would be needed for them to achieve it. Their vision is…well…a vision and a very lofty one at that. I think this is actually good because a vision does not have to seem attainable. They do not understand exactly what it is going to take to achieve their vision but they do realize that it will take innovative thinking and significant changes, especially to their culture. They also realize that it will take an investment in resources, time and money. Only then will their vision be fulfilled.
This client, as with virtually every other organization, uses a federated approach for their technology environment. They have selected the best solution for specific areas of their organization and now require each of their solution partners to work together to maximize the capability of each solution. This was the main reason why they gathered all their technology solution providers in a room and locked the door. (At least they fed us!)
There were a lot of good discussions between all the attendees (including between competitors) and even though we did not solve any specific challenge during the meeting, there was a lot of networking and groundwork covered.
Most of the technology partners are global companies similar to SSI which allowed us to share global trends with the client and each other. This type of information is priceless to most companies because even very large companies do not see as much of the industry and other similar industries as we do. Sometimes just knowing other companies are doing similar activities can be very beneficial.
In just over two weeks I have already engaged in several conversations with other technology partners and we are looking at short term non-disruptive approaches that the client could use that would be better than what they have today. There are also parallel discussions on longer goals and objectives. However, there is a lot that can be done now with very little effort which will result in a significant benefit.
This was the first time I was involved in such as wide-ranging meeting with other technology solution providers and I look forward to future ones. Overall, I would say this type of engagement was successful for the client and I would highly recommend that other organizations do something similar.
The only warning I want to mention is there is always going to be overlap between the technology providers’ solutions so it is very important to explicitly state the role of each partner. If this is not done you will have each partner trying to displace its competitor and take away from the goal of the meeting