Product data is one of my favorite topics. People in product development and manufacturing organizations are surrounded by digital data these days. The life 20 years ago was much easier. I remember the story about how people collaborated before CAD systems came to aerospace industry. Engineers were gathered in a single room, drawing boards were setup in the way similar to functional scheme of jet engine or aircraft. As a result of that, people were able to collaborate with their colleagues working on related parts and systems.
Fast forward to 21st century. The life is much more complicated. Engineering and product data are scattered among multiple systems and data sources. 3D models, drawings, CAE files, suppliers data, ERP systems, released archives, etc. Earlier this year, during PI Congress event in Berlin, I captured the following slide from Gartner’s presentation – Navigating the Shifting Product Design and Lifecycle Management Software Landscape made by Marc Halpern.
Scattered product data creates lots of complication in a manufacturing organizations. Gartner research speaks about 7 sources of mistakes in product data. The following two are specifically resonated to me – inaccurate data entry and incorrect data flow between applications. One of the ways to solve this problem is to foster data access and data reuse. It is still not unusual to see how people cut/paste or re-enter data between applications. Various point-to-point integrations create a mess in terms of ability of people (and systems) to use data located in other systems.
What is my conclusion? Data Reuse. This topic should be in a focus on people implementing engineering and manufacturing information systems. Variety of data management systems, PDM, PLM, ERP, CRM… All these systems should be focused on how to make data searchable, accessible and re-usable across the value chain. Just my thoughts…
Office and other productivity tools are un-separateable parts of product development environment. Some of them such Microsoft Excel literally can stop product development and manufacturing in many companies. I’ve been blogging about Excel and Office many times. Couple of weeks ago, I came back to this topic with my – PLM Excels and Future Downfall of Manufacturing post. If you remember my presentation about PLM development trends, Office is part of so-called DIY (Do-It-Yourself) PLM.
For the long period of time, Microsoft Office was (and probably still is) unbeatable by other Office providers. Word and Excel are ultimately de-facto standards. You cannot live without these two applications installed on your computer regardless on your role in manufacturing company.
At the same time, the competition in Office space is getting more aggressive. One of the Office competitors (Google App) was keeping the status of “good enough” alternative, which make impossible to use Google Docs and Spreadsheets as a real alternative to Excel and Word. There are some news in this space. Navigate to the following article – Google Is Prepping A Sneak Attack On Microsoft Office. Google is planning to play a catch up game with Office. Well, this is a not a very big news.
The following picture made me re-thing some of my thoughts about Google Apps, PLM and competition in this domain. Take a look below.
The keyword is “mobile”. Google Apps are getting significantly better on mobile devices for the last year. The ability to edit and work collaboratively on mobile devices can be a groundbreaking feature and game changer in the ability of Google Apps to compete with Office. What does it mean for PLM? Collaboration is very important in product development and manufacturing. Even small companies can be distributed among 3 locations in different continents these days. Google collaborative functionality can provide a very easy and simple way for people to collaborate.
What is my conclusion? Mobile is disruptive. We like this word “disruptive”… It smells good to all technological geeks and bloggers. Will ‘mobile office’ change PLM excel competition ground rules? I think about capability of co-editing bill of materials in online spreadsheet using your iPad or Android device located in different places – manufacturing shopfloor in China and restaurant in Palo-Alto, CA at the same time. Do you like the idea? Well, I’m kidding. Dont’ work in restaurant on you BOMs . Just my thoughts…
Image source – Google.
Collaboration. Magic and one of the most confusing words. People are using it in so many contexts that it became meaningless. One of the main trends that was dominant for the last few years was social collaboration. Social networks and social tools went mainstream and it impacted the way business applications and tools think about collaboration. I outlined it few years ago in my post – PLM Collaboration Social Trends and Lotus Notes Memories.
To bring the experience and techniques of social tools in business domain became one of the trends in many application and system developments. I can bring you multiple examples of systems that were created for the last 2-3 years to implement social collaboration – Salesforce Chatter, SAP StreamWork, Oracle WebCenter Social, Autodesk Qontext and many others. Social Applications are coming to design tools as well. Navigate your browser to one of my previous posts – From Design Collaboration to CAD Social Tools to read more.
At the same time, new trends are coming. Have you heard about OTT messages buzzword? OTT term was originally used to define the over the top content that you can stream by passing multiple operators. In the context of mobile messages, it used to define messaging application running on mobile phone, but bypassing regular SMS/Text messages. Techcrunch article – The Future Of Mobile-Social Could Spell The End For Social Networks speaks about trends around OTT messaging applications and social networks. The following picture is showing clear trends towards OTT messaging application to capturing the conversation.
Another interesting viewpoint – migration from social platform and networks to point messaging applications running on top of mobile devices. Here is an interesting passage:
The ground has been set for a fascinating next few years as the web-based social platforms seek to own mobile-social messaging and the mobile messaging apps seek to extend into more fully integrated social features. As of this moment the mobile-first apps have the lead measured by number of users and levels of engagement. To keep it they will need to continue to innovate. The human race is already social, and the smartphone has everything needed to enable them to act on their social needs. As the growth of OTT messaging and media sharing shows, a user’s social needs are being met with no need for a social network. In this mobile-social world the only question is, whose software will we all use to enable human social activities?
You may ask me – what is between OTT and PLM? Here is the thing. PLM adoption in organizations is a hard topic. How to make customers using PLM applications beyond engineering (the core domain where PLM is originated in many situations)? One of the possible ways is to come with ad-hoc OTT mobile application allowing to downstream users to get access to data in PLM system for decision making or other workflows.
What is my conclusion? OTT messaging is a new behavior we discover for the last 2-3 years. People are experiencing it in their personal life. In the past, PDM/PLM used File Explorer and MS Outlook user experience to drive user adoption. Similar to that, PLM applications can use the familiarity of people with OTT mobile applications to help driving PLM downstream adoption. Just my thoughts…