Do you remember the time before PLM? Time, when our focus was about CAD and Product Data Management? With all latest developments around Product Lifecycle Management and collaborative business processes, I think we lost some important grounds related to the critical data management issues related to engineering and product development.
CAD and related Design solutions is the biggest source of engineering data produced in the organization. For the last decades CAD and other design-related systems produced huge amount of engineering data – models, drawings, bill of materials, analyzes and more… These pieces of data are very critical to the organization from the standpoint of making product related decisions.
On the other side, product lifecycle management is running forward and shifting focus on how to optimize business processes in the organization. The new PLM solutions is very focused on how to define and run organizational processes related to product design, manufacturing, support, disposal, etc.
But here is the point. I think these two pieces become more and more disconnected. By shifting focus on the process-oriented environment vendors are losing their grounds in data management. Today design and related product knowledge is pretty locked in the systems that used to produce this information. PLM systems are not focusing on how to make this information managed and available inside of the enterprise. The solutions like 3DVIA composer, PTC Arbotext, Autodesk Inventor Publisher are good initial signs, but they are too much focused on geometry and very little on data.
What is my conclusion today? PLM is too much focused on how to capture processes and make it visible on CIO level. It obviously comes from the interest to compete with existing ERP and other solutions. However, on that way PLM is losing some core business related to the ability properly manage product and design data. We need to get back to product management roots and analyze what we still need to accomplish there.
Just my thought…