The Future of PLM User Interface

Old, but very interesting blog post by Thomas Otter from Gartner made me think more about the future of PLM user interfaces. The perspective of multiple cockpits from early models of cars and late models of Boeing 747 was accomplished thoughts about the future trends and recommendation related to the enterprise UIs.

I think this post is still very relevant. I personally liked this one:

[…For those delivering enterprise apps, understanding and using the newer technologies is important. They have the potential to make the UI more compelling and more pleasant to use…]

I made quick search in the archive of PLM Think Tank. I found the old post with thoughts about user interface trends that seem to me going more towards “list” orientation. My examples of UIs coming from different places just confirmed, in my view, this trend. SharePoint, iPhone, Twitter, Facebook… This is the short list of apps that present clear flat strategy in UI building.

So, what I see as the future technological options for PLM User Interface? I’d like to outline few below and will be very interested to hear your opinion and thoughts on that.

1. Diversification. In my view, PLM will soon become more diversified. The “one size fits all” approach is going to end, in my view. Single UI Apps are going to die and will be replaced by multiple composite elements that can be arranged in different ways.

2. 3D. This is a continuation of what was done until now around CAD and 3D models. Things that are 3D today will be focusing on how to make downstream PLM apps more visual.

3. List Everything. It seems to me, list becomes the major user abstraction for everything. Used by multiple apps, list is so simple. You can contextually present any type of information.

4. Visualization. Picture worth thousand words. In many cases if you can visualize something by using charts, pipes, maps and many others, we are making our UI simpler. There is still lots of work to do to make it happen.

So, what do you think will happen in the next couple of years with regards to enterprise UIs and specifically to PLM? Will users convince vendors to diversify UI to make it simpler and social? I think, there is very good chance that those dreams will come true. UIs become hot. People are more and more concerned about user experience and PLM need to stay in focus to deliver the best in the class…

What are your thoughts on this?
Best, Oleg

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  • “multiple composite elements that can be arranged in different ways” , Definitely agree.

    PLM is complicated to the enterprise, but it should be simple to each end user. Whatever PLM,ERP, OA and other SNS, all of the system should provide open APIs, then the end user or the third party can customize their own cockpit. The user do not care which function belong to PLM, which function belong to ERP. All of what they need to finish their job are in one cockpit, maybe in the “List Icon” mode.

    That means PLM,ERP,OA etc.’s user interface will merge in the future.

  • Allen, Thanks for your comment! Even if it sounds as a dream, but I’d expect some unification between enterprise apps user interfaces. Best, Oleg

  • Prasad

    Hi Oleg, Very nice topic..
    I would like to see PLM in the same way google manages its application, under same umbrella. User just need to login into PLM & he can access/navigate all applications with just 1 click (including all office as well as CAD & analysis applications) . Very simple still very efficient. Also I would like to see social PLM as replacement for outlook.

    Regards,
    Prasad

  • Thanks for your thoughts. I think future PLM solutions will be only provide framework/technology & customer will use its own (internally developed)UI framework/methodologies to develop the PLM UI. My point is in future, I think manufacturers will have common UI framework across the enterprise, so PLM solution & may be other application has to respect that … I think so 🙂
    Just my thoughts.

  • Prasad, Thank you for the comment! I agree, this is a nice idea. Google-umbrella-like apps. Actually, I blogged yesterday about future ideas and business model related to Google Apps Store. (http://plmtwine.com/2010/03/09/will-google-app-store-disrupt-plm/) This is, in my view, is very close to what you explained. Best, Oleg

  • Chandrajit, Thanks for sharing your insight! To provide common framework /technology as a platform is a very challenging task. In my view, the company which succeeded in this is Salesforce.com. The diversification related to multiple apps in the enterprise (ERP, CRM, SCM, PDM, PLM… ) is very significant. Since all these apps are struggling to keep track of processes/data, to keep them under the same umbrella is not simple. Just my thoughts… Best, Oleg

  • Bala

    I agree more towards (3D + Visualization) aspect.

    The visualization and thinking in 3D aspect is what is lacking in current PLM. Future PLM tools would be geared towards 3D aspects, like Dassault Systems has created iPhone application to view 3D BOM and Models, the same would possibly be extended for BOM creation and 3D model search,etc. (check out more on 3D aspects at http://www.3dvia.com/)

  • Bala, Thanks for your comments. 3D is a very important piece, in my view. However, there are multiple cases where 3D seems to be overkill… Don’t you think so? Some of my thoughts on this in the following post — 3D Limits or How To Avoid Killing 3D with 3D Apps (http://plmtwine.com/2009/02/20/3d-limits-or-how-to-avoid-killing-3d-with-3d-applications/). Best, Oleg