PLM and Google TV: Not for Average People?

PLM and Google TV: Not for Average People?

I was reading NYT on my flight today. The following article made me feel bad. Google TV, Usability is Not Included. I didn’t buy Google TV yet. I’m still checking my options. Read the article and made your conclusion. The idea of turning TV screen in full scope computer screen is fascinating, but I’m thinking about the end user. Can I explain to non-computer-savvy person how to switch browser screen? Mission impossible.

PLM Complexity Trends

The complexity of the Google TV explained by NYT made me think again about some PLM implementations. How many times you’ve been facing multiple screens, options, connections. I think, PLM implementation problem lays in their fundamental interest to expose the complexity of product development processes, dependencies and data connections. Even looking on new software in the enterprise space, I can see these complexity symptoms. I figured out 3 main PLM complexity trends.

Modeling complexity
This is normally happening when engineers are trying to apply all possible and impossible combinations of data models to reflect the situation in an organization. However, in many cases, I see it as not needed. A lot of situations can be solved by applying much fewer simple models. When you build your data model, just ask engineers to simplify it. If you do it constantly, you will see that you end up with half of features.

Presentation complexity
In my view, PLM software is still keeping the previous desktop paradigm. It means to put as much as possible information in front of customer’s eyes. This is a mistake. In order to fix it, send your people to learn mobile applications. The limited resources of mobile screen real estate drove people to change a paradigm. In addition, ask to move to action-based presentation concept. You provide only information needed for the task decision and show a subset of that options.

Process complexity
Last, but not least. There is a need to map processes into the organization. However, when starting to do so, keep in mind you don’t want to replicate all implementations you had in place before you started to transform your organization with PLM system. You can discover processes that simply not needed.

Simplicity Always Wins
If you think about modern trends in hardware, software and almost everything, you can see a strong trend for simplification. When I developed my first PDM/PLM products, the question of “documentation” was absolute. The need to have a documentation was very critical. What was discussable is how much documentation you need and how fast you can deliver it. Nowadays, everybody understood, that in order to stay alive, you need to create products that not require user manuals.

What is my conclusion? My conclusion is simple. Simplicity wins! To understand the true meaning of this is not simple. PLM software people need to understand it in order not to become dinosaurs with user manuals.  Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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  • Matteo Boscolo

    It’s true ..
    Giving at the and user simple system to store document and retrieve it it’s a very hard work ..
    May be the only solution is to give a folder like interface at the and user .. 🙂 but sometimes the and user dose not know how to use the folder explorer … 🙂

    I think that we never achieves the goal to create a product that do not required manuals.

  • Pgarrish

    two bits of answer to this

    Regarding manuals for products – Apple don’t provide them with the iPhone, they’re not needed – and yet an iPhone is more complex and capable than a PC from (say) 5 years ago. In my view, they can do that because the product is user (usability) driven, not function (feature) driven. That requires a very different set of requirements at the outset of product development.

    Regarding PLM/Application complexity – as products grow to do more and more they get more complex, plus the products and datasets companies use them to manage are getting more complex. The combination is unsustainable (the complexity ‘budget’ of the PLM tool and the user’s has been busted) so we need to share the load around more – distribute the complexity more evenly, and – as you say Oleg – hide that complexity from the user wherever possible.

  • beyondplm

    Matteo, This is not simple, I agree. In my view, for the last 10 years, software industry moved to the state that user guide is “bad thing”. Apple is selling “user experience”. So, trend is going towards manual-less products. Just my thoughts… Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Pgarrish, thank you for the comment. I could not agree more. What you mentioned about iPhone is related to so be called “selling use experience” concept. As per PLM – the process is just in a very beginning. Best, Oleg