I’m out for COFES this week. It will start tomorrow. My blog and COFES have some common roots. COFES is an annual think tank event that brings executives design, engineering, manufacturing, architecture and construction industry to think and discuss the role of engineering technology in the future of their business. My blog started as a “think tank” discussion online. If you have never been at COFES before, I encourage you to visit COFES website. You can get an access to previous COFES materials. If you ask me, COFES is about two things: Networking and Discussions. I’m always coming from COFES inspired by many ideas. Roundtable discussions are one of the most interesting parts. Navigate your browser to the following link to see the list of discussions planned this week.
Here are few of them that resonate to me the most.
BWFC (Big White Fluffy Clouds) In 1994, Intergraph made a bold decision to move its customers to Microsoft Windows NT, forsaking all other operating systems in the process. With few exceptions, most other engineering-software vendors eventually followed suit and reaped the benefits of designing for a “single” platform. With the advent of the cloud, mobile platforms, the resurgence of the Mac (in engineering), and new GPU and APU platforms, that long era of vendors focusing on a “single” platform is ending. There’s a new, rapidly evolving landscape out there, and none of the platform targets are moving in a way that makes them easy to predict. What’s a vendor to do? Better yet, how can we prepare for a sure-to-come, but unknowable, emerging game changer?
Innovation in the Face of Complexity. Joy’s Law tells us that we should look outside the firm for innovation. Why? Startups and small, nimble firms are less constrained by legacy issues; nor are they constrained by complexity. When an outside firm has an innovation, it can choose where to let the innovation run, unconstrained by our handcuffs. When we have an internal innovation, it is limited by our priorities and funding. Pioneering (innovation that opens new markets) receives distressingly low funding in mature firms, precisely because mature firms are designed to maximize revenue from current intellectual property. In other words, it is in the nature of mature firms to focus on things other than pioneering. But pioneering is not the only face of innovation. As firms mature and grow, complexity becomes a main constraint. What is the domain of innovation in this context? How can firms foster such innovation within the constraints of complexity? What opportunities are we missing?
After many years in this industry, I found PLM as something really complicated. Here are some of my thoughts about that – PLM Complexity: What Does The Future Hold?, PLM and the Collapse of Complex Societies.
“De-Siloing” PLM. Business assets are often generated within business silos, and often those business silos handle data in a way that is convenient for them, but not so convenient for the rest of the enterprise. What will it take to “de-silo” product/project data? Today’s PLM systems address some of this. What problems will need to be addressed by next-generation PLM?
In my view, problem of product data and silos is a critical one. How to make product data retrieval convenient to people in the manufacturing organization? How to help them to make the decision using “right data”? These are very interesting questions that closed to my heart. My new company, Inforbix is trying to solve this problem by developing Product Data Applications.
The Evolution of Social Media into Design and Engineering Practice. Many have considered the role of social media in PLM and BIM. Some have even tried to build a business around it. None have hit the mark, and the mark is rapidly moving. The expectations of those graduating from high school today (with their brains wired for continuous, multichannel, multitasked collaboration) are different than those of just a few years ago, and perhaps even beyond the comprehension of most in management. If we can’t provide them with the tools they consider as basic as water, we will lose them. At the same time, most of them haven’t a clue about the difference between the ideal and the reality of manufacturing. Social media is a must, but it will change the way WE engage, as it evolves into tools that meet the demands of future generations. How do we get there?
“Social” is trending and, in my eyes is going to change a lot in a way manufacturing and engineering companies are managing businesses. However, how it will happen? Will somebody develop “Facebook for Manufacturing”? Some of my blogs about that as well: PLM and Social Technologies Dating, PLM and Social Detours.
What’s on YOUR Critical Path? Richard Riff, Ford’s thought leader for the design and engineering process, has made the bold statement that “CAD is no longer on the critical path” at Ford. It’s not that CAD isn’t important, or strategic; it’s just that it’s gotten good enough that problems in other areas are more significant. Do you know what’s on your critical path? More importantly, what’s on your customers’ critical paths? What are you doing to release their bottlenecks? And once those get released, what’s next?
Also interesting, there is a special “bloggers-roundtable“. Here is the short definition of this roundtable – A gathering of active bloggers (including business-tweeters) to discuss successful ways to improve what they’re doing: for themselves, for their firms, and most importantly, for their audience.
So, it is going to be a very busy week. I will be attending some of these roundtables and hope to bring these discussions to you in my blog.