One of the technological trends I’m observing these days is a trend towards granularity. Speaking about marketing, the word granularity sounds nice. I don’t know if I have a right to vote about how it sounds with my “broken English”. At the same time, Al Dean of Develop3D opinion about word granularity is interesting. Navigate to the following link and read the article Al wrote two years ago – Why granularity is going to rock your future. Here is the passage I especially like about how word granularity sounds:
Granularity. There’s a word I love. It just sounds nice and rolls off the tongue nicely, even with my dodgy mid-british accent – unlike ‘caramel machiato’ which sounds horrendous and causes American baristas to look at me in the same manner people look at dogs when they’re trying to tell them something – a look that says “Ummm… What?”.
However, let me get back from poetry to technology. Chad Jackson talks about Suites vs. Best-of-breed approaches in engineering software. Chad took on this topic earlier this year in his blog – Point Solutions, Integrated Solutions and the Granularity Value Proposition. In the context of point-solutions Chad introduced the concept of “PLM Granularity”. My favorite passage from this articles captures the essence of our discussion. It described the notion of “layers”, which resonates well with me:
The fundamental idea is that you layer on different solutions that each do something very specific and well. Basically, it is the point solution approach but from an ecosystem perspective. It would include something like leaving your workgroup PDM software in place. Layer on top of that a workflow. Then add some social computing solution for collaboration. Then you can add in a project management solution. You get the idea. Leave what you have in place. Add in other point solutions where needed. And integrate them as lightly as you can.
Yesterday, I was reading CNET article featuring Google’s spreadsheet lockdown feature. You can learn more from Google blog. In a nutshell, the idea is to provide granular access rights to different parts of a spreadsheet. The implementation technology behind relies on Named and Protected Ranges technique.
This feature resonate with some of my ideas about PLM granularity and implementations of single Bill of Materials. BOM can potentially contain multiple elements of data representing a variety of BOM data (eg. engineering, production, support, etc.). So far, most of Excel-like implementations techniques were problematic because of absence of granular approach. Google’s approach can be an interesting step towards simple and powerful solution.
What is my conclusion? The simplicity is hard. Many companies today are using Microsoft Excels or alternative spreadsheet solutions. However, Excels can get messy very fast. Absence of granular level of security beyond Excel file created a showstopper. The combination of cloud combined with the simplicity of Excel can be powerful. Just my thoughts…