Our life is getting more complex everyday. The time when we’ve been localized by our personal computer and document files gone forever. The complexity came from connectivity – networks and emails. For the last decade it was exposed even more with the web and mobile. We are overloaded with the information coming from different places – business, work, social networks, and many others. Multiple systems and devices made our life in digital space even more complicated. TechCruch article explained it few days ago in the article Moving Past Digital Schizophrenia. I found similar symptoms belonging to enterprise companies too. Some recommendations described in the writeup are interesting – platform democratization and frictionless workflows. Here is the passage I specially liked about future platform development and data siloing:
To ensure a great user experience, companies must also think about democratization of the platform. Today, too many companies are siloing away data, hoping to build revenue models instead of great products. There may be benefits to that strategy in the short term, but this siloing is a classic example of the tragedy of the commons, and we need to be aware of the loss to the user every time we consider adding another store of data to their lives.
Frictionless workflows story is even more appealing. The idea of integrating data in order to provide customers with user experience that is not interrupted by data fragments, different login systems and complexity is extremely important:
Products should be built to take advantage of the different data stores that a user has under their control – whether that be communications on a social network like Facebook or contacts stored in a CRM. These integrations are certainly hard, but products built around each other will create the superior experiences desired by users. The best example of this sort of future is Google Now, which actively tries to combine different data sources together into one integrated experience.
The article and examples made me think about exactly the same problem in engineering and manufacturing systems these days. CAD, PDM, PLM and many other systems are suffering from the data fragmentation, multiple systems, login information, and inconsistent experience. Visiting customers, I remember stories of engineers working with dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of different applications, tools and systems.
What is my conclusion? In my view, manufacturing enterprises are infected by digital schizophrenia. The number of systems and tools are growing. Companies are not capable to replace old tools and often requested to add additional tools on top of existing ones. The idea of “one big single system” that will come to solve all problems and run a company is DOA. It is not going to happen. Even more – extended collaboration and work with suppliers and partners makes this idea unachievable even for the most strong believers. Industry should think about platform democratization and technologies that can connect information beyond single system. Otherwise, the data collapse and digital schizophrenia of engineers is almost unavoidable. Just my thoughts…