Who owns product data? Engineering.com article Moving Towards Product Innovation Platforms by Verdi Ogewell brings that question and share some interesting perspective on future of platforms in product development. The article is worth reading. My favorite passage is the one titled with “product development beyond PLM”.
Product Development Beyond PLM. In many ways, this statement brings to light the important issues regarding our potential direction when it comes to life both on this side of PLM and beyond. The world of product development, manufacturing, distribution and end-user patterns is changing so fast that we should reflect more on solutions that can build the capabilities needed to remain competitive. Almost every aspect of product realization and usage is digitized and with digital business, the nature of development processes and products is changing. These changes require that product developers and manufacturers adopt new ways of thinking along with new types of IT solutions and Product Innovation Platforms (PIP) in order to define and design products and to manage life cycles. The ability to collaborate is key—and collaboration demands openness and compatibility in order to exchange product data effectively.
The demand for collaboration as well as platforms and standards that can enable that is very strong. It reminded me an old joke that standards are like toothbrushes. Everyone agrees they are desirable… but nobody wants to use someone else’s. I can hear paraphrase of this joke in the article and comments. Some vendors are demonstrating solutions to integrate silos. Analysts are preaching for standards and ideas for holistic federated plug-and-play platforms. Customers are talking about more specific problems such as building hub for generic collaboration and hoping to bring some level of standards into BoM management. But, unfortunately, no solution on the horizon for “universal plug-and-play PLM innovation platform”.
The integration is a biggest problem in a modern enterprise software. There is no vendor capable to develop a holistic solution to solve all problems. I liked the way Prof Martin Eigner articulated the need for integration:
“We have to address this across all the different disciplines and I especially include services as part of the disciplines we have to define, not the least across the supply chain. Product structures across the lifecycle and all the processes like change management, configuration management, release management and et cetera, are problems that must be solved more effectively. Companies generally have too many overlapping legacy systems. We have PLM and now we have ALM (Application Lifecycle Management). Of course we have ERP and during too many years we’ve had a discussion: what is soft in PLM, PDM, and what is soft in ERP? Now we have the same discussion: what is soft in ALM and in PLM? I think the solutions are getting more fragmented and the architecture becomes more complex.” Professor Eigner continued to stress how crucial the interdisciplinary integration is.
It reminded me one of my articles from the last week- Why PLM vendors don’t care much to integrate disparate tools and data. The reality of industrial companies – piles of data locked in existing systems. The cost of data migration is so high, that companies are forced to live with siloed information and legacy systems. The alternative is to pay premium and unlock data. But here is the problem – after data will be unlocked, it will be placed in another system (also proprietary and owned by another vendor). Is there a solution? I didn’t find one among all comments and examples in the Engineering.com article.
Which made me think about “paradigm shift PLM”. The shift from ownership to data share. The shift from synchronizing data between systems to linking data between systems. What if vendors business will be able to benefit from data sharing opposite to licenses of software owning data. The new business software paradigm will benefit vendors opening data and charging by the ease of data access. Think about internet content marketing, e-commerce and what we PLM learn from that. If your product data catalog is not searchable in Google and not ranked and accessible for potential buyers, you have zero sales. The new product data lifecycle paradigm should encourage data share and linking opposite to ownership and data locking.
What is my conclusion? The amount of problems experienced by industrial companies today from implementing and intertwining PLM solutions is huge. In my view, it is a good confirmation the we are approaching the dead end in current PLM implementation paradigm. The change won’t come overnight. New paradigm should encourage data share and bring new new data layers enabling business optimization across organizational boundaries. Just my thoughts…