Things are changing in the manufacturing world. A decade ago, the biggest concern for manufacturing companies was how to manufacture and ship products. These days manufacturing companies are going beyond production. Business models are changing and it is one of the leading factors in manufacturing transformation. Companies are not only selling products any more. Manufacturing industry is switching to sell services. The importance of tracking how customers are using products is increasing – it can open an opportunity to improve product quality and user experience.
These changes are impacting engineering software in all segments – design, engineering, manufacturing, customer service and support. PLM vendors are expanding their activities into product requirements, connected product, real time product tracking, manufacturing connectivity and other segments.
My attention was caught the discussion around digital mesh. Although, I’m not a big fan of attaching “digital” word to everything, I found the concept of digital mesh interesting. Navigate to the following article – 10 Technology Trends That Will Drive Your Digital Business in 2017. The following passage gives you an idea of what is digital mesh:
This refers to the practice of exploiting connections between people, businesses, devices, content and services to deliver digital business outcome. The mesh requires new interfaces, security models, technology platforms and approaches to design. Look for: Conversational interfaces, which will grow beyond chatbots to include an expanding set of endpoints that are used to access applications and information, or interact with people and businesses; The app and service architecture will expand at the backend to connect mobile apps, web apps, desktop apps and Internet of Things (IoT) apps; The evolution of digital technology platforms with a focus on information systems, customer experience, analytics and intelligence, the IoT and business ecosystems; Security systems that protect the connected points will also evolve — and could be make-or-break elements in many businesses.
So, what does it mean for product development is PLM software evolution? In a very practical sense, I think we are moving beyond ‘single company database’ concept. That was one of the most fundamental PLM principle for many years – how to control data in a single company database. It started from controlling CAD files and expanded into controlling of everything else. The most recent control paradigm – digital thread is focusing on collection of all activities around product lifecycle. Check out my earlier blog – Digital thread and Fake PLM debates. What I like in the paradigm of digital mesh is that it goes beyond the concept of an isolated database collecting information. The information should become live, interactive and updated. It supposed to reflect interaction in the development, manufacturing, supply chain, customer activity and many others.
What is my conclusion? Paradigms are changing. Manufacturing companies will be moving from isolated databases collecting data and controlling information into mesh of data, people, companies and devices inter-operating in a real time in a real life. In the way it is hard to think about navigation system without traffic analysis these days, it will be very hard to think about engineering and manufacturing software for a single company in 10 years from now. Just my thoughts…
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Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of openBoM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.