Earlier today I had the privilege to present at a virtual PLM organized by Matrix, a reseller of PTC in Israel. The topic of digital transformation and digital lifecycle because it speaks about one of the most significant transformations that are happening in the software manufacturing industry these days. However, let me back off and give you a context of the discussion and my presentation.
I captured the following slide in the earlier presentation, which speaks for collection, merge, and monitoring of the data. The interesting perspective is a combination of these three elements, which is opposite to the old mission of PLM about controlling data and processes.
What was in focus before (data management) is moving towards a new horizon- collect, merge and monitor. These three aspects of the data lifecycle are a foundation of the digital lifecycle focusing on any data coming across manufacturing organizations. It doesn’t matter where data is located and what system is managing the data, there is a huge benefit in “connecting dots” and bringing the data assets connected under the same virtual data umbrella.
In such a context, there is an increased role of the novel concepts of Digital Twin and Digital Thread. You can see them in the picture as they represent two aspects of the processes – (1) a virtual model capable of simulating everything and (2) total connectivity between all data assets inside and outside of the company.
Tons of articles are written about Digital Twina and Digital Thread. While concepts used in both are not new and you can find the use cases of systems with a similar concept a long time ago, the importance of the new data modeling is tremendously increased.
The question I’m hearing very often is how the industry will be moving from the current status quo of mostly on-premise systems, data silos, and PDM systems managing files into a future digital nirvana? This is a really good question and I want to answer it today because it is extremely important.
First, let me step back and show you this picture, which gives you an idea of how technologies transformed our driving experience for the last 25 years ago. Back in the 1990s, I should have been able to take a Road Map atlas to any trip, because it was the only way to guarantee that I would get the driving orientation and find our way from point A to point B.
A few years ago, during my trip to London, I captured myself driving a car with my connected mobile phone. By connecting to my mobile phone, the car automatically obtained a large amount of personal data, applications, and additional information. Just by doing it, we turn the car to access my data and help me in every possible way.
I want you to pay attention, not to the final stage (a new car with mobile device interface, augmented displays, and connected to multiple online services and applications. What is important is how we came to what we have for digital driving from the original state of a paper map. It can be very easy to realize that actually the overall process of transformation was long and included many intermediate steps (Eg. old GPS, traffic connection, digital map, business connection, embedded car GPS systems, modern navigation app, etc.)
The role of SaaS PLM systems and networks in building a digital lifecycle
Now, I want to help you to connect the dots. Why is SaaS PLM getting more attention and significant importance? A brutal and simple answer – the nature of SaaS apps. These apps are by definition online, can connect multiple users and customers, can be integrated with many systems, and finally can help to connect business processes across multiple teams and companies.
The second element of building a new digital lifecycle infrastructure is related to networks. You can think about networks as an abstract vision, but this is not true. Network-based businesses have proven to be super successful, in the last 10-15 years (think Google, Amazon, Facebook, Uber). All these companies are using powerful network mechanisms to build intelligence.
In the following picture, I demonstrate the transformation of PLM systems into a new continuous set of data elements organized and connected to satisfy the needs. The big deal in such an approach is that systems are turning from local to global and from disconnected to connected data.
What is my conclusion?
Keep in mind 25 years of driving process digital transformation. Today, we stand in front of the next transformation in manufacturing software – switching from on-premise analog systems to digital (SaaS) PLM software capable of collecting, organizing, and monitoring the data. So, the importance of SaaS software can be in the capabilities of SaaS PLM software to provide a space to manage data and connect with other systems and organizations, Just my thoughts…
Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing a digital network-based platform that manages product data and connects manufacturers, construction companies, and their supply chain networks. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.