PLM in 21st Century: Fewer Giants, Folksonomies and Infinite Opportunity

PLM in 21st Century: Fewer Giants, Folksonomies and Infinite Opportunity

future-trendsIn the early beginning of the Internet in the late 80s of 20th Century, MIT professor Tom Malone started to think how Internet will re-shape industry landscape in 21st Century. In a series of papers, he predicted that huge top down corporations would soon decentralize and transform themselves into industry eco-systems. Huge companies were created in the past to minimize “transaction cost” between teams down to supply chain. Modern distributed networks and information systems will do the same outside the walls of single company. However, actually for the last 10 years we observed a huge parade of growing gigantic companies – global consolidations happened all over the places, in pharmaceutical, chemical, finance, automotive and other sectors we had chance to see unprecedented growths of big companies. And… then 2008 crashes in finance sectors happened. Big finance corporations turned out  to have been inflated by debt at the level never seen before, the big car corporations crashed head-on skyrocketing oil prices and plummeting consumer demands…

Obviously, all these changes also impacting Product Lifecycle Management industry. First PLM companies were born of big defense, aerospace and automotive companies, providing initial backup to companies first developed CAD and coming later Product Lifecycle Management brands. What will happen with these companies in the changed landscape of traditional industries?

I think, today, we are finally coming to the point where Internet will start playing a significant role in future PLM development. In the landscape of fewer gigantic corporations, Internet will play a role of infrastructure between multiple numbers of smaller players in a supply chain of existing OEMs and in the ecosystem of many of the newcomers… Opposite to well-know today hierarchical PLMs, Folksonomies (also known as collaborative tagging, social classification and social indexing) will play a bigger role in organizing of smaller systems together. Big exposure of top-down systems will create infinite set of opportunities in providing solution for smaller companies. These smaller companies will behave in absolutely different way.

So, what will be key principles for future Product Lifecycle Management Solutions? I’d like to figure out three major characteristics that will form future Internet based PLM in 21st century.

#1 – Flexible Data Organization. PLM will be transformed to live in an open Internet world. We will not be able to apply today’s principles of data governance on PLM data management. PLM systems will be requested to co-exist in the big network of small companies operating in single cloud-y space. Transparency of information will play more important role in future data organization.

#2 – Social Networking. People and Organization system will be transformed into global social networks. Boundaries between a company network and social network of suppliers, partners and customers will be blurred. Together with information transparency, social network will create a network of future business opportunities for big number of independent companies – suppliers social networks.

#3 – Crowdsourcing. Global data availability and global people network will open new opportunities for work organization. What we have today as global design and global manufacturing will become mainstream and allows to small companies to be self-organized in industry communities.

I think for 2009 is a bit futuristic view, but if we will analyze situation in many industries, we will discover that processes toward decentralization, creating of bigger number of small suppliers and network organization already started to happen… So, I’d be interested to hear your voices and to discuss it with you.

Best, Oleg.


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