I want to talk today about PLM and consumers. One of the very important sides of Product Lifecycle Management is the potential ability to connect dots between manufacturing and their customers. So, manufacturers-consumers link, this is what I want to talk about. I know professor in the university, who is saying – “The only necessary and sufficient condition for a business is customers”. This is something we need to keep in mind. So, how it can be related to PLM?
In today’s business time, PLM will be struggling to show how their systems can help OEMs to stay connected with customers. With a huge focus around collaboration, 3D, process management, I think this is weak part of PLM chain, and we need to think how to improve it. I want to figure out few principles that, in my view can help to form successful PLM implementation in this space.
I see the following reasons why PLM not involved enough into consumer related process:
1. Significant focus on Engineering work. Since PLM, historically came from CAD and Engineering domain, many of today’s product continue to be heavy involved into “an internal engineering world”. This focus, keeps PLM out of new technologies and practice of the outside world. PLM has a very slow ability to adopt change, inherited from Engineering Application World. And this is preventing PLM from the ability to oversight external world.
2. Close World Modeling Assumption. This is an assumption that everything should be modeled for engineering processes and application. When, in general, alignment is a good thing, in this context it creates the barrier between PLM Engineering practices and outside systems (CRM, but not only) that in the end preventing PLM from adopt a processes and information stream coming from outside.
3. Disconnection from consumer-oriented products. Starting from CRM applications and ending with games and social networks. PLM just starting their journey in this area. PLM need to go faster to close the gap. Also, PLM has a perception of “secretive products” that not populate content propagation outside of PLM application boundaries.
So, what is possible to do in my view? I think, in general, PLM move to “social” tools and software is very positive to achieve also this goal. Enabling social aspects and openness, definitely will improve PLM ability to be “connected with the world”. At the same time, close focus on management of engineering IP needs to be expanded to how allow this IP to be delivered outside of Engineering organization – to company users, customers, partners etc. This is #1 priority in my view. Another important step is to make PLM products more flexible and adaptable for change. Opposite to engineering processes that can be well defined and agreed inside of organization, communication with potential customers and consumer’s community requires great deal of openness. You won’t be able your potential customer to work in very pre-defined frameworks and processes. Ability to capture non-formal feedback coming from everyplace, do it pro-actively and smart – this is #2 task for PLM to become consumer oriented. And finally, what tools and technologies PLM could develop to achieve it. My recommendation is to focus on content delivery. Today, this function is weak. You can hardly take your product in the intermediate steps of development and be able to share it with your potential customers. So, to unlock content is #3 in my dream least.
So, 1-go out of engineering; 2-accept not formal information stream from outside; 3- focus on content availability. This is my silver bullet for PLM to move forward greater consumer acceptance.
What is your experience in this field? Do you have such problems in your organization? I’d be have to discuss and hear your opinion.