What Are Your Questions To PLM Virtual Assistant?

What Are Your Questions To PLM Virtual Assistant?

When somebody is asking me what is the number one PLM software problem, my instant answer is – complexity. Yes, PLM is a dumb complex. I think, discussions about the complexity of PLM are endless. Each time I hear about new PLM product, the first requirement is to make it simple.  There are two major reasons why PLM is complex. They come from opposite sides of PLM business – product related and people related. From the product related standpoint, we need to admit – engineering and manufacturing are a complex discipline. Product complexity is growing, so we are facing growing complexity in design, engineering data and manufacturing. On the other side, from people’s side, engineering nature it to see all problems in the complex way, analyze dependencies, etc. So, engineers are constantly coming with more and more complex requirements. The result is simple – when you operate PLM software, you need to think… And you think to think a lot…

The complexity of applications creates a lot of problems to the people operating this software. However, recently, I started to experiment with personal assistant on my iPhone. Siri (www.siri.com)

Now, let me switch your imagination on. Do you think we can apply this interesting assistant behavior to help me to operate my complex PLM software? Or, in another way, can my PLM experience changed to be as simple as experience with the virtual assistant. I think that it may work. PLM virtual assistant may fit “a role oriented” work PLM products need to do in your organization. What about questions like –

1. What is the most urgent work I need to do today?

2. Who is responsible of the ABC part manufacturing?

3. Where is the last revision of my drawing?


Now it is your turn. I’m sure you can come with much better questions. So, now think about what type of questions you can ask PLM virtual assistant if you have one in your organization? Sounds crazy? However, let’s make a try…I’m waiting for questions you want to ask you PLM virtual assistant.

Best, Oleg



Share This Post

  • This is an interesting concept how ever I am not convince by your hypothesis that PLM has to be complex.

    I was recently listening to a podcast from 37signals and I think that they way of thinking would make sense if applied to PLM software development.

    One of the root cause of the complexity of PLM system is that we take a prototype developed for Volvo, Boeing and we try to scale it down “as is” by adding some customization entry point in order to fit the need of a small manufacturing company working on assembly with less and 100 parts.

    I believe that one way to reduce this complexity would be to design a product for the Fortune 5 000 000 from the beginning instead of trying to scale down a software made to meet the requirement of a Fortune 500.

    This system would be very limited (simple) by design and focus on the 10 critical operations that a PLM system must support.

    I agree this does not answer your question about help the user to cope with the existing complexity but I to remove the need for this assistance.

  • Yann, thanks for your comment! I think we have already seen multiple trials to build “simple PLM”. And we are going to see few more in the nearest future. In my view, the main point is that engineering is indeed complex. So, to solve it by scaling all engineering to 10 operations seem like “next to impossible”. In my view, solution needs to provide complete disconnect between an ability to manage complex data and absolutely simple user experience. This is how I came to the idea of assistant. However, today’s PLMs are inherited user experience from complex data and process management capabilities… Best, Oleg. BTW – what are those 10 operations?

  • Marcio Braga

    Dear PLM Virtual Assistent, please send me detailed manufacturing plans for the next generation of something innovative that has a great chance to be sucessfull in the marketplace.

    PLM has much about innovation (and some reuse naturally). But innovation is not public, is not reusable. So I wonder how this can work for PLM.

  • Marcio, Thanks for your question and comments! I’d disagree, by saying PLM is not about innovation. PLM is about how to support innovation. The most important in this support is to provide right data at the right moment of time. So, innovation is not re-usable, but data managed by your PLM systems is indeed re-usable. Does it make sense? Best, Oleg

  • Marcio Braga

    Yes, it does, considering re-usable right data at the right moment, PLM-internal or Public-external, be the most part of the innovative product. But sometimes it is not. It must acquired somewhere else or invented.
    For the Public-external re-usable data, maybe products like those from Invention Machine Corp can help. Regards, Marcio

  • Balan

    Thanks Oleg, your posts always trigger a thought process.

    Here are few questions I would expect PLM to answer.

    1. What all are the projects this ABC component is used?

    2. What is the status (Reqdy for QC, shipped, erected, etc…) of ABC component supplied for various projects?

    3. When is the scheduled mantenance of this ABC equipment?

    4. When is the due to supply spare for ABC equipment?

    5. What is the version of drawing site people are referring?

    There will be many more questions…


  • TheJ

    I would be intrested knowing,

    1. What are the issues faced during ABC component manufacturing, shipping, erecting, etc…?

    2. What is the actual material used for ABC component? (Because in some cases engineering will approve for alternative material which normally not be updated in the drawing or databsase).

    Best, TheJ

  • Marcio, thanks! I’m familiar a little with invention machine corp. ideas and products. Their focus is on finding patterns for innovation. I agree this is an interesting concept. Let’s see if they will discover our discussion thread :)… Best, Oleg

  • Balan, Thanks for your questions! I have to say, that some of them are pretty simple (like #1). However, some of them are challenging, since information is located in many places and not always available. Best, Oleg

  • Thej, Thanks for your comment! Your question about actual materials is quite interesting. In most of the today cases, PLM systems are limited to access manufacturing information. As you stated it not always updated on drawing. Best, Oleg

  • TheJ

    Oleg, Virtual Assistant concept may be extended beyond just answering the random questions. For instance, it can act as a report generator based on the predefined questions. This is essetial for engineering managers, project managers, decision makers etc…

    BTW I am worndering, why PLM is having limited to access manufacturing information?

    Best, TheJ

  • TheJ, Agree, the role of virtual assistant can be extended :)… The main reason why manufacturing data is not available in the PLM is competition between PLM and ERP vendors. At the same time, I think some of the integration technologies are using are outdated and requires justification. Most of the companies failed to create good and reliable integration. In many places, you can see manual data transfer procedures and disconnected apps. Best, Oleg

  • Doug Murray

    Dear Assistant,
    Please find me a part that will fit in this space and attach to these two parts.

    We often make a new part, just because it is difficult to find a part that might fit that already exists. There are ways of classifying componenets so that they can be found, but in our industry we design and make 97% of all of our own parts, we don’t buy much that exists from other people. So classification becomes a chore for the engineers and drafters, which is viewed as more trouble than benefit. So we never implement any system, we just reinvent the same part over and over, regardless of the extra cost that planning, manufacturing and stocking a new part entails.
    In days gone by the engineers would be experts in a particular product line and would know where to go look for a part that might fit, now we have so many products and everyone must be a jack of all trades that this knowledge is no longer there.
    It’s a simple question, but a difficult solution.

  • Your iphone experiment works for simple data.
    But large mega data components and assemblies require large amounts of CPU and storage. CAD operation requires power, not a simple task for your iphone. iPhone is for viewing and messaging only, not measuring or calculating math data.
    The new direction for PLM is in ‘Cloud Computing’. Offsite. But security and storage?
    Understanding that PLM is used by everyone in the company = server(storage) + software licenses for every user.
    Can you play a WII game on your iphone? NO
    Can you use CAD software on your iPhone? NO
    View a model representation? Maybe, but software license required.
    PDM part of PLM requires Oracle or Cisco because there is megadata associated with a part number.
    PLM = PDM -> CAD?CAM -> View -> Collaborate+View -> Release+View. A change means same process over again.
    PLM eliminates paper, adds access for everyone in the company, faster digital repeatability for new designs or changes. Not a small task for hardware and software.
    Your iPhone has to be a pad computer for minimum PLM use. It better be plugged in every couple of hours.

  • Hello Doug, Thanks for your comment. You are absolutely right about new part vs. re-use. Classification and search of the parts can be a very interesting problem to solve inside of organization and when working with supply chain. Real problem! Best, Oleg

  • Joe, Thank you for comments! I think you are asking very valid questions. In my view, some of them will be answered very soon.

    1. CPU and storage: iPhone is a client. The same is true in the case of web app. You can utilize the power of multiple servers on the cloud/data center
    2. Storage becomes cheaper.
    3. Security is an issue. However, there is a notion of trust. Today we trust banks, credit companies and some other financial institutes (like ADP in US). Tomorrow we can give trust to some additional trust to other types of software. Like salesforce.com has now…
    4. There are some interesting examples of 3D software on iPhone (comes from Autodesk, Dassault). This is not always a traditional CAD design. But visualization and some additional social experience can certainly work.
    5. I see some interesting future for tablets like iPad. Time will show, but I think there is a subset of iPhone’s apps today that can get leverage of bigger real estate on the screen.

    I’m not sure got all your questions, but open to discuss more in the future.
    Thanks for great discussion!
    Best, Oleg

  • Pingback: PLM and Re-thinking UI paradigms()

  • Pingback: PLM and Re-thinking UI paradigms « Daily PLM Think Tank Blog()

  • Pingback: link homepage()