PLM and Supply Chain in Web 2.0 Era

I was thinking about supply chain issues during this weekend. When life of manufacturers becomes even more complicated than before, issues related to the supply chain or more, specifically to an ability to control and protect your brand from various supply chain issues raising their priorities. Supplier-related issues can significantly impact the whole product lifecycle starting from time-line and ending by serious quality and regulation issues.

I came across Cristian Verstraetet blog post – Protect Your Brand Through Controlling Your Supply Chain. He is mentioning some interesting ideas that from his standpoint can put a surge protector between supply chain and brands. As such, he mentioned growing need to monitor social activity around your brand in order to identify the possible problems earlier, establishing code of business conduct and dialog between OEMs and suppliers.

I think web and online monitoring are the essentials of the business these days. It is absolutely true for personal brands and for large international companies. When thinking about Web 2.0 trends, I definitely Supply Chain Management 2.0 capabilities to use the information on World Wide Web that can help to organize a more effective supply chain. However, last two issues made me think about some problems where I believe a solution can come from Product Lifecycle Management systems and implementations. I’d like to figure out two important issues related to supplier management: Product Data Integration and Supply Attention Economy.

Product Data Integration
In my view, the issue of data integration between OEMs and Suppliers will come to the emergent level of the attention very soon. The ugly truths of this issue is that nobody these days can provide a consistent product data landscape from OEM (or Tier 1) side on what is going on in the supply chains. The complexity of the system is so high that companies are mostly focused on procedures of data transfer between OEMs and Suppliers. However, the data quality will start alarming very soon. It stats from various regulation topics and need to provide up-to-date information related to product bill of materials and ends from the ability to optimize product behavior.

Attention Economy and Cost Control
This one is a bit more complicated. Nevertheless, I see it as an emergent trend in a couple of years. The supplier relationships G-forces are moving from centrally controlled OEM-Supplier model to somewhat I’d call Supplier-Focused. It means that we’ll see a growing number of suppliers and much more complicated supply chain network. Internet, online business, globalization will play an additional role in helping to create a more granular supply chain. However, how possible to optimize this network. Here what is called “Economy of Attention” will come. In simple words the relationships between OEM and Suppliers are going to change. It won’t be completely controlled by upper supplier level anymore. The suppliers will be pro-actively looking how to optimize their business by offering their business online. It will come in design, supply, manufacturing. However, it will also change upper OEM/Supplier level. Their systems will need to come to the higher level of optimization. Such structural changes will allow to optimize cost and improve the quality of products and services.

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The PLM domain is the best candidate to think about such a type of system development. The obvious advantage of PLM is an ability to handle Product related data. However, PLM will need to learn a lot in order to move into this interesting journey.

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg



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