PLM IP Management and Tribal Knowledge

PLM IP Management and Tribal Knowledge

IP Management. If you’re in PLM business most probably you had a chance to hear this term. Most of the PLM providers are using “IP Management” term to explain the way product information and related data in the organization are captured and processed by PLM software. You can see some examples from Aras, Wipro, Dassault (by CIMdata), Kalipso, PTC, etc. Google PLM IP Management to find more. I found the following passage by PTC about safeguarding IP quite explaining well the situation related to IP capture:

Today, IP contained in product concept designs is increasingly at risk, along with the revenue and corporate know-how it represents. The threat to product IP has increased as a result of globally distributed design teams that design products collaboratively, and ironically, by the approaches required to enable truly distributed design and manufacturing networks. A lack of processes and procedures in place to protect IP and safeguard design concepts during development, can lead to lost IP, which in turn results in lost sales, product commoditization, and lower profit margins.

Design is clearly one of the sources of IP. CAD, PDM and PLM systems today can help in capturing of this information. We often use term “structured data” when talking about sources of information like 3D Models, Drawings, Bill of Materials, Manufacturing procedures. At the same time, it made me think about the fact lots of IP information lives outside of so called “structured data”. These days the topic of capturing IP from other sources of information becomes very important.

I had a chance to read article From Business As Usual to Knowledge-Driven Architecture by Yefim (Jeff) Zhuk bringing some valuable insight on processes of knowledge capture in an organization. Interesting enough, structured knowledge was estimated as 10% of overall knowledge in an organization. Another 20% defined as “unstructured”. The larger portion of knowledge (70-80%) defined as something called “tribal knowledge”. Here is the definition from the article:

Structured data are very formal. They are defined in terms so precise that not only people but even computers can understand these data. Databases, Business and Data Models, Services and XML Files are structured and understood by computers. Unstructured data are documents and communications artifacts, like taped messages and video clips that make sense to people. The knowledge captured in unstructured data is hardly available to computer systems. The biggest portion of information that is used daily in business routine has never been captured. It is so-called “Tribal Knowledge”.

The sources of “tribal knowledge” are related to communication between people, meetings, phone calls, etc. These gapes are increasing significantly when we are moving from a single (larger organization) to the network of smaller organizations (SME). Go to every small manufacturing firm and you discover that amount of information about development processes and decisions made never been captured.

What is my conclusion? The awareness of the ability to capture information and future re-use is growing. People understood the value of information these days. Big Data is just one of the most trending topics today and related to the ability of computer systems to capture information online related to social communication and other web and organizational data. “Tribal knowledge” is one of the them. In my view, the intelligence of manufacturing companies is related to the ability to capturing more information and future decision optimization. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg



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