PLM Supply Chain – Go Big Data or Go Home

PLM Supply Chain – Go Big Data or Go Home

For many people PLM is associated with Engineering. At the same time, it is not true. Very often, major portion of product design, development and manufacturing is delivered by partners (suppliers). Value chain management, supplier integration during different phases of a product-development process is very important. These days with growing trends in globalization and interest of companies to optimize and product cost, it became even more important than usual.

Many companies are looking how to innovate in product development. I’d like to talk about an interesting trend in supply chain optimization related to Big Data. In information technology, big data is still very loosely defined term. The following report caught my attention few days ago – ‘Big Data – Go Big or Go Home’ by Lora Cecere of Supply Chain Insights. I downloaded Big Data report via this link. Report is talking about Big Data as a new concept in Supply Chain. I recommend you to read this report. I found it quite insightful. It made me think about many problems in a supply chain PLM systems are trying to solve.

I captured few interesting passages. One of them is about solving business problems. Very often, I can see PLM vendors are talking too much about technological pieces related to data exchange between OEM and suppliers. At the same time, companies are losing focus of business problems.

For the business leader, it is not about data. It is about solving the business problem. In fact, as supply chain leaders try to tackle new problems, most do not realize that they are entering into the world of Big Data, it just happens. The term is not in their vocabulary. They just want to do more, and solve new problems, with new forms of data. They are frustrated with current systems.

At the same time, we need to admit that data is growing exponentially in the enterprise and global value chain. Here is another interesting passage highlighting the scale of data growth:

Data is Growing in the Enterprise. Today, 8% of respondents have a Petabyte of data in a single database. It is growing. It is a concern of survey respondents. 47% of companies responding to the survey either have or expect to have a database with a petabyte of data in the future. It is higher for those currently having Big Data initiatives underway (68%). The petabyte is the new terabyte.

Until now, I can see how PLM vendors are mostly focusing on “transactional data”. Nowadays, a lot of additional data sources are coming into play of product development and supply chain. Take a look on the picture I captured form the same report – transactional data is only small piece of information need to be used to optimize supply chain.

Another interesting aspect is the relation between supply chain and product data. Analyzing the ability of a company to use various data sources for supply chain, we can see “product data traceability” as one of the top 3 factors. It leads me directly to the data located in PLM and other engineering systems.

What is my conclusion? Big data is one of the big things PLM can use to optimize supply chain, in my view. PLM vendors need to switch gears from supply data exchange towards supply chain optimization. In order to do so, PLM vendors need to bring additional capabilities to analyze supply chain, related information. It is an important topic to for coming years. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg



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