How PLM can discover “data opportunity”?

How PLM can discover “data opportunity”?


The amount of data around us is growing enormously. For the last 10 years, internet as well as other data source such as mobile devices created a huge stream information. It  comes in every place – our daily activity such as photos, videos, online GPS as well as in a business world. Companies are discovering new ways to communicate and perform digital activities that nobody seen before. Think about manufacturing company 10-15 years ago. Most of digital activity was about design and engineering. After throwing BOM to the manufacturing side and procurement planning, rest was in metal – not digital. This is not true anymore. The amount of online information about product performance, regulation, tracking information about customers and other activities is skyrocketing.

Internet is one of the biggest driver behind changes in digital space made a revolution in the way people communicate in 21st century. However, even internet is going to change these days. Invented first as a “web of shared linked documents”  aka as Web 1.0 later developed in so called Web 2.0. Web 2.0 was born to provide an answer on an increased demand to collaborate. It came together with social networks and increased dominance of mobile devices.

However, these days many people speak about future changes and development of web. It comes in two major aspects – IoT and Web of Data. I’ve been writing about PLM and IoT common trajectories recently on my blog here. Web of data (or how some of people called Web 3.0) is not less interesting. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, original inventor of internet at CERN Lab in Switzerland is one of the most prominent believers in a new web. Few days ago, I was reading Telegraph article – Sir Tim Berners-Lee: data and the new web. Take few minutes of time and read it. Sir Tim is speaking about opportunity of sharing data. I found the following passage very important:

His [Sir Tim] idea sounds simple: he wants companies, governments, organizations and even, to some extent, individuals to share their data. It’s not new, per se: bus companies have been publishing timetables since they began, while anyone selling anything must explain to prospective purchasers what’s on offer. But in the age of the web, there’s a lot more data about and the chance to connect it in novel, creative and enlightening ways. So Sir Tim wants ever more organizations – and especially countries and businesses – to share what they have and see what happens when it gets put together.

However, the problem with sharing data is well known for a long time. PLM, manufacturing and other enterprise space is familiar with this problem very much. It is about business models and open vs. close business world. Here is how Sir Tim explains this:

“It’s a constant battle of mindsets – once people have got the open data bug they realise the benefit. They realise they’re performing a service to the country. With the original web, people could see the benefits. But with this you don’t immediately know the benefits or who is using it. It could be another company or a kid doing homework or somebody in the World Bank – nobody’s really able to be able to work out the investment.”

Open Data Institute (ODI) – is new UK based organization founded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee is focusing on data opportunities. The Open Data Institute is catalysing the evolution of open data culture to create economic, environmental, and social value. It helps unlock supply, generates demand, creates and disseminates knowledge to address local and global issues. I found the following related work by UK government interesting – UK data capability strategy: seizing the data opportunity. Navigate to the following link and take a look on a document – Seizing the data opportunity. Here is how data opportunity defined there.

Data has been likened to the “new oil” of the 21st century, but unlike oil, we are not going to run out of it. On the contrary, we will continue to amass more and more data. As set out in the Information Economy Strategy, business sectors across the economy are being transformed by data, analytics, and modelling. New and emerging technologies will fuel the growth of data: as access to computing and the internet becomes ever more mobile, data will be transmitted and analysed continuously; and the development of the Internet of Things could mean that by 2020 sensor data will be created by as many as 50 billion connected devices across the globe. From increased transparency and accountability through open data, to new scientific discoveries, and market-changing products and services which can be developed using modeling and simulation, big data analytics and data-driven science, the opportunities – and challenges – are significant.

What is my conclusion? Engineering and Manufacturing firms can gain a significant business advantages from smart usage of data. Thinking about full product lifecycle including design, engineering, manufacturing and maintenance, PLM vendors can discover an interesting opportunities in variety of data usages by specific companies and industry verticals. This is a new opportunity. Will be it be discovered by PLM vendors or new startups? This is a good question to ask. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Picture courtesy of 3danimatix blog


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