Not an evil PDM can save engineer’s memory

Not an evil PDM can save engineer’s memory


PDM is not a new domain in enterprise, engineering and manufacturing software. It might sounds like PDM functions are clearly defined. Navigate to Tech-clarity blog – PDM buyer’s guide and you will have a good “shopping list” for PDM system and functions. Unfortunately, engineers are not appreciating PDM. Even more, if you ask engineers, the majority of them will tell you that PDM is actually in many aspects makes their lives more complicated and slow working process. Most of PDM values and functions are more appreciated by managers rather than by engineers and designers. These days, industry and technology around PDM are quite disruptive. It comes from different dimensions – cloud file storage (like Google drive and Dropbox), immersive file sharing services and social networks.

Earlier during weekend, I was reading New York Times article – An App That Will Never Forget a File. The article speaks about Evernote – application you might be using already in your everyday life. The interesting spin NYT article takes is by presenting Evernote as a lifesaver for people in their everyday work with files and other contents (e.g. photos, notes and many others). Here is an interesting passage I captured:

Evernote provides a comprehensive single archive of your digital life, giving you one location to store and find practically everything saved on a computer or phone. And the files are automatically backed up on Evernote’s servers. It even makes sharing things with others far easier than emailing attachments around — but it will do that, too.

At first, Evernote may seem redundant to existing tools like email and iCloud, but the service is hard to give up after a week’s use. You won’t want to return to a life of running from device to device for your files. If you start to use the program frequently, you’ll probably find that the premium upgrade makes a lot of sense. With the upgrade, you will have a hard time reaching the storage limit unless you are saving a lot of video. Second, it allows you to search within documents, which can come in incredibly handy. Third, it will let you store copies of important items on your computer or phone, an inevitable lifesaver for anyone who travels without reliable Internet access.

Article about Evernote made me think about how to spin off future PDM capabilities to make PDM appreciated by engineers. Let think about engineer’s memory. To remember what are you doing during design iteration is very complicated. When it happens in collaborative environment with many engineers involved, it can be next to impossible. However, if you will think about possible merge of design iteration, people can think you are dreamer. Now, let’s make another steps towards the future and imagine this functionality will come to engineers with no extra effort (similar to Evernote and Google Docs revisions support). That’s can make a clear difference with today’s PDM environment.

What is my conclusion? Shakeout is needed in PDM. To keep developing similar functions we did for the last 10-15 years won’t create a difference for engineers and designers. We need to have “not an evil PDM concept”. The new generation of PDM will capture engineer’s activity seamlessly from multiple devices and in any place (think about Evernote strategy). It will allow to engineers to free their memory and focus on design and innovation. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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  • Hi 2 penneth is that openness (or perhaps some of the essence of ‘not evil’) will be a key enabler in getting to any practical future PDM solution.

    One of the challenges with PDM (PLM?) is that information needs to be, in some way, ‘re-constructed’ to be a sum of the parts in order for it to start to be useful. For most companies that’s a significant overhead, and some companies just aren’t prepared to invest in the effort of instantiation and workflow change that’s needed to make it work.

    Recent advances means that it’s becoming easier to create hybrid environments that allow much of the value to be gleaned without the upfront effort. One of the key enablers to this is the ‘openness’ of the ecosystem.

    I published a WP on ‘openness’ not long ago and would welcome any thoughts from you or your readers on its content Oleg!

  • Interesting aspects!
    Do you not think the challenge to capture-from-any-place will be solved by IT standards anyway?
    Is not the question how to capture engineering activities seamlessly in an unstructured way but getting it organized and feed with structure into the downstream process the essential software challenge?

  • beyondplm

    @allanbehrens:disqus thanks for your comment, insight and link! I like what you said about hybrid environment. It became a very common pattern these days. To reconstruct and fuse data is easier than to get data under the same database (storage). The transparency is another key thing to make it easy for engineers.

  • beyondplm

    Hi Klaus, you are right! to use data downstream is extremely important. I don’t think the problem of capture is related to standards – it is more technological issue.