The future of invisible PLM is here – Google Location History

The future of invisible PLM is here – Google Location History


The technology can make a difference. What technological approach can make a difference in the future of PLM? This is a question many of us are asking these days. Ease of adoption is a problem for PDM and PLM from the early beginning. Existing technology created a levle of disruption engineers and other people involved into the process are not able to tolerate. Think about designer or engineer working on CAD model. The last thing engineer is interested in is how to check-in and check-out the design in order to keep the history of changes. Let’s think future about engineering processes. It is very inefficient to ask engineering and manufacturing people manually track every change to capture ECO and other processes related to changes of product structure and follow up decisions / actions. So, data management and process management shouldn’t be a burden on top of existing product development activities. Hidden data management, invisible PDM… these are thing that compelling as a future values of PLM technologies nowadays.

Techcrunch article this morning was a mind shake for me. Google’s Location History Browser Is A Minute-By-Minute Map Of Your Life. The article speaks about Goole ability to track you location in an absolutely transparent way using smartphone and your Google account. For those of your who remember Google Latitude, the fact Google can track your location shouldn’t be a big surprise. What was impressive is the level of transparency Google captured data.

I looked over my account and found quite precise history of my locations for the last weeks in variety places. Take a look on few screenshots I made.


The next picture shows my movement inside of Las Vegas Autodesk University venue.


What is my conclusion? The future of invisible PLM will be driven by the ability to capture information and processes in a transparent way. The transparency will allow to PDM and PLM technology to be adopted in a painless way to capture business processes and engineering changes. Context usage will play another important role in the future transparency of enterprise systems. Location context is just a beginning. Future context will include, people, department, calendar, product data and many others. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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  • The amount of information Google collects “transparently” is impressive. If you use Google Now you will notice that it gives you estimates on your travel plans by looking at your calendar, identify your next meetings location, and by taking into account live data on traffic (which it gets from partnerships with local transportation (bus, taxi, etc.) and other Google Now users).

    From the enterprise systems perspective I think transparency is important but I usually think the transferring/capture of information has to be non-disruptive to what the users is doing. To use the example of the ECO, I totally agree the engineer (or anyone for that matter) should not have to track what they do and especially have to go through the disruptive workflow of checking in and checking out files. The system should do this automatically. However since the users usually work on a task (i.e. ECO) which is known when it is complete I think it is OK (non-disruptive) to have the user specify that they completed the task and then move on to another one. So technically it is not fully transparent however all the work/integration/conversion/etc. which needs to happen after the user specifies they have completed their task is transparent.

  • beyondplm

    Denis, thanks for your comment and examples. I agree – tasks can be separated on something that requires user input and rest that can be optimized and eliminated to make systems transparent and invisible. This is clearly the future IMHO. -Oleg

  • pgarrish

    I agree in part that some of the control tasks should be transparent, however an ECO is also a method of budget control – without a valid ECO to work under, what is the engineer doing? And that process should not be transparent.

  • beyondplm

    @pgarrish:disqus, of course, part of work that required people decision and or action shouldn’t be transparent. however, for example, collection of data for ECO process can (and should) be automated to simplify the process.

  • pgarrish, in some ways that is the delineation between older attitudes on change and the newer realities of organic change where the actual change occurs much faster than the time it took to even approve the budget. Which do you think is more desirable to maintain market competitiveness/agility in the future?