COFES 2014: Will PLM survive until 2020?

COFES 2014: Will PLM survive until 2020?


I’m attending COFES (The Congress on the Future of Engineering Software) which starts today in Scottsdale, AZ. COFES is not a traditional “Power Point Decks” event. It is a unique type of interaction between people interested in what will drive engineering software beyond five years horizon. The topic of COFES 2014 is – Correcting 2020 Vision.

On my flight to Phoenix, earlier today, I was looking at COFES 2014 agenda trying to prepare myself to coming presentations and discussions. Few discussions caught my attention and I wanted to mention them here.

Chad Jackson of Lifecycle Insight speaks about – It’s 2020: Do You Know Where Your Software Is? The time when we installed software on our desktop computer from CDs is finally over. Where is my software and what does it mean for us? It is a good question to ask.

Traditionally, design tools have been loaded and run locally. Recently, software providers have started to offer design tools (CAD, simulation, analysis, collaboration, etc.) with a variety of deployment options (public cloud, private cloud, virtualized, as well as “file-less”) and new business models. What are the implications for both the end-user and his/her firm for these new offerings. How does this affect the management of design data? How should we think about this as we look six years down the road?

User briefing by David Sherburne of Carestream Health raises the topic, which is one of the most important for me – The Evolution of Product. The uniqueness of this question for me is that it equally applies to PLM vendors and PLM customers. What do we make and why?

What am I selling? What does my customer think I’m selling? What is my customer willing to pay for? What do I need to do to deliver that? Then, comes: How do I do that better, more efficiently, with less risk and more profit? As we head towards 2020, the move to “customer experience” and the “Servitization of Product”, much of the answers to these questions will change. How does that change the way we need to think about product and the tools we interact with to create “product”?

New trending topic of IoT (Internet of Things) is about to bring new challenges and lot of new data to product development, manufacturing and support. To me it raises a question – what will be product data management in 2020.

PLM, IoT, and Big Data: Managing the Feedback Loop. IoT (“the Internet of things”), is bringing changes to the way we design. IoT will also generate “big data”. Beyond the needs of IoT functionality, how will PLM need to evolve to leverage this new design asset? Is PLM the right place for it? If not, where does it get managed and how do critical ideas get back to design and engineering?

Another topic, which is tightly connected to the evolution of data and related technologies is search. The roundtable topic called – How Search is Changing Engineering Data. In my view, search topic is beyond search. Customers are not interested to search- they want to find data. And it impacts the way we need to manage data. It changes everything.

New search technologies can help avoid designing or specifying new parts when existing ones will do. Search can also help engineers find new parts and manufacturing or construction methods that can reduce costs and schedules. Search is also changing the way we store things. When search was poor, we stored things in logical analogs of physical storage: files and folders. Now we can consider even things like email to be searchable databases. How is improved search likely to impact other areas of how we store and interact with engineering data?

What is my conclusion? COFES 2014 is clearly packed with lots of interesting discussions. You can follow twitter #COFES2014 for the next few days and read my and other blogs for updates. Interesting observation – cloud topic wasn’t mention in any presentation or roundtable title (except of weather forecast for Friday :)). But I’m sure it will come as part of many presentations and discussions.  Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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