PLM workflows are dead. “Interactive” user experience is coming

PLM workflows are dead. “Interactive” user experience is coming


Most of product lifecycle management implementations are about two things – getting control over product data and setting up processes around it. The last one is about workflows and PLM workflows are hard to implement. Although the idea of “workflow” is pretty natural, it ends up with many clicks, messy reality of notifications and complex user experience. After all, PLM business process applications is a glorified envelope around workflow engine, which can give short productivity gain, but mostly leads to complex implementation challenges and slow ROI.

There are some bad news for PLM vendors – new generation of customers  (“millennials”) has a completely different demand for how to use technology and what use experience should be. It all about “interactive” experience.

My attention was caught by Wired article How millennials require us to design the technology of tomorrow. Read the article, put aside your Blackberry and corporate laptop. Things are changing as we speak. Here is my favorite passage from the article:

What does the millennial generation mean for technology makers? In a nutshell, it means that interactive technologies, from smartphones to websites to mobile apps to SaaS apps, need to provide the most usable, self-guided, hiccup-free, efficient user experiences in history. Contrary to the belief that millennials can make anything work, their expectations for slick user experiences are the highest ever. Although millennials can often figure out how to use an app or site that is a clunker, they probably won’t take the time to do so. They are experts at finding alternatives and they simply won’t put up with bad user experiences that get in the way of accomplishing their tasks NOW.

“Interactive” technologies made me think about PLM  implementations and workflows. Most of them are “process driven”. It seems to me different from how most of user experience in a modern collaborative applications. People are actually working together despite different location, devices and environment.

What is my conclusion? I can see a difference between user experience and user interface. The first cohort of PLM innovators was mostly about how to make UI looks pretty. It was a nice change from old-fashion-ugly-enterprise-software-screens. But, we need more. New collaborative user experience is about how to change the way people communicate and doing work. Although processes are absolutely important, the switch to “interactive” experience is what millennials will demand. PLM architects and user experience designers can take a note. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at



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