PLM assumptions and new manufacturing realities

PLM assumptions and new manufacturing realities


Over the weekend, I had a chance to read Steven Sinofsky’s article – Disruption and Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda… He speaks about disruption in business. His example is Blackberry business and how it was disrupted by modern mobile technologies (specifically by iPhone and Android).

I found the following passage about disruption very insightful.

Disruption has a couple of characteristics that make it fun to talk about. While it is happening even with a chorus of people claiming it is happening, it is actually very difficult to see. After it has happened the chorus of “told you so” grows even louder and more matter of fact. After the fact, everyone has a view of what could have been done to “prevent” disruption. Finally, the description of disruption tends to lose all of the details leading up to the failure as things get characterized at the broad company level or a simple characteristic (keyboard v. touch) when the situation is far more complex. Those nuances are what product leaders deal with day to day and where all the learning can be found.

However, the most important statement in my view is related to the definition of product assumption. Any new product makes assumption about technology, business models, potential users behavior and others.

PLM functionality provided by major vendors is very similar. PLM vendors are fighting to find differentiation in today’s business and technological environment. What caused such similarity between most of PLM products? If I follow Sinofsky’s article, product and business assumptions used by PLM vendors formed similar PLM systems.

Here are few things that came to my mind when I was thinking about fundamental business and technological assumption taken by PLM companies in the past decades.

1- Manufacturing company is a large organization

The majority of successful PLM implementations is belonging to large manufacturing companies. That was a target for many years. Large PLM vendors built solutions for Boeing, Airbus, Toyota, GM, Ford and similar companies. Then, these solutions were pushed to smaller manufacturing companies or forced by supply chain relationships downstream.

2- Data silos is the reality and it is inevitable

Every company has data silos. It is formed by organizational structure. And it is protected by technologies and people. Engineering, manufacturing, service and maintenance, etc. These silos are unbreakable. Focus on silo, lock data in PLM systems first and try to expand into other departments.

3- Companies are run by email and workflows

Business processes are predominantly organized in a way of workflows. These business workflows need to be identified, captured, optimized and “implemented” using technologies provided by PLM systems. The communication is slow. Email is fundamentally core element of any communication.

4- Relational Database is king

Data must be placed into relational databases to become organized, secured and accessible. Databases are run and approved by IT organization.

5- CAD is a foundation of PLM

PLM should built tight connection with CAD systems. It is related to both business and technology. CAD-PLM bundles are more competitive. There is functional and business protection coming from CAD systems.

What is my conclusion? Changes are coming. Digital economy is changing manufacturing landscape. New manufacturing technologies are changing manufacturing organization. Globalization is driving future optimization in manufacturing. Cost of electronics and prototyping technologies is slashed. New cloud and data management technologies are coming. Together, all these factors can create a new set of product assumptions for future PLM development. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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