How to reinvent product data ownership

How to reinvent product data ownership

Engineering and manufacturing is all about data – CAD files, Excels, databases, etc. Data is everywhere. For the last 15-20 years, several generations of PDM and PLM systems were brought to manage data created and changed by companies. Data stuck everywhere. For less organized companies data is on USB drives and local networks. For more organized companies, data management systems are set in place. Recently I started to see how data have started to flow towards variety of cloud file storage. Companies are trying to share data, but most of them are scary about potential exposure of materials and loosing control and ownership.

I’ve been skimming Datafloq – The Top 7 Technology Trends for 2018 speaking about new approach to data ownership. Article speaks about distributed ledger capable to give control back to creators of data. According to article, new technology of distributed will allow to share proprietary data with competitors and industry partners without being afraid of data loss.

If you haven’t heard about distributed ledger, you should do it asap. Start your exploration here here.

A distributed ledger (also called a shared ledger, or referred to as distributed ledger technology) is a consensus of replicated, shared, and synchronized digital data geographically spread across multiple sites, countries, or institutions. There is no central administrator or centralised data storage.

Also check my Beyond PLM article – Blockchain technologies and distributed manufacturing ledger. Another Datafloq article gives you a bit more insight. Article speaks about content creations like authors. It can be me writing blog or anybody else publishing information. Read the following passage:

Blockchain offers immutable, verifiable and traceable records. Already, it can bring back data ownership to consumers and will do the same for content ownership. Recording metadata and copyright information on a blockchain is the first step to put content creators more in control as it establishes undeniably who created what content when. This information can be used to take back control if someone violates your copyright, but it is not yet sufficient to bring back control completely.

To achieve that, we also need to establish a decentralised infrastructure where content creators know when their content is distributed across the web by whom. If that information is available in real-time, the next step should be to allow content creators to deny the content distribution through certain channels, for whatever reason. This would require an additional layer on the web. 

The final stage of giving back control to creators is real-time payment when content is consumed, directly from consumer to producer, without intermediaries confiscating the revenue. Multiple Blockchain startups are working on this, including Akasha,, Decent, Synereo and indeed, also we at It requires a cryptocurrency and real-time payments and distribution of revenues using smart contracts. Based on your input, you are rewarded accordingly, instantly. As such, Blockchain offers content creators the possibility to take back control and be rewarded fairly and instantly.

However, my PLM twisted mind turned into the idea of having system to support data and distributed IP ownership between companies creating design and related IP for manufacturing companies. Today, these companies are concerned about how to distributed and manage data without risk for loss. Distributed ledger is possible way to do so. Read my article I published on OpenBOM with ideas to organize Industry specific master and distributed ledger.

What is my conclusion? Current way to store, manage and control access to information is archaic and requires significant improvements. Companies cannot share data efficiently and even so, cannot control data ownership without establishing single database controlling data access. Distributed ledger is possible opportunity to change the status quo. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my new PLM Book website.

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.



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