I’m sure you’ve heard the new already earlier today – Snapchat is introducing visual search that will connect users directly to Amazon. In other words, you see something in front of your eyes, snap picture or barcode and BAM… things is connecting you directly to the object you can buy online on Amazon.
Here is the video that became available today.
The idea is simple and powerful. Amazon were working on visual search long time ago. Check this article, but there are many others.
According to TechCrunch, a version of Snapchat being developed for Android phones includes code for a new feature called “Visual Search” that can use Snapchat’s camera to send images of a product or a barcode scan to Amazon, which then display search results.
TechCrunch spotted source code in the Snapchat app that included pop-up text reading, “Press and hold to identify an object, song, barcode, and more! This works by sending data to Amazon, Shazam, and other partners.”
You can ask me – how is that related to PLM, manufacturing and topics I’m usually discussing on my blog? Here is the thing… It is great to be able to spot a product and buy it Amazon. Great experience similar to Shazam for music. I can see it and I want to buy it. I like stuff my friend has so I want the same. Cool!
The situation is slightly different in manufacturing companies. Imaging maintenance and support operation for large piece of equipment or industrial object that needs to buy replacement part. You can imaging somebody bringing a broken part and telling – I need a new one. How do you know what part to buy? How do you know what is that part? Who manufacturer it and how to get a replacement. My hunch company will be struggling even to bring right information about what is that part. Not to speak about how to find engineering, manufacturing and procurement information. The result is sad – companies are overpaying and concerned about profitability of their support and maintenance operation.
This is the way I’m coming to the concept of “digital base”. The concept is a bit new, but you should start learning. Digital base is core foundation of digital technologies providing content, information, tools, algorithms, etc.
Look at the picture below. 20 years of digital transformation in maps and navigation created a digital base for modern navigation experience.
Amazon and Snapchat together are contributing to the digital base of buying stuff online -databases, intelligence, knowledge, logistic, etc. There is very little done about digital base for manufacturing. Information is very much siloed and located in multiple databases. It is hard to reuse and create intelligence based on top of this. New technologies are needed to consolidate data about existing products, their bill of materials, serial numbers and related information. After creating such intelligence, manufacturing systems will be able to snapchat part and order it using their enterprise logistic and supply chain.
What is my conclusion? Snapchat on Amazon is a culmination of long digital transformation process in the industry for the last decades. The foundation (or digital base) is there to support it. Manufacturing companies need to start investing into digital base, new online technologies to manage product data, manufacturing and suppliers information to form a digital base for the future manufacturing intelligence. Just my thoughts…
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