Tuesday, March 27, 2012

PLM and Big Data: the Wave is Coming!

This morning, after getting myself together and reading some email, I happened upon this article from The IBM Smarter Computing Blog. One of the impressive facts in this blog was: "IDC predicts that the digital universe will grow to 2.7 zettabytes in 2012, up 48% from 2011. And by 2015, we may be looking at 8 zettabytes of data. Zettabytes are huge, equaling one sextillion bytes, or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes."

It was an interesting article! I was impressed by the amount of information that is generated every day. Now, I knew there was a lot of information out there (and, I am adding to it with this blog), but I really had no idea how fast it was multiplying. I even learned a few new words, zettabyte, and yottabyte. It seems like we completely skipped exabytes and petabytes, but, no matter. I remember thinking a Gigabyte was large: wimpy!

Then, I read an article on the Inforbix blog (@olegshilovitsky) about virtual data organization. The big data issues for PLM businesses and PLM vendors in the future are, well, BIG. Imagine, right now there are employees and customers out there creating information about your products: blogs, Facebook posts, Linkedin posts, Youtube videos, many tweets, and more. These posts are happening on internal and external sites at your company. How can you get a handle on all that information, and use it as a competitive weapon? These are the questions that we need to ask.

This week at the CIMdata 2012 PLM Market & Industry Forum (#PLM4um) we will review the PLM market numbers from 2011, and talk about new technologies that will be impacting PLM in the future. Big data is one of those new areas for PLM. Imagine the PLM vendor who is able to create solutions that don't just manage, but track, gather, analyze, and provide insight to all this information. Whoever can do this will have a solution that customers will want to buy.

We are starting to see many people work on these issues, but the future is wide open for anyone with the guts and creativity to grab it!

What do you think?

Monday, March 26, 2012

PLM Education is the Key to Innovation, and Golf

It's that time of year again! The time when we brush the cobwebs off of our golf clubs, and hit the links in search of a good round. "This is the year that I will shoot really low", you say. What happens after that is usually not pretty.

For example, the other day I was standing in the rough, contemplating how to hit a 5-iron under a tree onto a well-bunkered green 160 yards away. At that moment, I wished there was someone knowledgeable standing next to me who could help me with this challenging shot. Someone like Jack Nicklaus, or Phil Mickelson (who, by the way, is an expert with these types of shots since he gets them all the time). What I lacked at that moment was enough knowledge to successfully execute my vision of hitting a low fade under the tree that would clear the bunker and land on the green.

PLM implementations are a lot like golf, minus the tree, and the bunker, and the honking big divot. When you begin a PLM implementation there are many things you cannot know or anticipate. Sadly, all of your colleagues are in the same boat with you: they haven’t done a PLM implementation before either. This is when PLM knowledge can really come in handy. What you need is someone that can help you understand and navigate all the challenges you will encounter. You need an expert who has been there; many, many, times. Learning from trusted experts is always better than making many of your own mistakes, because it lowers risk, and increases your odds of success.

PLM education is a great way to provide the best chance of success. PLM education provides your key personnel with knowledge to make your PLM implementation more successful. A successful PLM implementation of any size will support increased innovation. It has been proven that an organizations ability to enable innovation provides a competitive advantage. Educated employees are your greatest assets because they drive innovation. Once your people are trained, they will be able to navigate the sand bunkers, rivers, lakes, and other twists and turns that will potentially get in your way (metaphorically speaking).

PLM education will teach your key people how to transform intellectual assets into innovative deliverable assets. They will also learn how to evaluate and choose the right PLM solutions, how to schedule and sequence various PLM implementation activities, how to gauge the value of the PLM solutions, how to put tools in place for on-going measurements, and many other things. Mostly, they will learn to make any PLM implementation a success, and this will drive your innovation down the middle of the fairway, so to speak.

So, the next time you’re behind a tree, think of PLM education. Then, get out your 5-iron, and give the ball a good whack!

Let me know what you think!

Monday, March 19, 2012

How Does PLM Support Innovation?

Do you ever wish your products were more innovative? Have you ever looked at your product design process and thought that it was not very efficient? Have you ever wished they would shoot the new iPad full of holes? (you can see that here). Innovation is required to produce better products and delight your customers. PLM is the key to your journey down the road to enhanced innovation.

Innovation is an important topic; most people will agree that it is the key to America's future. Just ask any of the candidates currently stumping for your vote in November. A recent Time Magazine article was titled: "The Future of Innovation: Can America Keep Pace?" That's a very good question, and one that PLM is here to answer. In fact, without the use of PLM, it will be very hard for America to keep pace with the rest of the world.

PLM supports the three pillars of innovation: People, processes and technology. Without support for all three, there will be little chance of innovation, and limited ability to produce really cool, new products that cause customers to say: "Woweeee"!

Most people only think of innovation in terms of cool products, but innovation can take on many forms: product, process, markets, service offerings, customer interactions, and so on. There are many ways to provide innovation to a new market or customer. Anything that establishes, maintains, or enhances your market position, or provides a product or process differentiation, or improves customer satisfaction/retention, or excites people, partners, and customers is innovation.

One of the great strengths of PLM is it manages your intellectual assets. When these assets are managed properly with PLM, people are free to use technology to come up with very cool new products. PLM allows workers to focus on multiple iterations of products in a shorter time early in the design process. This leads to higher quality, innovative products that get to market faster. Without PLM, people are often at the mercy of technology, and innovation is the last item on their task list.

So, as you make the journey towards more innovative products, processes, and services, take a look at PLM. This is where your journey will start, and where it will end, as you manage your virtual and delivered assets. It might take an investment of time and money, but in the end it will be well worth your efforts.

What do you think? Are you trying to be more innovative in the coming year?


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Why Should you Attend the CIMdata 2012 PLM Market & Industry Forum

There's a new day dawning in PLM. New technologies and a new vision of the future are promising to dramatically alter the way people and technology interact. Those vendors and companies that understand how to exploit these new opportunities will leap-frog the competition.

The CIMdata 2012 PLM Market & Industry Form will provide a one-of-a-kind opportunity for PLM solution providers to come together and examine the industry's performance, gauge its progress, and set the vision for its future. This forum is regarded as the premier industry event for PLM solution providers of all sizes. If you plan to sell PLM in 2012 you cannot afford to miss this opportunity; your competitors will be there, so don't get left behind.

I believe we are witnessing a "rebirth" of PLM and new technologies. There are many vendors that have no clue about these new technologies; They will be left behind when the dust settles. As Oleg Shilovitsky said in one of his recent blogs, "PLM is fun again!" Don't miss out on all the fun!

As a vendor, PLM is fun when many people want to buy more of your software. With the opportunity to exploit the cloud, social technologies, big data, better search, mobility, and a host of other tools, the PLM footprint can be expanded and radically altered in the future. The way we interact with our product design processes, and develop products for manufacturing will be altered greatly during the next 5 years. As a vendor, you will either be part of these new opportunities, or you will be out of business.

So, I encourage you to attend the CIMdata 2012 Market and Industry Forum. If you need further proof, watch this very excellent video to learn more:


Or, you can go to cimdata.com to get the full treatment!

I hope to see you there!

Monday, March 5, 2012

PDM & PLM: What's the Difference?

Recently I have witnessed several discussions on Twitter, Facebook, the China Garden Buffet (Yum!), and a few other places about the difference between PDM and PLM. Many people use these two acronyms interchangeably, and I think some people are confused. PDM and PLM are not the same and it is important to understand the differences.

Product Data Management (PDM) has been around for a long time. When 2D CAD systems were first developed, we quickly learned that they are very good at one thing: creating lots and lots of files. As 3D CAD became popular, and more and more product information became a large collection of CAD files, it was hard for people to keep track of all this data. So, PDM systems were developed to allow check-in and check-out of these files from a secure vault. This is the reason that most early PDM systems were nothing more than CAD data vault mangers. These PDM solutions not only kept track of relationships between parts and assemblies, but also prevented multiple people from working on the same files at the same time. Thus, PDM became the way that design files were vaulted, tracked, and managed.

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is a relatively new term that was coined to include the full gamut of tools and methodologies that are used to manage the virtual product during the entire lifecyle (go here to see our simplest definition of PLM). A more detailed definition of PLM from CIMdata is: "The collaborative creation, use, management and dissemination of product related intellectual assets." Remember, PLM is not just about technology, it is a strategic business approach that includes innovation around products AND processes. PLM supports the extended enterprise and spans the full product lifecycle from concept to end of life. Without properly managed intellectual assets, it is impossible to consistently infuse new products and processes with innovation.

Now that we have defined PDM and PLM, I think we can clearly see the differences. PDM is a subset of PLM; It includes the management of intellectual asset information and their relationships. PDM is an important basic requirement that supports PLM, and you cannot do PLM without PDM. PLM includes asset creation through CAD, Analysis, Digital Manufacturing, Documentation, Images, Software, etc...there is generally no creation of intellectual assets in PDM. There are usually few collaboration capabilities within PDM. However, a strong foundation for PLM starts with a comprehensive and strong PDM solution.

The confusion between these terms, I think, often comes in the way people choose to use them. Many companies, and even vendors, will call the selection and implementation of a PDM system PLM. While it is true, in a sense, that the first step on the long PLM road is putting a strong PDM solution in place, that is only one small piece of the PLM puzzle. There will still need to be much work done on configuration management, visualization and DMU, collaboration, digital manufacturing, integrations (ERP, MES, CRM, SCM...), and on, and on, and on...along with all the business process innovation work that will be required.

I could go into more detail, but it gets complex and I need to go get some Chinese food now; I'm starving!

So, where are you on the path to PLM?