Web is coming to every place. I think in retrospective and see web as a next big change in the space we call today CAD/CAM/PDM/PLM. How to re-use power of web for global product development and manufacturing? I see multiple initiatives - cloud services, collaborative spaces, social networks etc.. However, I think, when we are coming to practical implementations, there are multiple factors that preventing companies from wider web adoption. So, what are those factors?
Security and IP protection
No doubts, this is top rated concern. Companies are considering Design and Engineering content as their IP and not running fast to upload information on web servers. How it can be resolved? I think, in order to crush ice in IP protection, companies need to focus on the areas where web usage can be really beneficial for the business standpoint. A huge potential here, in my view, is in Supply Chain and IP trading. These two areas are, by definition, exposed outside the company. Introducing new services that able to sell IP as well as optimize global supply chain, can be very interesting. Just to make some parallel with newspaper and books business, which is more active this time in comparison to B2B relationship. Google just announced that they will develop micropayments system to allow limited content availability online. Such services can become a foundation of IP trading for manufacturing companies too.
This is an important enabler, in my view. You cannot trade something that not granular enough. You need to be able to break your IP into selling pieces, something that can be re-used. In most of today’s systems you need to work hard even to send it to your supplier. Systems nature and IP protection are the main reasons why it happens. CAD and PLM companies need to think how to change this status-quo and becomes more open and less protective.
Accessibility and Change Management
So, you have your content, but how you can access it online? Even more, how you can manage changes of this content. Sounds like an internal problem you have today in the organization. However, moving to web, it will become a global problem in a global IP trading and supply chain. In order to change this situation we need to develo online systems to work on online content. You need to stop focus on file transfer. You will just access your online system to work on everything you have.
Well, sounds too futuristic? Maybe, but bear in mind, web is moving very fast. I think the lesson learned by publishing, news and other media companies need to be learned by CAD/PLM community in order to gain power for the future engineering and manufacturing systems.