PLM: Share Data or Die

I’m still digesting a huge amount of information I learned from PLM Innovation Congress earlier this week in London. However, there is one trend that I can identify that struck me as a major one coming across all presentations and talks. I can call it “integrate and share” trend. The problem of integration and share of data is not new in manufacturing organization. The need for integration of various elements of data for product development, manufacturing and supply chain is clear. Software vendors and customers are working for on this for years. However, something new happens now that allow me to have a fresh look on this.

Integration Processes

The sound of integration needs is very loud, and you are able to see it in presentations. I put few examples of pictures I made during the event to show how customers explain their critical business issues related to integration of data and processes in organizations. In a nutshell, inability to provide smooth integration prevents streamlining of organizational processes. It appears in communication between engineering and manufacturing, sales and production, support and sales.

Share Data

The need to share data is obvious. However, data sharing was never realized in an easy way. There are multiple reasons for that. Some of them are including the nature of people (keep my data close to me), company organization (departments, hierarchy, etc.) and competition between vendors (lock-in data inside of proprietary formats and data structures). At the same the value of data sharing is obvious. Organizations are losing money, projects are going out of schedules just because of that. PLM aimed to solve this problem during the past decade. I have to note a significant success in multiple implementations I had a chance to see. I personally participated in some of them. However, the ability to share data efficiently is still more science that ordinary process.

What is my conclusion? The need to integrate and share data is urgent. However, the way organizations are doing it, reminds me space shuttle programs. There is a need to downgrade and simplify these integration efforts to become more similar to transatlantic flights or even car trips. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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2 Responses to PLM: Share Data or Die

  1. One of the reasons why companies find it so difficult to integrate is that they try to do too much, too quickly. While I was with E2open (www.e2open.com) and trying to design a platform to allow for ad hoc collaboration outside of the PLM platforms, we recognized the need for key points of integration with the platform — without trying to duplicate its complexity. Our network sought to solve very specific collaboration issues, not replace core functionality within the platforms.

    As companies seek to integrate, my advice is to keep those points of integration as simple as possible. Ask yourself: what business issues are we trying to resolve/streamline through integration? Can this be done through the platform itself, or is a separate, integrated solution the right answer?

  2. Christian, Thanks for your comment and experience sharing! I agree. Simplicity is a key. The biggest problem of the integration projects I know is the establishment of so called “mediated schema” that representing data models of all systems. The result of that approach is high cost of integration and even higher cost of changes. Building “separated solutions” is another mistake. Known as “point-to-point” integrations they are simple to start. However, it ends in multiple integration projects that very hard to maintain too. In my view, integration is still the field requires a lot of innovations. Most of the companies these days are integrating systems using services and customer application development. Best, Oleg

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