IP (Intellectual Property) is the term used by PLM very often. You probably had a chance to hear about IP management, IP lifecycle, IP protection, etc. I don’t know about you, but to me, it usually provided a feeling of dealing with something important. While I agree that IP is important, it often comes to people in a very blurred way. You can also see how people are switching from speaking about IP to other terms (Bill of Materials, Parts, Drawings) when it proliferates down in the organization from top management level to engineering and manufacturing organization.
Few days ago, my attention caught the article written by Peter Bilello of CIMdata – PLM View: Management Intellectual Property. CIMdata is a well known analytical outfit specialized in research and consulting in the field of engineering and manufacturing software. PLM is one of their key specialties. The article was available via ConnectPress community website. Navigate to the following link to access (It requires registration on ConnectPress available for free). Have a read and make your opinion. Here is a definition of the IP provided by Peter.
What is IP? The common-sense answer is information that defines the product and how it is to be manufactured, delivered, supported and recycled, and that may be required to support patent applications and to defend patents if challenged or infringed. These definitions also include new-product engineering data: requirements, conceptual and detailed designs, analyses and trade-off studies, simulations of production systems, and even ergonomic analyses.
To me it sounds like all information regarding the product in the company actually represents product IP. So, you probably can ask what information is NOT belonging to IP? Here is the answer you can find in the same article:
And What is Not IP. Information that is probably not IP includes transactional data that doesn’t provide a company with any particular competitive advantage. Of course, the distinctions remain fuzzy. In its PLM consulting work, CIMdata encourages the use of two litmus tests. Does the information in question relate to basic enterprise or product capabilities that could become competitive issues, or legal issues, or touch on regulatory compliance? If yes, the information is IP. Secondly, is retention of the information mandatory? If yes, the information is IP.
This definition made me think about the variety of information sources nowadays. We are living in the world where information is aggressively collected by any company and devices. I’m sure you are familiar with multiple incidents and information leaked and collected by Google services, Apple iPhone tracking information, Facebook activities and many other sources. E-commerce websites are collecting a lot of information about people purchasing different products and services. Thinking about organization is very hard to predict what information is actually related to legal, regulatory, retention.
Speaking about clarification of what IP is and how PLM can help us to deal with IP, I found the following passage very important:
Ultimately, IP governance is about extracting real value from misunderstood assets. Amid the 21st century’s data tsunami and its constant disruptions to accustomed ways of thinking and working, the value of these assets keeps going up. Part of the new awareness of IP is the tremendous value as source of insights for solving problems and making decisions. Applying PLM strategies to IP helps ensure that decision-makers can get whatever data they need in a timely manner. To state this in another way, resources dedicated to reusing IP data are true investments and not just money spent digging up information.
What is my conclusion? I think companies need to move from mystical blurred strategies to simple terms and definitions. PLM IP is one of them. Companies need to collect and retain data that important for their business and lifecycle. As manufacturing company, I want to collect information about my customers, product usage, suppliers, etc. As engineering organization, I want to collect the information about how to develop and manufacture the product. There are many other fields that become important, and we need to discover them. To get whatever data people need in a timely manner is the best IP management strategy I can think about. Just my thoughts…