How to prevent PLM and Data Openness Collision

Two words today are raising lots of discussion and controversy – Data and Openness. We live it everyday by hearing about different "data transparency" events and news. Google, Mobile, social networks, cloud- data is leaking everywhere. Even if we almost automatically considering "data leak" as something bad, many people today are thinking about how to turn the descriptiveness of data availability and data openness into something positive. Open data has a potential to become a significant influencing factor in our future life. One of its kind – Open Data Institute was founded by UK government with the support of Sir Tim Berness Lee. Here is what they say in the about page:

The Open Data Institute (ODI) will be a global first: a collaboration between our leading businesses and entrepreneurs, universities and researchers, government and civil society to unlock enterprise and social value from the vast amount of Open Government Data now being made accessible… The Open Data Institute (ODI) will be the first of its kind, a pioneering centre of innovation, driven by the UK Government’s Open Data policy. Our vision is to demonstrate the endless business opportunities created through the utilization of Open Data. We aim to nurture and mentor new businesses exploiting Open Data for economic growth.

If you follow the discussion about open data, you quickly recognize that you cannot turn back in data becomes open. This is similar to the progress of communication, social networks, the internet, open-source software and many other innovations we had a chance to see over the past decade. Many people are focusing on how to make data more open. I’ve been reading an article in Wired magazine featuring the interview with Gavin Starks, CEO of the Open Data Institute. Here is the interesting passage I captured:

"Part of the nature of open data is that it’s transformative," he told Wired.co.uk. "The nature of transformation is that it’s also disruptive. There will be certain businesses, certain ways of doing things that will change."… Starks argues that a big part of the Institute’s remit is to encourage people to engage with the open data movement — just as they did with the launch of the web — rather than ignore it. "Change doesn’t mean that the sky falls, although there are lots of people who use that as an argument," he said.

How PLM can take an advantage of open data non-threatening?

Thinking about PLM, product design and product development, I can see a lot of interconnections here. By nature product development and manufacturing is staying on the border between something that can be considered completely confidential (eg. company product profits) and something open and transparent (information about product usage – think about iPhone usage or car usage). In some cases, we cannot avoid data transparency and sometimes there is a significant advantage in having the transparency on manufacturing company side.

Here are few questions I want to ask. What is the opportunity of PLM related to data openness? Is there a potential risk to companies to get involved into PLM and become more transparent in terms of data? I think, PLM should bring transparency into the space of product and product-related data. It will provide a significant advantage to companies and lead to better data discovery mechanisms. Most of the companies today understand that the capability to discover related data about the will become essential in the future data-management strategies.

What is my conclusion? Companies need to take care of product and product-related information today. Before the collision between PLM initiatives and open data will happen, PLM vendors need to develop tools that help company to maintain the balance between information availability, data openness, data discovery and regulation. The data has a disruptive power – think about much more power than nuclear weapon in terms of influencing companies, strategies and many other things. To prevent the collision between product data and data openness, which is coming can be one of PLM missions. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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