Will PLM crunch untapped data in manufacturing organizations?

January 24, 2013

Do you remember the golden era of desktop searches? I remember first time I had a chance to run Google Desktop on my computer. The most inspiring moment was to see documents and emails that you completely forgot about. Today, desktop search solutions are not as popular as before. Our personal digital life moved to the cloud. Application search, such as Outlook search and others improved significantly (thanks to open search solutions reused by many vendors). The focus of "data crunch" moved from a single desktop solution to cloud and mobile devices. Despite a huge promise of enterprise search solutions, majority of them are experiencing difficulties to provide efficient, reliable and cost-effective solution that can help to organization to capture and search trough massive amount of digital data. Focused search solutions are more efficient and we can see them coming from enterprise software vendors.

However, it doesn’t solve the problem of huge amount of existing data in organizations. I’ve been reading Crowdshifter article Behold The Untapped Big Data Gap. It shows some data coming from IDC study. Here is an interesting quote:

…article reported that 23% of data within the digital universe of 2012 could be useful for big data collection and analysis purposes if tagged. However, there is a huge gap in the amount that has been tagged versus the amount that remains without semantic enrichment. Only 3% has been tagged and only .5% has been analyzed.

Source: IDC/EMC.

Manufacturing organizations are desperately looking how to improve their decision management process. To leverage the existing data in an organization can be an interesting approach. I can bring many examples from PLM space where data about change management history, maintenance, suppliers, etc. can help to make a better decisions. For the moment, the majority of the information stored in application silos and cannot be used in an easy way. This data can easy become digital garbage similar to last year papers on your desktop and similar to old documents and email on your desktop before desktop search era.

What is my conclusion? To analyze data is a tough job. It requires computing resources, time, investment and smart algorithms. Google laundry list of results won’t be helpful. The new methods of data crunching and data discovery need to be developed. With only .5% of data analyzed and 3% of data tagged, we have a huge potential to tap in. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


PLM, Engineers and Collective Memory

January 24, 2013

Many years ago, one of my mentors told me that "the worst pencil is better than the best memory". I liked it. Since than, I have no trust in remembering things. I started to take notes. I switched to be completely paperless 4-5 years ago. The biggest problem on my way to become completely paperless was the ability to capture information at the time you need it coming from multiple sources. Finally, iPhone and combination of apps allowed me to create an environment where I can keep track of my activities and get access to this at any time.

Engineering people are bad organized (please, don’t take it personally). Processes and work planning are not going well with engineers designing and creating new products. Companies tried to create innovation process management software, but in my view it was very unsuccessful. At the same time, I can see a need of engineers to capture information alongside their everyday activities.

One of the products I’m using to capture the information on a daily basis is Evernote. It supports many ways to capture notes using web and mobile versions including capturing of videos, pictures, website links and many others. Combined with search function, it helps to keep things organized. Evernote is not alone in this market. Two additional notable companies in this space – Clipboard and Snip.it. The last one was snatched by Yahoo few days ago. Watch the following two videos if you are not using similar products in your life.

From Personal to Collective Memory

I found a total absence of tools that can help engineers to capture their everyday working activities. Of course, engineers are not prohibited from usage of Evernote, Google and many other tools. At the same time, one of the key elements in capturing the activity is contextual relationships to information. In case of Evernote, it is photo, voice memos, videos, etc. To make engineering and design context capturing can be an interesting opportunity, in my view. They key element is efficiency. Engineers won’t tolerate even additional 30 secs of their working time. However, to memorize design idea, concept or decision can be extremely powerful.

The next interesting step can come with the ability to provide information around a particular item, drawing, product, customer, etc. collected by different people in organization. Such type of clipboards can become a sort of collective memories. The potential value can be significant – lost ideas, forgotten decisions, potential customer problems and many others.

What is my conclusion? Our memory is not efficient. To be able to capture information around engineering and design activity is still very untapped place. Usability is a key. Vendors can learn from tools like Evernote and others how to create a tool you can use in your everyday life in any environment. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of [keattikorn] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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