e-Commerce and increased value of PLM standardization

Standards are tough thing. It is so hard to people to agree. Especially it is hard when competitive factor comes to play. I’m sure CAD and PLM industry veterans remember multiple standard activities in the industry for the last two decades. Some of them survived and some of them are now belong to the history. In many situations standards can be compared to toothbrushes – everyone has his own preferred standard and nobody wants to use anybody’s else standard. Mutual benefits is one of the most important driver that can convince people to agree about standards.

eCommerce is one of the fastest growing industries these days. The amount of products we are buying online is huge. eCommerce websites are not a privilege of giants companies anymore. Small players are interesting to get in the space as well to provide special services. It drives interest of how to simplify eCommerce website development. One of the key elements of eCommerce website is product information. To collect, maintain and exchange information about the product is complicated. This is the place where standard creation can be very helpful.

Earlier today, my attention was caught by the following GigaOM article – Google, Adobe and Best Buy are working on an ecommerce web data standard .The standard aims to establish common definition of digital properties and related user experience surrounded this digital property on eCommerce site. Here is an interesting passage from the article.

The standard, which is being thrashed out under the auspices of the W3C, aims to standardize product and customer information in order to simplify data exchange and make it easier to set up an ecommerce site. The idea here is to simplify the exchange of data between web services that deal in product and customer information (think tracking) and theoretically cut down on site technology vendor lock-in. Another driver is to make life easier for those setting up shop online for the first time – if there’s a standardized way for them to address specifications such as price or shipping requirements, then that should mean less work developing the site.

You can see the draft of the standard here. I found the following definition of <Product Object> interesting. Here is how it described – Product Object carries details about a particular product with frequently used attributes listed below. Product Object MUST have the following Object Name & Type. It includes product ID, Product Category, Linked Products, Product Attributes.

I can see a potential intersection of eCommerce standartization activity with an interest of PLM software vendors to develop more digital product experience online. To provide precise product information directly from manufacturer and/or supplier to eCommerce website can be simplified if the process of providing this information will be automated directly from product information and lifecycle management systems. In many situations you can see outdated and invalid information about the product on eCommerce site, only because eCommerce website owner has no way to get this information in a right way.

What is my conclusion? eCommerce will be playing a significant role in driving future digital product experience. In my view, this is a challenge and an opportunity at the same time. To provide validated product information is a task that can be taken by PLM systems managing downstream processes in manufacturing companies and extended value chains. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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