What Is The Role of Business Intelligence in PLM?

December 10, 2009

Some thoughts about Business Intelligence (BI). I found it somewhat under-invested in Product Lifecycle Management field. BI considered as a more analytic domain with the ability to slice and dice data from the past. However, I believe, one of the capabilities PLM can offer to users (designers, engineers, manufactures…) is to improve decision based on past, current and future analysis.

Looking on the ERP and software/platform vendors, I figure out, each of them – SAP, Oracle, IBM and Microsoft are heavy invested in BI capabilities. Business Objects, Hyperion, Cognos, OfficeWriter and others – all products were acquired by major vendors to improve BI capabilities.

So, what options I see for PLM software and implementation in the context of BI:

1. To establish integration with available BI tools in ERP domain.
2. To partner with a platform oriented providers like Microsoft and IBM and use their BI tools and technologies.
3. To invest into development and/or acquisition of BI capabilities as part of PLM applications and portfolios.

So, do you see Business Intelligence as important for Product Lifecycle Management? How do you see it connected to everything PLM doing today?

I’m looking forward to your comments and thoughts.
Best, Oleg


Measuring PLM Technologies Payoff

November 16, 2009

Picture 54Reading over the weekend ZDNet post, “Why IT cannot seem to deliver measurable productivity”, I started to think about how many times I heard about PLM technologies in the context of productivity and other aspects of PLM impact on organizational performance. Even, if I think, there is a significant improvement in the way companies perceived PLM,  I think, there are too many situations where PLM is not associated with company performance and existence of these tools and technologies in the organization considered as something “we cannot avoid”…

I started to think, why PLM product and technologies are too often standing in the shadow of negative expenses as well as not considered as tools and technologies that boost company forward. Below my three point conclusion about that as well as thought how we change it.

1. Undervalue of reporting capabilities. Historically, CAD/PDM/PLM technologies were focused on design and engineering work, managing of data, revisions and processes. However, many times, I found even simple reporting and more advanced business and information intelligence undervalued and not-delivered. This functionality considered as too complex to be delivered out of the box and products relies on technological frameworks, customization and services based implementation. As a result, today’s status is that we actually cannot measure what we are doing. Intensive reporting capabilities in PLM may result to expose information about how PLM performed on the organizational level and trigger ability to measure the payoff for PLM.

2. Concentration on Engineering. Engineering, very often, considered as a very separate from the rest of organization. The same happens with tools used for engineering. By focusing on engineering PLM getting a sticker of “internal” tools with no impact on what organization need. You don’t want to care what engineers used as soon as an engineering department makes delivery. On the other side, if PLM can bridge organizational problems and connect it to engineering using PLM tools, additional value can be exposed .

3. Lock-in data. In my view, there is a little obsession on data from CAD/PDM/PLM tools. Originally started from CAD tools and formats it proliferated on many other disciplines in Product Lifecycle Management. Looking on today’s business needs, ability to expose IP becomes of the most important. It can improve communication with customers, boost innovation in the organization and improve many other things.

So, what is my today’s conclusion? Ability to measure and data openness is two key directions we need to focus on to improve organizational understanding and value of PLM technologies and tools. How do you see it in your organization? How do you measure your PLM tools payoff?

Best, Oleg


PLM Prompt: Why Excel is not Enterprise System yet?

August 28, 2009

I was reading the following article “Why Excel is not Enterprise BI Solution Yet. What I liked is the way author presented the anti-Excel case in BI. I thought, this is very co-sounded with my Excel-PLM discussions. Everybody like Excel, but Excel have hidden cost and complexity you won’t be able to manage.

What is my conclusion? There are two possible ways:

1. To transform Excel into Enterprise Platform. Microsoft is trying to do so by introducing Excel Services and marriage of Excel and SharePoint.
2. To think about how to improve usability of enterprise solutions.

Just my thoughts… Best, Oleg


PLM Prompt: BI on Cloud. Should PLM follow?

July 31, 2009

Coming question from Business Intelligence space. There are already several companies dealing with cloud BI - Pentaho, Good Data Corp. and some others. At the same time, as it appeared in Computerworld, Microsoft is postponing their plans for BI on a cloud until 2013. It initially announced as Windows Azure Services, now will be postponed until a next version of Office.

MS BI on cloud

Just end of week thoughts.. PLM is about a single version of truth. How do you think BI fits this space? Alternatively, how PLM fits BI space?

Best, Oleg


Bing, Bong, BI… where is my PLM decision?

June 24, 2009

I watched many videos and demos related to Microsoft Bing during the last few weeks. Actually, I liked the idea of a “decision engine” behind a search. So, after experimenting with different types of searches, I finally came to the conclusion that the concept of Decision Management is very close to the discussions on Business Intelligence that we had before. If you haven’t had the chance to read them, here are a few of  the previous PLMtwine previous posts.

So, here is my idea – Business Intelligence for PLM. Enterprise PLM databases are absorbing a large amount of information about how products are designed, manufactured, built, used and disposed. PLM databases can be integrated with many other sources of information systems such as ERP, Supply Chain,  and Manufacturing Execution. Having all this information already in a Product Lifecycle Management system can be a good foundation for Business Intelligence systems. Today, BI can be implemented using various database technologies. If you are running on a SQL Server, you have a full stack of MS BI services. If you are on Oracle, you can use Oracle BI.  If you are on IBM, you can use IBM BI. There are also other, more specialized vendors.

So the question is – where is Bing? Here is my point. Bing is a decision user-oriented experience that lets you get this data. In the same way Bing presents you with travel price trends, Bing can let you get your PLM Business Intelligence data and provide it to your end users…

So, to review the main points:

  1. Enterprise PLM Database is integrating Product IP information
  2. You can get Business Intelligence by indexing PLM data and extracting specific KPI and data characteristics
  3. Access PLM BI data with Bing-like user experience

Wait a minute… Where is Bong? You need to get all product information under PLM roof. A lot of data is available, but PLM systems still provide very fragmented outlook on product information.

So, what is your opinion?


PLM Prompt: SolidWorks Sustainability Xpress will embed more lifecycle data in CAD

June 22, 2009

Another interesting blog post this morning about SolidWorks Sustainability Xpress coming soon on SolidWorks Labs. You can see video. What impressed me 1/ immersive data integration into SolidWorks CAD environment; 2/ ability to analyze full lifecycle of product from designer standpoint. There are some Product Lifecycle Management roots in this story well translated for SolidWorks user. What is confusing a little is that part of video demo run on Mac OS…

Will be interested to hear your voices? Do you see more designer support data came integrated into CAD environment?


PLM Prompt: PLM Excel Gemini advantage?

June 2, 2009

Watching multiple demos and analyzes of Microsoft Gemini Project. 

Since a huge amount of corporate and product related data is still located in Excel and multiple local/legacy MS Access databases, this can be interesting and promising option for BI and PLM. 

What is your opinion?

Gemini is essentially an add-in to Excel that allows very large sets of data to be manipulated. Why Excel? Simply because it’s a familiar environment for most people and the place where they expect to perform analysis.

But there’s more. Not only can Gemini handle very large sets of data, but it can also allow data from disparate sources to be cross analyzed. So, for instance, you might pull in some data from your data warehouse and cross-correlate it with data from the Internet or with data you already hold in Excel.

Let’s face it — Excel doesn’t have a great track record of being able to handle big sets of data. So Microsoft has added a new in-memory column store to handle the data. Can Gemini? Well, the demo I watched was run on a desktop with 8 GB RAM and a quad processor, and costs just less than $1,000. It was handling 100 million rows of data effectively instantaneously. So, I’d take that as a yes.

(Copyright searchdatamanagement.techtarget.com) 



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