To access product information is one of the most important roles of PLM system. Time ago, organizing data in folders was good enough solution. Not anymore. Google changed the way we think about accessing information. Searching engineering and manufacturing software is tricky. There are many things that influencing the way you search for information – access rights, context, dependencies. The following picture summarizes top obstacles in finding information according to the Enterprise Search and Findability Survey 2013 published by FINDWISE.
I wrote few posts about search in PLM in the past. Navigate to one of them to read more – PLM search and findability. For the last few years, PLM vendors put significant focus on improvements of user experience and search functions. There are examples of search driven user interfaces in Aras PLM, Autodesk PLM360, Dassault / EXALEAD and others.
Earlier this week at Siemens PLM connection in Dallas, I had a chance to watch newest updates Teamcenter team made around Active Workspace. The first time product was presented back in 2011. Here is my original post about that- Siemens Active Workspace: PLM next big thing. Since that time, product evolved into rich user experience focusing on providing role-based, information search and navigation client. Siemens PLM Active Workspace is available in a browser and provides a way to search, filter and visualize information. In the example below, you can see an interesting combination of search, filtering and bar-chart visualization.
Product information is usually intertwined with many dependencies. The following example shows the ability to navigate between interconnected pieces of information.
The same UI is providing an access to the viewer.
One of the new functions I found is an access to the information such as Bill of Material in a spreadsheet-like way with the ability dynamically select column, filter and sort.
And finally you can annotate and comment on the pieces of information together with other people. It can give you some sort of social experience
Search became the most important element of UI when it comes to access of complex information. Search is playing a significant role in the transformation of PLM user experience towards more simple and intuitive UI. Many users will appreciate a better search driven navigation. PLM vendors are paying more attention to search and you can find search functions in other PLM systems too. At the same time, Active Workspace is probably the latest example of search-driven UI in PLM.
What is my conclusion? I found interesting the evolution of Active Workspace for the last 4 years since it was originally presented. The UI became completely webish, many new functions were added. However, the core function of search-driven user experience is there and it provides differentiation to traditional folder-based navigation and browsing interfaces. Just my thoughts…