If you have followed my blog the recent years, you might have discovered my passion for a modern, data-driven approach for PLM. (Read about it here: The difference between files and data-driven – a tutorial (3 posts)).
The data-driven approach will be the foundation for product development and innovation in a digital enterprise. Digital enterprises can outperform traditional businesses is such a way that within five to ten years, non-digital businesses will be considered as dinosaurs (if they still exist).
In particular, a digital enterprise is operating in an agile, iterative way with the customer continuously in focus, where traditional enterprises often work more in a linear way, pushing their products to the market (if the market still is waiting for these commodities).
Read more about this topic here: From a linear world to fast and circular?
When and how to become a digital enterprise?
It is (almost) inevitable your company will transform at a particular time into a digital enterprise too. Either driven by a vision to remain ahead of the competition or as a final effort to stay in business as competing against agile digital competitors is killing your market share.
One characteristic of a digital enterprise is that all benefits rely on accurate data flowing through the organization and its eco-system. And it does not matter if the data resides in a single system/platform like the major vendors are promoting or the fact that data is federated and consumed by the right person with the right role. I am a believer in the latter concept, still seeing current startups trying to create the momentum to achieve such an infrastructure. Have a look at my blog buddy’s company OpenBOM and Oleg’s recent article: The challenges of distributed BOM handover in data-driven manufacturing
No matter what you believe at this stage, the future is about accurate data. I bumped recently into some issues related actual data again. Some examples:
A change in objectives is needed!
One of the companies I am working with were only focusing on individual outputs, either in their drawings (yes, the 3D Model was not leading yet) or/and in their Excels (sounds familiar ? ). When we started implementing a PLM backbone, it became apparent during the discovery phase we could not use any advanced search tools to have quick wins by aggregating data for better understanding of the information we discovered. Drawings and Models did not contain any (file) properties. Therefore, the only way to understand information was by knowing its (file) name and potential its directory. Of course, the same file could be in multiple directories and as there were almost no properties, how to know what belongs to what item ?
When discussing the future of PLM with such companies, you always hear people (mainly engineers) say:
“we are not administrators, we need to get our job done.”
This shortsighted statement is often supported by management, and then you get stuck in the past.
It is time for the management and engineers to realize their future is also based on a data-driven approach. Therefore adding data to a drawing or CAD model, or in the case of PLM, part / process characteristics become the job of an engineer. We have to redefine roles as in a digital enterprise there is nobody to fix data downstream. People fixing data issues are too expensive.
I do not want to go digital
Most companies at this time are not ready for a digital enterprise yet. The changing paradigm is relatively new. Switching now to a modern approach cannot be done either because their culture is still based on the previous century or they are just in the middle of a standard PLM process, just learning to share files within their (global) origination. These companies might create an attitude:
“I do now want to go digital”
I believe this is ostrich behavior, like saying:
“I want all information printed on paper on my desk so I can work in comfort (and keep my job).”
History shows hanging to the past is killing for companies. Those companies that did not invest in the first electronic wave are probably out of business (unless they never had competition). The same for digital. In potentially ten years from now, it is not affordable to work in a traditional way anymore as labor cost and speed of information flowing through an organization are going to be crucial KPIs to stay in business.
As Dutch, we are always seeking compromises. It helped our country to become a leading trading nation and due to the compromises, we struggle less with strikes compared to our neighboring companies. Therefore my proposal for those who do not like digital at this stage: Add just a little digital workload to your day-to-day business, preferably stimulated and motivated by your management and promoted as a company initiative. By adding as much as possible relevant properties and context to your work, you will be working on the digital future of your company. When the times is there to become digital, it will be much easier to connect your old legacy information to the new digital platform, speeding up the business transformation.
And of course there will be tools
If you are observing what is happening in the PLM domain , you will see more and more tools for data discovery and data cleansing will appear on the market. Dick Bourke wrote end of last year an introduction article about this topic at Engineering.com: Is-Suspect-Product-Data-the-Elephant-in-the-Search-and-Discover-Room? Have a read to get interested.
And there are rewards
Once you have more accurate data, you can:
- Find it (saving search time)
- Create reports through automation (saving processing time)
- Apply rules (saving validation work & time or processing time)
- Create analytics (predict the future – priceless J)
We are in a transition phase the way PLM will is implemented. What is clear, no matter in which stage you are, accurate data is going to be crucial for the future? Use this awareness for your company to stay in business.