PLM and product innovation was not a focus at Infor’s customer event, Inforum, this year per se, however there were multiple related announcements and product advancements that could be nice complements to Infor’s PLM offerings across discrete manufacturing (PLM Accelerate, through their partner Aras), process manufacturing (PLM Optiva), and retail (PLM Fashion).
Birst, the analytics company acquired in late 2016, and Coleman AI (Artificial Intelligence), announced at Inforum 2017, present an excellent opportunity for Infor to support manufacturer’s innovation initiatives. Birst has the traditional client/server BI features for analyzing historical data and trends, as well as the real-time event processing and analytical capabilities to enable desktop querying and decision support – on the foundation of a flexible semantic data model. Our research shows analytics to be a top area of focus for product design and development teams, due to the increased connectedness of products and subsequent mass of data that is being created. In short, analytics applied to product and customer data can provide decision support and be a catalyst for product design and innovation.
Infor’s GT Nexus provides a tool for visual/graphical supply chain planning, risk modeling, and execution, so customers, as Kurt Cavano, GT Nexus CEO said, can “leverage the power of the network platform for collaboration and supply chain management.” I think there’s an opportunity to tie information from this network platform to design and innovation, specifically product planning, design, and lifecycle management as risk across your supply chain is being modeled. This could provide manufacturers the ability to understand the optimal path for product creation (i.e. working with the right suppliers), and optimal path for delivery to the customer (viewing potential supply chain issues, based on current and past activity, and macroeconomic factors). Demand signals (from multiple sources) could also be viewed and modeled visually in GT Nexus, and tied back to product planning and design, so customer needs are met proactively and quickly. Perhaps before the customer even knows they have a need. A similar line of thinking could apply to PLM vendors as well.
Analytics and supply chain planning are a natural complement to product design and innovation, and manufacturers are beginning to move in this direction. As the market evolves, I’ll continue to follow these developments throughout the year and beyond.