In today's competitive business environment, it is imperative that PLM initiatives be capable of not only supporting greater efficiency and productivity, but in driving innovation and top-line growth. To get there, a new approach is needed– one that enables manufacturers to make more informed decisions, faster, and at every stage throughout the product lifecycle.
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Amy Rowell, and I recently joined IDC's Manufacturing Insights Group as the Research Manager of its Product Lifecycle Strategies practice, which provides fact-based research on tools, strategies and best practices in product lifecycle management. Taking a complete product lifecycle view, from ideation and innovation through engineering and manufacturing, to end-of-life and disposal, I will be examining key challenges facing manufacturing companies today, ranging from innovation, time-to-market, and operational efficiency to quality, compliance and sustainability.
With over 15+ years of experience as an industry analyst/editor responsible for addressing topics related to CAD/CAM, CAE and PLM, I have a great appreciation for the manufacturers that have not only embraced PLM, but have been instrumental in helping to guide its development. The fact is, the road has been a bit rocky at times, and even today, continues to be a learning experience for all. That said, we are, I think, at an important crossroads - one in which we are in the midst of moving away from simply managing product data and information, to actually leveraging it to make more informed product decisions in the context of the business value delivered. Sounds easy. And some might say that we crossed that line a long time ago. But I have to respectfully disagree, knowing what customers have shared with me over the years.
To this point, when I first spoke to IDC about joining its Product Lifecycle Practice, I was intrigued by their use of the term, Product Lifecycle Economics to describe their approach to PLM. "Of course!" I thought, "That makes perfect sense!" After all -unless an organization's product lifecycle planning and management efforts are successful at achieving key business objectives, what's the point? And, it got me to thinking - why is it that it any of us were ever satisfied with the term, product lifecycle management - when, in fact, harnessing the full value of the technology being used in product development involves so much more than simply managing data and information?
Of course, there was a time that simply being able to store and retrieve files from the massive "vaults" of product data that were being created by CAD professionals represented a step forward. At the time, product data management (PDM) was a welcome solution to the mounting need to both capture and reuse valuable digital product data. But as manufacturers began to more fully support the use of digital data throughout the product development process, it became clear that the challenge was no longer one of simply managing data or information. It was about the process - and the need to increase not only the productivity of individual engineers and designers with better design, modeling and simulation tools - but to drive greater efficiencies in managing and executing across all aspects of the product lifecycle - from ideation through design and manufacturing to retirement.
Today, the challenge has taken yet another leap forward. With the amount of data and intelligence being created and stored by businesses presenting a challenge all its own, it's no longer enough to simply focus on managing product data and streamlining the product development process. Rather, it has become imperative for manufacturers to be able to leverage all of this valuable product and process data and information, alongside the wealth of marketing and business data available, in order to make more informed decisions. Product development may have always been about making better decisions, but today, against a backdrop of increasing product complexity, economic uncertainty, and shifting market demands, effective product development requires taking a much broader view of the product lifecycle - one that allows the product manufacturer or supplier to be able to more easily comprehend the overall impact of independent design and manufacturing decisions on business outcomes.
In short, in order to achieve a competitive advantage, manufacturers must be able to make more informed decisions, faster.
It's a matter of delivering the PLM offering that best meets the customer's needs. That much hasn't changed. And that's where I'll be focusing my research efforts. Seeking to understand what's working, and what isn't. What the challenges and opportunities are, and what's ahead. What matters most, and frankly, what customers are also telling us that they don't care about, when it comes to PLM.
So, consider this an open invitation to share your perspective, your experiences and your questions regarding PLM. I'd love to hear from you! Write to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.