Let’s talk about end-of-life product lifecycle management (PLM) systems. (OK, maybe not end of life, but close to obsolescence). Almost every company is currently on a process-based PLM system, either point or product data management (PDM) solutions that require a lot of integrations, business processes, and human glue to get a product out the door. The thought of moving to something that has a unified system of record for an entire product—much less the thought of leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT), adaptive intelligence, machine learning, digital assistants, and other emerging technologies—may seem like a distant dream.
In my previous blog, I wrote about the problems that my previous company had around data. Remember the multiple systems of record problem? I discussed all the checklists, code, and integrations we tried to use to solve data governance problems—and yet, with all of that, we still had issues.
But, what if you could bind and have data flow seamlessly across all of your processes? Today, PLM has evolved to become a tool to help unify the product record and expand that data beyond what we (engineers, IT professionals, and business consultants) think of as master data or a system of record, expanding to encompass supply chain management. And it doesn’t stop there: modern PLM software can connect to project management, procurement, HR, finance, customer experience, using the power of a unified data model.
Every company runs the risk of investing in a bad product that increases costs and reduces revenue— present and future. Often, bad products are caused by bad product data, a lack of a single source of truth for disparate data, redundancy of resource utilization, poor data quality, lack of visibility, lack of Engineering Change Control, etc. In my last company, we had multiple IT and business owners for each business unit trying to reconcile data from their systems and processes. What we needed was one data model providing the foundation for all our business processes. A unified foundation lets you start with the product record from idea to production, from order to delivery, from sale to billing—gaining tighter alignment across processes, which results in higher customer satisfaction.
Maybe you’re thinking, “That’s all nice, but my process is working today.” You may be getting product out the door, but at what cost? How are you managing returns, quality escapes, etc.? Has your company had to pivot your product delivery process? Maybe because of, say, market conditions due to a global pandemic?
Let’s dive deeper into emerged technologies, or what we call “systems of intelligence.” (Notice I say “emerged” and not emerging, because they’re here today). Let’s consider two different teams within the business: design and engineering, and operations. Operations are off doing the day-to-day work, while the engineering team has no idea what’s going on because both teams are out of sync. This might look like the following disconnected process:
How long did that take again?
This is where emerged technologies can help. They gather all the data coming in from manufacturing to perform trend analysis, intelligently correlate that data to deliver predictive insights so your design and engineering teams can get the information they need to make informed decisions. AI, machine learning, and IoT are critical to a company’s journey forward in our changing economy. You have to be able to predict, not react, to information from your production floor. You must predict, not guess, what your customers are going to want in the future. And let’s face it, at my old job, I was a good engineer but I could not deliver ideas at the rate of 145 million Twitter users. Today’s experience economy demands that you can pivot and shift faster than our older disconnected system allows, no matter how we try to glue them together.
There’s a better way for your company. Having a unified platform and the right foundation that supports business processes from beginning to end can help guide you through multiple problems at once. You must stretch out beyond where you are today and embrace a solution with a long-term vision. Don’t just react to sudden, unexpected disruptions. Embrace a new path with accurate predictions, using emerged technologies and systems of intelligence to reduce your chances of getting caught out by surprise.
It’s time to let these systems of intelligence separate the noise from the signals that you need to execute on: A low pass filter for product design in real-time. Embrace the change, and choose to bring change that has a positive impact on your company. Choose a platform that grows with you side-by-side, designed to scale, flex, and change beyond your previous abilities.