When talking large enterprise IT environments, digital backbones, and fountains/sources of truth, it’s not long before the conversation turns towards either Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). Both PLM and ERP visions are positioned by their corresponding champions as the indispensable key element of the digital enterprise. But on planet reality, neither vision proves wholly sufficient, end to end. And since both PLM and ERP have differing centers of power, most enterprises of size end up with both. You need two coins to continue. The backbone of the enterprise belongs to a multi-headed dragon. Please do not taunt happy-fun multi-headed dragon.
The so-called social enterprise is a Hollywood train wreck. It’s a horrible tragedy, but we can’t just can’t look away – I mean, just look at all those shiny promises smoldering in the rubble. JJ Abrams would be proud. As we gather by the fire, maybe roast a couple of marshmallows, interesting discussions are emerging as we try to rationalize the horror. The forensics no doubt will reveal some rather unsettling realities – and Scooby-Doo style- the culprits may not be who you think they are. At the center of the wreckage, we have social enterprise within the context of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM). After all, PLM seems a logical place for the social enterprise to take hold, considering PLM already aims to manage product data and process across enterprise silos.
Is engineering getting a little crowded? In this brave, new world of Makerbots and GrabCAD, there’s a rising trend -some would call a revolution- that crowd sourcing is changing the very nature of engineering. Increasingly abundant examples are popping faster than you can connect your dynotherms, from DARPA’s Adaptive Vehicle Make experiment, to the Local Motors phenomenon, or everyone’s favorite project that even Tony Stark doesn’t have time for: Hyperloop. The question to ask: is crowd sourced engineering simply an alternative approach, a curious experiment, or is it the future?
It’s that time again. 3Q2013 PC Sales are in, thanks to Gartner research. Not surprisingly, PC Sales continue to show weakness – around a 9% year-over-year decline. As is now customary, analysts various and sundry among most major media outlets decry that the PC is dead, it’s kicked the bucket, shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain, pushin’ up the daisies, and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible. Tablets and smart phones have inherited the Earth, closed case, nothing to see here. If you’re typing on a keyboard you’re a dinosaur. Your personal needs no longer require a box sitting in a room. All work activities in the enterprise shall henceforth be accomplished by people slapping at their tablets while sitting in a large integrated Starbucks patio that will circumnavigate the planet. It’s very poetic and optimistic imagery, but I have serious doubts. A day may come when the boot drive fails, when we forsake our mice and break all bonds of ATX motherboards, but it is not this day!
Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is a journey. PLM is not magic dust that you sprinkle over a business to provide instant results; rather it’s a transformation over time. Wait, you’ve heard this before? Today’s perspective is not about why PLM is a journey – you’ll find pervasive wisdom on that front from many of the thought leaders in the arena like Jos Voskuil, Jim McKinney, or pretty much every consulting organization on this planet. Instead, the present exploration is about precisely what kind of journey PLM may be characterized as. It’s often a little too easy to romanticize the PLM journey, with teams of consultants, architects, and stakeholders running across the beach in a wonderful Chariots of Fire moment with the sun and requirements at their backs, and a Vangelis data model crescendo in the background. What a glorious thing. But in fact, PLM is a journey fraught with mortal danger, and that’s kind of a problem.
The CAD model at its very core, like the engineering drawing before it, is primarily a means of documentation and communication. CAD technologies continue to ease the creation and manipulation of increasingly intricate 3D models across a dizzying array of platforms and formats. The focus: reducing the time required to manifest a design or change from a spark in the mind’s eye to something that can be used as quickly and cost effectively as possible. A noble goal, indeed. But in the shadow of all this progress and innovation, there’s a silent war threatening the central purpose of engineering communication: design intent. This summer, in a world where CAD technology reigns, who will defend the last human stronghold for design intent?