The PLM Platform for Digital Continuity

We might be considered insane if we continue to think that what we are doing today will work tomorrow.

More so, if we consider what we are doing today isn’t working too well, it also leaves us under threat from the newcomers.

We must rethink our products and our services and how we enable them as today’s and tomorrow’s customer complexities demand it.

The Circular Economy demands product lifecycles are implemented in a holistic manner, from business models, platform strategies and solutions implemented.

Digital Platforms will be at the heart of tomorrow’s economy and will provide the enablement of new products and the product lifecycle management application layer.

The Sustainable Circular Economy

Going beyond the current “take, make and dispose” exploitative and extractive industrial model, the circular economy is restorative and regenerative by design.

Reliant on system-wide innovation, it aims to redefine products and services to design waste out, while minimizing environmental negative impacts.

It is often underpinned by the ongoing transition to renewable energy sources and thus the circular model builds economic, ecological and social capital:

  • Design-out wastage—waste should not exist when the technical components of a product are designed with the intention to fit within a technical materials cycle, designed for disassembly and refurbishment
  • Build resilience through diversity—modularity, versatility, and adaptively are prized features that need to be prioritized in an uncertain and fast-evolving world
  • Rely on energy from renewable sources—systems should ultimately aim to run on renewable sources
  • Think in ‘systems’—you must understand how parts influence one another within a whole, and the relationship of the whole to the parts

The Need to “Innovate or Die”

I know it’s becoming overstated and the same old examples of Uber, Air BnB used, however to rely on brand alone without continually pushing the customer experience boundaries is a recipe for disaster.

The goal is to come up with breakthrough ideas that address unmet customer needs. To execute this approach to the product innovation process, many companies are trying to adopt “fail-fast, learn-quicker” approaches. Using this approach, companies can generate lots of ideas and then work to quickly and inexpensively determine which ideas customers like best.

Unfortunately, “fail-fast” is a high-risk guessing game that generally is not won.

It is built around a gambling mentality. Firstly, the chance of randomly coming up with an idea that addresses all the customers’ unmet needs significantly better than competing solutions is very difficult. The good news is, companies do not have to keep gambling their future.

There is in fact a systematic approach to create breakthrough product and service concepts, through Outcome-Driven Innovation.

This process is designed from the ground up to mitigate the risks that cause new products to fail. To start, the process does not begin with an idea. It begins with a series of steps that are designed to acquire the inputs (the insights and information) that are needed to systematically construct a breakthrough solution in an attractive market.

A series of steps should be undertaken:

  • defining the job you want to help that customer get done,
  • evaluate the market potential,
  • identify the competitor weaknesses,
  • formulate the product strategy,
  • target the price,
  • construct,
  • test and
  • position the product

This process works because it links a set of customer-defined metrics to every step in the process and enables the systematic creation of valued products and services that help customers get their jobs done better.

However pulling together data, people, processes, R&D, production, quality controls, compliance, and much more takes an effective collaborative platform.

Defining PLM

Unlike most enterprise application layers, PLM must start more from a methodology perspective and is a strategic business approach that applies a consistent set of business solutions, supporting the entire value chain’s collaborative creation, management, dissemination, and use of product information from concept to disposal.

It is, firstly a definition of a business approach to solving the problem of managing the complete set of product information—creating that information, managing it through its life, and disseminating and using it throughout the lifecycle of the product.

PLM is not just a technology, but is an approach in which processes are as important, or more important than data.

It is critical to note that PLM is as concerned with how a business works as with what is being created.

Three core or fundamental concepts of PLM are:

  1. Universal, secure, managed access and use of product definition information
  2. Maintaining the integrity of that product definition and related information throughout the life of the product or plant
  3. Managing and maintaining business processes used to create, manage, disseminate, share, and use the information

While information includes all media (electronic and hardcopy), PLM is primarily about managing the digital representation of that information.

Today, PLM encompasses significant areas of process. It’s not just program and project management processes, but it is also the processes required to manufacture the product or plant, operate it in the field, and dispose or decommission it at the end of its useful life.

PLM solutions help define, execute, measure, and manage key product-related business processes. Manufacturing and operational process plans are also now viewed as an inherent part of PLM. Processes, and the workflow engines that control them, ensure complete digital feedback to both users and other business systems throughout each lifecycle stage.

Defining The Innovation Platform

The PLM sector is in the midst of an extended value-chain platform enablement era. This shift toward the enablement of robust platforms requires a fundamental change for the solution providers.

The solution providers need to continue to evolve existing platforms, and how they remain open and integrated with third parties and how all they adhere to standards and the openness of interfaces that permit platforms to be reliable over multiple upgrade cycles.

The SSOT Platformization of the Product Lifecycle is sitting atop various ever-evolving trends that are integrated and already touching the product lifecycle:

  • Project Management tools and integration
  • Migration of end-to-end lifecycle management capabilities to the extended enterprise level
  • Greater cross-functional and extended enterprise collaboration
  • Product design and simulation tools
  • Greater lifecycle data intelligence from production through maintenance
  • Everything required by users, when they need it

And so, in summary the total platform comprises an innovation platform that cultivates continuous creativity, yielding improvements in products and processes plus inspiring new and better ones throughout full lifecycles and across generations of products.

Enabling The Digital Thread

As digital transformation is disrupting more and more industries, companies look for ways to manage what is becoming an entirely digital thread, from the first conception of an idea for a product, through the enterprise, to the customer and looping back again.

The potential business benefits of this transformation are huge:

  • more efficient product design and development,
  • new revenue streams based on services and predictive maintenance, and
  • solid compliance and regulatory tracking, to just get us started.

Combine it all with the aforementioned customer demand for smarter products; the data collected is pushing digital transformation faster than most can handle.

Rather than go through the costly and painful disruption of replacing existing PDM/PLM systems, a platform Product Innovation and Lifecycle Management approach promises the fastest approach to the Digital Twin – the mirror image of the physical world.