I just read a very interesting article, Are you Prepared for the Next Generation of Manufacturing? Click on the link and read this very interesting article.

I started to think about new technology in the context of PLM. Many of these new technologies have not been embraced by PLM vendors, nor is their impact well understood by businesses.

Most PLM vendors have done things the same way for decades, and businesses are loathe to change anything ever, if they can avoid it. We are already starting to see new and exciting ways to encourage efficiency and innovation for PLM. I am afraid those who do not adapt may soon find themselves on a sinking ship.

My favorite quote from the article was:

“If a manufacturer (or any business) makes an informed decision to embrace technology with a progressive, flexible architecture, that manufacturer is prepared to attain success.”

So, here is my list of technologies that are starting to have an impact on PLM now, and will continue in the future: Embrace, or get erased!

1. The Internet of Things

sensors, software and all types of intelligence is being added to every device under the sun. Do you have a good process to link your engineering activities with software and electronic activities?

The technology exists today, but many have not implemented these new tools. Often different business organizations prevent this from happening efficiently.

Check your processes and make whatever changes are necessary to facilitate information sharing between software development, electronic design, and engineering.

2. Bring Your Own Device

I grew up in the 70’s and attended a lot of events with the postscript: BYOB (bring your own beer). Today we are focusing on BYOD (bring your own device). As more and more employees request to use their own devices with company data, the need to adapt will increase.

Do you think employees would be more creative if they could log into the system and noodle with their data on a tablet, phone, or other device whenever inspiration strikes, and wherever they are located at that moment? There are issues, but the opportunities are increasing in this area.

3. Social Media

I have blogged about Social PLM in the past (read it here and here and here and here). Becoming a more social business is hard for most engineering companies. The standard engineering environment is one that is not used to sharing any information unless violently threatened.

If you tell an engineer that his email will be used less internally in favor of a Facebook-like sharing platform, he or she might hit you with a slide-rule, or at least slit your tires. But, that is the direction forward-thinking companies are taking. It makes a lot of sense and it enhances support for innovation and collaboration; are you ready for this?

4. Big Data

Today, information is growing at an unprecedented rate. We have moved from talking about Petabytes to Zetabytes, and now to Exabytes: 2.8 Zetabyes of data were created in 2012 alone.

For more astounding facts about the growing data tsunami (read my blog here), or look at the following article: Staggering Revelations About Big Data. The real point for PLM is not how much data is out there, but how prepared are you to track, analyze, and act on this data. As you read this, many Gigabytes of information is being generated that relates to your company, your products, and you. What will you do with it?

There is probably more, but that will do for now. How are you preparing to make these new technologies complement your PLM environment? Are you choosing to put your head in the sand, and hope they go away. SPOILER ALERT: they aren’t going away!