Exponential Times – What Does it Mean for Manufacturing and PLM?


What I learned this week … came from watching the Did You Know 3.0 Video and asking myself what it means to the world of manufacturing and product lifecycle management (PLM). The answer? Quite a lot. WhatDoesItAllMeanIf you haven’t seen the video, it is worth 5 minutes of your time to give you an entertaining and informative look into the times we live in. The part that really caught me was that we live in “exponential times.” Things are changing rapidly in our personal and professional lives, and manufacturers need to consider the ways the world is changing in order to be relevant with the right products (and the right processes) to capitalize on the future.

Note: Thanks to Randall Newton at CADCAMNet for posting the link. I have seen this before, but his post was what made me really think about it.

Note: Sorry, it looks like the “3.0” video is no longer available, but there’s a link to “4.0” in the comments that may work and I’m sure a quick Google Search will get you what you need!

Did You Know?

The video, if you haven’t seen it before, tries to put the world in perspective through facts and pictograms. I have seen these before, and they are always thought-provoking.  According to the source, this was put together by Karl Fisch and modified by Scott McLeod. Some of the key takeaways for me are:

  • MySpace has 200 million subscribers, if it were a country it would be 5th largest in the world
  • A week’s worth of the New York Times holds as much information as an average person would come across in a lifetime in the 18th century
  • The amount of technical information doubles every two years
  • The number of text messages sent/received in a day exceeds the population of the planet
  • The time it took for a product/technology to reach a market audience of 50 million:
    • Radio – 38 years
    • Television – 13 years
    • iPod – 3 years
    • FaceBook – 2 years

Further, there are some fascinating facts about the increased capabilities of computing technologies.

What Does it All Mean (for Manufacturing and PLM)?

The video ends with a question – “What Does it All Mean?” – without providing an answer. The answer, of course, depends on who you are and how the changes impact your world.  When I watched this, I tried to take the perspective of what impacts this will have on product innovation, product development, engineering, and manufacturing. Further, I tried to consider how this will impact the software solutions that help support product lifecycle management. There are challenges and opportunities on the way. Here are my thoughts:

  • Social networking is exploding – this offers a tremendous benefit for manufacturers that want to use social computing in PLM to improve collaboration and dramatically change the way they interact with their markets and customers.
  • Knowledge is exploding – manufacturers have a tremendous challenge to manage their own information and intellectual property, let alone be able to access and leverage the information available across the globe. Search, Knowledge Management (KM), and Business Intelligence (BI) will become bigger requirements inside PLM and to drive product innovation by tapping into global knowledge sources. Social computing will also play a role here, as manufacturers try to discover the people with the right knowledge in addition to knowledge.
  • Time to market is evaporating – the time lag between a technical advance and the commercialization is disappearing. This makes new product development (NPD) critical, but also further supports the need to rapidly discover and take advantage of knowledge anywhere in the world. It also means that manufacturers will have to get their products right the first time, or someone else will take the market away from them.
  • Computing power is exploding – the exponential growth of computing power will play a large role in what PLM vendors are able to do with their software, opening up new opportunities including continued expansion of 3D, animation, and simulation in the way we interact with products.

So that is some insight on the times we live in and my thoughts on the implications for manufacturing and PLM, I hope you found it interesting. Who knew? I didn’t. And I am sure I missed something, feel free to add. And for those that watched the video, please pass along any ideas on how to get that music out of my head!

Please feel free to review related perspectives, free research and white papers about PLM and other enterprise software for manufacturers from Tech-Clarity.