Mobile PLM: What’s the Shortest Path to Value?

Tech4PD: Episode 10

In this episode of Tech4PD, Analysts Jim Brown and Chad Jackson discuss that Mobile Devices are a new technology platform that can make PLM data more accessible and bring new functionality. Jim Chad disagree about the future direction for mobile PLM.

PTC’s View

Enabling PTC applications to work in the mobile environment is a strategic focus for the company. Starting with PTC Windchill Mobile and then PTC Creo View Mobile, PTC has initially provided access to 3D mechanical data and related product information from mobile phones and tablet devices. Users can pan, zoom, drill-down, rotate, and more using mobile gestures and native interaction paradigms as well as perform tasks from any location. Longer term, PTC is exploring the impact of a wide range of trends and use cases including 3D video and image capabilities on mobile devices, gestures and touch for desktop operating systems, and location-aware computing.

Video Transcript

Chad: Hey. Welcome to Tech4PD. I’m Chad.

Jim: I’m Jim. Today, we’re going to be talking about the intersection of mobile devices, mobile technology, and PLM. Chad, why don’t you set the stage; why are we talking about this?

Chad: I think there’s a couple of factors that make this a relevant topic for PLM. One is the explosion of mobile devices. Whether it’s Smartphones or tablets, pretty much everyone has this type of device nowadays. Also, what goes hand-in-hand with that is the advent of BYOD, bring your own device to work. Not only are these devices available now, but their capabilities are pretty powerful. You look at you know, they have accelerometers, they have GPS capabilities, high-definition cameras, even you can take measurements off of. It’s pretty incredible what these devices can do nowadays. I think a new technology platform is now available, and it makes it more accessible.

Jim: I think also what we’re seeing is this explosion of devices and explosion of applications that we’re using in our personal lives. People are used to being able to do things a different way, when they want, where they want, and having the data that they want at their fingertips; being able to share it and communicate with the people that they want to. People are now starting to expect that sort of thing, not just in their personal lives, but in their business lives.

Chad: Absolutely. There’s a number of different software providers that are now coming out with mobile apps, whether it runs on a variety of different devices. PTC is one that has some access to Windchill. Siemens PLM has some access to Team Center. As well as ERIS, they’ve come out with a mobile device, as well.

Jim: It’s not just the large vendors, it’s also some third parties who are working on that. I’m aware of one that has been writing things like engineering change applications that fit in with Agile. Also, I think it’s interesting here to include Cloud in this conversation, because it’s a device thing and maybe not an app thing as much as people are now just expecting to be able to access things anytime, anywhere, and on any device. That’s the thing that Autodesk, for example, with PLM 360 is looking at, saying, “This is Cloud. Whatever device you have, you’re going to have access to it wherever you are.” I think that’s some really compelling changes, as well.

Chad: All right. I think that sets the stage. Let’s get into the debate. Let’s get into it. Jim, you start first. Where do you think the biggest value is for mobility for PLMs?

Jim: I think the biggest value for mobility in PLM in the near term is going to be taking existing data, existing processes, things that already are in the PLM infrastructure and extending them to the mobile environment. Things like engineering change processes, information that you’ve already gathered, in terms of viewable; making those accessible to a broader range of people because they can get to it anywhere, anytime. That to me is where we’re going to get the most value. And you?

Chad: I think there is value there. I think there is actually a lot more value in having apps that leverage the capabilities of these devices. Not just leverage to the mobile browser, but leverage to the capabilities of the device. For example, accelerometers, the GPS, the high-definition cameras which can even take measurements nowadays. I think there’s a lot more value there than just a mobile browser.

Jim: I do think there’s a lot of value there; I would never question that. I think we can find new business value and rethink the way we do things. Right now, there’s so much value that’s available from PLM by sharing it with more people. Taking for example into the plant; if somebody’s working on a piece of agricultural equipment or an airframe, being able to take a tablet with them, climb up a ladder, get onto a device, bring that with them to see an assembly instruction. Or somebody out in the field that’s trying to maintain a piece of capital equipment, industrial equipment, for example; being able to bring up service procedures, or even just verify that a part is the right part, by being able to spin it, rotate it. All that information is already in your PLM system. All you’re doing is adding access to another person in a new location.

Chad: Let’s talk about a couple of scenarios that you just mentioned; one in particular, the service instructions. Imagine taking your device and taking a picture of the area that you want to service. Through recognition, it comes up with the applicable procedures. You select one, and then it has a 3D animated overlay on top of the image that you’ve taken. Then it becomes not just access, but it really provides the right context to do the job at hand. I think there’s a lot more value there, far more than a browser can.

Jim: Also, a lot more cost in the time that it takes to get there. I think we’ll end up there. You think today, that the biggest source of value is going to be by . . .

Chad: Specialized apps.

Jim: . . . specialized apps. I think it’s from extending what exists onto new devices and new places.

Chad: All right. They get to decide.

Jim: That’s true. Chad, if you look in your crystal ball, what do you see happening over the next 5 years with mobile and PLM?

Chad: I think there’s going to be improvements in a couple of different directions. One is the devices themselves. You look at something like Google Glass, the eyeglass that basically will show you updates or you can give it commands. I think there’s a real opportunity there. Also, look at something like the Pebble Watch. These mobile devices aren’t just Smartphones and tablets anymore, they’re much smaller devices. I think there’s tremendous opportunity there. What about you?

Jim: We going to see an explosion of devices. We have no idea what’s coming. It’s going to be really fun to watch. Most of them will apply personally first before business, but will rollover into business. I think the other thing too, is augmented reality; the ability for the intersection between what’s real and what’s virtual, particularly in PLM; going out and saying, “Here’s the piece of equipment,” but then looking at that and being able to find out a bill of material, and maybe even serial numbers for the components, and where can I get the replacement part for this, and all of that information just being at your fingertips. Pretty cool.

Chad: Yeah, that’s pretty powerful. I think there’s also an opportunity to have 2 things: Role-based apps; recognizing the job that a single role needs to do on a day-to-day basis, and having apps focused on that. That means that probably, a lot of the capabilities that are splintered across different products today, maybe CAD, Simulation, CAM, or PDM and PLM probably need to be pulled together into an app. Actually, that gets to apping, the process, which we’ve talked about before; getting the right capabilities for the role to do their job.

Jim: Mashing them up together.

Chad: You got it.

Jim: I do think when you start to look forward, how are we really going to get value, it’s going to be about doing brand new things that we haven’t even thought of today; even doing things, sharing a potential new product, or configuring a product on an iPad or another tablet. It’s going to drive higher-level value, it’s going to be a competitive advantage. Absolutely worth following this space. It’s going to fun.

Chad: Yeah, it’s great thoughts.

Jim: Anyway, more importantly, let’s figure out who lost and who won last time, and what the consequences are.

Chad: All right.

Jim: You’re not going to believe this, people. Obviously, the audience was misinformed, misguided, or just thought Chad was cute or something, because I lost this one. I can’t believe it, Craig.

Chad: Really, Jim, I can’t believe it myself. I thought this one was a slam dunk for you. You didn’t even mention the word ‘integration’. How did you lose this debate?

Jim: Chad, actually wanted integration. I actually went against . . . Thank you for joining us on this episode of Tech4PD.

Chad: Also, thanks to our sponsor, Autodesk.

Jim: And our founding sponsor, PTC.

Chad: See you next time.