Friday Data Story: Inforbix and Effective Product Data Management

Product Data Management (PDM) is not a new kid in the blog. Many of you reading this post are familiar with PDM.  And I am willing to bet; there are as many different opinions, points of view, and experiences on it.

Originally invented about 20+ years ago, PDM was supposed (at least that was the promise… and still is in part) to provide a solution to manage CAD data files.  Eventually, PDM expanded to provide solutions such as BOM management, Engineering Change Order control, and more… lot’s more. Today, after over two decades of industry experience, PDM is still a topic that evokes and provokes discussion by industry professionals of all stripes.

I was reading Jim Brown’s recent Tech-Clarity blog post, Effectively Managing Engineering and Product Data. I recommend you to have a read.  Jim is a well-known analyst and authority on the topic.  As it turns out, his post reflects the results of PDM related research he recently did. Navigate to the following link to get the report’s executive summary and full research paper (note that the research is available for free courtesy Siemens PLM, however, it requires registration).  Like me, I’m sure you’ll find it very interesting.

In a nutshell, Jim’s conclusion summarizes an efficient PDM implementation into the following three activities:

·      The ability to control product data;

·      The need to quickly find and re-use product data; and

·      The value to share product knowledge within the enterprise.

I found these three activities interesting.  Here’s why.  I can divide these topics into two complimentary activities: #1 data management proper with the ability to “control” data; and #2 re-use and share up-to-date product and engineering data. The reason I split it thus is because I believe it’s all about organizing data. For example, people have been organizing data into “buckets” for ages.  Face it, we all do.  Why? Simple.  Because data organized into familiar “buckets” (read folders) can later be easily found and re-used.  Up to a point… of course.  Once there are 1000’s of files and 100’s of GBs of data distributed amongst several data silos, finding stuff, even in the most organized of file structures, becomes tough… to say the least.

What is Inforbix’s take?  We would like to introduce a bit of new thinking and innovation into the world of PDM.  Everyone wants to have the ability to find, access, and even re-use data easily. However, few people want to deal with data management and organization.  Life’s too short and there’s too much work to get done.  Inforbix’s approach is to realize the core benefits of PDM as highlighted by Jim, without the need to manage or organize data.  Our innovation is that data (for example CAD files) stay where it naturally belongs (e.g. in folders, Sharepoint, PDM and PLM systems, ERP, etc).  Inforbix does all the work by automatically connecting or linking related data together and providing the ability to search, locate, access, browse, and navigate product data in a very familiar and intuitive fashion. The following video illustrates what I mean:

Conclusion. Inforbix wants to disconnect the PDM past with the future of PDM by providing an intuitive means to use data without the need to control or organize it. We don’t have a perfect solution nor do we offer or claim to be an alternative to PDM (actually, we can co-exist with it).  We are simply introducing a new way to tackle the challenges of product data.   And we will rely on our many friends, partners, and “customers” to help guide us in the right direction.  Send us your thoughts and let us know what you think of our approach.  Better yet, be part of those companies trying Inforbix and helping us guide the direction we take.  We would love to hear from you and learn.

Best, Oleg

Image credit to Rizzuti /