Time To Get Smart

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Oleg Shilovitsky’s insightful article, Mobile PLM gold-rush. Did vendors miss the point? seems to have sparked some conversation about PLM solutions for mobile devices. The article suggests that not all mobile implementations of a software platform are equally effective, and that different hardware often calls for different approaches to offering solutions.

PLM software vendors have begun to offer dedicated mobile applications that grant their users access to data that had previously required a standard computer, or was at the very least optimized for standard web browsers. The article indicates that some vendors (PTC and Siemens are mentioned) have attempted to preserve their PLM software’s standard interface, and simply move it to mobile devices with minimal alterations. While there are advantages to maintaining a consistent user experience, this strategy fails to capitalize on the strengths of tablets and smartphones, leading the article’s author to suggest that these vendors might have “missed the point” of mobile apps.

It is important to note that mobile platforms are not usually considered to be replacements for traditional computers, and are better suited as complementary, specialized devices. As Jim Brown mentions in Mobile PLM – What the CIO Should Know, “Purpose-built mobile apps are fundamentally different than web applications intended for desktop use.”

The good news is that some mobile apps have been developed with specific duties in mind, instead of trying to produce a mobile replacement for an entire traditional PLM suite. PLMXL’s OVI-approved PLMXL Approve app has been built for approval management, and does this specific task extremely well. Users browse through pending approvals, view relevant information (redline BoMs, ECR attachments, etc.), and then submit their comments, rejections, or approvals. Similarly, Centric Software’s Collection Book has been designed to present products in the clothing and fashion industry, confirm availability, and facilitate ordering. These kinds of well-defined, custom solutions are where mobile apps truly shine, and are poised to become textbook examples of optimally-integrated PLM solutions for mobile platforms.

What do you think? Will mobility make its way to your company? We’d love to hear what you have to say.

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