Digital Transformation and Networks in Manufacturing

OpenBOM (
Jun 14 · 4 min read

I love networks. They are so powerful. In the last decade, we’ve seen a growing power of connections in business. Platforms such as Facebook, Uber, Airbnb and many others demonstrated the power of using digital connections in creating new business models.

Digital transformation is another very interesting trend. The processes around us are changing and transforming. Digital transformation is not happening overnight. It comes to a process of transforming existing documents and data, connecting other information and resources.

In the following picture, you can see 10 years of the digital transformation of the driving process.

Think about Networks+Digital Transformation and you will get this magic formula or 1+1 = 3. This where I’m coming to with digital transformation in manufacturing. Manufacturing in the 21st century is a very ‘networked’ business. Look at the picture below and you will see a difference between two manufacturing companies.

PLM stands for Product Lifecycle Management. For the last decades, PLM was very much focusing on core aspects of manufacturing — data, change management and process orchestration in a company. The main paradigm of PLM — a single version of the truth was a way to thin how to put all data and changes in a single database belonging to a company to control everything. While it is not a bad idea, it is time to change it. Manufacturing in the 21st century requires a new — network paradigm.

Last year, I shared my thoughts about how to extract more business value from PLM. Check my article ( from PLMx event in Chicago in which I focused on how to get more business value from PLM.

Digital transformation in manufacturing and switch to a network paradigm in PLM will allow to companies in engineering, manufacturing, supply chain to work in a connected form. Think about a typical manufacturing business. It looks very much as network. However, the weakness that these businesses heavily rely on a single database vision for each company connected by Excel-ware processes.

How to change it? This is where I can see new engineering and manufacturing applications will be coming into play. For the last several years, we’ve seen growing adoption of cloud-based technologies. This is a good sign. Cloud (IaaS) infrastructure is getting more mature and a growing number of engineers and manufacturing companies are trusting cloud applications.

In the first wave of applications, we’ve seen existing CAD and PLM technologies deployed in virtual cloud environments. It solves some problems but doesn’t solve the problem of connected manufacturing environment and doesn’t create a network effect.

A new type of applications — cloud-connected applications are coming. OpenBOM platform and applications is an example of these new connected applications.

Check my keynote from the last week IDE 2019 event in University of Salento, Italy.


A network is much more powerful than a single node. Digital Transformation in manufacturing will come as a process that will change existing business processes by transforming analog (excel) based process into a network of connected companies and applications helping to coordinate and support new informative decision making.

Check what OpenBOM can do today by registering to FREE OpenBOM user subscription.

Best, Oleg

PS. Let’s get to know each other better. If you live in the Greater Boston area, I invite you for a coffee together (coffee is on me). If not nearby, let’s have a virtual coffee session — I will figure out how to send you a real coffee.

Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my Beyond PLM blog and PLM Book website

OpenBOM (

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Online tool to manage you Bill of Materials and Part Catalogs. Real-time collaboration for teams and supplier, sync data with CAD, PLM, ERP. More -