At the Cross-Section of PLM and Technology

Brian Parnes, CIO, VP of Marketing, Design & Product Development, DOWNLITE
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Brian Parnes, CIO, VP of Marketing, Design & Product Development, DOWNLITE

How would you describe the role of a CIO today?

The role of CIO in today’s business is expanding beyond just the basics of technology. It has been for some time now. The CIO has to not only align with the business to ensure users have the tools, access, and information they need and align the IT organization to exceed those expectations, but also help shape the future of what’s coming and how that can positively benefit the organization. The CIO strategizes with other key players in the business to meet today’s needs and provide insight into the technologies of the future that can give the business an advantage. The CIO has to have a solid understanding of technology as well as the business implications of those technologies—and ultimately be able to identify the best course for the company.

Another key part of the CIO’s role is getting feedback and buy-in. Technology cannot just be implemented and be left alone. There should be a constant cycle of improvements and questioning what’s next in order for the business to stay relevant. Today’s technologies can quickly become yesterday’s dinosaurs. Getting buy-in before implementation is also key. If the entire C-Suite and even down to other management levels are onboard with a project and understand the whys, hows, and the timeframe, projects are more likely to be successful.

  Helping the teams understand the toolsets and their benefits over existing tools is as critical as picking the right PLM 

How can the CIOs make their business counterparts think differently about the importance of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) in IT?

Part of the CIO’s job is to ensure all parts of the business are aligned on the technology while decisions are being made. For PLM specifically, getting alignment over the benefits in terms of having information stored in a single place, easy look-up, reporting, and keeping the teams aligned are key topics. Helping the teams understand the toolsets and the benefits of them over existing tools is as critical as picking the right PLM for the organization.

As the PLM technology sphere evolves with each passing day, what are some of the latest trends that are gripping your mind?

The key trends that come top of mind are the cloud and mobile device integration. Currently the big trend has had a lot of focus on cloud implementations instead of on-site. With that, it carries the inevitable questions around security, speed, and network reliability amongst other things. All of which can be overcome. Mobile device integration is the bigger trend and concern. With more users opting for tablets or doing things via smart phones and devices, ensuring ease of access on those devices in a secure and fast manner is of the upmost concern. Other things that come to mind are integration with 3D Printing (and other rapid prototyping tools), IoT, Social Interactions, and tight integration with ERP systems to create a faster and better connected working environment. Lastly, software compatibility and updates are always a topic. Having PLM systems that are natively web-browser based versus traditional applications can have its pros and cons that must be evaluated thoroughly for each business.

Which growing or future technology innovation are you personally excited about?

While not directly related to PLM today, Blockchain technology is incredibly exciting for seeing efficiencies in traceability throughout the supply chain. It is still early on and needs to be made incredibly easy to use, but it has a great potential.

How can the PLM evolving technologies help Industries overcome the challenges?

Some of the challenges I think PLM specifically can help industries overcome is around better connectivity for teams and integration with prototyping tools to allow faster speed to market, centralized information, and better decision making.

What changes have you seen in the IT operating model of your organization during the last five years?

Over the last 5 years IT has morphed from just maintaining the servers, desktops, etc. to become a key driver for business strategy. The IT organization is now more involved in strategizing and decision making than ever before. As technology becomes more and more important to drive efficiencies, information-sharing, and more, I only see that it will continue to grow.

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