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Unlocking engineering insight for an IoT world

Gary Cernosek

Sr. Product Manager

IBM IoT Continuous Engineering

I’m writing this series of posts over the next few weeks to spur dialog on the topic of how organizations practicing in an IoT world need better ways to extract and derive value from the many sources that comprise their environment of engineering information. I plan to post this topic in four parts:

  • Part 1: The State of engineering information. I open this series of blog entries with the context of why customers care about gaining insight from their engineering data now more than ever.
  • Part 2: Aggregating engineering information from multiple sources. I’ll next address the problems indicated in Part 1 by discussing old and new ways for bringing multiple sources of information together and unifying the way engineers gain access to and work with such information.
  • Part 3: Integrating across disparate tools. Here I’ll address the need to gain access to engineering information from tools not originally designed to be integrated with the outside world.
  • Part 4: From information to insight. Imagine a world where we connect everything that needs to be connected. Then what? Here I’ll discuss the vision for IBM’s Continuous Engineering solution as it provides the basis for analytics and turning raw tool data into true engineering insight.

Part 1: The State of engineering information

Gary Cernosek

Sr. Product Manager

IBM IoT Continuous Engineering

I know it’s here, somewhere…

Workers across engineering disciplines spend a lot of time (not) finding the information they need to do their jobs. Consider these statistics captured by KMWorld and The Ridge Group:1

  • Knowledge workers spend 15% to 35% of their time searching for information
  • 40% of corporate users report they cannot find the information they need to do their jobs
  • 50% of Internet searches are abandoned
  • 90% of the time that knowledge workers spend in creating new reports is recreating information that already exists

The problem is not creating good information, it’s finding it! What’s the root cause of these problems?

Much of it has to do with how engineering environments tend to be highly fragmented across disparate tools. And the challenge to connect them is growing exponentially. Each engineering tool comes with its own user interface, and often multiple interfaces for use on the Web vs. desktop application. Behind the scenes, the tools offer various presentations of views and tasks, and often proprietary logic for workflow, process, search, query, scale, security, and collaboration. Storage methods vary from use of individual files on workstation or servers to databases with proprietary interfaces.

This degree of variance makes it very difficult for organizations to ensure that engineering information is available to users and traceable across different tools—even when the tools come from the same vendor! The results are brittle/poor integrations, silos everywhere, high cost to maintain and administer the tools, and little reuse.

What’s so special about IoT?

Maybe your organization has handled these challenges fine up to now. But many are finding that IoT presents new or amplified issues that challenge their status quo. Two trends tend to stand out for organizations delivering products and systems connected to the Internet:

  • Market pressure to increase product delivery frequency and compress cycle time
  • Sheer volume and complexity of software required in modern products and systems

These trends are depicted in the graphics below and illustrate the need for organizations to be more ‘agile’ and to build ‘smarter’ products:Projects that used to take years are expected to deliver in months, and those previously completed in months now have make at least incremental progress in weeks, or even days. Environments that historically treated software as a ‘part’ that was captured once per product release cycle and stored off in the product data management tool for simple compliance now require greater granularity of lifecycle assets and tighter coordination between software and hardware engineering processes. These factors are driving organizations to reevaluate the way they develop and deliver their products and systems.

Do you identify with these issues and trends?

If these issues and challenges resonate with your experience, comment in the blog. Let me and others know how it’s affecting your day-to-day worklife and your organization’s business results. And stay tuned for the next parts of my entries for “Unlocking engineering insight for an IoT world.”


KMWorld, “The high cost of not finding information,”

Information Gathering in the Electronic Age: The Hidden Cost of the Hunt, The Ridge Group