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IBM Creates New Centers of Excellence to Help Clients Launch Safer Products Faster


IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced a global network of nine Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Centers designed to help customers launch new products more quickly by leveraging proven business methodologies and software development models.

These PLM Centers of Excellence (CoE) are located in Nice-La Gaude, France; Boeblingen, Germany; Beijing, China; Bangalore and New Dehli, India; Yamato, Japan; Montreal, Canada; and in the United States in Hawthorne, N.Y. and Dallas, Texas.

The CoE ’lab environment’ offers clients access to more than 3,000 researchers, 9,000 software developers and 1,000 consulting and technology practitioners worldwide. The teams work closely with clients to help integrate the millions of processes and transactions -- typical of any product’s lifecycle -- across a PLM community of partners, suppliers and customers. Paramount to clients visiting the centers is the need to access a proven set of “PLM best practices” for use in new product development initiatives key to a company’s future growth and brand reputation.

Early client engagements include companies such as Harley Davidson Motor Company, the only major U.S.-based motorcycle manufacturer, and Bombardier, the Canadian-based, world-leading manufacturer of innovative transportation solutions.

“Our goal is to create a technology infrastructure to support the easy flow of millions of data and graphical transactions typical of our daily design process. Working with IBM’s Center of Excellence, we can rely on their expertise to deliver proof-of-concepts that have a high success rate,” stated Robert Benoit, vice president of Applications, Bombardier Aerospace.

These centers reflect IBM’s expanded commitment to a market segment predicted to reach nearly $80 billion by 2010. The centers PLM experts focus on helping clients integrate all aspects of a product’s lifecycle into other critical enterprise systems often leveraging a service-oriented architecture (SOA) as a way to reuse a company’s existing technology to more closely align with its business goals.

The task of connecting disparate applications and data sources across a product lifecycle is challenging. Within a company, “each group sees product information through the lens of its own role -- CAD geometry, manufacturing processes, spare parts data, pricing, and packaging -- so it’s critical to enable role-based views inside and outside the company for faster decision support. A service-oriented architecture (SOA) would reduce these complexities,” stated Jeff Hojlo, PLM analyst, AMR.

“Given the fast pace of new product introductions and the need to tap into a product’s lifecycle at any time, companies are looking to partner with an organization that can offer a global network of experts around the world,” stated Michael Wheeler, vice president, IBM Manufacturing and Supply Chain Solutions. “PLM is a critical growth area for IBM and one that is driven by our clients’ desire to significantly improve their ability to deliver innovative products to an expanding set of customers.”

The Centers offer PLM value creation seminars, enterprise integration workshops, proven and interoperable software technologies from IBM and its business partners, business process management modules, and proof-of-concept solutions for a specific industry or technology project. Following are some of the key PLM-specific offerings available at the Centers today:

* Executive Workshops: Client executives have the opportunity to step out of their daily work environment to join a team of IBM Global Services experts in determining the strategic steps necessary to make PLM part of a company’s business strategy. For example, with the PLM Value Creation Workshop, clients can access industry benchmarking studies to map their PLM performance levels against competitors and partners and then identify areas of improvement that are aligned with their business goals.

* Proof-of-Concept Factory: The IBM Product Development Integration Framework offers software assets leveraged by software developers to create industry-specific solutions. These industry frameworks form the foundation of future technology projects. Using IBM SOA industry frameworks, which contain interrelated and reconfigurable software modules called business services, clients can customize solutions based on an industry or technology need.

* SOA and Web 2.0 Solutions: As companies create a more diverse product portfolio, supplier and partner collaboration will become critical. With a standards-based SOA foundation, clients can build composite applications using Web 2.0 technologies to help suppliers and partners collaborate in a fluid and rapidly changing environment. For example, a manufacturer trying to identify a product compliance issue can tap into Lotus Sametime, IBM unified communications platform. This platform integrates presence, instant messaging, Web conferencing, voice and video bringing suppliers and partners together to solve problems as if they were in the same room.

* PLM Process Transformation: Working with open standards for PLM data and processes, IBM CoE staff demonstrate an innovative approach that allows business processes to span multiple and diverse PLM and enterprise applications. For example, engineering change processes are demonstrated that connect multiple brands of PLM databases to SAP ERP and a service-after-the-sale management system.

* PLM Application Integration: Through a loosely-coupled SOA, web services interfaces are applied to connect PLM applications called Product Data Management and Simulation Data Management repositories together. Once connected to an SOA middleware, PLM product data can flow freely between systems to follow the natural course of product design and change management processes.

* PLM Emerging Technologies: Manufacturers can leverage new technology prototypes such as mobile 3D viewers that can render and manipulate three-dimensional models on Linux-based, Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) and Pocket PC devices. Mobile access to 3D designs, including those derived from mechanical computer-aided designs (MCAD), give business managers and designers the flexibility to stay in touch with the latest product information anytime, anywhere.

Many of the centers offer PLM customers access to a rich portfolio of software and services from IBM and its business partner community. For example, the Nice-La Gaude Center hosts the SOA Leadership Center, the Worldwide Nuclear Power Center, and the RFID Competency Center.


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