How can IoT improve PLM visibility?

| Product Lifecycle Management | Formulation Management | Innovation Process Management
Posted By: Michelle Duerst

IoT and PLM Visibility

A Better View:  How IoT Improves Product Lifecycle Management Visibility

Featuring Gartner Insight

Chances are you have already heard the term Internet Of Things and how it will transform the way we live. 

What Is IoT?

Gartner defines the Internet of Things as:

“A network of physical objects with embedded technology.

Senses or interacts with their internal state or external environment.

An ecosystem of things, communication, applications and data analysis.”[1]

You have already seen the initial ripples as you access apps and virtual store fronts on your smart phone and wearable technology, from exercise tracking to reordering supplies with a push of a button.

But the Internet of Things stands to be more than a matter of convenience, it will be a massive generator and depository of data that will radically transform how businesses function and how they engage with customers.

Companies currently are capitalizing on this technology, emerging with cutting-edge technology AND processes that propel early adopters into a different level.

For example, Disney revolutionized both their resort and park technology when they introduced Magic Bands.  The wearable technology has multiple purposes and advantages for customers:  the band acts as a room key, a secured credit card (PIN required), and a pass to the “FastPass” line for rides. Wired magazine explains, “Their MagicBands, tech-studded wristbands available to every visitor to the Magic Kingdom, feature a long-range radio that can transmit more than 40 feet in every direction. The hostess, on her modified iPhone, received a signal when the family was just a few paces away.”[2]

Disney is not alone. Kellogg’s recently launched a new program to link a popular rewards program with US retailer frequent shopper cards.  Kellogg’s stated that “Members no longer need to enter codes found on the inside of packages, making it easier than ever for people to collect points and earn rewards.”[3]  The technology does more than just provide convenience.  Just as with Disney, Kellogg’s can learn more about the buying behaviors of customers as they volunteer to map their own data- providing Kellogg’s with their shopper card number on their website.

Both Kellogg’s and Disney show how they capitalized on emerging technology to elevate current processes and methodology. 

How IoT and PLM Work to Elevate Visibility of New Product Development and Introductions (NPDI)

1. Faster Data


Traditionally, data is available once it has been manually entered into at least one system.  From there, it must integrate with others to form a complete picture.  The process can be rife with errors and take weeks if not months to compile. 

IoT accelerates the process to provide real time data to a mapped interface with your PLM system, allowing you to effectively analyze:

  • Number of products sold to determine market acceptance
  • Compare product acceptance at this stage to past successful/unsuccessful projects and accurately project P/L (Profit/Loss) statements for the next 12, 24 months
  • Evaluate product costs and identify unsuccessful products early to minimize losses
  • Identify potential issues with supply chain and adapt formulations with alternate ingredients

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2. Customer Engagement


Much focus is placed on millenials and how they purchase products.  Forbes provided insight into how their buying habits are significantly influenced by customer engagement:

  • 62% will become a loyal customer if engaged with a company on social networks
  • 42% are interested in helping companies develop new products
  • 87% use between 2-3 tech devices at least once a day on a daily basis.[4]

While it may be easy to see how IoT can be utilized to engage customers, the missing piece is how to relate this information back to all the members of a NPDI team. 

PLM provides this bridge as IoT can be mapped to provide a mapped interface for an app-like interface or web page to allow customers to:

  • Submit new product ideas/suggestions into a more formalized Idea Management submission process
  • Evaluate suggested ideas in a virtual storefront
  • Provide instant feedback to existing products

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3. Everywhere All The Time

Digital_workers.jpgThe International Society of Automation states, “The IoT vision is of a massively instrumented world of intelligent sensors (analog and digital) and actuators (analog and digital) communication using IP to improve performance and efficiency.”[5] 

These sensors can include extremely sensitive technology that can detect values and variations from formulations.  This not only serves academic purposes, but can create a more efficient, stream-lined approach to NPDI. 

Instead of relying solely upon on-site visits, R&D can ensure quality and compliance through the sensors.

Skeptical?  Technology not only exists for highly sensitive measuring, but can also provide a key element in detecting allergens, as shown with the introduction of allergen sensors, like the soon-to-be-released Nima[6], a consumer tool to measure gluten on-site. 


  • Control Costs
  • Improve Quality
  • Ensure Compliance

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[1] Source:  Gartner, “Internet of Things in Supply Chain:  What’s Real Now?” by Michael Burkett, John Johnson, October 2015

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