Companies face the dilemma of needing to protect their sensitive PLM data while still being able to share data and collaborate with their extended enterprise. Once shared, there are often few safeguards to protect sensitive data while companies still need to adhere to customer, contractual and regulatory obligations. These challenges of protecting PLM data are exacerbated by the explosion of data access end points and the competitive need for broad-based collaboration.

Challenges of Protecting PLM data in the Extended Enterprise

In a diverse extended enterprise ecosystem which comprises of suppliers, partners, contractors, as well as foreign employees and joint ventures, companies experience a high number of IP breaches and hidden costs of other cybercrimes. Here are some of the most pressing challenges companies face today:

Global Engineering Collaboration

While many companies’ current PLM software enables streamlined collaboration and global processes across divisions and geographies, it can be challenging to control data for need-to-know projects, new product introduction (NPI) and global regulatory export requirements in a diverse extended enterprise ecosystem when sharing data globally.

Field Service

Field Service representatives need access to technical product manuals and service instructions on laptops and mobile devices. Therefore, lack of proper data security system can put the after-market service business at the risk of IP theft by insiders and competitors. This can have a negative impact on the quality of partnership and the reputation of the company.

Supply Chain Collaboration

During supply chain collaboration, product data needs to be shared with suppliers so that they can design, manufacture and test components. Suppliers may additionally need to modify your information to fit into their processes and share your information with their partners and/or suppliers. Loss or theft of IP is common, while timely and accurate access to the correct product data is critical to control cost and project timelines.

Partner Collaboration

Multiple companies often collaborate on product development within partnerships or joint ventures for interconnectedness, knowledge sharing, possible reduction in cost and improvement in customer satisfaction. It is, indeed, not uncommon for competitors to become partners. Both companies must share and jointly develop intellectual property (IP) while protecting the IP of their engineering partners. Protection of IP is a contractual obligation for all parties, but many companies lack adequate controls to enforce these.

DRM – an additional shield for PLM data security

To prevent these cyberthreats without compromising the workflow during the collaboration, companies need consider implementing robust data-centric technology for stronger PLM security.

Digital Rights Management (DRM) plays a major role in policy-driven data protection and is a popular tool to ensure persistent protection of files across multiple users and organizations. By implementing DRM, companies can easily encrypt confidential data stored on hard drives, laptops, flash drives, or achieved/stored in some other ways and/or encrypt even the entire storage drive itself.

To learn more about DRM and how to implement it for end-to-end protection for confidential business and product data.