Have any doubt about the rising importance of 3D product data throughout all corners of the enterprise? Look no further than SAP's recent acquisition of Right Hemisphere.
After the accumulation of "many" joint customers and a multiyear product collaboration, the enterprise software giant SAP finally legalized its partnership with Right Hemisphere, buying the maker of enterprise 3D visualization software for an undisclosed sum. A number of Right Hemisphere products essentially unify product information from a range of key business systems, including CAD, PLM, ERP, and Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES). The products also make the data available in a highly visual 3D format and in a role- and workflow-dependent fashion to individuals throughout the extended enterprise, whether they sit in the engineering or marketing support department.
Right Hemisphere's Deep Exploration can be used to deliver animated views of products to development, manufacturing, or service professionals.
When applied to SAP's ERP or PLM platforms, Right Hemisphere's software -- particularly its Deep Exploration offering -- can be used to deliver animated views of products to development, manufacturing, or service professionals. This in turn can help various groups design, assemble, and service complex products more intuitively.
In the press release announcing the acquisition, SAP elaborated a bit on its vision, saying it will "apply Right Hemisphere's technology to SAP's Business Suite ERP applications, providing manufacturing or service workers with animated renderings of products or intuitive visual access to part and stock lists."
My guess is the same integration strategy is planned for SAP's PLM offering. Though not generally thought of in the same company as the major PLM offerings from CAD vendors, this product is definitely a key option for manufacturers already firmly rooted in SAP's enterprise business software platforms.
Customers have long been able to integrate 3D CAD software into SAP environments. The Right Hemisphere acquisition is another step in SAP's commitment to push 3D product data out further into the enterprise.
"The addition of 3D visualization and publishing technologies will enable intuitive navigation of an entire product and its associated data in one unified environment, helping customers break down the traditional walls between lines of business -- increasing speed, enhancing productivity, and improving quality when bringing a product to market," Hans Thalbauer, SAP's senior vice president of line of business solutions, supply chain, and R&D, said in an email exchange. "By aligning all product- and process-related information from SAP systems with simplified, visual representations, all lines of business across an organization can make more informed decisions during the entire product lifecycle."
In explaining its rationale for the Right Hemisphere acquisition, SAP also said it intends to integrate the enterprise visualization technology into its mobile solutions. The goal is to let business users access timely visual images of products on a variety of mobile devices.