I think, PLM evolved for the last few years to become accepted by many companies. Started from bigger auto- and aero- companies and finally coming to smaller manufacturers, supply chain and various industry verticals. Today, I want to discuss top factors that influence PLM. These factors are combination of technologies, economical situation and people demands.
Complexity in Manufacturing
I’d like to start from this one. Our life becomes more complex and manufacturing becomes complex. Lots of constraints, economical situation, business model changes, globalization, energy constraints, industry re-structuring. Our life is much more dynamic in comparison to what we had 10 years ago. So, how to help manufacturing companies to manage their digital life around all these things? Product Lifecycle Management is one of the answers. To establish control and lifecycle of all product IP, to connect to other enterprise applications, to enable social networking, to allow to potential consumers to touch future products… This is the only partial list of what PLM can do. The most important, in my view, for the future is that PLM will provide simple solution for this complex problem.
Compliance and Regulation
Next big thing in manufacturing in my view. Multiple compliance and regulation acts came to the game and impacting manufacturing in very severe way. Multiple new compliance requirements and regulation needs is additional cost manufacturers need to pay. Their product development, supply chain and other systems are not ready to provide answer to all these regulations. This is definite opportunity for Product Lifecycle Management. PLM should come as solution to solve these problems and change business processes in organizations.
A lot of things PLM is doing are related to ability to multiple participants of product development, manufacturing, supply chain to collaborate. At the same time, I’m observing significant changes in ways collaborative software came to our regular consumer-oriented life. Internet, Google, iPhone, Laptops, Twitter, Facebook etc. This is only short list of players and influencers. All of them make our life more digital, but at the same time introduce different standards for “collaboration”. In my view, consumer market will impact significantly business software. And PLM, with needs to collaborate, probably will be one of the first in the list to be impacted. We cannot collaborate on digital representation of a product which will not be as cool as iPhone based and manage processes with software much more complex than Facebook/Twitter. In addition to consumer impact on Collaboration, new collaborative features came to the portfolios of big platform providers. Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and others have collaborative and social software in their bags. PLM needs to take it into account and jump over, to take advantages of them.
Big IT providers and additional specialized companies put significant focus to improve capabilities of content management software. It started as software to manage documents, today, content management provides wide range of capacities to manage content and processes in the company. Enterprise Content Management created a significant overlap with Product Lifecycle Management on the level of digital content. Future development of ECM and their belonging to big IT portfolios will be additional impact on PLM roadmaps.
SaaS / On Demand
I don’t need to talk and explain SaaS and On Demand models. Many people today are asking how possible to introduce these technologies and business models to product development and more specifically to PLM. After few initial tries, we can see multiple big IT, ERP and PLM players are coming to this space. The biggest challenge for PLM companies in SaaS and On Demand that I see is potential disassembly of PLM portfolios to many small services that companies will use. When it is definitely good for customers, it will be business challenge for today’s providers selling big portfolio on premise. Additional challenge related to SaaS and On-Demand is to provide answer for IP protection and security.
Low cost solutions and Future Challengers
This is last, but definitely not least. MS Office, SharePoint, PDM Collaboration, Content Management on demand, Open source… These and many other solutions are a threat for PLM exclusivity and ability to support product development collaboration and product IP management. PLM better be aware about these solutions and build PLM strategy that will allow to provide right answer at the right time. Future coming free MS Office 2010 Online, and Google Wave will become next PLM challengers in the organizations.
So, to conclude, I think PLM has a lot of challenges to find a right way to their existing and future customers in the context of these trends. The right balance of solution/values will be key to succeed. I’m looking forward to your comments and discussions.