The Notion of Trust in PLM

Picture 29This week was signed by a significant event – Dassault Systems announced intent to acquire IBM’s PLM Software distribution activities. In the shadow of this event, I was looking on various publications related to activities of big companies, acquisitions and mergers. One publication, IT leaders trust Microsoft more than Google, 2-to-1 by Jason Hiner, was very interesting. I hardly can estimate how to compare my trust in two huge public companies. My trust-measure-kit failed to designate it. Large and publicly traded companies generate feeling of trust. On the other side, we all know other examples.

However, this publication drove me to think about a very practical topic related to selection of CAD/PLM software and trust in PLM vendors. Choosing of PLM software is not a simple activity. I’ve seen many companies making this decision, and always it is a very complicated process. The nature of this complication, in my view, is that PLM activities have a very long time span. Once started with specific software, you will keep this for multiple projects and products. Even if you’ll decide to change your CAD or PLM software, it will probably reflect your future activity.

I’m not big fun of surveys, but many times selection of PLM vendors reminds me one big survey customer filling in trying to decide what software to choose. In the end, one of the final questions is the question of trust. Big PLM vendors generate feeling of trust and stability. DS and IBM with their history of relationships and trust in IBM big blue brand, Siemens PLM with their famous statement – we never let a customer fail. Do you believe in well-established PLM companies? Stable niche players? Innovative startups? Maybe you trust more in association with big service providers in this space?

These are just my thoughts. I wonder to know how do you see the notion of trust in PLM?

Best, Oleg


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  • Scott

    Interesting topic and timing. Just this morning NPR ran a piece on the city of Los Angeles opting to go with gmail instead of MSFT Outlook (their current solution for e-mail). The story dealt with how LA is the first major city (business?) to go 100% with gmail… and then delved into the Cloud. Security, privacy, TCO, were touched on as well.

    So, it is interesting that a city the size of LA can “trust” Google/gmail enough to remove Outlook… knowing the numerous challenges/issues with the Cloud. Actually a big risk IMO.

  • Scott, thank you for comments! Good example on LA… I think Google vs. MS trust competition is more visible compared to PLM ones, but topic is on the table in my view. Best, Oleg

  • Martijn Dullaart

    Having Outlook serviced by an external company outside the company firewall and directly available via the internet is in my opinion the same thing as running on your companies email on GMail.

    In my company the choice (so I’ve heard) between Google and Microsoft was in favor of Microsoft because the management thought Google would not be able to supply the same scalability as Microsoft. In the end we had a lot of scalability problems when more and more user groups were added to the MS environment. Now it is running fine by the way.

    Back to PLM. Personally I do not necessarily trust a larger vendor, but I rather look at track records. Also in the case of PLM, management is not only looking at trusting one vendor more than the other but the choice for a vendor can also be influenced by strategic policies. Like for instance SAP unless.

    So if SAP can do PLM than we’ll use PLM otherwise we’ll look further. The problem is: What does ‘can do PLM’ mean?

    But in general I think Trust & Policies are two important ingredients that define the final choice for a vendor.

  • Martijn, Thanks! What is interesting is your contradiction between “not necessarily trust a larger vendor” and probably option first to check how SAP “can do PLM”. However, this is probably way trust is reflected. If you already have SAP inside, you will try to use SAP as trust-able vendor. Regards, Oleg

  • Hello Oleg,

    Interesting discussion. Changing PLM vendors is a kind of ‘deep change’ that I wrote about myself in July. excertping…”Trust is both and emotional and logical act. Emotionally, it is where you expose your vulnerabilities to people, but believing they will not take advantage of your openness. Logically, it is where you have assessed the probabilities of gain and loss, calculating expected utility based on hard performance data, and concluded that the person in question will behave in a predictable manner. In practice, trust is a bit of both. I trust you because I have experienced your trustworthiness and because I have faith in human nature.”

    Traditionally, we did tend to trust (what we knew of) larger companies. They had demonstrated staying power, capability, and a history of behavior. You had a palpable feel for ‘who’ they were.

    Today, that is less true. Where yesterday’s ‘major’ vendors are being gobbled up (e.g. UGS) by ever larger conglomerates, just ‘who’ you are dealing with becomes less clear. And, it seems to be happening more frequently as we move forward. We have all seen what can happen to a product line after a new parent has acquired it.

    When it comes to trust, the best you can do is make a decision based on the hear and now. The vendors’ execs you met with last week, giving you a warm and fuzzy, likely won’t be around in 24 months. If they are, its an equal likelihood they’re in a new role unable to effectively influence prior commitments they may have made to you.

    Google vs. Microsoft? How do you ‘trust’ either organization? When your own company, even if you’re a Fortune 100, expenditures are but a drop in their annual revenue bucket, how committed do you think -they- are to you?



  • JT, Thanks for your insight! Trust is sensitive. You need to work hard to gain it and you can lost is very easy. I think we will see soon very new dimension of trust related to online/saas companies. This is will be interesting comparison – between companies releasing software physical assets (i.e. Microsoft) and companies providing online services (i.e. Google). Best, Oleg

  • Bill Steiniger

    While I beleive trust is important in any type of relationship, I think in the context of PLM it may be a misnomer. Companies investing in PLM feel very secure with large companies. The issue faced is that these companies are usually involved with many large customers and the importance of the new customer tends to get lost in the shuffle. These large vendor PLM Systems normally become very complex to use, based on servicing their large user bases, and become unproductive tools within organizations. Companies seem to keep adding features/functions which customers ask for, which further complicates the process of using the system. As this continues to happen, the usage of the system falls off due to user dissatisfaction, and they relegate the system to performing as document management systems (ala Matrix as I have seen many times).

  • Bill, I think, this is a valid point. But, on the other side, if those companies (vendors) are fully dependent on their client, they need to be taking care of them even more carefully. For these vendors recurrent revenue stream becomes even more important… Don’t you think so? Thanks for your comments! Best, Oleg

  • Loic Mouchard

    Hello Oleg,

    I think the customer’s truth in Big compagnies is link to the history of the vendors:
    “- they have lot of clients, so that limit the risk of having a new problem”,
    “- the solution meke its proofs in other compagnies, so risks should not be too high in trusting the solution”…

    Furthemore, I am not sure wheather clients trut PLM vendors or their solution… who wants a 1.0 vension? Why V6 Dassault System plateform began to R2009? And I didn’t heard about huge changes in behaviours after Siemens took UGS…

    Actually, I would say that both the product and the compagny selling it must gain the customer(management and users) trust.

    Reaction time to correct bug or develop new features is reaaly huge, some month at least. This is not necessary the case in smaller structures, that keep their products at a human “manageble” level.

    As an example, I am in a compagny rather small compared to main PLM’s vendors and I could experience the changing behaviour on of new (rather big) customer:
    1- at the begining, the product has to show it was able to cover the whole wanted features. Everything goes quite normally until a little lack occurs…
    2- the customer was then in an “anxious mode”, thinking delay and failure risk was very huge. In this phase, talking can not do so much: one will see the results.
    3- after a quick resolution of the problem (2-3 weeks) we could demonstrate the whole functionallity.

    The project team was really impress, and I hope I can say now that the customer trust us and our product capabilities…


  • Hello Loic, Thanks for your experience sharing! For me, this is a very interesting question – to compare how smaller companies can gain trust against bigger customers. And I do believe it also different for different industries. Could you imagine startup companies today manufacturing cars (actually, I could? But they are manufacturing segmental cars, which is also similar to your examples by going in small steps). Another thing, I haven’t heard yet, but it seems to be interesting -how a company can gain trust via social networks (think about qualified sellers on Amazon for example)?
    Best, Oleg

  • Martijn Dullaart

    Hi Oleg, It is not so much that we have SAP PLM already. We do have SAP but not so much for PLM or very limited. We already have multiple solutions from various large PLM vendors in place. But the policy is SAP unless and therefore any replacement activities must first go through the ‘can-SAP-do-PLM cycle’. Which I personally think is fine.

    With respect to not necessarily trusting a larger vendor is mainly because of my personal experience. I have worked with (as consultant) systems from various large vendors and also with home grown systems. And the fact is that so far the teams that support the home grown system are much more dedicated than a large vendor. Which is not so strange, because the home team has only one customer.

    Transitioning from a home grown solution (in this case a large system that supports both the engineering, manufacturing and service community) to a standard solution from a large vendor is not going to be easy. The actual users will get less while they still have to do the same work (in our case). So their trust is by default at an all time low. For the management the trust is increased because they feel comfortable with the large vendor.

  • Hi Martijn, I understand what you are saying about homegrown solutions and situation when you have localized and customized solution. In this case you need to have more trust to your service provider or local IT team, of course. And these teams are always will be more dedicated compared to big vendors, since they are working on local stuff for limited number of customers. In my view, this is a way for big vendors to compensate on lack of dedication for mid-size customers. Best, Oleg.

  • Keep up the nice work! Look forward to reading more from you in the future. I think it will be also nice if you add “send to email” tool so people can forward the articles to their friends easily.