Will Google App Store Disrupt PLM?

I think, it is always fun to talk about next disruption. When you are doing so, you have a real feeling something happens. Therefore, I had a real pleasure to read Jim Brown’s ClarityOnPlm about future PLM disruption. The name of the blog “Who will disrupt entrenched PLM vendors” was promising and discussion around this topic was interesting. Take your time and read it via this link.

Few takeaways from Jim’s blog:
1. PLM market is very slow, political and hardly can be disrupted
2. Mindshare PLM leaders will have enough time to react on any future disruption by acquisition or their own development.
3. PLM stuff is complex and big technology leaders (Google, Microsoft, etc.) will have no interest to be involved in this business.
So, for foreseeable future, large PLM and ERP vendors will continue to represent leadership on the PLM market. Nevertheless, few technological and business models related aspects were mentioned by Jim as one of the possible future scenarios.

In parallel, I had chance to read Dion Hinchcliffe’s blog post – The App Store: The new “must have” digital business model and another one that came today about coming Google’s announcement related to Google App store availability next week. These two publications as well as one of my previous posts on PLM Think Tank – Where is the PLM shortcut to the cloud?,  made me think about App Store as a future disruptive technological and business model for PLM.

A very iteresting picture made by Dion in one of his blog. The concept of business apps delivered from App Store seems solid and promise for enterprise. However, is it the same for enterprise PLM?

I summarized my initial thoughts about pros and cons of Google based Business Apps.

Google App Store Advantages:
1. Lower cost of application development.
2. Re-use of globally available platform
3. Availability of general purpose Google Apps and collaboration tools
3. Integration with other Google Apps

Google App Store Disadvantages:
1. Security concern
2. Adoption level in the enterprise
3. Shortage of development skills in enterprise domain for such platform.

As I can see, one of the key inflation points for Google Apps, will be multiple application availability and enterprise adoption rate. Today is insignificant, but tomorrow can be different. As I mentioned in my comment on Jim’s blog, the interesting potential for PLM apps on Google’s platform can be provided by growing collaborative capabilities provided by Google Wave. Still in the early beginning, Google Wave is a very promising collaboration tool.  App store business model is something has that never been used in PLM domain. When existing business model innovators are going after SaaS (Arena) or Open Source (Aras), nobody is looking into potentials of Enterprise App Store. Salesforce is an interesting example to learn with regards to that.

What is my conclusion? App Store business model for the enterprise companies seems as a very interesting idea. The  application built on one of the available app stores (Google, Salesforce or others) can represent a potential disruption in PLM domain. However, to make it happen, these platforms need to get to the next maturity level. Therefore, I think, we need to watch how cloud office applications are moving into the enterprise domain. This can be a real indicator for available business case. Potential disruption will not come from either technological or business direction, but will use both in co-existent mode.

Just my thoughts… I’m looking forward to your comments.
Best, Oleg

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  • Herve

    The real enterprise-level App Store is Salesforce’s cloud. All the rest is comments…

  • Herve, Thanks for commenting. I agree, the Salesforce.com cloud is the most mature, for the moment. However, the power of Google’s disruption should not be underestimated in my view. What do you think? Best, Oleg

  • Prashant

    Oleg,

    Salesforce might be good as appstore but for PLM kind of enterprise environment it is not suitable. There will be a very strong vendor locking if you choose salesforce. You have to develop your applications only with the technologies they offer and they are very specific to salesforce which most of the software vendors as well as users would like to avoid.

    Goolge app engine gives you better flexibility than salesforce, but data would be an issue if you decide to change the vendor. Appengine provides medium vendor locking. This is the best solution if you are a SMB. With open source solution running on app engine, you get the best from both worlds, cloud gives you best performance, open source gives you maximum control on your overall application cost.

    IMHO For PLM kind of enterprise apps Amazon EC2 kind of cloud solutions are the best. You get maximum flexibility plus full control of your data. (Which is most important).

  • Prashant, Thanks for your comment! I agree with such classification. However, in my view, the point of “control of your data” contains some problematic side effect. No doubt company wants to have a control of the data. However, on the other side, openness and flexibility are two very important issues. My concern about EC2 that it gives a lot from computing standpoint (virtualization, scalability, availability), but on the other side moves all existing enterprise software problems to the cloud. My prediction is that initial cloud intervention will follow EC2 route. Then companies will discover then that they still not resolved enterprise problem and will start looking for alternatives Best, Oleg

  • Herve

    Data will clearly be an issue for PLM. GMail, Amazon, Salesforce work fine because you don’t have to downloaded more than a coupe of Mb each time you need some data.

    People that imagine 3D data – ie terabytes – to be uploaded and downloaded on the fly just don’t know networks capabilities and issues.

  • Herve, I agree. Today’s approach in data communication and transfer is very not web/cloud friendly. I believe that visualization trends (similar to what is going today in online games) will come to displace the need to transfer TB of information. Take a look on technologies like OTOY. Another technology you can take a look on is Google’s O3D (http://plmtwine.com/?s=O3D). Thanks for your comment! Best, Oleg

  • Laurent

    Hi Oleg,

    your conclusion is absolutely right. “Potential disruption will not come from either technological or business direction, but will use both in co-existent mode”. I am convinced that the Google App approach will change the game, but it make take a shape that is not yet predictable.

    Hervé, I do not quite agree with you concerning the amount of data needed.

    Regards,

    Laurent

  • Laurent, Thanks for commenting! I have to say that slowly PLM is coming to understanding of web apps values. I remember it started first 5-10 years ago. However, now, the benefits are very well understood. So, it confirms 10-year cycles between first appearance and success of the specific technologies. Best, Oleg

  • Oleg,
    I enjoyed your post. While I think the core of PLM is probably pretty well locked in (barring major disruption), I absolutely agree with disruption around the edges. New specialty applications will (and should) extend the core solution, and those that gain significant traction will likely be incorporated through an acquisition or a development effort.

    The other disruption (which I think is much less disruptive to the manufacturers using the software, is to extend the existing solution with capabilities like collaboration. Google and SharePoint are just two examples of the potential for use generalized infrastructure software to do more with the existing applications. I absolutely believe in that co-existence. And again, for those items that prove value I expect that the big vendors will find a way to adopt them (in concept or the actual solution). Just like workflow and enterprise integration engines – every enterprise application worth its salt now has an answer in the technology stack.

    Good discussion,
    Jim

  • Jim,
    In my view, on one side, there are mature pieces of PLM (mostly CAD). On the other side, data management and collaboration are two places where I can see a major disruption for the next few years. There are three main reasons why I think so.
    1. Collaboration will be massively impacted by growing capabilities of systems comes from consumer space and platforms. Various Google Apps, SharePoint, Facebook, etc. – all these apps are disrupting traditional PLM collaborative capabilities.
    2. The majority of data management solutions in PLM (but actually I’m not differentiating between PLM, ERP and other XYZs in the enterprise domain) were built on top of traditional data management technologies and for close enterprise environments. Today’s web technologies have the potential to change it.
    3. The overall PLM solution cost is very high and prevent it from the mainstream. There are lots of inexpensive resources these days that can help to build cheaper solution that in the end will disrupt today’s PLM offerings.
    Thanks for great discussion! Best, Oleg

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  • Hi Oleg,

    Nice reading your blog. I believe that great forte of PLM where it is difficult, if not impossible, to compete by latest web technologies is the CAD integration and storage in secured manner.

    All other functionalities of PLM tools e.g. collaboration, workflows, BOM management etc. can be quickly implemented by available web technologies.

    I think it is not too far when Google apps and other such technologies will be competing with ageold PLM systems (It is only for the users of Google Apps to develop such tools with the available platform).

    What needs to be understood that how the CAD data will be made available via Google Apps.

    Best regards
    Surendra

  • Surendra, Thanks! I agree, today’s web technologies, in theory, can outperform PDM/PLM/ERP applications. I think, vendors need to keep it in mind when they work on their roadmaps. The 2010s can be very disruptive for enterprise software, and I expect some “outside of PLM” competition in this domain. The first shot was done by SharePoint, but this is not the final one. There is a movement around CAD modeling on the Cloud. I think these are very positive researches and product we can see today are impressing. So, we’ll see the future. Good discussions, Thanks again. Best, Oleg

  • Good Site on Cloud Computing and SaaS – We are periodically looking for good blog information
    related to Amazon EC2. Also we are looking for contributors to add value to our blog.

    Keep up the good work!

    Thanks

  • Allen, Thanks for comments and link. Actually, I wrote something about EC2 before… You can take a look on this link – http://plmtwine.com/?s=EC2. Best, Oleg

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  • This is a really interesting piece. My comment in addition to the rest of these great comments is that you need to own your data because that is your business. It will be great to grab applications and process engines from the cloud but I think your data must be in house and also be maintained in a way that allows the application layer to be stripped off and replaced to be fully successful. Otherwise the cloud becomes the casual drug that becomes an addiction over time that can’t easily stopped…..
    David

  • David, I agree, you can grab various apps from the shelf. However, what means for you “to own data”? Getting back to my previous posts (http://plmtwine.com/2010/03/05/the-ugly-truth-about-plm-erp-monkey-volleyball/, http://plmtwine.com/2010/01/13/plm-hug-your-data-or-federate/, http://plmtwine.com/2009/06/11/who-owns-or-pwns-plm-master-data-in-your-company/), I think, the result of trying to “own” data in the enterprise is pretty disruptive. Data became an instrument in the competition. What is your view on that? Best, Oleg

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