I’m continuing to hear comments about importance of Open Source for PLM. It comes to me multiple ways during the last year, and I have to say that the overall knowledge about what means Open Source in various aspects related to software code, different type of licenses, customer communities. I think that PLM Open Source industry conversion is growing. Today, I want to figure out what is a potential tradeoff in Open Source PLM implementation. In my view, if a customer is thinking about Open Source, he needs to make a potential tradeoff in the context of the following three aspects: Business, Community and Technology.
Every manufacturing company is thinking in terms of their core business. What are the areas of innovation and how they can develop their market competitive advantages? Product Lifecycle Management has a direct impact on the development of company competence via providing services and tools to develop products, provide service and optimize engineering and manufacturing processes. For many years, making business with IBM was considered as a safe business decision. As soon as you put your core development processes into IBM safe deposit box, you will be ok. In my view, it is a still right way. And if you company is ready to pay a premium price for making business with IBM-like providers you can do it. However, you will need to play according to the IBM (and other rules). In every business, you have multiple risks and to choose how to manage them is your own choice. Your tradeoff with Open Source PLM is to choose a more vulnerable solution. You are taking definite risk stepping into this pathway. Even so, you can find appropriated options to compensate your risks by hiring more knowledgeable team or paying subscriptions. This is your choice, of course.
This is a very interesting aspect. In general you can consider a community contribution as a tax. Do you like taxes? This is a very good question :). My answer is – it is depending on how it will be used. If I think about old days standard creation communities presented sponsored by vendor and targeted to produce sort of a common denominator between different vendors. Nowadays, we can see a significant change in the way community can be created, valued and in the end monetized. To be a member of a community today means to have the most trusted relationships and information about what is going on. The common opinion of community members (vendors, customers, industry professionals) can have a different level of trust in comparison to the opinion of a single vendor. When you work with a specific vendor you can think in terms of committed relationships. This is an important for business and provide definite value. However, you can exchange this value and have a community opinion about what is trusted way to implement PLM that will be proven by community members. You won’t be able to convert to the legal terms, so it will be your decision in the end. So, this is another tradeoff, in my view.
I had chance to write some topics about innovation and PLM technologies before. The technology is certainly matters, and you want to use the best one to help you to develop innovative products. I think all PLM vendors these days have an impressive technological development. You can choose the best one for you and use it. The importance of this option should not be underestimated. This is still the most straightforward way to use technological development in production. On the contrary, I can say that technology innovation of well established software companies is following a particular pattern driven by multiple customer, business and product commitments. So, you are paying tax to have a committed technological roadmap. However, what if you want to have a risky business decision to drop this commitment in exchange of being involved into the community of technological and product innovation. This is a tradeoff. However, it may pay off by getting an access to something that well balanced and diversified due to community involvement.
Here is my simple take on PLM open source. I’m trying to think about industry and not about a specific vendor. Most of the debates I’m hearing about PLM open source is too focusing on a comparison between PLM software that coming from mindshare PLM leaders and Aras PLM. I think this is a wrong focus. In my view, we need to be more focused on customers and benefits of the industry. I certainly see lots of customers that will not have benefits from open source. However, I see many customers that can consider open source tradeoff as an appropriated way and will try to get a value from open source and an ability to build a wide community of customers related to PLM implementations.
Just my thoughts and the decision is yours.