The Future Of PLM Walmarting

Say “PLM” to anyone, and you hear the words “complex” and “expensive”. However, thinking about trajectories of different technologies, I came to the conclusion that it always introduced as something very expensive and then going down to become cheaper and, in the end, even free. It was a story of so many technological inventions in many industries. There are many outside of PLM examples. The most valuable insider’s stories related to the evolution of CAD systems. Even in the data management domain, we can definitely see a trend to move from expensive custom-built PDM systems to windows-based mid-priced solutions. It gave a certain push in the adoption level and allowed to “non-Boeing” customers to come and taste these products and technologies.

The Parallel History of CAD/PLM and Walmart
Let’s take an unusual look on how companies and product can grow within time. Let’s take a look first on the very interesting video of WalMarts growth across United States from 1964 until 2007. I think this video is amazing and shows viral WalMart distribution. You can take a look on the interactive map following this link.

Now let’s take a look on the following framgment. “This video is a TV show made about the software Ivan Sutherland developed in his 1963 thesis at MIT’s Lincoln Labs, “Sketchpad, A Man-Machine Graphical Communication System”, described as one of the most influential computer programs ever written. This work was seminal in Human-Computer Interaction, Graphics and Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs), Computer Aided Design (CAD), and contraint/object-oriented programming“. These are definite roots of CAD and PLM.

The Future Is PLM Walmarting
In my view, there is a very interesting paradox related to PLM. I can see Product Lifecycle Management ideas as a vision and practical guidance about how to manage product from their entire life. These ideas are getting good acceptance from many people in the organizations. At the same time, as soon as discussion is going towards software and vendors, I can hear much more negative context about what PLM can and cannot do. Here is my point — to walmart PLM! It needs to be done easy, cheaper, simpler. It needs to be open and available. It needs to solve initially the subset of problems that relevant to everybody and not requires implementation time.

What is my conclusion today? I love Wal-Mart’s mission statement: “To give ordinary folk the chance to buy the same thing as rich people“. I’d like to think about a direction toward the future of PLM — To give all engineers the chance to buy and use the same software as Boeing, Toyota, Honda, Airbus… I don’t think it is about people and methodology. They will not learn how to use complicated software. This is about software…

Just my thought.
Best, Oleg

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