PLM and Enterprise Integration Game

PLM and Enterprise Integration Game

Manufacturing company enterprise landscape becomes more and more complex every year. Companies are implementing new products and versions of existing products. PLM is one of them. One of the questions asked by any IT organization is how all products can be connected and integrated to support organization’s business processes. Historically, integration business, was considered as a very complicated. To solve a problem of system integrations with significant dependencies is not a simple task. The issue of PLM integration seems to me important. PLM business interest to support product-lifecycle related processes are heavily dependent on how PLM system will be able to maintain multiple integrations with enterprise systems – ERP, CRM, ECM, SRM, etc. The PLM’s rivals in this space is definitely ERP system. Many times, I had a chance to see how PLM – ERP integrations became one of the key topics to be resolved to improve product lifecycle management across the organization.

ERP Integration Challenges

ERP itself experiencing significant challenges in the space of “enterprise integration”. As a consequence of multiple diverse integration made by key ERP players in this space, the question of integration becomes an internal ERP problem. The key challenger in this space is Oracle with their multi-year, multi-billion program of Oracle Fusion. However, other players such as SAP and Infor are also deeply in their “integration tasks”. I recently read an article – Infor on track to trump Oracle in the integration game. Both, Infor and Oracle are making broad statements with regards to seamless enterprise integrations. Here is Infor’s passage:

“Infor ION services are designed to enable companies of all sizes to benefit from advanced yet simple application integration, business process management and shared data reporting.”

Enterprise Integration and PLM Focus

As part of their enterprise integration initiatives (Fusion Platform), Oracle is trying to bring more value into the PLM offering as well. Navigate your browser on this link to see a glimpse of integration architecture proposed by Oracle. Also, take a look on Oracle blog about Fusion Integration practices and you will learn how Oracle is planning to leverage Fusion platform to integration their Agile PLM. Does it make sense to me? Yes, it does. However it seems to me so 1990s…

What is my conclusion? PLM integration game can get back. I haven’t seen any significant announcement coming out of mindshare PLM vendors related to strengths of their integration capabilities. PLM vendors were too focused on the unification of their internal architectures in the past. At the same time, I can see PLM competition at the high-end customer segment will become stronger in coming years. With an urgent need to deliver results, PLM companies will turn their focus on win backs of big accounts. This is a place where PLM will need their integration technologies to fight against ERP vendors. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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  • Oleg,
    This is a topic near and dear to my heart. If you look at the technical requirments associated with integration most PLM and ERP vendors that have a fairly modern architecture can be tied together with a reasonable amount of effort. The real trick with integration is accountability and sustainability. Oracle’s Fusion platform may not be a huge leap forward technically but what it does provide is a sanctioned platform for integration that Oracle will stand behind. With technology constantly shifting and vendors rising and falling Oracle provides a platform of stabillity for their applications. This is the key for success in this area.

  • beyondplm

    Stephen, thank you for comments and insight. I had a chance to spend some time with different integration practices and technologies. Most of them are very expensive and when it comes to the implementation, customers prefer to have “custom tailored solution” to address integration issues. Oracle’s solution will be probably addressing problems of big customers. What I cannot understand is how/why Oracle can position their Oracle Fusion best practices as a product. This is, for sure, will require a significant service offering and customization… What is your view on this? Best, Oleg

  • Graham Mccall

    in a similar vein, here’s an article on technical options for integrating Teamcenter with ERP..

  • beyondplm

    Graham, Thank you for sharing this link. What, in your view, can differentiate TeamCenter integration options from other PLM systems? Best, Oleg

  • Oleg,
    In spite of what some claim to be out of the box solutions in the PLM space most offerings still require a significant service component. I don’t know that this automatically disqualifies something from being a product. With Fusion in its current state I think it is more of a best practice as you say and not yet mature enough to be considered a product. Ultimately, Oracle and others will use this platform to create “products”. For instance Oracle sells a process integration pack for Agile and EBS. This is closer to a product than the platform itself. As Fusion becomes more well known more developers will use it to create products for integration to Oracle technologies.

  • beyondplm

    Stephen, thank you for this comment and sharing of your view regarding Oracle. I think what you said is absolutely right- “product” is not always a real product and requires tailoring and customization. This is a reality of enterprise software, and it disturbs many people, in my view… Best, Oleg

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