PLM: Lipstick on a Pig or Missed Opportunity?

I had a chance to read AESSIS blog post – Why Some People Don’t Like PLM?Graham started absolutely important discussion about mainstream adoption of PLM in the organizations. I had a chance to write about this in the past. Navigate your browser on the following link – Complexity Kills or 3 ways to improve PLM adoptions. I specially liked this passage from Graham’s post:

…I think the bottom line is that PLM requires people to change their behaviours. This is hard to do. Just look around you. People continue to do all kinds of things that are bad for themselves and others. And managing information poorly, not sharing it, not organising it etc…seems pretty benign compared with some things I could mention… and yet it costs organisations billions. People don’t want to change despite obvious benefits to the wider organisation.

The last statement is just brilliant – "people don’t want to change". However, the next conclusion got my blood boiling somewhat. Graham is proposing to think about "incentive" for people to start using PLM. This is a place where I think we have a kind of disagreement with Graham. So, I decide to put some thoughts about that below.

Enterprise Software: Love and Hate?

Have you had a chance to hear the following statement? – "Enterprise software is not fun. We came here to work and not to have fun". Let me guess what is that about? It is probably coming from some kind of enterprise software implementations. Enterprise software consistently sold to executives and IT and not to end users. Then, obvious statement came – you should not love this software, just do your job! However, I see this paradigm slowly changing over the last decade. Usability started to play a more and more important role. Users started to dump consistently buggy and not useful software, and vendors started to think about how to make their enterprise portfolios nicer.

PLM Idea vs. PLM Reality

I can see PLM as a step child of enterprise software. PLM wasn’t born as a pure "enterprise package". Predecessors of PLM – CAD and PDM, had deep roots in engineering and R&D departments. Competition brought the usability revolution to CAD software first. PLM didn’t get there… yet? The original PLM idea was good. To provide a way to manage information about products on all stages of product development. The implementation reality was different. Engineering and product development is a complex field. One size doesn’t fit all. Vendors failed to create simple and easy to implement software. Complexity of PLM environments and implementations made people dislike the changes that always coming with PLM.

Quality, Incentives and Opportunity

I’m thinking about a quality. Something wrong happens with a quality of enterprise software. PLM is just a very good example. Time ago, the quality of cars was awful. It created an opportunity and we got much better cars during the last 10-15 years. Similar things happened with consumer software and the internet. You run away from a low quality website, stop using low quality phones and other consumer software. Nobody is thinking about how to create an incentive to use a bad consumer software. Why we think it should be acceptable for PLM or enterprise software? I think, real incentive is an opportunity to create a better software.

What is my conclusion? Last then years were prime time for "consumer IT". Think about how much was done during these years in the internet, office applications, telecommunication, etc.? In my view, we are coming to the point when we need to start counting next ten years of "enterprise IT". Next ten years will put enterprise IT "on fire", so in 2020 we’ll not need to find incentives to use buggy PLM enterprise software. Will we call it PLM? I don’t know…

Best, Oleg


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