PLM Platform Wars: Who is Right or Who is Left?

PLM Platform Wars: Who is Right or Who is Left?

CAD and PLM world is extremely competitive. The decision process in the manufacturing industry is not fast. Companies are spending significant budgets evaluating tools, benchmarking, comparing and, in the end of this process, supposed to make a right decision about what tools to use. During the last couple of months, I observed a growing amount of announcements made by PLM companies informing about “yet another major company” making a right choice by selecting a CAD or PLM system from a specific vendor.

Just few examples from Joe Brakai’s article: Industry on the Move — The Quest for Effective Global Product Lifecycle Management. PTC announcement about Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors Corporation (HKMC) about selection of PTC’s Windchill as its enterprise PLM software. Siemens PLM Software announced that Aston Martin is selecting the Siemens’ NX CAD software for design and engineering, and Teamcenter PLM software to manage product and process information. Two months before, Daimler AG, selected NX as a corporate CAD Software standard. Earlier, Chrysler selected Teamcenter as its corporate-wide PLM software. Two months before, Volvo Group has adopted PTC’s Windchill. Here is my favorite passage from Joe’s article:

OEMs are realizing that the traditional heterogeneous and fragmented product lifecycle management environment, even when compromised of excellent tools, is unable to provide the level of visibility, manageability, and fidelity of decision-making required, and are taking steps to migrate to a design and manufacturing environment capable of supporting a global platform strategy.  This environment must be standard-based and open in order to facilitate a single source of all data for design, manufacturing and supply chain processes across vehicle design and manufacturing programs.

Another interesting publication is Automotive Sector Ground Zero for PLM Battles by Beth Stackpole of Design News. Beth is discussing the same announcements made by PLM and major automotive vendors. However, I found the following passage interesting.

The automotive sector, which has a deep roots in evolving PLM software and practices, is shaping up as a fresh battleground for the major vendors in this category with all touting recent customer wins that play up their strengths and cement their positions as core development platforms for next-generation vehicles.

My best read about PLM movement in the automotive world is Al Dean’s article in Develop 3D – All Change in the Automotive World. I recommend you to have a read. Some of final Al’s thoughts struck me to think about V6 innovation.

There have been three pretty big moves away from Dassault or a decision to not take on Enovia during benchmarks. With a two year benchmark cycle being common, one has to wonder if there’s a link back to the launch of V6? A curious thing indeed.

In my view, V6 created disruption, innovation and challenge at the same time. The bundling of CATIA into Enovia V6 is creating a lot of possibilities that never been available before from the standpoint of collaborative design and data management. Initial introduction of the systems raised a lot of IT questions that need to be resolved.

What is my conclusion? I wanted to remind wise and relevant words of Bertrand Russell: “War does not determine who is right – only who is left”. The war between PLM platforms can become a disaster for customers. Customers are spending million of dollars investing money in “unbreakable closed platforms”. Each of these systems contains lots of data, which has much bigger value compared to the software that eventually will be re-written every 5-10 years. I think, openness wins for a long run. In my view, PLM companies are only playing with openness. Who will take it seriously first? This might be a company that is left after the battle? Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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  • marclind

    Nice post, couldn’t agree more. Products fight, open wins over the long term. There will be many casualties along the way, don’t u think? As the say in hockey, skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it currently is. Looking into the future “open” will play an increasingly important role in the decisions. To us we believe that we’re already there and as companies realize the legacy deficiencies … Companies making decisions now will realize in 3-5 yes that the need to make another choice after years of work with little to show for it. Looks like the industry has another decade of struggles w/ only limited results for customers. We’ll be here with the most open & modern platform in the industry. Should be interesting, don’t you think?


  • Good points Oleg!
    As Eurostep we of course share your thinking about openess and standards. The cost of replacing a PLM system is huge and very painful for users. The need and understanding of standards is gaining momentum. I do not think the big vendors will embrace it more than for limited data exchange. They are competing with features that are not standardized and they need to control their kernels to act the way they are doing. In the war between the big PLM vendors this approach makes sense in many ways. Suppliers of standards based solutions are smaller. But look at what can be done with PLCS, STEP AP233, 203, 214 etc. The scope is bigger than what is offered by the big vendors. Is this a paradigm shift where the overall PLM framework is standards based and provides intergration of “silos” MCAD, ECAD, SW, Systems Engineering data such as requirements and data for/from modeling and simulation?
    I think so. All this data is part of product data. It would be great if you can make it to the Share-A-space Forum in May in Stockholm, to see how the standards are used in real life.

    At PDT Europe in 2009 in Versailles there was a presentation titled “How do we replace our new PLM system” by Sean Barker BAE Systems. Cool title don’t you think so?

    CEO Eurostep Group

  • SBruhn

    Good points.

    Requirements come first.
    Standards second.
    Tools last.

    Things have just been done out of order, and getting them in order would be very cumbersome.

  • Hello Oleg,
    good post – thank you.
    It made me think about a trade-off that some companies are currently facing: the choice between end-to-end OOTB vs. open, standards-based PLM solutions. I discussed this here:
    Best regards,

  • Awadhesh Parihar

    Hi Oleg
    While there have been much debate on PLM packages – what they could do and what they can’t, I haven’t seen much discussion around what should be the ‘right PLM’ or much to my disdain even a discussion such as ‘What is PLM beyond PDM and TDM’. If we were to make a humble begenning here, or further posts, please do critique the following suggestions around ‘right PLM’:
    a) PDM schema implementation in ‘standard’ PLM packages is outdated in terms of technology. If CAD data replication or geographically partioned CAD vaults is seen as a problem in pervasive engineering, and if we dont want to get into the ‘geometry representation standards debate’, answers lie in PDM schema implementations. Would anyone want to consider ‘ Google Big Table’ for the PDM schema implementation? An unorthodox view for the PLM industry which never ever questioned the superemacy of relational databases, while dealing with CAD files and multi-site replication all the time
    b) If there is a merit in using big table for PDM schema, next change shoul be in the way PLM business processes are implemented. Lets say we never really supported NPDI or Enteprrise BOM Synthesis in PLM packages. or we never could. So lets consider that BPEL workflows around NPDI or aggregating enteprise BOM, rewritten from scratch and web services connect to the applications/data be the ‘face of PLM’ to the enterprise users
    c) Now, coming to PLM itself. Lets not call it PLM anymore, better coinage in my opinion would be ‘intellectual asset lifecycle management (IALM)’. If you are trying to manage the ‘heavy lifting’ that is done, from engineering data standpoint, for say, setting up ‘Major projects’ for O&G companies, PLM doesn’t really come to the rescue, while it definitely is the right tool in my opinion. I had been dealing with ISO 15926 in some such situation and couldn’t help draw similarities to PLM..
    d) Lets accord special focus to ‘systems engineering/requirements engineering’ in the ‘right PLM’, if we want to leverage the advances in ‘social networking’. Let ‘social’ be limited to ‘networking’ the employees and partners of an enterprise, to begin with..
    e) Let cloud computing be seen as ‘deployment’ detail for such ‘right PLM’ than any disruption. For the ‘statusquo PLM’ in contrast, cloud is definitely a disruption and so was ‘concurrent engineering’

    In conclusion, I would like to propose a collaborative and open discussion about the ‘right PLM’, as right as all of us think should be. There is no point talking about history and histrionics of PLM if we can’t help the emergence of a better PLM, better products and better future. And in my opinion, data model, process model, integration model and security model should be challenged keeping in mind the advances in Information Technology at large. If it helps in emergence of a better PLM, we all would have contributed meaningfully to it.

  • Dr Rainer Stark

    Hello Oleg,
    I would like to add one important factor based on my experience in having rolled out twice a complete new set of PLM tools and engineering solutions in globally dispersed automotive business: we might face a time in 5 to 10 years where the technology war will no longer be the decisive argument for industrial companies in terms of saving/extending their virtual product creation capability. We are severely facing the challenge of “new engineering competence” in combination with “robust” PLM technology. The later one can not be guaranteed any longer, the first one unfortunately is not yet or no longer (!) in control within the companies (which is not officially admitted). Therefore, today’s challenge of “PLM wars” will turn into a challenge of “war on PLM competence”. The time is up to start thinking in different terms. Unfortunately, the actual use of PLM is unexplored which provides a weak base for the real discussion which need to take place.

  • beyondplm

    Rainer, thanks for sharing your insight! I can think about “robust” PLM technologies case based on some historical examples of technological advantages going mainstream. In CAD it was PTC. SolidWorks wasn’t much about technology, but more about the user experience. AutoCAD is an example of massive mainstream and technological enablement. Some technological achievements in SQL and RDBMS made today’s PLM technologies possible. The future here is not clear to me… However, I’m not sure getting what you call “war on PLM competence”. What is that about? Today PLM vendors are trying to present so called “vertical solutions” or “best practices” as a competence. I don’t see them as a long term achievement. Even more, I can see it as a disadvantage for a longer term. I was writing about pros and cons behind “best practices” before –
    Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Awadhesh, thank you for such a deep analyzes and insight sharing.The technologies and trends you mentioned make sense to me. I wrote about them in the past – noSQL, cloud, BPEL and processes, deployments and flexibility… You can search my blog for these words to find what is my opinion on that.

    With regards to the question “what is the right PLM?” – is incorrect. PLM is about product development, and product development is different (and to some level unique) in every company. So, there is no “right PLM”. PLM (or whatever name will come later…) is about how to help people in manufacturing company to get a job done. Just my thoughts…


  • beyondplm

    Jens, You are welcome! In my view PDM/CAD bundle becomes a norm. PLM won’t be going the same path. When you can standardize on Check-in/Check-out/Release. This is what PDM is about. However, it is nearly impossible to standardize the whole product dev. process between manufacturing companies… Just my thoughts.

    If you haven’t had a chance take a look on the following post- CAD, PDM and PLM diversity:
    Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    SBruhn, thanks for the comment! The reality of enterprises is multiple tools. Vendors are trying to avoid this topic and continue to believe in a “singularity”. The first vendor which will succeed with no-singular approach will be able to turn the clock in a different direction. Just my opinion. Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Hakan, thanks for your insight! I agree – the title is very cool. In my view, it is also very true – the PLM system becomes old even before it comes to production. And this is a result of long implementation cycles and change management. However, the investment in standards is expensive and many vendors are trying to avoid it. STEP is a great success. Nevertheless, I don’t think STEP has a power to turn the clock in a backward direction with regards to all what related to manufacturing and product development processes. The diversity is too high. I’d love to discuss this topic with you with the opportunity… Best, Oleg

  • beyondplm

    Marc, thanks for sharing your insight! I believe “open” will play a huge role in the future of enterprise and manufacturing software. It started, but it is still not strong enough… Remember my old post? — Best, Oleg

  • gazoomi

    There are some excellent points raised in these posts, thanks for that. I agree with most of what is said.
    Just one point not to forget. I have been involved in two benchmarks in the last few years, one of them a very large one in Aerospace sector.
    The above comments discuss the technical points and use terms such as “technology war”, “PLM war” etc. In both benchmarks I was involved in the technology was important but just as important were PLM vendor attributes such as competence, openness to customer requirements, vision and future trends, commercial issues etc. I just want to remind that the technology is only a part of the story of a benchmark.
    Just my thoughts

  • beyondplm

    James, Thanks for the comment! I absolutely agree with you. Technology is only part of the story. Customer relations, openness, commercials and other topics are very important too. From your experience, what was the most critical non-technological issue during the benchmark you mentioned? Best, Oleg

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