Are you familiar with PLM platform diagrams? You can see lots of them in presentations, marketing materials, websites and conferences. Last year, during one of my presentations about PLM technological alternatives, I pulled bunch of these diagrams together. You can see them on the slide below. Usually, vendors call them “PLM platform” or “PLM architecture” diagrams.
One of the observations, I’ve made is that all these diagrams are using similar words and categories to explain what it does. Different colors, styles, pictures, growing number of boxes, but these platforms are essentially repeating themselves from year to year. Interesting enough, if you remove identity of companies, you can hardly lose the orientation – most of the diagrams are in indistinguishable.
I call this effect PLM wrappers. It reflects the interest of vendors to develop and package different vertical solutions and add-ins. Recent Dassault conference introduced a new name – “experience”. Read the following post by Jim Brown providing a good summary of what “experience” is. This is my favorite passage:
You will hear the new term floating “3D Experiences” around a lot from Dassault. Actually their are two more terms you may hear, “Social Industry Experiences” and “Engineered Business Experiences” but I took away that they are effectively different names for the same thing. Dassault teams are looking at specific business processes across their product lines (or “Brands” as DS likes to call them) to focus on what their customers in specific vertical markets need to do in order to get a job done. The best definition I heard came via twitter from Monica Schnitger quoting DS VP Stéphane Declée:
It made me think about American car manufacturers assembly lines back in 1970s. Remember how car manufacturers produced different car options? To change production line was too complex. The cost of changing assembly lines was too high. Ford, GM and other companies operated them “as is”. The difference between car models came in a form of body panels, chrome parts and options. Under all these options, the cars were essentially the same old vehicle.
What is my conclusion? The cost of re-engineering of PLM platforms is too high. PLM vendors are playing “catch-up” strategies by trying to achieve a completeness of their solutions and platforms. The number of boxes on PLM diagrams is growing. Will it make PLM solutions better? I doubt. The key question about flexibility and cost of change remains not answered. Automotive manufacturing history is well know. You can learn about it from Wikipedia. What will happen with PLM City in 10 years? A good question to ask. Detroit is not my favorite place on the planet these days. YMMV (your mileage may vary) is the standard disclaimers used by car manufacturers in Motor City. Just my thoughts and opinion…