PLM and ERP integration is not a new topic. Step in the discussion about any PLM implementation and you will come to the topic of PLM+ERP integration in less than 5 minutes. Integration between two enterprise software suites is usually a complicated tasks which involves lots of planning, adjustments and hard-wiring from both sides.
Cloud software brings a new perspective to PLM / ERP integration domain. Of course, it will not dismiss planning stage. Lots of EPR and PLM planning tasks are still needs to be done. However, cloud integration is simpler. Web APIs and architecture as well as cloud deployment can make integration between cloud products easier. Early stage SaaS products exposed some difficulties in integration. Usage of REST APIs and additional cloud-based integration tools is streamlining integration tasks.
Earlier this week Autodesk and NetSuite announced partnership focused on providing seamless integration between two products – Autodesk PLM360 and NetSuite. You can find press release of the announcement by navigating to the following link. Here is an interesting passage:
The bi-directional integration of these revolutionary cloud technologies gives manufacturers a single, closed-loop solution to accelerate product design and development, reduce risk of errors and delays, streamline supply network collaboration, and gain critical real-time visibility into costing, scheduling, capacity and profitability.
Market research shows that manufacturers are increasingly turning to cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications to run product development, production, supply chain, order management, financials and other core business applications without the time and cost burden of on-premise software and servers. Gartner predicts that nearly half (47 percent) of manufacturers worldwide will be using or piloting SaaS applications by 2015, up from just 2 percent in 2010.
In the following video, Gavin Davidson and Brian Roepke demonstrate the new integration between NetSuite Manufacturing and Autodesk PLM 360 software at SuiteWorld 2013:
Couple of thoughts about the scenario presented. I found natural to see not only traditional BOM transfer function during the PLM/ERP integration, but also modern social collaboration functions presented by NetSuite. Also, additional cloud-based tools such as Fusion 360 (cloud design CAD) and online cloud simulation tools naturally fit into the scenario.
What is my conclusion? Integration is tough topic. Usually it requires implementation effort and additional services. It looks like cloud software (both ERP and PLM) is about to define a new trend in the ability to establish a different level of integration. Time and customers will show how it will work. Nevertheless, it is clear that cloud vendors are trying to resolve old integration problems in a different way. Just my thoughts…
Disclosure: I’m responsible for PLM and Data Management product development at Autodesk.