SME was always a different nut to crack for PLM vendors. My last year article “Why PLM vendors stuck to provide solution for SME” shares some of my ideas why it happened. PLM vendors attacked smaller manufacturing companies with flexible platforms and out-of-the-box solutions. But it was though. Many implementations failed. Even more went completely out of budget. The PLM implementation project usually is the most complicated part.
It seems to me, cloud is the last refuge of PLM vendors to increase an adoption of PLM by SME companies. Autodesk was one of the first large vendors that took cloud technologies as a central part of their strategy. Among variety of cloud products Autodesk developed for the last few years, Autodesk PLM360 is the one that offer new type of PLM solution – SaaS application available via subscription from public cloud.
Over the weekend, my attention caught by Engineering.com article Is PLM an Option for SME’s? by Verdi Ogewell gives an good check mark on what is happening with Autodesk PLM 360. It brings a perspective from analysts (CIMdata and Gartner) as well as testimonial from one of the long time PLM360 customers (Roulunds Braking) originally started to use PLM 360 when it was Datastay (company and product that provided core technology for what is current called PLM 360).
Cloud is clearly solving the problem to ramp up PLM system quickly. Stan Przybylinski of CIMdata explains why is that:
“For the small and medium sized enterprises (SME) targeted by Autodesk with PLM 360, the Cloud is an easy, low cost way to get started on PLM. There are really no services required, which is a stark contrast with the legacy on-premises leaders.”
Integration is remaining a very painful thing in PLM implementations. Which confirms some of my thoughts that future of manufacturing will depend on solving old PLM-ERP integration problems. The following passage can give you some idea how and why it is hard for manufacturing companies to decide about PLM-ERP integrations:
The connections to the ERP-system are often surrounded by manual work involving spreadsheets.How did Roulunds solve this problem? Mark Lawrence tells me that they have been pushing this issue during the last three years. “But these things take time, and it’s still on the table. The whole idea that I’ve raised is to integrate it with SAP via SAP’s own integration software. There are no connections right now, but that’s what we’re looking to do in the future. When we update information in Autodesk it would update SAP automatically, and if we update SAP it would update Autodesk,Then the system will track which information was updated and at what time, whether it goes through an approval process in the meantime or if it is fully automated. These things have to be decided.”
But, it is wrong to think that cloud is a silver bullet that will change PLM world for SME companies overnight. Autodesk is growing PLM 360 use base and revenues. Engineering.com gives a data point for $72M revenues for Autodesk cPDM, but didn’t provide a product breakdown Autodesk is selling in cPDM segment. One of the conclusions that SME customers are still remaining a tricky problem to solve even for Autodesk.
But nothing comes easy in the world of PLM for product realization processes among SMB companies. “Even cloud-based software comes with investments and necessary planning. For example, it is vital to plan for migrating data, organizing content within the application, and structuring the user environment for easy content access and change management,” Gartner’s Halpern concludes.
What is my conclusion? Cloud is an important element to change PLM from heavy weight on-premise projects into agile and lean solutions. PLM360 provides a very interesting solution that done a lot things to create modern browser based user experience and leverage public cloud infrastructure for PLM projects and implementations. Still PLM implementations and integrations are remaining though problem for PLM. Will PLM360 found a magic formula how to crack SME segment? This is a good question to ask. I’m coming to Accelerate 2015 – Autodesk PLM360 conference in Boston this week and hope to learn more and share it with you. Stay tuned…
Note: you can register to Accelearte 2015 keynote presentation streaming online here.