PLM is transforming from pure engineering discipline into platform capable to manage a diverse set of data and processes. I can see first signs of this transformation in blurring of application boundaries. Vendors are focusing on interaction with users and how to support a complete business workflow. The shift towards platform thinking is another indication about coming changes.
It is hard to think about platform and user experience transformation without thinking about data that can feed new type of platform and application. Historically, PLM technologies and products are running on top of RDBMs systems. The technologies might vary, but the principles of data organization was the same. In the last few years, I can see shift towards slightly different data approach. Applications such as Teamcenter Active Workspace, PTC Navigate and some others are driven by alternative search and data technologies.
It made me think, PLM vendors might find themselves in the space occupied by MDM technologies in a near future. The Forrester Wave™: Master Data Management, Q1 2016: The 12 MDM Providers That Matter Most And How They Stack Up. You can get report here.
The following passage is interesting.
One of the newer entrants in the field, founded just a few years ago and based on a Cloud model, is Reltio. It was recognized by the research firm in the Wave document as a leader, thanks to executing a vision for next-generation MDM that includes “converging trusted Data Management with business insight solutions at scale” and using “Machine Learning and graph technology capabilities [to] enable a contextual data model.”
“The idea is to create a single common data foundation and visualize and present information for the business user in the context of their work, role, or department,” he says. “Present that in a unified view plus have intelligent recommendations around that.”
This is almost an identical message all PLM vendors are presenting these days as a new experience and engagement model. Does it mean PLM vendors will turn into MDM technology providers? Alternatively does it mean PLM vendors will be looking for additional technology to build new cloud based data foundation to represent a diversity of data? I think these and similar questions might be crossing PLM data these days.
What is my conclusion? Existing PLM technical foundations are built on top of relational databases and might be not sufficient to stand for the demands of customers in a distributed manufacturing world. PLM vendors as using some noSQL and search technologies (Exalead, ActiveWorkspace, etc.). The injection of new cloud-based technologies from MDM and other providers might bring innovation into this field. At the same time, the chance of PLM vendors to compete with MDM technologies outside of manufacturing realm is pretty low. Just my thoughts…
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Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of openBoM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain.