What CAD and PLM partners will do in cloud era?

What CAD and PLM partners will do in cloud era?


Change is the most scary thing for established business. As Steve Blank said in his book – The Startup Owner’s Manualstartup is essentially an organization built to search for a repeatable and scalable business model. Opposite to that, established companies are executing existing repeatable and proven business models. And the last one is very hard to change. You need new skillset, which is usually means to retool you company with new vision and new team.

Cloud is the change that coming to shake PLM business. PLM leaders believe in smooth transition from CAD and PLM perpetual licenses to subscriptions. But the change can be actually turbulent. Partners and resellers is an essential part of today’s PLM business model. There is very little PLM vendor can do without partners – PLM software requires significant consulting and service implementation effort.

My attention was caught by Zerowait-State blog articles – The PLM State: Finally, Built From the Ground-up, a New Cloud-based MCAD Application and The PLM State: What is Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander – A PLM Path to the Cloud. Articles have some marketing flavor promoting vendors and partnership, but this is not a main point. I found interesting to find how PLM consulting and service company is promoting new cloud-based approach in both CAD and PLM applications.

You see, in our world, what is important is the outcome you are seeking: communicating your design intent and preserving this in a form you can edit and return-to for future iterations with as little rework as possible.  Accordingly, being able to easily share this information with those needing it throughout the enterprise while enabling de-duplication of information (i.e., single source of truth) is critical. And, above all, we need these capabilities to be independent of hardware, device type and geography.

Currently there are a number of promising cloud-based PLM solutions but none of them have reached the level of maturity to rival the capabilities of on premise PLM technology.  Cloud-based solutions are starting to dominate CRM, ERP and HRM spaces, but PLM presents unique challenges, especially around the amount of data PLM stores. Eventually this issue will be resolved, but today, vaulting CAD data or large numbers of attachments could be a logistical and technical nightmare. On the other side of the coin, there are a number of cloud-based point solutions around time tracking and issues and requirements tracking that are more robust and flexible than what is possible in on premise PLM. In general, the user interface and capabilities of these new cloud solutions promote wider adoption of technology and improve productivity. Ideally, it would be nice to have the robust and broad capability of on premise PLM combined with the flexibility and ease of use offered by newer cloud applications.

Both passages made me think PLM partners are building bridges in the future technologies and business models in both PLM and CAD applications. In my article from 2014, I was sharing my thoughts about how future PLM should move from sync to link. It is a better way to handle information. To allow efficient data reuse, we need to think more about how to link data together and not synchronize it between applications and databases. This is not a simple task. Industry that years was taking “sync” as a universal way to solve problem of data integration cannot shift overnight and work differently. This is how existing CAD and PLM systems are operating. And “integrations” (or data sync) is what almost all partners are doing to make PLM implementation successful. The move towards cloud services is creating an opportunity to work with data differently. It will provide new technologies of data integration and data management. It also can open new ways to access data across silos. As a system that manage product data, PLM can introduce a new way of linking information and help to reuse data between applications. It is an opportunity for PLM partners to change.

What is my conclusion? When industry is changing you want to be on the right side or, at least, to have a bridge. This is what PLM partners are doing and Zerowait-state is a great example. I can see an interesting analogy in the article between Oracle PLM and Propel PLM in the way it was compared Siebel Systems and Salesforce.com. PLM partners are moving towards new technologies and PLM providers to insure their future will be safe in the transition to cloud CAD and PLM. The value of integration will be the one to beat on- future cloud PLM products won’t be a monolithic platforms, but a collection of agile linked services.  Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my new PLM Book website.

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. My opinion can be unintentionally biased


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