NuoDB article – Product Lifecycle Management and the Cloud written by well-known PLM analyst Jim Brown caught me by the title -The Cloud Opportunity for PLM. “Cloud” isn’t a new word in a lexicon of PLM vendors. But, things are not simple in cloud PLM universe. My favorite passage speaks that PLM vendors are not doing well in delivering real benefits of cloud PLM.
Cloud adoption in Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) has been slower, at least partially due to limited demand from conservative customers. But initial concerns have given way to rational requirements and audits. This is creating a growing competitive need in PLM, and even the largest, traditional vendors are making strides.
Overall, cloud solutions offer lower implementation and cost risk for customers. But that same can’t be said for software vendors who find themselves facing a significant architectural transition. Many PLM vendors are already re-architecting toward a “platform” approach, making it a natural time to shift architectures. The technical considerations can be significant, but it’s not just a technical journey. There are implications to processes and organization as well.
The article is speaking about variety of challenges and technical aspects related to PLM transition to the cloud. Read the article – it brings many important data points about benefits of cloud and ways to overcome resistance to move to cloud technologies in PLM.
However, getting back to slow adoption of cloud PLM solution, the article made me think about 3 simple reasons why organization can decide to move to the cloud:
1. Low cost
The ugly truth, it is all about cost. Licenses, IT, infrastructure, maintenance, support, upgrades, etc. All together, it should be a good deal for an organization. Otherwise, nobody will move to the cloud. In fact, cost should be significantly lower to balance change involved into adoption of new tech, changed processes and new experience that will come with new SaaS (cloud) software. For “hosted” option of existing PLM system (platform), the importance of cost is even more obvious.
2. Improve collaboration
Manufacturing is getting even more distributed than ever. The number of contractors, suppliers, manufacturing locations is growing and cloud PLM better to offer something different than just browser access. But even for browser access, reliability and accessibility of software available in multiple time and geographic zones without IT organization doing heavy lifting can be a big deal. But the ability to collaborate between multiple users and organizations can be a real benefit to balance change and absence of some traditional on-premise software goodies.
3. Improve user experience and multiple devices
Unless cloud PLM you plan to adopt is a “hosted” version of on premise PLM platforms, there is a good chance it will come with user experience different from Windows and Microsoft Office popular for most of PLM systems developed for the last 10-15 years. Another aspect is access PLM system on multiple devices such as smart phones and tablets.
What is my conclusion? Although manufacturing companies often won’t speak about how sensitive cost in their decision to adopt PLM, it is still one of the main reasons that can turn companies to prefer cloud PLM compared to on premise option. Of course, I’m not speaking about license cost, but total cost of ownership combining IT cost, complexity of maintenance and support. Collaboration and global access can be another good reason why companies would prefer cloud option. Just my thoughts…
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.