Will PLM companies start buying ERP vendors?

Will PLM companies start buying ERP vendors?

For many years PLM and ERP were like water and oil. One is positioned for innovation and another is positioned for business execution. You cannot mix them and they belongs to two different categories of products. Until now the mix of ERP and PLM only happened from ERP side, when ERP companies were expanding towards engineering and CAD business. In most of these situations, ERP companies developed, acquired or partner with PLM businesses. There are many examples – Oracle + Agile PLM; Infor + Aras PLM, SAP + Right Hemisphere.

My attention was caught by Dassault Systemes announcement about IQMS acquisition. Check  out press release and an additional article here.

IQMS Enterprise IQ is full stack database driven application as you can see from this chart below.

Going back to 2013, IQMS announced Solidworks integration, which has very standard description – BOM, ECO, Updates:

“Projects such as this SolidWorks add-in are developed from the direct request of customers,” said Glenn Nowak, vice president at IQMS. “We strive every day to foster our customer relationships by listening to our manufacturers’ needs and automating processes to make them more accurate or save time. As an added bonus, when we develop for one, we develop for all, so our other IQMS clients can also now benefit from all that the SolidWorks add-in has to offer.”

Another data point, IQMS seems to be desktop application, but back in 2016 announced availability of Web user interface – WebIQ browser based applications. WebIQ is HTML5 based, but a complete mirror of existing Enterprise IQ functions.

WebIQ, which is based on HTML5 and JavaScript, recreates the existing EnterpriseIQ UI. In addition to providing the flexibility to use a range of popular devices and Web browsers, it eliminates the need to update client-side software or maintain terminal services functionality. As a result, manufacturers can eliminate a significant layer of IT cost.

Because WebIQ provides a one-to-one function match with the existing UI, users do not have to learn new key stokes or procedures. Additionally, WebIQ can be mixed and matched with IQMS’ current UI, giving current EnterpriseIQ users the option to adopt the new interface incrementally or all at once. Currently in field-testing, WebIQ will be generally available later this year.

From DS press release, I learned that solution will be targeted to midsize manufacturing and SOLIDWORKS customers. This is a very interesting news, especially in the context of last year RevZone partnership and introduction of SOLIDWORKS Manage. RevZone Manage is similar to IQMS – database driven application with Windows based user experience integration with Solidworks PDM professional. I wonder how all solutions will be inter-playing together.

More important thing from my view is the demand for mixed manufacturing and engineering functions in small to medium manufacturing companies. These companies are agile and lean and cannot afford running both ERP and PDM platforms. These companies might be looking at 3DEXPERIENCE as a modern cloud based platform providing online services to small and medium size manufacturing companies. How SOLIDWORKS will be transforming old PDM and ERP databases in a modern cloud platform – an interesting question to ask during coming SolidWorks World 2019 just in few months in Dallas, TX. 

What is my conclusion? IQMS is an interesting move from Dassault System, which can potentially trigger more acquisitions in ERP-PLM world. Solidworks is one of the most dominant solutions for small and medium size manufacturing companies. Bundle with ERP / MES, it can become more competitive and demand for PLM / ERP competitors to take actions to improve integration with Solidworks. At the same time, the on premise and hosted nature of IQMS services is bringing a question about cost and availability of the solution for small, but global manufacturers. Just my thoughts….

Best, Oleg

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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  • Lou

    A couple keys for effectively selling PLM and ERP in a bundle would be common or at least flexible architecture (with no middle-ware needed for integrating the two) and common user interface. Not sure if Dassault will get there with the tools you mention. They should probably not be putting a ton of money into old SQL platforms, though.

    Another one to keep an eye on might be Rootstock ERP and Propel PLM. I’m not sure how aggressively they are making joint sales pitches. But the common Salesforce platform should be intriguing, especially for younger companies working with a clean sheet of paper. The beauty too is that they are still independent companies. The problem with many PLM company acquisitions in the past (for example, quality modules, vaults, etc.) is the new modules tend to lose their competitive edge compared to independent tools over time.

  • beyondplm

    Lou, I totally agree with you about bundle with flexible architecture and common user interface. The tools DS acquired are old stack – both RevZone and IQMS aren’t new tools So, pros for DS is to get established user base and cons is tech and products. DS is conservative company with lot of cash. Customers are sticky in this segment. So, Dassault’s bet is on the time and holding customers. Also, they can acquire multiple companies and take some of them down. Nothing is wrong about it from a business standpoint.