PLM and digital transformation rebranding

PLM and digital transformation rebranding

My attention was caught by ABI Research Report Whitepaper shared by PTC. Check this out –5 Steps to Master Digital Transformation. Here is an advertising passage:

We are in the midst of a digital revolution that is disrupting businesses across all industries. Enterprise companies today need a clear strategy to drive better outcomes, achieve greater efficiency, and create better customer experiences. (1) The challenges and solutions for digital transformation (2) Four core technologies to implement into your business (3). A step-by-step framework to execute

You need to leave your email to get the whitepaper. So, I left my Beyond PLM email and grabbed the document. The following chart shows the result of the research – the desired outcome of digital transformation. We can see the usual suspects on the top of the list – productivity, process streamline, data management, etc.

Download the document and draw your opinion about recommendations.  I can cover a bulleted list of recommendation (5 steps):

1- Appoint CDO (Chief Digital Officer)
2- Train cross-functional team
3- Decide about business goals
4- Foster collaboration
5- Scale application

My favorite passage about the role of PLM:

PLM brings together data, people, processes, and enterprise systems to manage product data from inception through design, engineering, and monitoring in the field. It serves as a backbone for all of these other technologies and essentially gets the right data to the right stakeholders, such as for equipment manufacturers wanting to close the feedback loop between sales, marketing, and R&D. These data can include product data from design changes and 3D CAD data to maintenance records. These resources provide a solid foundation for other transformative technologies by enabling engineers, operators, and other manufacturing and industrial process professionals to systematically detect (track), inspect (trace), and rectify (troubleshoot) potential failures.

I like the paper, steps, and recommendations on how to set up a new digital transformation process. But here is the thing-  it is painfully reminded me all other PLM recommendation whitepapers explaining how making strategy, establishing a single platform and mapping it to business goals will lead to wider adoption of PLM in the organization. Besides a few new technologies such as AR and IoT with device connectivity, the fundamental principles of digital transformations are the same as we’ve seen it for PLM.

What is my conclusion? Digital transformation is an extremely interesting technological and business trend. It can make a huge difference in manufacturing. But the danger is to take it as another step in selling existing technologies with a new name. A key problem manufacturing companies need to solve is how to streamline processes via connecting information silos and providing a new type of technology to impact the way manufacturing companies are doing business. The technology is a big deal in my view because it is the only variable factor. Without technological differentiation, new “Digital transformation” will be simply a rebranding of existing PLM products with few cool features outside. 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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  • norsjo


    I could not agree more with you. In my work I get to see Digital Transformation across many industries, and my view is the manufacturing industry’s PLM’s point of view has been ahead of time for a long time. What was being discussed in PLM events 5 years ago is where Digital Transformation is just arrived at in other domains.

    So what went wrong? Unfortunately I don’t know, but part of it is likely down to the introvert nature of engineers and the complexity of PLM. This has led to more extrovert leadership being attracted to other industries and generating more buzz without needing to have depth.

    But time moves on and before PLM tries to rebrand as Digital Transformation it needs to know we are in the Post-Digital era, according to our colleagues at Accenture. Or my spin on that is the “post-truth tech” era 😉


  • beyondplm


    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and the link. In my experience PLM failed because of high level of complexity and politics of large enterprises.

    Btw, what is the point of post-truth? How is that related to digital transformation?

    Best, Oleg