PLM Next Big Things

Last week I had the chance to attend COFES 2009 forum in Scottsdale, AZ. It had a great atmosphere and there were excellent discussions about the present and future of design and engineering software. While I’m still digesting everything I’ve seen and talked about, I’d like to focus my thoughts about the potential next big things in PLM. I will try not to stick with particular buzzwords and TLA (three letter acronyms), but give more explanation about what should be achieved.

Technological Reuse of (New technologies, Computing, Collaboration tools). This sounds too broad, so let me try to explain. From my perspective, most of today’s PDM/PLM products were developed based on a pretty stable set of technological assets – Database and File Management technologies, PC and Windows Operational systems. The last time I saw significant achievements in new technologies were in those such as cloud data services, rich internet application user experience. Windows and other platform /technological providers accumulated a large potential for the development of collaboration capabilities. I think that providers who reuse these technologies and capabilities will be able to gain a significant competitive advantage in today’s market.

Low-cost PLM solutions. I think our industry has already seen introductions of products that have significantly changed the product landscape in terms of cost and availability. The first change came with the first introduction of AutoCAD on PC, followed by the introduction of SolidWorks and other 3D CAD on Windows. The next significant change came with the introduction of affordable PDM solutions in the mid 1990s (i.e. SmarTeam, Agile etc.) based on Windows technologies. I think that we are going to face the next step and delivery of very affordable solutions that will allow us to collaborate and manage product data and processes in a way we have never seen before. These solutions will leverage all available new platform technologies and may be focused on vertical market solutions.

Social Tools. To Tweet or Not To Tweet (kidding :)…). But this is the next important question we need to answer regards how PLM/PDM will leverage the huge potential of social networking, crowdsourcing and social computing. I don’t think there is a choice. I think that the companies that will be do this fast and will be able to connect to the social environment for PDM/PLM will have a significant competitive advantage tomorrow. But, I don’t think that means we should try to introduce “yet another social platform”. This is beyond people’s capacity, since there is a physical limit to how many social networks to which you can be connected at the same time. The biggest power of a social environment is to be connected and consolidated with existing networks and social platform capabilities.

As I mentioned, I’m going to digest and analyze COFES 2009 over the next few days or weeks, and I’m sure will come up with additional ideas to discuss. I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.


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