Who wants to manage Product Data?

One of the ambitious goals PLM puts in front of strategists, implementors and developers is to manage a product lifecycle from early on (requirements, initial product designs) and until the end of product lifecycle towards manufacturing, supply chain and disposal processes. At first glance, it sounds like a great idea, as it looks like PLM is on a fundamentally unique track of providing this solution to a customer…. but, here is the problem. I think that PLM is not really unique when it comes to the company’s landscape, and there are many different systems in organization claim to manage product data.

So, I decided to cluster a few tools from different areas to outline who are these “PLM” competitors to data in an organization. So far, I found five fundamental product domains.

  1. Content Management. This is company document storage. Most of the companies in this area are working primarily on documents, the ability to put them on the shelf, manage their access and lifecycles.  Since most of product lifecycle information in the end becomes a “document”  I’d put this companies on ‘Red Alert J…
  2. ERP /MRP. This is a traditional neighbor and competitor. PLM and ERP/MRP have been “competing” against each other for many years. I discussed this issue many times on blog. I don’t predict a “system expansion”. Many ERP vendors have a solution with a specific PLM flavor. We can see them and what they offer on the market.  These systems can evolve and claim to manage even more product data in the future.
  3. Business Process Management. This is a newly emerged trend. In my view, the BPM market is relatively small in manufacturing, and therefore BPM tools will feel they need to work out their potential in  PLM cases as well.
  4. MDM – Master Data Management has a relatively good adoption rate by big enterprise customers. In my view, as MDM cannot scale down, I’d provide limited importance to being able to compete with PLM. Indeed, we need to pay specific attention when we plan for enterprise PLM.
  5. Collaboration Tools and Applications. Hot topic. People are looking how to collaborate better. Various collaboration tools are looking at how to improve data management solutions too. With the introduction of Google Wave and the expanded future offering of MS SharePoint 2010, collaboration tools definitely can expand their offering to a more specific PLM space. There is a potential danger from the low end.

So, how will PLM be able to compete with these systems successfully?  This is a big question – which is why I’m asking for your advice and feedback here, as well as find out what else you have in mind.


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