The “New Normal” Wake Up Call for Enterprise PLM

I came across the interesting blog article in CIO online “Why the New Normal Could Kill IT?” by Thomas Weilgum earlier this month. The article filled some of my niches related to thinking about future disruption of PLM I had with Jim Brown. If you had no chance to read my previous posts related to my and Jim’s discussion you can take a look on the following links – Will Google App Disrupt PLM? and  Is PLM Customization a Data Management Titanic?

I made some write up when reading CIO article.

Look at ERP systems, for instance. These are the financial, administrative and procurement backbone of every organization. ERP spend gobbles up huge chunks of the corporate allocation pie. So how are ERP software suites viewed today? With about as much love as Toyota execs have for “unintended acceleration.” In a recent survey, 214 business executives stated the inability to easily modify their ERP system deployments is disrupting their businesses by delaying product launches, slowing decision making, and delaying acquisitions and other activities that ultimately cost some up to $500 million in lost opportunities.

Complexity Hinders Software Success. “Two-thirds of survey respondents say the enterprise IT environment is more complex than it was five years ago,” notes the survey report. “The proliferation of technology combined with intricate organizational dynamics has raised the level of business IT complexity to the point of holding back software success.”

Just before he left Sun Microsystems (JAVA), Tim Bray, the former director of Web technologies, had this to say (in a blog post) about the current state of enterprise systems: “Doing it wrong. Enterprise systems, I mean. And not just a little bit, either. Orders of magnitude wrong. Billions and billions of dollars worth of wrong. Hang-our-heads-in-shame wrong. It’s time to stop the madness.”

With regards to the last one made by Tim Bray, remember Tim’s move from Oracle to Google and his intro notes here.

It made me think about some of PLM problems, their position inside of the overall enterprise apps forest and potential future steps. There are two fundamental problems in enterprise software that fits very well Thomas’ analyzes – absence of flexibility and huge cost of change. Actually, I see them very complementary. The overall enterprise PLM strategies moved into the direction to expand PLM in the additional domains for PLM by focusing on multiple business processes. However, enterprise PLM stacks in my view with implementation of the technological platform they made. Moving between multiple legacy apps, changing data models, adapting new features and apps to the latest releases of the software – this is my short list of the most common PLM problems in the enterprise.

So, what is next? What is the chance that the enterprise PLM apps will be covered by volcanic lava of existing enterprise problems. What will be enterprise PLM silver bullet on the way to become “new normal” and not “old legacy?”.  My take on this in the following three areas:

1. Invest into flexibility of PLM platforms.
This is probably sounding crazy for enterprise PLM techies. PLM vendors invested  a lot in the platform work during the last 3-5 years. However, I think, life around moves much faster than re-engineering of enterprise PLM platforms. New enterprise and cloud platform players are coming with very disruptive proposals about how to provide a new type of the apps for enterprise organization. And, the top on the list is cost of change in the existing enterprise PLM/PDM data backbones.

2. Focus on Games and 3D.
Think about cool. 3D and Games are cool, and we are experiencing it in our everyday life in consumer space. Why it should be different in product development, design and manufacturing?. So, move to the new apps and technologies in this domain.

3. Validate new business models.
The current enterprise licensing models need to change. Companies are dissatisfied with high upfront license cost and value, they are getting from enterprise apps. Investment into subscription and other busienss models (like freemium) can be an interesting turn for enterprise PLM.

Just my thoughts…
Best, Oleg



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