Mid-market PLM: Smashed Or Transformed?

I’m following PLM for mid-market trends Jos Voskuil’s virtualdutchman blog. This weekend, I had chance to read his PLM for mid-market mission impossible post: PLM for the mid-market – mission impossible. Jos figured out two main characteristics of PLM:

[… There are two main characteristics for this mid-market:

Sales and implementation of software is done through Value Added Resellers and not through the vendors or big service companies. The software revenue per customer does not justify high expenses for global consultants with additional high expenses due to travel costs (and sometimes the local language issue). The local VAR is supposed to be the point of contact.

Mid-market companies do not change their main company processes. Depending on the type of core process, let’s assume ETO or BTO, they have sales and engineering working close together on product/solution definition and they have manufacturing planning and production working close together on product/solution delivery. In term of functionality a PDM focus for sales/engineering and an ERP focus for manufacturing…]

I found the combination of these characteristics interesting. Because they are presenting how orthogonal is everything in mid-market to the successful PLM implementations made for large enterprises. Mid-market journey for PLM companies was important for two obvious points- (1) to expand market; (2) to establish the strategy for supply chain – place where FTP and USB drive is leading. However, vendors tried to push PLM in a very straightforward way. Costly direct sales were replaced by optimized indirect channel (VARs) and costly customization, implementation and services were replaced by optimized out-of-the-box solutions. It seems to me the results are pretty much smashed. It doesn’t work.

What is my take on Product Lifecycle Management for smaller companies? There are two important words I want to think about – granularity and transformation.

The history of successful software is a history of transformation. If you remember CAD history or PDM history, you will understand that at the time when a significant failure or dissatisfaction happened, new technologies and solutions came and presented their capabilities and values. 15-20 years ago 3D CAD systems moved from big workstations to PC – we know what happened then. 10-15 years ago PDM projects moved from the state when they required compilation and build to manage customer data to more flexible SQL-based data modeling running on Windows and later Web solution. Clearly current PLM state of the art systems requires re-thinking and change.

I like this word. For me, it means first of all precision and understanding. As I mentioned few months ago, large monolithic PLM implementations are a thing in the past. To find PLM solution for smaller customers will require to go and understand what these customers are doing on the very granular level. The best demonstration of granularity for me is the web. Combined from a huge amount of granular data pieces it represents a solid and well functioning system.

What is my conclusion today? Trying to replicate big ideas sometimes requires more than a company financial interests. The distance between racing cars and mass-production is huge. Technology is a tricky issue in the enterprise and when you are trying to scale it down might become broken. I think, last 3-5 years presented a very interesting try in implementing PLM solution for a smaller organizations. Today is a time to analyze results and think about future transformations.

PS. So, how PLM for mid-market story should end? The following video is just one idea…



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