Chrysler, PLM Platforms and Business Realities

I read news from the last week – Chrysler Group LLC contracts with Siemens PLM software for product design and development platform. It wasn’t a big surprise, since initial information about it leaked into the news back into May 2010. The news about large companies switching over big software vendors are always provoking. Each time it presented as a big deal for winning company and complete disaster for another side. However, I don’t have an intent to discuss particular details related to Siemens-Chrysler deal. Navigate your browser on Chrysler CATIA Siemens PLM and you will get a full list of news articles and relevant blog posts. I’d like to use this news as a context to talk about how I see present and future of PLM platforms in a modern business environment.

Business Realities
Modern enterprise landscape is very dynamic. It can be characterized by high dynamic of environmental changes, unstable business conditions, multiple M&A activities. In such realities, PLM-related decisions becomes even more complicated than usual. This situation brings a complex of questions: How to maintain multiple systems? How to work with multiple projects/programs? How to define a roadmap for the future PLM platform development in a company?

PLM Platforms and IT Landscape
I can see a significant trend towards the development of integrated PLM platforms. The initial signs of this trend became visible 3-5 years ago. In my view, today, the strategy of major PLM providers is to develop solid PLM platforms with a significant vertical integration. The objective of such platforms are to provide a stable and well adjusted set of integrated design, engineering and manufacturing planning functions. We’ve seen the formation of such a platform based on Siemens TeamCenter unification, DS V6 platform as well as PTC products. The maturity of these platforms is a good sign for users. At the same time, coupled with the business reality, they can introduce the new problems – PLM platforms transformations and impact of dependent organizations (i.e. Suppliers). These new problems are introducing a potential significant impact on engineering and corporate IT.

Flexibility and Openness
Thinking about business realities and PLM platforms, my ultimate conclusion is that in the next ten years we’ll need to be extremely focused on two aspects of PLM platforms – flexibility and openness. Ability of PLM platform to make flexible adaptation to changes can become a key factor in the future platform implementation. PLM will need to support acquisitions and transformation related not only to the business, but also to engineering and manufacturing activities.

Can We Achieve A Single Point Of Truth?
Part of PLM vision is well known as an ability to provide “a single point of truth” for a company. One of the fundamental questions I’d like to ask if this vision will keep up in the future. With an increased level of complexity, growing number or business systems, bigger scale and fast changes, the “single point of truth” vision can remain as a vision only. I had a chance to discuss it in one of my previous posts – PLM and A Single Point of Disagreement.

So, what is my conclusion today? Changes in large enterprise systems are very expensive and painful for the organization and eco-systems (contractors, suppliers, customers, etc.). The result of having multiple systems can create significant difficulties in operation and management. On the other side, changes may take long period of time and become an on-going effort. The future of large enterprise systems is interesting. My take – watch this space.

Best, Oleg


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