Will ERP Take a Lead in PLM Redefinition?

I had a chance to read an article by Michael Fauscette “Workday takes the Gloves Off?“. I’m tracking Workday for last 3-4 years. The trajectory is very interesting. For those of you who don’t know, Workday is the outfit created with a significant influence of ex-PeopleSoft people lead by Dave Duffield, the founder of PeopleSoft. Take the time and have a look on Michael’s article as well as interview with Dave Duffield about why he founded Workday. My favorite passage is the following:

Q: What’s missing in the marketplace?
Dave: Before the software-as-a-service model started gaining momentum, I felt like the industry had lost a passion for innovation and a focus on the customer. We’re focusing on both to help breathe new life into this business.

Similar message is coming from Michael write-up:

Workday’s vision is to redefine ERP software not only from a business / delivery model prospective (SaaS / cloud) but also from the focus on usability and modern design. Business is becoming people-centric (people as the platform) and workday is approaching its software from that basic design premise, a very powerful concept. Software and technology, in particular ERP have gone through a few phases; the mainframe, then the shift to client server, the emergence of the Internet and the subsequent advance of the social web, the rise of mobile computing and global hyper-connectivity. Many of the enterprise systems in use today are still based on designs and technology from a previous phase, and the user experience is quite dated. Workday claims to be the only modern ERP system in the last decade, and while it’s a little more marketing than actual fact, it does make one think.

Another interesting information came out of the following slide presenting ERP technological evolution. Take a look on the picture below. You can see a clear simplification on the side of the system stack. A “business logic” and separate RDBMS storage for years were a strong part in every enterprise architecture diagram. Now it replaced by data+logic and persistent storage.

It made me think about some interesting parallels with PLM world:

User Interface Simplification

Complexity of user interface is one of the most problematic points in PDM/PLM software. Over the past few years I’ve seen some movements towards new concepts of UI experience. PLM vendors are trying to move to 3D-like visual interfaces and create a simple UI paradigm. Another option is definitely presented by software like SharePoint and it drives another user interface simplification. It still not clear what will be the winning combination for PLM

Internet Architecture Allignment

The overall influence of internet software architecture becomes significant. In my view, we are going to see more examples of usage different elements of internet architecture in enterprise applications. Such things like noSQL and other will drive future innovation in this space.


Enterprise software will have to make a significant shift towards openness. Usage of open standards, open source, meta-data driven development will shift systems to become more open and will reduce a barrier of system integrations.

What is my conclusion? It is interesting to see how ERP becomes a pace where innovation happens again. ERP was often used by PLM vendors as a reference for a very complex place. It seems to me ERP learning the lesson. PLM vendors need to learn it too. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg
Freebie. Workday didn’t pay me to write this post.


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