Yesterday, I had the unique opportunity to participate in the webinar with a very intriguing name – Why Hasn’t PLM Taken Over the World? You can listen to the recorded podcast of this webinar. Navigate your browser to the following link to listen for the record and to follow Cadalyst On The Edge series. Actually, that was’t a webinar in a traditional view. It was something I called “Live Blog”. Few years ago, when I started my PLM Think Tank blog, my idea was to have a forum where people can discuss PLM problems and related issues in an open way without marketing cliche and sales pitches. My impression from Cadalyst On The Edge was exactly the same. It was a live conversation between Chad Jackson, Ben Eadie, Chris Williams and myself lead by Nancy Johnson of Cadalyst.
Lots of questions were asked during the webinar. Here are few very important onces: what is PLM Technology? How manufacturing companies perceive PLM? How PLM implemented and what are the most important challenges? What was done well by PLM and what are the most critical failures? I hope you’ll find time to listen. This conversation made me think about PLM trajectories over the past decade. I decided to put them in the following perspective: No PLM, PLM, Beyond PLM.
If I’m thinking about early beginning, I’m getting back to the time when engineering software companies worked on resolving of very critical data management challenges for design systems. The TLAs running back that time were about Engineering Data Management, Engineering Document Management, Technical Data Management and, finally, Product Data Management (PDM). All these systems were about how to manage different engineering resources, mostly drawing and documents. The main focus of these systems was about how to get document and other resources under control. The biggest challenges were about how to fit diverse requirements of manufacturing companies. The systems in “no PLM” domain moved from very not flexible rigid systems that required compilation in order to make an enhancement and ended up with flexible modeling systems running on Windows platform and lately on the Web.
I can see two main drivers standing behind the industry turn to PLM. First is the increased technological potential of data management. The experience and development of more flexible systems managing engineering data created an opportunity to have more data controlled by the systems. The second one is the success of ERP systems. ERP created the use case for successful management of business processes in the organization. The evolution of MRP, MRPII and other business systems shown the way process management can be implemented for business. Engineering and manufacturing software vendors recognized the opportunity to repeat this case for product development. Based on these two use cases, companies started to form a “PLM vision”. During the last decade, vendors developed a very significant foundation for product development business processes. ERP companies also recognized the opportunity to cover this domain as well. It resulted in software development and company acquisitions.
This is a part of PLM story is under development, for the moment. PLM industry learned lots of lessons during the past decade implementing PLM systems for a very diverse set of customers. With many success stories PLM gathered for these years, PLM implementations faced significant challengers related to the complexity of implementation, usability and cost of change. The ability to replicate repeatedly business process management for product development is the biggest challenge PLM is facing. This is the main cause of complexity of enterprise PLM implementations and difficulties in taking PLM to a mainstream manufacturing road. I can see few interesting trends happening to PLM companies and PLM industry. Vertical integration and portfolio differentiation. Focus on special values such as simulation, visualization and 3D. Catching up with social technologies. This is not a complete list. However, I think, it reflects some major shifts that happen now in PLM community.
What is my conclusion? Understanding of enterprise IT trends is extremely important for today’s PLM mindshare leaders. Otherwise, they can miss the point of industry transformation. Openness, Socializing, Consumerization, Applification – this is my short list of things that need to be counted for the next 10 years. I had a chance to read the following interesting article – Microsoft Looking Like An End-Stage Company. A good wake-up call. Just my opinion.