Software Vendors and PDM/PLM Evolution Steps

Software Vendors and PDM/PLM Evolution Steps

Earlier this week, I had a conversation with engineering IT manager of a manufacturing company. Without mentioning names, we’ve been discussing how manufacturing companies are adopting technologies in general and PDM/PLM technologies specifically. According to him, software companies largely misunderstood the way manufacturing companies perceive technology adoption. The conclusion we made, was that manufacturing companies are very slow to adopt any technologies. One of the key factors that impacts future evolution of PDM/PLM technologies will cost of implementation and changes. This conversation made me think about what will be the evolution of PDM / PLM systems for coming decades.

Cloud, Unification and Integration

I can define three things that will lead future evolution in PDM / PLM. It is unification, integration and cloud. I wrote about Unification and Integration few months ago. Navigate to the following article – From PDM to PLM: Unify or Integrate? to have a sense of this topic. The reality of manufacturing companies today are that they have lots of different software packages implemented. Siloed approach was dominant in the last two decades. The question of how to move forward to the next level is actively debated by many software vendors and customers. One of the options is to move to unified systems. When it sounds like an interesting option to cut cost of integration, the overall cost of migration stops many companies from taking this approach. On the other side, affordability of cloud-based software sounds like a good reason to move one and offer new type of solutions with a fraction of cost.

4 Steps of PDM / PLM evolution

In my view, cloud (private and public) will be playing a key role in the evolution of future PDM/PLM systems. On the diagram below, I pictured how I see the evolution of PDM /PLM systems. Four steps show how I think systems will be migrating from pure “on-premises'” solution to full cloud adoption.

PDM / PLM Evolution

I wanted to bring 3 factors that will become critical to define vendor’s success in this evolution – cloud/on-premises balance, system integration and file content migration to the cloud. Let me talk separately about each of these factors.

Cloud / On-Premises balance

The adoption of new technologies and products is very slow. Because of that, manufacturing companies will have to balance long time between existing and new solutions. The ability of vendor to bring systems gradually to solve real business needs in an affordable way, will be a key to success. Nobody will be able to replace all systems in a single shot.

System integration

I’ve been stated it many times already, but again, the ability to integrate cloud and on-premises solution will be another key capability. Today, the integration is very messy. It is costly and, in most cases, causes data duplication with a lot of inefficiency. The ability to build linked data grid of integrated solutions will create a competitive advantage for software vendors to introduce new PDM / PLM solutions and minimize implementation cost.

File Content migration

The absolute majority of product information such as CAD data is located on premises today. With the introduction of new solutions, this content will have to migrate to cloud in order to become available also for people (globally) as well as to be re-used by different cloud and on-premises solutions. The effectiveness of this migration is another key factor to success.

What is my conclusion? I see next 10 years of PDM / PLM evolution as a very interesting time. Old technologies and software packages will retire and new will be coming. What will be the future of PLM platforms is an interesting question. This question needs to be answered by well established PLM vendors like Dassault, Siemens, PTC and by newcomers such as Autodesk. Smaller companies will innovate to provide PLM solutions and technologies that potentially can disrupt and, at the same time, provide a competitive advantage to future evolution of PDM / PLM platforms. What is your take? Speak your mind, please…

Best, Oleg


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