Normally, I’m trying to avoid the topic of PLM competition. Not very often, readers or attendees at conference are approaching me with the blunt question – what is better? TeamCenter vs. Enovia? Aras or Windchill? My typical answer – there are no “absolute advantages” for a specific PLM system. Enterprise and manufacturing companies are complicated environments. The level of complexity, strategy and current context can create a situation where each specific product will have his own advantages and disadvantages.
However, today, I want to talk about competition from the standpoint of PLM vendor. In other words, what can make PLM vendor competitive strategy more successful? To make this discussion interesting and provoking, I will use some examples of what happened in PLM market for the last 10 years. In the world where PLM buzzwords are getting very similar, I will try to answer on a single simple question – what can make PLM vendor competitive nowadays?
I can see four major strategies that can be used by vendors – discontinuity, marketing and branding, partnership and competitor’s mistakes. These are not specific characteristics for PLM companies and can be used for everybody. However, I will try to fill them with PLM context.
Enterprise software is a complicated beast. PLM cannot be excluded from that list. It is complex, requires long time planning and implementation cycle. Once implementation it works for a long time, replacement cost is high too. Add to this last 10 years of acquisition in this field and large vendor platform transformation and you will have a perfect place to play with discontinuity. Formally, nobody is discontinuing PLM/PDM products. Pro/PDM, Eigner, SmarTeam, Metaphase – all these products are supported and maintained by vendors on a certain level. Practically all PLM vendors are building a support network to deal with customers running outdated and retired systems. Therefore, these customers can become a strategic asset for competitors that will be able to propose them an interesting offer. Once the decision made, to change it will be even more complicated because of long processes, politics and corporate ego. Therefore, discontinuity play can be powerful and dangerous.
To have good partners in business is like to have good friends in your life. If you have trusted and powerful partners, you can use it as an advantage in your competitive war. In PLM business, I can see two types of strategic partnership – service and sales channel partner (eg. IBM was such for many years in business with Dassault Systems), the parent company (eg. Siemens for Siemens PLM) or another business division (eg. SAP, Oracle, Microsoft). To develop and keep right partnership is very important. To know how to drop partnership is also one of the elements of a competitive game.
To build a perfect marketing and branding story is another way to beat competition. Yes, I know… you are smiling and maybe even thinking – who is buying marketing PowerPoint presentations these days. Believe me or not, it happens all the time. If you are powerful and strong brand with billions of dollars in revenue, your marketing story can be very compelling. It will take time, resources and effort to sort it out. Yes, you are in danger to buy a dream. But it can be a very nice and well packed marketing. So, take it seriously. It can be 3D Experience, High Definition PLM, Instant On – dreams is an important weapon too.
Last, but not least- the mistakes (or in this context – presents) made by your competitors. You need constantly and permanently watch your competitors. Low quality of a release, compatibility failure, channel problem – all these mistakes are weapon in your arsenal to build your marketing expansion.
What is my conclusion? The PLM competitive landscape becomes more dynamic than before. I can see some movements done by large companies (eg. Autodesk), smaller established companies with very innovative strategies (eg. Aras) and startup companies. As I said in one of my previous posts – PLM is a fun place again. Just my thoughts…