How PLM let go of the banana?

How PLM let go of the banana?


How do you trap a big monkey in a small cage the size of a banana? Easy! You place a banana inside the cage and leave an opening large enough for the monkey’s hand, but not for the banana. As soon as the monkey grabs the banana, it’s trapped. The monkey can set itself free if it lets go of the banana, but it won’t! By not giving up what it has in its hand, it locks itself just outside the tiny cage.

PLM story is very similar. For a long period of time, PLM is trapped into “engineering cage” deeply connected with CAD roots. If you look on what PLM industry and top PLM players are producing, you can find a lot of similarities. Marketing messages, product names, functionality are similar, which can challenge customer decision process as well as business differentiation for vendors. At the same time, a potential span of solutions, purposes, business objectives, experience is huge as well as purpose of PLM – to help people design and manufacture “things”. 

So, how PLM industry can be unhooked and develop new different approaches in beyond traditional PLM way to think and behave? While I don’t have an out of the box recipe, I wanted to mention few examples of companies and approaches that to looks like a change from a traditional mindset. There is no order and priority in this list. I picked up two smaller companies and two established vendors to create some parity in the story.

1- Aras. For the last five years, I’ve been looking on Aras Enterprise Open Source model for PLM. Don’t try to find a “pure open source model”. Aras is different from Linux. It provide a mix of openness approach, different business model and company state of mind that looks different and drives interest from many people in PLM industry. Aras is distributing their product free and making business from subscriptions. You can get more details about how Aras is doing that by navigating on this link.

2- GrabCAD. Started as website to upload 3D CAD files few years ago, GrabCAD is transforming into cloud platform and marketplace to sell product and services. It includes some interesting activities called “GrabCAD challenges” that drives crowdsourcing in design and manufacturing. In addition to that, GrabCAD Workbench provides a place for engineers to collaborate or just simply store their 3D CAD models. Al Dean of Develop3D just published a very interesting article talking about GrabCAD differentiations here.

3- Autodesk Cloud. PLM360 was announced 2 years ago as “cloud PLM alternative”. It goes together with massive cloud shift that Autodesk makes in all product development. Autodesk 360 and related set of “360 family” of products is a change in a mindset of how products and services can be sold, deployed and used. If you want to learn more about Autodesk PLM360, navigate here.

4- PTC IoT. This is one of the last news in PLM world. By acquisition of ThingWorx, PTC announced their interest in so called “Internet of Things” world. The IoT trend is interesting and clear different from what traditional “PLM banana” might looks like. Together with SLM (Service Lifecycle Management) strategies from PTC it introduces an interesting PLM shift. If you want to read more about PTC ThingWorx acquisition, navigate here.

What is my conclusion? Changes are coming. Established PLM vendors and startups are slowly freeing their hands from the cage with “PLM as we know” banana and moving forward. The new industrial revolution is coming. In coming years, we are going to see lots of new approaches in how to make things and  do manufacturing differently. It will include new business models, new people, new products and new environments. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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