Why PLM should leave a comfort zone?

Why PLM should leave a comfort zone?

Thoughts after PI Congress in Dusseldorf…


Earlier this week, I attended PI Congress in Dusseldorf. For me, it was an interesting experience. I had no chance to attend PLM events for almost two years. PI Congress is an event I know from a very first time it was introduced in London back in 2011. The event became bigger and now have much richer content. Take a look on a 2015 program here. You can check back on twitter and take a look on a stream of updates and slides. I had great time discussing variety of PLM related topics with people I know many years. I met bunch of new people and got introduced to new ideas. I will share some of them later over the weekend and next week.

The topic I want to discuss today is a bit controversial… But let’s call the elephant in the room. PLM industry is stuck in a comfort zone. We know that. We know problems of PLM industry. We know problems of PLM systems and vendors. But we live with the status quo. Why? The simple answer is because it is a well-known comfort zone. We know how to live here. We know how to struggle with complex PLM projects. We know how to get executives on board of PLM projects and sell them the value propositions of PLM implementations. We know to run PLM implementations, import data and bring service organizations to complete PLM projects. We know how to upgrade PLM systems and get support from PLM vendors to do so. We know all that…

I’m coming today with three main reasons why I think PLM industry must leave a comfort zone.

1- Existing paradigms have slow ROI

Each large manufacturing firm is completed 2-3 cycles of PLM implementation for the last 15-20 years. Some of them did it with a single vendor. Some of them jumped a ship and moved between vendors. Technologies changed, version changed, user interface changed. However, the fundamental ideas of PLM remained the same. PLM systems are creating data model to manage information about product and related product development processes. This “implementation” process is tedious and complex. It is about existing manufacturing environment, ways people organize their work and people ego. Most of companies are doing so because they don’t know how to do things differently.

2- New generation of people

New generation of people grew up for the last decade. Those people are using cloud applications and mobile devices naturally. They are sending less emails and using chats. They are using Google Docs instead of Microsoft Office files. They are less thinking about processes and more thinking about design excellence. These people are getting access to modern manufacturing tools and environments and they are creating amazing products.  We see them around every day.

3- Connected life 

Our life is getting more connected every day. Think Network with capital “N”. It means nothing is located in a single place. Even more. It is less important where things are located and where people are working. What is important is to get an access to the network. As soon as you connected, you can do the job. People, devices, processes – all connected in a single live environment. Opposite to that, our PLM systems are about how to put data in a single database. How individual company databases can be connected in a Network? There is a gap here we need to close.

What is my conclusion? One of the sessions at PI Congress was not PLM related. It was a presentation done by Alisee de Tonnac, co-founder of Seedstars World. Check her profile on twitter.  I want to bring  only one statement from that presentation – “You’re so far behind, you think you’re first”. Think about it… Change is our biggest fear. In everything… We are afraid of change, so we keep existing systems, existing paradigms and do very little to introduce something new. However, the time is running out. Fast ROI, global, connected and mobile business environment – this is only a short list of what industry is demanding from PLM environment. Young generation of people is less interested in old acronyms, but more focused on how to get a job done efficiently. They are running bunch of cloud tools that have nothing to do with PLM paradigms. Some of them are politely asking “what is PLM”, but trying to bring systems they understand to design, engineer and manufacturing products differently. So, kick ourselves of out of comfort zone is hard. But we need to do that. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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