PLM technologies and products went through many changes for the last two decades. If you long timer in PLM industry, you might remember initial PDM / PLM products. In my view, most of them provided some sort of toolbox solutions used by large companies and IT service organization. You had to spend time to tailor a solution that can be used by a manufacturing company. The last decade of PLM development was featured by an invasion of Out-of-the-box PLM solutions. While flexibility was an ultimate requirements by all manufacturing companies, Out-of-the-box (OOTB) strategy used to lower implementation cost and demonstrating capabilities of PLM products for specific industries and needs.
The new trend came in 2010s. Apps and App stores. Everybody got an “app virus” in their strategies. To develop apps is a new way and we are getting infected by this trend. If you cut the marketing buzz, the idea of app development has some strong grounds. Think how to deliver a specific tailored solution for customers.
Who is developing PLM apps?
Apps is a language that used by several PLM providers in the past.
Aras PLM community solutions (projects). Aras enterprise open source model is allowing to partners to develop variety of solutions to cover specific customer needs. The openness of Aras and zero cost of platform (if you don’t want to pay for subscription) made Aras a good choice for partners and companies developing PLM solutions. You can learn more by navigating to the following link.
Autodesk PLM 360. Autodesk PLM360 flexibility and cloud delivery was presented a one of key differentiations. Navigate to PLM360 app store to learn about solutions (apps) available on top of PLM 360. Navigate to the following link to see available apps. The following Autodesk blog post by Mike Watkins make a demonstration how to build a new app using PLM360.
Dassault 3DExprience platform. DS is speaking about apps on top of 3DEXPERIENCE platform, but I didn’t find signs of these apps online. Chad Jackson of Lifecycle Insight put a good review of apps strategy on his blog, which indicated flexibility and apps as part of DS strategy.
GrabCAD Engineering apps. This is probably a history, but one day GrabCAD had a strategy to build an app store together with Autodesk. Navigate to this blog from 2013 to read more. After GrabCAD acquisition I never heard about GrabCAD building app store.
Siemens PLM apps and platform. Siemens PLM is also thinking how to come with PLM apps. Navigate to the following link to learn more about platform extensibility. Lifecycle insight article about separating platform and apps can give you an additional insight on that.
How to develop apps
To develop app is actually a challenge that requires many steps to be done. Every PLM implementation is a bit different. So, how to make an app store that can be used by multiple customers. To support these apps can be also a challenging factor.
What happens outside of PLM world? Salesforce1 is probably one of the best examples of a platform that used to develop enterprise apps. More to come. You can find publications of companies speaking about how to enable application building app stores or focusing on development of mobile apps. One the most notable was Apple / IBM partnership from very large companies (Apple and IBM). Box Dev edition is another interesting example. I posted about it last week here. I stumble on another interesting example coming from startup world – Fliplet – a platform to develop mobile apps, which reminded me some sort of “WordPress for mobile apps”.
What is my conclusion? How to develop, deliver and support enterprise apps is an interesting challenge software vendors are facing these days. It is especially painful problem in PLM world where each PLM implementation is a bit different. So, do you think PLM apps is a future? How to deliver PLM apps platform that will eliminate the need for painful and expensive PLM implementations? Do you think one of existing PLM platforms can be robust and open enough to provide PaaS for future PLM apps? What is your take? I don’t think we have an answer today. Just my thoughts…
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