How people born after 1985 can influence PLM

How people born after 1985 can influence PLM


Culture can eat strategy for breakfast and technology for lunch. When it comes to PLM, the implementation and organizational alignment are major risk factors. To change organization is hard and to shift it towards using new tools and processes is even harder. I recently wrote about it in my blog – PLM implementations and organizational change. You need to fight things like brain blockers, engineering acceptance and many others to move organization into a new world.

Tata blog post – PLM Impact on Organizational Cultures (and the reverse) by Lionel Grealou provides a good PLM definition as well as describes to scope of changes standing in front of successful PLM implementation. The following passage caught my special attention

…. changing an organization leads to impacting/changing its culture, and vice versa. Any process improvement and business change will imply either cultural change or cultural adoption. And because PLM is rooted in engineering, product development and manufacturing, it directly concerns the backbone of manufacturing organizations.

Various business drivers have changed the scope and influence of PLM processes and technologies. In the past 20 years, the manufacturing industry have moved significantly, from concurrent engineering to collaborative engineering, from physical co-location to global virtual collaboration, from PDM to PLM (enterprise-wide) scope, from in-sourcing to outsourcing, from traditional R&D to open innovation, from (relatively) simple to complex and integrated requirements, from semi to fully integrated PLM-ERP processes, from slow to fast changing environment, from local to global competition, from product-centric to service-centric manufacturing, and from basic automation to industry 4.0 (ongoing change – with internet of things, cloud, big data analysis, etc.).

So, business drivers are changing. Why is it so hard to change organizations. I think, the key question here is about people. New generation of people can impact existing software paradigms. Which means existing PLM practices are on fire.  Quartz article – What it feels like to be the last generation to remember life before the internet gave me the right level of inspiration to think even more about the role of millennials in enterprise software. Article speaks about people who was born before 1985 and can understand both analogue and digital worlds (hint: I’m one of these people)

These people, says Harris, are the last of a dying breed. “If you were born before 1985, then you know what life is like both with the internet and without. You are making the pilgrimage from Before to After,” he writes. It is a nice conceit. Harris, like your correspondent, grew up in a very different world, one with limited channels of communication, fewer forms of entertainment, and less public scrutiny of quotidian actions or fleeting thoughts. It was neither better nor worse than the world we live in today. Like technology, it just was.

Being in this situation puts us in a privileged position.”If we’re the last people in history to know life before the internet, we are also the only ones who will ever speak, as it were, both languages. We are the only fluent translators of Before and After.”

The thing that I found most important is the notion of “connectivity”. And this is a chance that applies to manufacturing world too. Manufacturing companies are moving into the new era of connectivity. New manufacturing companies will be able to leverage connectivity to design and build products differently. It will become one of the strongest competitive advantage. “Analog August” is a good idea for those who can afford it, but it sounds like mission impossible for modern manufacturing communities – connectivity is not an option anymore.

What is my conclusion? Most of PLM systems we have in production these days were created by people born before 1985. Fundamental PLM concepts were developed in earlier 2000s. I think, a new era of connectivity doesn’t apply well to these systems designed for siloed companies. The demand for connectivity will change new paradigm of PLM. Will it provide an idea how to change PLM implementations too? This is a good question to ask. Existing systems generated tons of experience and information. How to preserve a value and move into new digital world? The generation who can speak both “digital” and “analog” languages, can be in the position to make a transition. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at



Share This Post