For the last decade Product Lifecycle Management became of the important backbones manufacturing company is using to organize data about product, control product development processes and manage data exchange between departments, contractors, suppliers and customers. While PLM vendors made a huge progress towards improvement of PLM infrastructure, implementation practices and software usability, PLM domain is remaining one of the most complicated in enterprise software. Questions about PLM system value proposition are not unusual and you can hear them in many PLM sales situations.
Earlier this week, I’ve been asked to share my thoughts about future of PLM and biggest PLM market pain points I can see. So, I came with the list of 3 biggest pain points and hurdles that PLM sales and technical professionals are experiencing while selling, implementation and upgrading PLM software.
1- “Single system” mousetrap
One of the top demands in PLM market is seamless integration of PLM software with other systems organization is using – enterprise software, legacy databases and variety of IT services. These days the problem is getting bigger as companies are introducing new types of software and services. While demand for integration is high, the answer of PLM vendors is to provide better vertical integration. There is nothing wrong with this approach. However it creates a potential locking of customer to a suite of products provided by a single vendor. This is what I call – “single platform mousetrap”. Combined with natural unwillingness of vendors to openness, it create one of the biggest pain points in the market.
Companies are afraid to be locked into a single platform provided by a specific vendor and at the same time have to spend significant resources to build integration bridges and interfaces. As a result of that, companies are spending high budgets of data syncing between systems and modules.
2- Implementation ROI (or need for speed)
Fast ROI remains a top demand for organizations in 2010s. And it is a problem for many PLM implementations. The time when IT projects were taking years are over. The demand of customers to shift from long time activities to short and agile projects. Cloud software can help to eliminate the need for IT infrastructure setup and configuration. At the same time, “implementation” is still required. It takes to come into agreement in a large organizations. Services teams are spending time getting into alignment with organization, departments, individuals and their requirements. All together it slows down PLM implementation leaving companies unhappy.
3- Manufacturing company status quo and inertia
Change is hard. Especially when manufacturing company has some processes in place. And it is true for every manufacturing organization already producing something. It takes time to convince companies to make a change. Engineers are afraid to break existing status quo and inefficient processes. As a result of that, PLM sales is a long process that can take months (and sometimes even years).
What is my conclusion? PLM software is remaining a very complicated solution even after all improvements and progress industry made for the last decade. It certainly lag behind other software segments because of natural manufacturing company conservatism and inertia. High level of stickiness and PLM vendor competition created conditions in which manufacturing company can stuck with specific PLM software for many years without any cost-effective alternative. All these problems are creating a perfect market opportunity and potential, but at the same time introduce high barrier to entry the market. Just my thoughts…
Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my new PLM Book website.
Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of openBoM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.