Accelerating change and PLM software updates

Accelerating change and PLM software updates


PLM software updates topic drive lot of debates in engineering world. PLM implementation is still a project that can take time, resources and lot of planning from a manufacturing company. So, once implemented, companies keep it running for many years. In my recent article – How to replace old PLM software I shared my thoughts about possible scenarios manufacturing companies are replacing PLM software – Existing product is not supported anymore; PLM “sponsor” is retiring or leaving a company; New manufacturing programs; Existing software cannot support new business processes.

Yoann Maingon of Aras Corp. made an interesting spin on my article and rephrase it as following – How do I make sure I won’t change my PLM again in 5-10 years? So, what if, once implement, PLM system can stay for decades? In some industries, the lifecycle of actual physical products is very long. Think about airplanes, automobiles, defense systems, energy plants, etc. So, would it be possible to make a decision about PLM system once and forever?

Although, I like the idea of not changing software, Yoann’s article made me think about modern trends in technology. One of them is accelerating change. I’m sure you’ve heard about Moore’s Law. But the topic is actually can be expanded. Wikipedia article gives a good review of  “accelerating change” theories here.

In futures studies and the history of technology, accelerating change is a perceived increase in the rate of technological change throughout history, which may suggest faster and more profound change in the future and it may or may not be accompanied by equally profound social and cultural change.

An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense ‘intuitive linear’ view. So we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century—it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate). The ‘returns,’ such as chip speed and cost-effectiveness, also increase exponentially. There’s even exponential growth in the rate of exponential growth. Within a few decades, machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, leading to the Singularity—technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history. The implications include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light.

I captured the following picture in the article, which shows an accelerated speed of technological adoption.


Modern manufacturing environment is going through the tremendous amount of transformation and challenges. Global product development, new manufacturing technologies, distributed environments – these are only few examples. Changes are everywhere. I’m not sure PLM software will be able to freeze and not change at the same time -new technologies will be coming to replace existing systems.

What is my conclusion? If I apply the theory of accelerating change, we will probably see lot of new technologies available soon in the PLM implementation cycle that will demand updates and changes in existing system, environment and business process. The idea of keeping the same system for more than 10-15 years is nice, but it might be not realistic taking into account the amount of changes we are going see around us. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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.


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