Product Innovation Platform: I know it when I see it?

Product Innovation Platform: I know it when I see it?


Are you familiar with famous definition of pornography used in 1964 by United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart? Check Wikipedia article if you want to refresh your memory:

I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [“hard-core pornography”], and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.[4]

I think, PLM marketing is coming close to use this definition with regards to so called Product Innovation Platforms (PIP). You can catch up on my earlier articles about PIP – Sweet dreams about Product Innovation Platforms; Product Innovation Platform – architecture options; Product Innovation Platform: single vendor moustrap and agile services.

In my view, Product Innovation Platforms open a new wave of PLM competition. CIMdata commentary – A Product Innovation Platform and Its Impact on Successful PLM Deployments can give you some perspective on competitive positioning of vendors. Here is the passage:

Product innovation platforms are the foundation upon which functional capabilities, data, and processes are enabled—leading to the potential for much more innovation. Few PLM implementations, especially those based on monolithic solutions, achieve their goals and often end up as “instant” legacy PDM solutions that are not sustainable. A strong product innovation platform dramatically eases the burden of integrations with an enterprise’s broad range of PLM-enabling solutions. Aras Innovator provides an open and extensible product innovation platform that can be employed to provide an enterprise with a PLM solution that can grow into the future.

There are not so many PLM vendors in the world. So, monolithic PLM solutions list can be narrowed to 3DEXPERIENCE, Teamcenter and PTC Windchill and according to the passage these are are not sustainable systems. Opposite to old legacy platforms, Aras (open and extensible platform) can grow in the future. Enterprise integration and flexibility are defined as key elements that can help to make new Product Innovation Platform sustainable.

Many of today’s product lifecycle management (PLM) architectures have evolved from PDM solutions that were designed 30 or more years ago. While today’s architectures are greatly improved from what was available back then, the way they are applied in most PLM-enabling solutions still does not support easy integration with other enterprise platforms or solutions nor do they have the flexible capabilities needed for assimilating data, organization structures, and working processes to support the product lifecycle. The outcome is that companies must customize core data structures and solution processes to meet their particular business needs. As business needs change, future adaptations of the solutions become even more difficult, and upgrades, sometimes impossible.

CIMdata article brings a marketing picture of Aras platform with large number of applications addressing a diverse set of functional domains – System engineering, Product Engineering, Quality, Requirement Management, etc.


I think that Aras made a great progress for the last 5 years since I published my article stating that Aras is moving towards displacement of major PLM platform vendors – ENOVIA, Teamcenter and Windchill. Take a look here.

At the same time, I found colorful marketing picture awfully similar to marketing materials coming from other PLM vendors. Take a look on the following picture capturing Windchill platform and its applications.


What is my conclusion? Product Innovation Platform is an interesting concept. It addresses very important aspects of PLM deployment and architecture – openness, integration and sustainable deployment. Unfortunately, it is very hard to create a clear definition of Product Innovation Platform. We might see next wave of colorful marketing pictures with variety of boxes demonstrating new Product Innovation Platform approach. And it will be hard for manufacturing companies to identify which one is actually true Product Innovation Platform. So, “I know it when I see” can be a way to define it. It is a time for PLM vendors to be more specific in their definitions. 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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